Nonverbal Cues Used in the Movie Clip

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Non-verbal communication is a type of communication that uses facial expression, eye contact, and vocal characteristics to convey information. It’s still hard for most people to connect without using non-verbal cues. Such hints allow the interlocutors to decide the truth of their language and the true emotions that cannot be conveyed by spoken words. Non-verbal contact has several outlets, but often it undermines spoken language. Where the information given is contradictory, people depend on non-verbal contact to derive the true meaning from the sender. The amount of information shared through nonverbal communication, versus verbal communication is 55% body language, 7% delivered by words and 38% passed through vocal signals (Burgoon, Guerrero & Floyd, 2016). The most commonly understood gestures and facial expressions include; smiles, asymmetry, enlarged pupils, mouth slightly open, hand on the head, and foot position. This paper explores the impacts of nonverbal communication on the conversation between Pete and Debbie in the movie.

From the video clip, the conversation between Pete and Debbie uses various nonverbal cues that have an influence on their understanding. For instance, Debbie uses her hands to reinforce what has already been said. Pete also nods his head to agree and complement the verbal message from Debbie. In the dialogue, nonverbal communication helps in underlining certain points in the message (Knapp, Hall & Horgan, 2013). Debbie used tonal variation to show Pete the seriousness of her message. She commands Pete to resume his seat when she realized that Pete is not concentrating. The nonverbal can substitute words where Pete stands up to play guitar without showing his wife that he is bored with her message.

The body language of each participant in the movie changes depending on the moods of the participants during the conversation. Debbie uses her hands to demonstrate to Pete how she feels about their relationship. She also maintains eye contact to draw Pete’s attention for a continuous audience. Debbie alters the eye contact by looking up while sourcing some facts with wrinkles on her face when Pete walks away. Pete receives Debbie’s message with open mouth, and he fakes a smile to show her that he is pleased with the news. He also changes the posture by walking away to play guitar while listening to what his wife is saying. If I were in the shoes of Debbie, I could have also stood up with Pete to maintain eye contact. I could also use my head to show Debbie that I am no longer interested in the conversation rather than walking away. For example, I can recall having slapped my teenage brother who decided to leave when we were discussing life matters. My brother chose to deliberately ignore my piece of advice by going to serve food while we were still talking.

Debbie and Pete are speaking the same language, but they do not mean the same things about improving their life at forty. From the triangle of meaning, the thought is interfering with the understanding of each participant (Du, Tao & Martinez, 2014). Like in the movie clip, the couples think of improving their life to live happily. Debbie believes that they can enhance their life between forty-sixty by exercising, visiting therapist, spending time together, and by no stressing over tiny things. On the other hand, Pete thinks that they can improve their life by using some medications. Since there are many ways of improving lifestyle, it is hard for Debbie and Pete to have a similar thought. It makes them end up in awkward moments because they do not fall in love with each other’s respective referent.

From the research, I can deduce that the percentage of the information conveyed through Pete and Debbie’s words in this scene is 7%. It follows the fact that the conversation of the two participants consists mostly of tonal variations and body language. From the film, it seems Pete is not interested in listening to what Debbie is saying. Therefore, they tend to use body language and tonal variation rather than words.


Burgoon, J. K., Guerrero, L. K., & Floyd, K. (2016). Nonverbal communication. Routledge.

Du, S., Tao, Y., & Martinez, A. M. (2014). Compound facial expressions of emotion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(15), E1454-E1462.

Knapp, M. L., Hall, J. A., & Horgan, T. G. (2013). Nonverbal communication in human interaction. Cengage Learning.

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