Consonances and Dissonances Between Linguistic and Non-Verbal Styles

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

Negative Non-Verbal Signals from the Interlocutor (Tension, Disinterest)

Non-verbal communication can reinforce the verbal message or be dissonant with it. Listening carefully and nodding can signal interest much more than just a verbal statement. Saying “I am interested” with words and expressing boredom or disgust with body actions produces a dissonant signal and creates suspicion or irritation. The coherence (matching) between words and actions:

  • increases the perceived honesty of the subject;
  • denotes trustworthiness;
  • shows interest;
  • shows that we are in control of the situation;
  • produces a sense of security and solidity of the contents.
    On the contrary, the incongruity:
  • creates a sense of distrust;
  • generates feelings of lack of authenticity;
  • produces doubts and suspicions of falsehood on the verbal contents heard.

Each linguistic style (on an interpersonal level) is associated with a precise modulation of the non-verbal style. We can in fact have:

  • situations of communicative reinforcement (the non-verbal style reinforces the verbal style);
  • situations of dissonance or inconsistency between verbal and non-verbal: non-verbal communication proceeds on a different register than verbal communication).

The dissonances concern every semiotic system, every sign carrying possible meanings. A company that declares itself important and does not have a website, or has an amateur site, expresses an image dissonance, just as a negotiator forgets to bring essential tools with him (catalogs, calculators, and any other necessary and expected tool ).

Non-verbal signals may indicate that the interlocutor is following the dialogue with a positive or negative attitude. Negative reactions in general are denoted by:

  • angulations of the body: shoulders retracted, distancing;
  • face: tense, shows anger;
  • voice: negative tone, sudden silences;
  • hands: movements of refusal or disapproval, tense movements;
  • arms: straight, crossed on the chest;
  • legs: crossed or moving away at an angle.

Exercises of consonance and dissonance between verbal styles and non-verbal communication styles. Initiate a dialogue on a random theme (e.g. where it is more pleasant to take holidays) and express – only through body postures – the following meanings:

  • I can’t stand you, you give me physical annoyance;
  • you are nice;  my head is elsewhere, I find it hard to follow you, I am distracted;
  • I have doubts about your honesty.
    Second phase of the exercise. Let’s now modulate the styles, introducing some variations:
  • verbal expression: saying “I can’t stand you, you give me physical annoyance”, with non-verbal reinforcement (eg: grinding your teeth, clenching your fists);
  • verbal expression: “I can’t stand you, you give me physical annoyance”, with non-verbal dissonance (eg: smiling amiably).
    Following the scheme shown:
  • Verbal expression: “you are nice”, with non-verbal reinforcement;
  • verbal expression: “you are nice”, with dissonance in the non-verbal;
  • verbal expression “I have my head elsewhere, I find it difficult to follow you, I am distracted”, with non-verbal reinforcement;
  • verbal expression “I have my head elsewhere, I find it hard to follow you, I am distracted”, with non-verbal dissonance;
  • verbal expression “I have doubts about your honesty”, with non-verbal reinforcement;
  • verbal expression “I have doubts about your honesty”, with dissonance in the non-verbal.
Intercultural Negotiation Arab Edition

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

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