Communication is crucial to all relationships, and many nonverbal behaviors help to create and strengthen bonds. According to the textbook “Nonverbal Communication” by Judee K. Burgoon, Laura K. Guerrero and Kory Floyd, “Nonverbal behaviors play a critical role in communicating intimacy and affection across various types of relationships.”
I feel this is something many people can relate to and I have seen in many of my personal relationships. The book gives a few examples of nonverbal behaviors in relationships, including how friends adopt each other’s traits. In many relationships I have seen this, even I have adopted others traits over time, and what I find amusing is how you do not really realize it is happening until it is pointed out. I know my brother has adopted many of my mannerisms, and sometimes I’ll comment on it and he’ll be like “I hadn’t realized.” Even my former advisor at Crowder College, Latonia Bailey, has adopted a few of my mannerisms, although, at the same time, she has pointed out areas where I have adopted some of her behavior, so it is a kind of back and forth type interaction. Also, if I have a mentor (which I suppose Mrs. Bailey would fall in that category) I notice that I have more of a tendency to emulate their mannerisms.
I think it comes down to a matter of respect and knowing, and on a subconscious level this is how our body communicates that we are listening, that we do notice and that we do care. We adopt these traits and mannerisms, become aware of the others nonverbal patterns and learn to respond appropriately and immediately, and basically become in-tune to the other person. In marital relationships an entire conversation can take place without a word being said; in a parent/child relationship comfort can be offered through touch rather than through voice. Without the nonverbal language I feel most intimacy would be lost. With my youngest daughter, who is nonverbal, most of the communication between us is in the form of action or affection, and without that we would not have a relationship. Words only convey so much, but nonverbal communication can say what words only attempt to say.