Unspoken Words

“Unspoken words – where actions speak louder than words.”

Non-verbal communication plays an important key factor in communicating. It is non-linguistic and contains intentional symbolic behavior. There are various types of non-verbal communications such as kinesics (body language), paralinguistics (pitch of the voice), chronemics (time), objectics or artifacts, oculesics (eyes), haptics (touch), proxemics (space) and lastly physical appearance. 75% of the message is encoded in these non-verbal cues which are an extremely influential source of meaning. Many of us would not have realised this and we tend to under value non-verbal cues.

I stumbled upon this video – Operation Smile on Youtube and felt happy for the girl. Although, mainly in this clip does not have any verbal communication, most of us could understand and interpret from the non-verbal cues shown. Basically, from the clip, we can conclude that this cheerful child is a patient who has a cleft lip and hides her face behind the pink stuff toy due to the insecurities she has of her appearance. In the other half of the video shows that she has done a cleft lip surgery and is crying perhaps, due to the pain from the stitch. She is seen to be rather close with the volunteer. As she sees herself in the camera, she is so happy that her cleft lip is gone and thinking that she looks gorgeous!

What were the non-verbal cues that she excludes out which enable us to interpret the video this way? From the beginning of this video, first of all, we notice her physical appearance and could denote that she has a cleft lip. Next, by the way she dress (objectics), we knows that she is a patient in that hospital. Third, through her body language, we can interpret that she is more comfortable with her pink friend and her bag. Moving on to the second part of the clip, straight away we notice the nicely stitched lip, with this we could conclude that she has done a cleft lip surgery. And judging by her swollen eyes, we knew that she was crying before the filming of the video perhaps due to the painfulness in her lip. Towards the end, looking at the distance she keeps (proxemics) and the interactions with the volunteer, we could tell that they are rather close to each other. Lastly, look at how she sees herself in the camera after the surgery. Her eyes shine and sparkled (oculesics) as she moves on to touch her face and wave happily admiring herself in the camera.

Even though, non-verbal communication can be subjective, I believed that in this clip, it is normative; whereby the cues are socially agreed upon on or culturally defined meanings. Just by interpreting these non-verbal cues allow us to get so much information on what the video is about.

Afterall, unspoken words speak louder than words. Don’t you agree?

PS: Before the operation, the girl was beautiful. After the operation, she become even more beautiful 🙂


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. belovedcandice
    Sep 25, 2011 @ 13:36:43

    There’s nothing in the world like making a little child smile (: And you’re right, before the op she was beautiful. After the op, she’s gorgeous! Couldn’t stop looking at her beautiful eyes 😀

    The video represents how powerful non verbal language is to an audience. And there was such a difference in her behaviour the moment she saw herself after the op. There was such a close distance between herself and the camera, she smiled more and her facial expressions completely changed 😀 She became so much more interactive and lively after she had her cleft stitched. Even the clothes she wore complements the delivery of her message – from hospital gown to brightly coloured pajamas.


  2. Stephanie Tan
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 15:24:00

    Non verbal cues are indeed very powerful indicators of how someone is feeling. Sometimes they tell us more about a person than the spoken word. For instance someone may compliment another person as beautiful. However , his non verbal cues might suggest otherwise. Therefore the power of non verbal cues is not to be under estimated. Throughout the video the little girl did not say anything. However, her non verbal cues told us a lot about how she was feeling.

    At the beginning of the video, the little girl appeared shy and kept hiding behind her pink toy. This represents lack of confidence in perhaps how she looked due to her cleft lips . After her operation, she looked totally different. She was not hiding behind her toy anymore and appeared to be more confident. The brilliant smile on her face showed how pleased she was with her new look. She was also more comfortable with the camera lenses nearer to her than before the operation.

    Even without her saying , the message was clear, ” I feel so much happier and confident with my new look!”

    She is, indeed a strong and beautiful girl. Even more so after her operation as the new found confidence in her shines through.


    • tanyouyi
      Oct 07, 2011 @ 15:12:43

      haha.. I agree there are definitely times when one’s non-verbal cues betrayed his/hers verbal cues, like how one would say he/she is not angry and his/her non-verbal cues might suggest otherwise. It is quite common for people give away through non-verbal cues and if one is observant enough, one could spot that immediately. Thus, though communication, we should not left these non-verbal cues unnoticed.


  3. Lynnie
    Oct 01, 2011 @ 19:46:38

    So true.. unspoken words speak louder than words.. sometimes by just looking at someone’s body language or facial expressions, you already know what they are thinking about.
    This video tells me that happiness is indescribable as well as other emotions, and it really put a smile on my face:)


    • tanyouyi
      Oct 07, 2011 @ 15:17:26

      I’m glad that this video is able to put a smile on your face 🙂 The little girl’s smile is definitely influential and contagious; I really like how she smiles with both her eyes and lips! Non-verbal cues are so powerful…


  4. Eunice
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 05:32:49

    I agree that non-verbal communication is really very important in our daily lives. The use of words alone will not be able to express how we really feel, we need to accompany words with tone, facial expressions, body language and so on. What will the words “I am happy” alone be like if one shows a grumpy face? The facial expression would have told you otherwise.

    The video is really nice. It makes me happy to see that the girl slowly gains confidence to look into the camera, and to see her smile even brighter than before.=)


  5. Pearl Yang
    Oct 07, 2011 @ 11:18:38

    Who says we need to speak in order to communicate? In most cases, we look for cues, observe the body language of the person, and through eye contact.

    Before the operation, the girl was just as expressive as many kids, and you can see it from the look of her eyes. However, she hid behind the soft toy as she lacked confidence. After the operation, her smile shined. You do not need to listen to what she says to know what she is feeling. That’s the power of unspoken words.

    Non verbal cues can often imply the confidence, the mood and the feelings of the person. Its unspoken, and I am sure we use this “language” in certain time of our lives without us noticing.


    • tanyouyi
      Oct 07, 2011 @ 15:58:35

      Yup, we surely would use non-verbal cues as these cues are part of the whole that made up communication. I agree that non-verbal cues are often implying on one’s attitude and feelings. It can also bring across messages such as “keep quiet” by putting one’s finger to the lips instead of saying it out loud. Afterall, actions speak louder than words 🙂


  6. Melissa
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 10:59:42

    The nonverbal cues here are very strong! While expressive before the operation, the little girl communicates more through her eyes than anything else but after the operation, she’s more confident and is more “brave”, so to speak. I especially found it touching when she started to smile and wave towards the end of the video. What a happy ending for her! 😀


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