Nonverbal communication (An overview)

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Nonverbal communication is the method of transferring a message without the utilization of words.

It uses gestures and facial expressions, tone of voice, timing, and posture and wherever you stand as you communicate.”

Nonverbal Communication:

According to scientists, a considerable portion of our communication is nonverbal.

Each day we tend to register and react to thousands of nonverbal cues and behaviors, together with postures, facial expressions, eye gaze, gestures, and tone of voice.

From our handshakes to our hairstyles, nonverbal communication reveals who we tend to be and impacts how we have a tendency to relate to people.

Research on nonverbal communication began with the publication of “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.”

From that point, abundant analysis on the kinds, effects, and expressions of unspoken communication and behavior have begun.

Whereas these signals are thought to not seem to be consciously aware of them, analysis has known many different types of nonverbal communication.

Non-verbal communication is a type of direct communication.

Kinds of Nonverbal Communication

Here are 9 kinds of nonverbal cues and behaviors:

Facial Expressions

Facial expressions account for a large proportion of nonverbal communication.

Think about how much information is sent with just a smile or a frown.

The look on somebody’s face is usually the primary issue we tend to see, even before we tend to hear what they may have to say.

While nonverbal communication and behavior can vary dramatically between cultures, the facial expressions for happiness and concern are similar throughout all cultures.


Deliberate movements and signals are vital methods of communication while words are not being used.

Common gestures are waving, pointing, and using fingers to specify numeric amounts. Different gestures are uniquely associated with certain cultures.

In court room settings, lawyers often utilize different nonverbal signals in attempts to sway the judge and jury’s opinions.

A lawyer may look at his watch to recommend that the opposing lawyer’s argument is tedious or may even roll his eyes at the testimony offered by a witness in attempts to undermine his or her believability.

These nonverbal signals are seen as being so powerful and authoritative that some judges even place limits on what variety of nonverbal behaviors are allowed within the courtroom.


Paralinguistics refers to vocal communication that is without actual language. This includes factors like tone of voice, loudness, inflection, and pitch.

Contemplate the powerful impact that tone of voice will have on the meaning of a sentence. Once mentioned in an exceedingly sturdy tone of voice, listeners may interpret approval and enthusiasm.

Constant words spoken in an exceedingly hesitant tone of voice may convey disapproval and an absence of interest.

Consider all the various ways that slightly changing your tone of voice may modify the means of a sentence.

A friend may ask you how you’re doing, and you would possibly respond with the statement “I’m fine,” however saying those words may reveal a different aspect of how you’re feeling.

A cold tone of voice may recommend that you simply are not fine; however, you do not want to debate it.

A bright, happy tone of voice can reveal that you simply are doing quite well.

A somber, downcast tone would indicate that you simply are not feeling fine, which may prompt your friend to ask you more questions about how you are doing.

Body Language and Posture

Posture and movement may also convey a good deal of information.

Analyses on body language have grown considerably since the 1970s, and research has focused on the over-interpretation of defensive postures, arm-crossing, and leg-crossing, particularly in the business mogul Julius Fast’s book Body Language.

While these nonverbal behaviors will indicate feelings and attitudes, analysis suggests that visual communication is additionally refined and less definitive than previously believed.


People typically notice “personal area,” and that is additionally a crucial method of nonverbal communication.

The amount of distance we’d like and also the amount of area we tend to understand as personal to us is influenced by a variety of things together with social norms, cultural expectations, situational factors, temperament characteristics, and level of familiarity.

For example, the amount of private area required once having an off-the-cuff conversation with another person typically varies between eighteen inches to four feet.

On the opposite hand, the private distance required once chatting with a crowd of individuals is around ten to twelve feet.

Eye Gaze

The eyes play a crucial role in nonverbal communication and such things as wanting, staring and blinking are necessary nonverbal behaviors.

Once individuals encounter individuals or things that they like, the speed of blinking will increase and pupils dilate.

Observing another person will indicate a spread of emotions together with hostility, interest, and attraction.

People conjointly utilize eye gaze as a method to work out if somebody is being honest.

Normal, steady eye contact is usually taken as a signal that someone is telling the truth and isa  trustworthy person.

On the opposite hand, untrusting eyes and an inability to take care of eye contact are often seen as an indication that somebody is lying or being deceptive.


Communicating through touch is another prominent nonverbal behavior.

There has been a considerable amount of analysis on the importance of touch in infancy and babyhood.

Harry Harlow’s classic monkey study demonstrated however disadvantaged touch and calls impede development.

Baby monkeys raised by wire mothers acquired permanent deficiencies in interpersonal behavior and social interaction.

It is difficult to communicate warm heartedness, familiarity, sympathy, and other emotions using haptics.

In her book Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters, author Julia Wood writes that touch is additionally to speak with others.

Researchers have found that high-status people tend to invade different people’s areas with larger frequency and intensity than lower-status people.

Sex variations conjointly play a role in how individuals utilize touch as a nonverbal communication.


Our selection of color, clothing, hairstyles, and different factors are common methods of nonverbal communication.

Analysis on color psychology has shown that different colors will evoke different moods.

Looks may also alter physiological reactions, judgments, and interpretations.

Just think about all the refined judgments you quickly make about somebody on the basis of his or her look.

These first impressions are imperative, that is why specialists recommend that job seekers dress suitably for interviews with potential employers.

Researchers have found that looks play a role in how individuals are perceived and even how much money they earn. 

Culture is a crucial influence on how appearances are judged.

Whereas thinness tends to be valued in Western cultures, some African cultures relate full-figured bodies to higher health, wealth, and social rank.


Objects and pictures are tools which are used to communicate nonverbally.

On an internet forum, as an example, you would possibly choose an avatar to represent your identity online and to speak information regarding you and also the objects and clothing you like.

Individuals typically pay a good deal of time and effort to develop a specific image and dressing themselves with objects designed to convey information regarding the items that are necessary to them.

Uniforms, as an example, transmit much information about people as some looks are associated with certain professions.

A soldier can don a beret, a lawman can wear a tie, and a doctor can wear a white coat.

At a mere look, these outfits tell individuals what someone does for a living.

Role of nonverbal communication in relationships

An individual’s nonverbal cues could be noticed by an intuitive friend, partner, or loved one.

In close relationships, this deeper understanding on a nonverbal level may facilitate deeper closeness and strengthen bonds, particularly once it enhances what’s truly being understood by someone they share a relationship with.

However, once one thing doesn’t feel right, it’s going to be tougher for individuals to hide things from those that they’re in a relationship with, and therefore they may experience miscommunication or conflict within a relationship.

The manner in which people communicate nonverbally could give the primary indication of an underlying issue that is not readily apparent within the relationship.

Nonverbal communication in medical care

Since nonverbal communication is, in general, essential to one’s ability to navigate social situations and interact with others and read the atmosphere, it makes sense that nonverbal communication is a very important method of communication in medical care.

A counselor is attuned to a person’s nonverbal expressions, while taking in the words spoken by the person, as well as acknowledging a person’s non-verbal communication.

The counselor could learn more from a person’s gestures rather than from the words being spoken.

These forms of cues may help the counselor and also any person in medical care establish relationships and access deeper emotional issues for which the person might not be consciously aware.

Somatic experiencing, a kind of medical care attempting to help treat the results of trauma, takes into consideration the visual communication and physical responses of the person in treatment because the healer introduces a miniscule quantity of traumatic material.

The healer reads nonverbal cues to assess the individual’s reaction.

Tips for upgrading nonverbal communication

  • A person’s attentiveness could facilitate increased understanding of private nonverbal communication because of the communication forms of others. Paying attention to this and facial expressions or posture will enhance cognizance and should facilitate additional effective communication. As an example, while talking, someone may actively rely on gestures, tone of voice, eye contact, and body movement and take into consideration the opposite person’s reaction to those aspects of communication.
  • Stress also plays a crucial role in nonverbal communication. People who are stressed tend to misread individuals actions and should avoid verbal signals that confuse others. Managing stress in healthy ways will improve verbal communication and relationships. Maintaining an awareness of one’s emotions and that of others is additionally necessary in recognizing and understanding another person’s nonverbal cues.
  • People who often feel misunderstood or distanced from others could find it useful to discuss nonverbal communication with people they share relationships with. When nonverbal communication is usually incongruent with spoken words, others might not understand certain intentions. A person could also nonverbally convey a specific feeling others realize off-putting, like a way of judgment or aggression. This might not seem apparent within the individual’s spoken words, and individuals may be unaware of the message being sent by the nonverbal cues. Therefore, assessing the reactions of others and gaps in lines of communication will give insight into ways to better align verbal and nonverbal communication.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the importance of nonverbal communication?

Nonverbal communication plays a significant role in our lives because it improves the ability to relate, engage, and establish substantive interactions in life.

A stronger understanding of this sort of communication may lead individuals to develop stronger relationships with others.

What are the functions of nonverbal communication?

A primary function of nonverbal communication is to convey the meaning of what they are trying to get across by reinforcing, amending for, or contradicting verbal communication.

Nonverbal communication is conjointly used to influence others and regulate informal flow.

What are the principles of nonverbal communication?

Nonverbal communication is the method of transmitting a message without the utilization of words.

It embraces gestures and facial expressions, tone of voice, timing, posture and where you choose to stand as you communicate.

Related Readings:

The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, Charles Darwin

Body Language, Julian Fast

Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters, Julia Wood


  4. Foley, G. N., & Gentile, J. P. (2010). Nonverbal communication in psychotherapy. Psychiatry (Edgmont),

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