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The main advantage of nonverbal communication is to avoid the inaccuracies of verbal communication, which is imperfect, in that the signified/signifier connection is weak, because of the varying conditions under which we connect one with the other. Obviously, the “language” of the signifier is the source of most mis-connections (“gift” means “poison” in German). Secondly, verbal communications have layers of formality – slang vs. academic vs. business, etc. (“benefits,” for example). Thirdly, there is the diachronic element – signifiers (words) change signifieds (referents) over time ( “pot” didn’t mean the same thing in 1930 as it did in 1960.) Nonverbal communication cannot avoid these ambiguities altogether, but it can depend on a more universal experience (a picture of a dog is recognizable to all cultures). Nonverbal communication skips the step of translating words into pictures (when you give a person directions to your house, the person must “draw a map” in his head – better would be to give them a map, a nonverbal communication). Also, there is such a thing as “visual rhetoric,” which allows the communicator to give the recipient an emotional point of view (a child in a car seat to stress safety features in a product, for example). Finally, it avoids synonyms – the word “file” can mean at least two things (technically, the synchronic element in words) but a yellow rectangle with a tab cannot be confused with a long metal tool with a handle.
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