Nonverbal Communication Analysis


The means of passing information have increased both in number and effectiveness. There are both verbal and nonverbal means of communication that are used in the world today. It is, therefore, very critical to be observant on the gestures that people use when they are sending messages because each one of them has a different meaning. In addition, people interpret those gestures differently.

As a result, a message passed from one person to another might be interpreted wrongly resulting in the breakdown of communication between parties involved. According to Mukesh (2011), communication, is the transfer of information from one person to another and the information has to be interpreted correctly for it to be effective. If the meaning is not understood, then effective communication is not achieved. It is widely believed that most of the messages are conveyed via non-verbal means of communication and only a small portion is verbal. This analytical essay is a critical analysis of Tony Abbot and their communication techniques.

Analysis of Tony Abbot

According to Crow (2003), communication is the process via which a meaning is shared and mutually understood between parties. He notes that there are various ways in which a person can pass a message to others. It can either be in a verbal or a nonverbal way. Verbal is the use of the spoken language to pass information. Tony Abbot has used verbal communication in his address to the gallery.

On the other hand, he has employed the use of non-verbal language to convey his frustrations by the government failure to fulfil its promises. According to Desmond (2002), non-verbal communication does not include words, and communication is affected by the actions of people. One of these ways is the use of gestures. He has noted that hands have been widely used to express ideas in a non-verbal way. Hands have been used as illustrators that go together with the speech being delivered. Tony Abbot in his speech to the National Assembly has used hands extensively to drive home his accusations on the Prime Minister.

For instance, he uses his hands on several occasions when he is accusing the Prime Minister of backtracking on promises she had made to the Australian people regarding the carbon tax. He even points to the ministers in the gallery who attempts to boo him as he was moving his motion. This act was meant to show who the target of his point was at that particular time.

There are three different types of hand gesture which include; adaptors that revolves around touching so that one can establish the internal states for instance anxiety. Secondly, it is the emblem and lastly the illustrators that go hand in hand with speech being delivered. Esposito (2007) says that gestures are both acquired and learned. According to him, gestures cut across all societies and tend to be tied to speech and that they are automatic. This means that people using gestures can even make phone calls and use them in a conversation without realizing they are doing so. For example, Tony Abbot has continued using gestures in the entire speech some of which may have come automatically without himself realizing it.

Interaction synchrony is another effective method of nonverbal communication used in the gallery by both Tony Abbot and the Prime Minister. According to Knapp (2010), body synchrony involves matching of body movement. When Tony Abbot compares Prime Minister Julia Gillard with Former President of the United States of America Richard Nixon, the Prime Minister in disbelief looks at Tony Abbot straight into his eyes so that she can get the idea he is driving home. The fact that the attacks are directed to her, she is seen adjusting her sitting style to make sure it corresponds with the kinds of accusations Tony abbot is levelling against her government.

Facial expression is another commonly used aspect in conveying a non-verbal communication. It has been observed that majority of facial expressions people put carry similar meanings globally. For example, facial expressions during happiness, sadness, surprise and anger are demonstrated in a similar manner in the world. Salzmann (2005) has observed that facial expressions are a product of peoples’ emotions and, therefore, demonstrated in a similar manner.

In his address to the gallery, Tony Abbot portrays different facial expression at different times based on the points he is raising. For example, he has an angered face at the beginning of his speech as he outlines the points the Prime Minister has failed in her government. However, on various occasions, he is seen smiling especially when he says President Nixon of the United States of America knew he was telling the truth when he rubbed his nose, however, as soon as he opened his mouth, that’s when people realized he was lying.

Fielding (2006) observed that when more people are involved in a function, smiling is inevitable and therefore smiling is a function brought about by other peoples’ presence. According to him, in order accomplish facial effects, there are five display rules that have to be observed. One of them is simulation where an individual shows feeling that are indeed not there at all. Secondly, it is the masking that involves covering a feeling with a feeling that is not there at all.

Intensification is the process of showing more feelings than one has. Inhibition that entails demonstrating lack of feeling when it is indeed there. Lastly, it is the miniaturization that involves giving the appearance of having fewer emotions than an individual is feeling. As he moves his motion in the gallery, Tony Abbot sometimes tends to be emotional on how the government has let down the people of Australia. On other instances, he portrays a character of a person who is out to shame the government with no feelings at all.

Eye contact is another way used to convey messages between people. In some of the cultures in the contemporary world, it is assumed that when communication between people is taking place, both should be looking at one another. Steinberg, (2007) has noted that if this is not the case, some cultures consider that as a sign of rudeness to whoever who does not observe that rule. In his speech, the leader of the opposition has on the number of occasions looked at the Prime Minister straight into her eyes. This has been done to make sure that she gets the message being conveyed to her by Tony Abbot.

Every time he tends to point out at the failures of her government, Tony Abbot faces the direction where the Prime Minister is seated. According to Chandler (2008), eye contact form of communication serves a number of functions; it aids in regulating the interaction by providing turn-taking signals and beginning of a conversation, it helps in monitoring the level of interaction by way of receiving messages from the person being talked to.

In addition, eye contact expresses involvement since interest and connections are passed over from one person to another by looking. It also aids in making a person remain attentive to the other, and also ask for a quick response (Cortes & Gatti, 2009). As Tony Abbot addresses the gallery, he looks at the Prime Minister’s eyes to seek for urgent response to his concerns that he believes are need to be attended to pretty fast. For instance, he is concerned about the carbon tax law which he thinks might have an adverse effect on the economy of the country.

Eye movement is one of the non-verbal methods of communication. Patel (2012) has argued that as a person’s eye shifts focus from one point to the other, in some cases, he is communicating to other people. For example, the leader of the opposition in the gallery keeps on moving his focus between the Prime Minister and the opposition members. This means that the message he is delivering touches on the Prime Minister and the government at large and the opposition members who are supposed to critique the government whenever it goes wrong. Cobley (2003 suggests that eye movement may be interpreted differently based on people targeted.

The way people use the space they have can also be used to explain how they feel about themselves and how they perceive others. Guerrero (2009) has observed that people use the distance they have with others as a sign of either wishing to communicate with them or not. According to him, if people are close to one another, there is a higher a chance that a conversation may be initiated and vice versa. As he moves the motion in the gallery, Tony Abbots shows that he is willing to negotiate with the government on its stand on the issues he has raised on the floor of the gallery. Looking at his body language during his speech, it is easier to see his willingness to go and talk to the Prime Minister.

Bonvillain (2011) claims that proximity or lack of it is a reflection of how dominant or submissive people can get in any form of relationship. Wharton (2009) observes that if a person feels that he is the dominant figure in the relationship, then he might move closer to the other person and vice versa. In addition, the way people perceive friendliness or unfriendliness is shown in this kind of relationships. The kind of distance that people keep from others may affect the way conveyed information is received and interpreted. This means that the distance people keep from one another can be used to explain the kind of relationships they have with one another.

Knapp (2001) points out that there are different types of distances that exist; intimate distance, personal distance, social consultative distance and the public distance. It is from these distances that the way people interact with one another is determined. In the case of Tony Abbot and the Prime Minister, their distance can be classified as social distance. Richmond (2007) says that the social distance does not allow people to discuss business or any other matters in a private manner since the average distance between them is estimated to be between four to twelve feet.

Under the social distance, he observes that people are typically separated from one another by desks or tables. According to him, as people keep more distance between them, their way of interaction becomes more formal. During the debate in the gallery, the distance between the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition is meant to show that their discussion is formal.


Nonverbal communication as earlier highlighted is widely used in communications than the verbal method. It is, therefore, important to make sure that during conversations, the correct gestures are employed to promote effective communication. Although some gestures cut across all the societies, there are those that mean different things to different people. It is, therefore, critical to ensuring that the listener is in a position to interpret what is being communicated correctly.

Although some people have been known to employ different nonverbal communication in order to hide their true feelings, it is better to remain focused on whether the listener can understand the message being put forth (Berger, 1991).

Having a positive mind is another important issue that the speaker needs to pay attention to when engaging in a non-verbal communication. One way of achieving this is by keeping eyes glued to the listener to make sure that he or she understands everything and also to see the reactions when unimpressed by some of the information being communicated. Confidence during discussion has also been identified as a critical factor of nonverbal communication. Throughout his speech to the gallery, Tony Abbot appears confident on all the issues he is raising against the Prime Minister.

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