Stacy’s Discipline and Punishment Blog Post.

How Nonverbal Communication can be used to Discipline & Control

Nonverbal Communication has been a profound way of communicating over the years. It has been socially built into our lives and daily habits through out time. Generally, Nonverbal communication is a way we use symbolic gestures to communicate without the use of words, with hand gestures, facial expressions, use of space and territory, and body language. Although, according to an article by Marvin Hecht and Nalini Ambady (1999) in Nonverbal Communication and psychology: Past and future, “Nonverbal communication threads even further into nonverbal behaviors and a general level of abstractions (actions, goals and rewards)” (p.2). For this post, I will be looking at how these nonverbal behaviors and communication pertain to Visual Rhetoric, Interpersonal communication and Propaganda. I will also explain how discipline is influenced through nonverbal communication, and also how control can be attained from nonverbal communication.

Visual Rhetorica83084194d3ca71ce5a977482fcf0256

From Ancient Greece and the Renaissance, Visual rhetoric has always been a key factor of education. According to Aristotle, who was one of the very first philosopher to provide account of rhetoric, rhetoric is the ability to see what is possibly persuasive in every given case (Rhet. I.2, 1355b26f, translation from Kennedy, 1991).  And in this case, I will be illustrating how visual rhetoric implores discipline in nonverbal communication.

From the image on the right, there is clearly a message assigned. The image is persuasive, in the sense, it disciplines the reader to be stronger or else not being able to survive. There is clearly a survival of the fittest message hidden in the image, such as, “the weak die out and the strong will survive, and will live on forever”. So, if I look at this image, it persuades and disciplines me to want to be the strongest and survive whatever trails I am faced with in the future.

Visual Rhetoric also instills control, for example, there has been so many “driving and texting” commercials of late. In these commercials, a lot of persuasive images and videos are used, where they target the audiences’ emotions (pathos) by showing a fatal tragic end result of texting and driving. it could be about a teenager texting and driving, and ends up hitting a pedestrian, who ends up paralyzed for life. And after that, the driver would be interviewed with the victim while explaining what she would have done different, how she wouldn’t have texted back and rather focused on the road, how she thinks that a single text isn’t worth the victim’s life or legs, which will then end in an emotional spiral of tears and regret. Whoever watches this commercial, will definitely remember it whenever they are driving themselves, that would then alone give them a sense of control, mostly because they keep remembering the consequences of the action itself. According to Jason Tham (2013) in Visual Rhetoric: Parallels and Intersections  of Rhetoric and Design Studies “Visual Rhetoric has always influenced an ethos pattern, one that aids in persuading and controlling the audience and how they perceive a direct message” (p.187).

Interpersonal Communication

When it comes to interpersonal communication, People mostly think of it as a major key in nonverbal communication. It deals with personal communication that is portrayed while building relationships or communicating. Hence, it is the way two or more people communicate (sending and receiving messages) with each other, through verbal or nonverbal communication. in this case, I will be focusing on how nonverbal communication can control people.

Facial expression is a good example to illustrate with this, It portrays emotions which can influence control. For example, when I was a child and my mother took me out and noticed I was misbehaving, she would give me that “I’m going to spank you if you don’t behave ” look. This always made me realize my wrongdoings and made me behave better instantly. This was not because I saw her angry facial expression, but because I  knew the exact meaning of such an expression and the action that would follow if I didn’t comply. According to Nick Nauert (2016) in Facial Expressions control Emotions ““Essentially, it says, when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you. It’s an old song, but it’s right” (p.1). 

nonverbalhand Gestures is a good example that is used to instill discipline in communication. Growing up in a cultural hierarchical country, Nigeria, the symbolic meaning of the image on the left is quite familiar to me. In high school, teachers always used it to discipline the students, it meant “be quiet or you will be flogged”. So whenever I was told to be quiet, I would remember what could happen if I did not comply. According to (2016) in Nonverbal Communication: Action Speaks Louder than Words! “* Hold up your hand to “STOP” students from talking or doing something they shouldn’t be doing, Be aware that your students also receives communication through non verbal cues and signals from a teacher*”.


Finally,  I will be illustrating how control is introduced with propaganda. A perfect example to explain this is the “we can do it!” poster, which was created by J. Howard Miller in 1943. The poster was quite famous and marked it’s way through history, as it helped promote feminism, just as the Rosie the Riveter poster. Today due to the large growth of the media, we have even more propaganda posters that promote, mock, publicize information from a biased or misleading nature. With Howard’s famous poster, it controlled not just the female audience but also persuaded the male audience, in letting women work outside of home just like men did. According to Anup Shah (March, 2005) in War, Propaganda and the Media “No matter how it is spread, propaganda comes in four basic varieties […], “The second layer says, ‘It doesn’t have to be the truth, so long as it’s plausible.” (p.3).

The last approach, is how Propaganda also instills discipline in communication. A good example of this is marketing through false advertising, so advertising a productand giving (exaggerated, biased and misleading) information about the product and what it can offer consumers. This happens more often now, as mediums and platforms continues to increase and develop. I always do online shopping, and I had a bad experience with one of the products I bought (which had clear signs to its lack of authenticity) but I still bought it anyway. I did that because, I was drawn to the lies and deceptions this website was offering and for a good price at that. But when I finally learnt my lesson, was when I desperately needed that product but got something different. From that day, this experience disciplined me to carefully crosscheck whatever I buy online and refrain from impulse buying as well. According to Rhoads Kelton (May, 2016) in Persuasive disciplines; Ways to study Persuasion “Consumer needs can be both tangible in terms of product performance, or intangible in terms of product image and how owning a particular product makes a person feel” .


Hecht, Marvin A., and Nalini Ambady. “Nonverbal Communication and Psychology: Past    and Future.” New Jersey Journal of Communication, vol. 7, no. 2, 1999, pp. 156–170. doi:10.1080/15456879909367364.

Jason, Tham. (2013). Visual Rhetoric: Parallels and Intersections  of Rhetoric and Design Studies. Department of Writing Studies University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Nauert, Rick. “Facial Expressions Control Emotions | Psych Central News.” Psych Central News. Psych Central, 06 Oct. 2015. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.

“Successful Non Verbal Communication Teaching Strategies.” Priceless Teaching Strategies, Hundreds of Valuable Tips For Successful Teachers. Priceless Teaching Strategies, 14 July 2016. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.

Shah, Anup. “Anup Shah – War, Propaganda and the Media.” Scribd. Scribd, 31 Mar. 2005. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.                                                                 

  Rhoads, Kelton. “Persuasive Disciplines: Rhetoric, Advertising, Marketing, Law, Communication, Psychology.” Persuasive Disciplines: Rhetoric, Advertising, Marketing, Law, Communication, Psychology. Working Psychology, 15 May 2016. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.                                                                  




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