Early Childhood Studies – a Global Perspective

Exploring the concepts on early childhood studies through the lens of people across the globe

The Art of Nonverbal Communication

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Being in a place where the shows are mostly local it was hard to figure out what TV show arrowcan I choose to be the object of my communication task. My only resort was to watch TV episodes through my daughter’s Netflix account. I randomly chose, Arrow.


Part of the task was to watch the show without sound. I would say, it was one of those moments when I was completely focused on what I was watching so I could get a full grasp of what it is about. It started in an island with a man who looked like a castaway aiming his arrow towards a pile of woods and set it on fire. It belonged to two men from the ship that appeared like fishermen. They took him with them and the rest of the story unfolded. Missing for many years, he was finally brought back to his affluent family. Reading the lips of the actors and paying attention to the facial expressions and body movements, I could sense feelings of uncertainty, worry, and distaste when faced with different situations.

As I finally watched the same episode with vocals, a lot of my perceptions were confirmed although some were difficult to guess as what you see could be a circumstance that could right-707516_1280be similar in other situations. For example, I have mistaken the scene in the lawyers’ office as news or a police office. As well, when they drove to town, although I could tell that he was being shown a familiar place, I could not figure out the context of their conversation. If I was aware beforehand about the DC comics character, Oliver Queen, aka, Arrow, it would have been easier to understand the context of the story.

However, by observing non-verbal communication, I was able to grasp some sections of the episode. Clues can be picked up from the context of the situation. Thus, if one understands the context, it would be easier to understand the message being conveyed. In angry-33031_1280many situations, the facial expressions of the actor complemented the spoken message. Although at times the message was unsaid, it was conveyed by the way the actor looked, moved his lips and shoulders. However, relying solely on non-verbal communication and non-verbal cues can be also be ambiguous (O’Hair, et.al., 2015). I was not very sure if the young man who came when he just arrived home was a brother or a best friend. I assumed that he had memory lapses when Oliver was in the hospital. When you watch without hearing words, you try to make sense of what you see which could form the wrong perceptions. You put the pieces together based on the facial expressions, gestures, and other stimuli and artifacts that you could observe – the manner which people dress up, the codes and texts in the surroundings. Thus, one looks at the totality of the environment and how the actors are interacting in it to make sense of the message being delivered. As such, there is such an expression that says, “read between the lines”. We pay attention not only to the words said, but the tone and pitch they were uttered, the facial gestures and body movements that were demonstrated as the words were spoken, and the proximity in space when delivering the message.

Learning from this experience, the next time I communicate with people, apart from words, a wide range of non-verbal cues could help in verifying and validating the message being conveyed – do they complement or present discrepancies?


O’Hair, D., Wiemann, M., Mullin, D. I., & Teven, J.  (2015). Real communication (3rd. ed). New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.



Author: pamcee70

My name is Pam Castillo. I have been in the field of education for 24 years now. Although I have taught some levels in grade school, I have spent most of my years teaching children aged two to six years old. I am always amazed by the interactions I have every day with children. In an environment where children feel safe, they are confident to explore and make discoveries. These experiences prepare them for the bigger challenges in the future. I feel privileged to be a part of the learning journey of these young children especially if they still come to see me and reminisce the years we worked together.

One thought on “The Art of Nonverbal Communication

  1. Pam,
    That is a really good point you made about our non-verbal matching our words. The only time I got a little thrown off by the show I was watching is when their non-verbal didn’t match the words they were saying. I think this is an important reminder when working in the early learning field. Children are particularly at risk for misunderstanding our communications when are non-verbal does not meet our verbal communication.


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