Making Assumptions Based on NonVerbal Communication

For this assignment I chose to watch “Transparent” which is an series that depicts a Los Angeles family who discover that their father is transgender and the different reactions that all the children have when confronted by this reality. I had not watched this show and started with the second episode because then I would not guess the natural progression of the story.

I turn off the volume and the episode opens with two women in a romantic embrace. The door opens and there is a transgender male standing there in a dress with a surprised look on his face. The two women react the same way, looking very surprised as if they were caught doing something that was not supposed to be public. The transgender male, then takes one of the ladies’ hands and seems to be reassuring her about his reaction. Both the ladies seem flustered, and he takes one of them into a bedroom where he sits with her on the bed and seems to have a loving and understanding conversation with her. The next scene shows the male in a suit as he heads to an office that has his title and name on the door. He is a college professor. Meanwhile, the two women are shown driving in the car with expressions of incredulousness and relief. I say relief because one of them takes a deep breath and blows out the air very slowly. They keep shaking their heads as they drive as if they cannot believe what just happened.

When I turned the volume back on, it seemed that the transgender male was the father of one of the two women. They had gone to his house to pick up some stuff and did not expect to find him there. He opens the door and finds them in a romantic embrace and is shocked because his daughter is married to a man and has children and he did not expect this. His daughter and her friend, on the other hand, are surprised because they did not know that he was a cross dresser. When he takes his daughter to his room he confesses to her about being a transgender and he also understands her situation. He has not “come out” to the rest of the family and asks her to keep it a secret. He continues his life as a man teaching at the university while his daughter and her friend are surprised by their romantic attraction to each other and their surprise at being seen by the father. They are also surprised by the father’s cross dressing.

I had made the assumption that the women were surprised and shocked at being found out, but it was both parties finding out things about each other.

If I had watched the first episode, I would have had a more accurate assumption because I would have seen the progression of the relationships through their verbal communications.

This exercise teaches us that non- verbal communications which include the use of gestures, facial expressions, and non-audible expressions, are not always straightforward. The interpretations vary within different cultures, ethnicities concerning the way people use their facial expressions, hands or their heads when communicating. In this case I had made the assumption that the surprise was one-sided, that is the father finding the women in a romantic embrace, but it turned out that both sides were surprised.


2 thoughts on “Making Assumptions Based on NonVerbal Communication

  1. Teresa Motley says:

    Wow, that was a great interpretation of the show. That is interesting how we assume so many things when we do not know the facts. We watch the nonverbal actions, and think we know what is happening when we really need to take the time to listen to what is really being said. Thanks for sharing. I found this to be challenging because it was hard for me to make assumptions based on nonverbal communication. I felt relieved when I was able to turn the volume up and listen.


  2. Ebony says:

    You’ve sparked my interest to watch this show. I briefly remember seeing something similar for a show being aired on tv recently but hadn’t had the chance to watch it yet.
    It appears that the father and daughter both had secrets of their own to share with one another about their lifestyles. I wonder if they had not seen each other exposed in the fashion that they were, how much longer would if have taken to speak up and out about the changes in their lives they’ve decided to make, and now that they are both holding secrets from their family for each other has that opened up the communication more between the two.


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