Temperature, Lighting , and Color
Three other elements of the environment that can be controlled affect communication and send messages. These are temperature, lighting, and the colors used in the environment.
Temperature can stimulate or inhibit effective communication by altering people’s mood and changing their level of attentiveness. Can you recall the difficulty you have had listening to a teacher in a hot stuffy classroom? Have you found that you become edgy when you are cold?
Lighting levels also add meaning to communication messages. In lecture halls and reading rooms, bright light is expected it encourages good listening and comfortable reading. By contrast, in a chic restaurant, a music listening room, or a television lounge, you expect the lighting to be soft and rather dim, which makes for a cozy atmosphere that invites intimate conversation (Knapp & Hall). We often change the lighting level in a room to change the mood and indicate the type of interaction that is expected. Bright lights encourage activity and boisterous. conversations, whereas softer light levels calm and soothe, encouraging quiet and more serious conversations.
Color may stimulate both emotional and physical reactions. For instance, red excites, blue comforts and soothes, and yellow cheers and elevates mood. Professional interior designers who understand how people react to colors may choose blues when they are trying to create a peaceful, serene atmosphere for a :Jiving room, whereas they will decorate in reds and yellows in a playroom.
In addition, specific colors also convey information about people and events. For instance, youth gangs often use colors to signal membership. In some communities gang members wear bandannas or other articles of clothing in-a specific color.
Cultural Variations in Management of the Environment
As you would expect, the environments in which people feel comfortable depend on their cultural background. In the United States, where we have ample land, many people live in individual homes or in large apartments. In other countries, where land is scarce, people live in more confined spaces and can feel lonely or isolated in larger spaces. In Asia, most people live in spaces that by our standards would feel quite cramped. Similarly, people from different cultures have different ideas about what constitutes appropriate distances for various interactions. Recall that in the dominant culture of the United States personal or intimate space is eighteen inches or less. In Middle Eastern cultures, ho~ever, men move much closer to other men when they are talking (Samovar, Porter, & Stefani, 1998, p. 165). Thus, when an Arab man talks with a man from the United States, one of the two is likely to be uncomfortable. Either the American will feel uncomfortable and invaded or the Arab will feel isolated and too distant for serious conversation. We also differ in the temperature ranges that we find comfortable. People who originate from warmer climates can federate heat more easily than people who originate in cooler climates. Even the meanings we assign to colors by national culture and religion. In India white not black is the color of mourning, and Hindu brides wear red.
Summary Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal communication refers to how people communicate through the use of body motions, para language, self-presentation cues, and the physical environment.
Perhaps the most familiar methods of nonverbal communication are what and how a person communicates through body motions and para language. Eye contact, facial expression, gesture and posture are four major types of body motions. Body motions ac: as emblems, illustrators, affect displays, regulators, and tension relievers. Likewise, a person’s vocal characteristics (volume rate, pitch and quality) as well as the vocal interference (ahs, urns, you knows and likes) help us interpret the meaning of the verbal message.
A though verbal and nonverbal communication work together best when they are complementary, nonverbal cues may replace or even contradict verbal symbols. Generally, nonverbal communication is more to be trusted when verbal and nonverbal cues are in conflict.
Through self-presentation cues such as clothing, touching behavior, and use of time, people communicate about themselves and their relationship to .others. The physical environment is often overlooked even though we set the tone for conversations and non verbally communicate through ‘it. The choices people make in their permanent spaces, the way they arrange the objects in those spaces, and the way they control or react to temperature, lighting, and color contribute to the quality and meaning of the communication episodes that occur.