Primary Functions of NVC

IDevice Icon Primary Functions of NVC
As the Seinfeld clip on "The Wink" illustrates, nonverbal channels can serve to support, modify and/or replace verbal messages. This function, often referred to as the Delivery Function, represents just one the primary functions NVC plays. Use the Interaction below to learn more about the Primary Functions played by Nonverbal Communication.

Primary (Universal) Functions of NVC:

As noted above, the Primary (universal) Functions of Nonverbal Communication include:

  • The Identification Function - signals group membership, gender, age, etc.- usually conveyed via appearance
  • The Relationship Function - signaling intimacy and control - usually conveyed via gaze, touch and proximity
  • The Emotion Function - signaling basic emotional state and social intention - usually conveyed via facial expression and vocality
  • The Delivery Function - conveying verbal messages through voice and gesture

iDevice icon Questions for Reflection and Dialogue
  1. To what extent have you been aware or unaware of communicating nonverbally in your professional and/or personal life?
  2. To what extent have you used verbal language to address the topic of nonverbal communication in your professional and/or personal life?
  3. Which primary nonverbal communication function seems most interesting to you – why?
  4. Brainstorm at least five reasons why an understanding of nonverbal communication might be valuable when working with students?

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