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Nonverbal Communication in the Contemporary Operating Environment

Nonverbal behavior (NVB) is a key part of communication, arguably accounting for considerably more of the communicative message than that contained in verbal exchanges. This is especially true when a language barrier exists, as it does for many Soldiers stationed overseas. Universal and culture-specific NVB knowledge, skills, and attitudes (propensity) enable Soldiers to better identify opportunities to influence individuals, groups, and situations, especially when seeking cooperation or needing to identify friendly vs. hostile intent. The goal of the training proposed herein is to prepare Soldiers to predict and interpret nonverbal behavior. To develop the training framework, a literature review, a preliminary emblem extraction effort, and SME interviews and surveys were conducted. Competencies identified in NVB training include relevant attention and observation skills; cognitive processes to baseline people and scenes to develop expectancies of normative states and detect changes to a baseline; and knowledge of NVB functions and cues relevant to specific applications such as aggression and deception detection. This report describes a conceptual framework for teaching specific NVB concepts and cues designed to provide maximum benefit to Soldiers and makes specific recommendations about how such a curriculum may be taught.