- 5 Types of Non-verbal Communication
- What Is Nonverbal Communication?
- Facial Expressions
- Posture and Movement
- Eye Gazing
- Final Words
- Nonverbal Communication — GoodTherapy.org Therapy Blog
- Understanding Nonverbal Communication
- Find a Therapist
- Role of Nonverbal Communication in Relationships
- Nonverbal Communication in Therapy
- Cultural Differences in Nonverbal Communication
- Tips for Improving Nonverbal Communication
- 24 Types of Nonverbal Communication
- Physical Characteristics
- Body Movements
5 Types of Non-verbal Communication
Communication is very important because it is the process of sharing information, ideas, and opinions. It makes teams bond stronger, get to know each other and find solutions to problems.
Effective communication and correctly identifying the nonverbal cues when having meetings or hot discussions is essential. We often try to hide our emotions, feelings, and ideas but our bodies still send some subtle messages.
Learning about non-verbal communication means that you can get better at reading body language. However odd it may seem; we all display behaviors that have the same function during stressful situations and not only. Emotions are universal.
What Is Nonverbal Communication?
Nonverbal communication or body language is the use of gestures, tone of voice, expressions, body posture, and so on to send a message. But why are these wireless cues so important to identify?
Body language is an essential part of communication and it helps you send an emotion or feeling to other people.
Depending on how you sound and act, you can put people at ease, draw them to you, build trust, or make them be afraid or have a negative impression on you.
Body language is a key part of communication that is important not only in a personal area when talking with your family, spouse, or children.
It is essential in your job too. Business people and managers get huge benefits if they are aware of non-verbal communication. It helps you:
– better communicate your ideas, opinions, and emotions
– better connect with others
– build stronger bonds
– increase trust and clarity
And all these benefits are of huge help when you lead a team and work with many stakeholders.
According to Rona Beck, a weekly contributor to an Assignment service on communication topics, there are many facets of non-verbal communication most people are not aware of.
One important thing that many people are not aware of is that facial expressions are universal. If you have watched the series Lie to me, you already know that there are seven basic emotions. These are sadness, anger, disgust, fear, surprise, contempt, and happiness. Even though our cultures can shape our worldviews and behaviors, facial expressions are universal throughout the world.
There are over 50 studies that have shown that these facial expressions are spontaneous and cannot be consciously controlled. Further research discovered micro-expressions, which are different from the macro or facial expressions. When we are happy, fearful, or sad. In the presence of our closest ones, we do not have any reason to take them back or hide them.
However, when we go through different events, we might be tempted to do this. For example, in the case of a public speaking situation, when fear, shame, anxiety, and other negative emotions creep through your body. You will be tempted to hide them because of what people may think about you.
No matter how much we think that we can hide our feelings, they come to surface in the way of micro expressions. They are difficult to identify and you need training and exercise because they are quick and fleeting.
There are many types of gestures. We all know that some of them are deliberate, such as waving or pointing, while others are not.
For example, there are adapting gestures such as touching some body parts, rings, clicking pens, and so on. They are often displayed when someone is in distress. During a presentation, you can notice that some speakers will adopt this kind of gesture.
There are also illustrator gestures, maybe one of the most natural ones. They are used subconsciously and illustrate the verbal message.
Posture and Movement
Posture and movement are key factors of body language. Most people will adopt comforting behaviors or actions during stressful moments.
Posture and movement can tell you how someone is feeling. For example, an arm-crossed posture sends the message that you are not open to new ideas or solutions.
Or, the leg-crossed posture is known as a posture of defiance and defensiveness. Posture and movement send information about attitude.
Nonverbal communication is a broad domain that includes all the subtleties of our bodies. Paralinguistics are represented by your tone of voice, pitch, loudness, and inflection.
Think about how the meaning of a sentence can be changed just only by how you pronounce and articulate different words. Misunderstandings can arise from small things, not hearing a word correctly. For example, the words affect and effect have different meanings, but sound very similar. Fortunately, in most cases, we can use context and body language to discern between the two.
You can identify how the other is feeling just by carefully listening to what and how he presents his ideas. A cold tone of voice is related to negative emotions, while a warm one to more positive ones.
Eyes are the window to the soul. And they never lie. We all know this. Eye contact is used in a conversation by everyone because it helps you gather information. It also helps you get feedback from the environment and notice the body language of your interlocutor.
However, eye contact helps us establish a connection with others. I have learned during my practice as a psychology student that when people gaze, I must not interrupt them. Gazing means that someone is deep thinking. Eye contact means that someone is ready to communicate and to listen to you.
Eyes can also be used to send different signals as well. Depending on the culture and society you live in, prolonged eye contact can send a signal of intimidation. Or, in another context, flirting.
Nevertheless, eyes can help someone establish a rapport or connection. And this is so important in the life of a businessman or manager.
Nonverbal communication is also known as body language. It is something that is present in every moment of our lives and can offer valuable information about others.
The way you sit, talk, gesticulate, or walk can send subtle but powerful messages. Macro and micro expressions are universal.
Body language is important for everyone. It helps you adjust your behavior to some people. It helps you form stronger connections. It makes the process of supporting and helping others easier.
What’s your opinion on this topic? Do you think body language is important? Leave me a comment and let’s discuss it.
Nonverbal Communication — GoodTherapy.org Therapy Blog
Nonverbal communication is the act of conveying a thought, feeling, or idea through physical gestures, posture, and facial expressions.
A study conducted at UCLA found a majority of communication to be nonverbal, although the study’s exact statistics—which showed only 7% of any message to be relayed through words, 38% through vocal elements such as tone, and 55% through nonverbal elements such as posture and gesture—are often disputed.
Understanding Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal communication plays a significant role in our lives, as it can improve a person’s ability to relate, engage, and establish meaningful interactions in everyday life.
A better understanding of this type of communication may lead people to develop stronger relationships with others. Often referred to as body language, nonverbal communication can take many forms and may be interpreted in multiple ways by different people, especially across cultures.
Even a lack of such nonverbal cues can be meaningful and, in itself, a form of nonverbal communication.
Each movement and combination of movements of the body—such as shifts in posture, direction of the eyes, gestures of the limbs, and expressions on the face—provide signals to others.
These cues may be subtle or obvious, and they can be contradictory: A person might say one thing while body language conveys an entirely different message. This might be especially true when a person is not telling the truth.
Because nonverbal communication is often instinctive and typically not easy to fake, it is generally more indicative of a person’s true feelings.
Find a Therapist
Forms of nonverbal communication are many and varied and can provide extensive insight into a person’s thoughts and/or feelings. Forms of nonverbal communication can be categorized to better understand their place in everyday interactions:
- Gestures include motion of the head or limbs.
- Posture refers to both the position of the body by itself and in relation to others.
- Body movements may include any motion of the body.
- Eye contact and movements are the direction and focus of a person’s eyes.
- Tone of voice is the range of pitch in the voice that may communicate something other than the words being spoken. For example, sarcasm may give an individual’s words an entirely different meaning.
- Facial expressions refer to any movement and changes of the facial composition.
Nonverbal communication is often used in conjunction with verbal communication to repeat, emphasize, support, or contradict a verbal message, or to serve in the place of a verbal message.
Role of Nonverbal Communication in Relationships
An individual’s nonverbal cues might be more easily read by a close friend, partner, or family member. In close relationships, this deeper understanding on a nonverbal level might facilitate greater closeness and strengthen bonds, especially when it complements what is actually being said by a friend or by one partner in a relationship.
However, when something does not feel right, it may be more difficult for people to hide things from those they are close to, and attempts to do so may lead to miscommunication or conflict in the relationship. Because nonverbal communication is often unconscious, the way individuals communicate nonverbally may provide the first indication of an underlying issue not readily apparent in the relationship.
Nonverbal Communication in Therapy
Since nonverbal communication is, in general, essential to one’s ability to navigate social situations and interact with others and the environment, it makes sense that nonverbal communication can be a powerful source of insight in therapy.
A counselor who is attuned to a person’s nonverbal expressions, while also taking in the words actually spoken by the person, might be more easily able to recognize when a person’s body language and speech do not match. Or the counselor may learn more from a person’s gestures than from the words being spoken.
These kinds of cues may help the counselor and the person in therapy identify and access deeper emotional issues for which the person may not be consciously aware.
Drawing attention to a person’s nonverbal forms of communication and pointing out possible contradictions between the person’s expressed words and what is conveyed without words can also help a person increase awareness of how nonverbal communication is used in personal interactions.
Somatic experiencing, a type of therapy used to help treat the effects of trauma, takes into account the body language and physical responses of the person in treatment as the therapist introduces a small amount of traumatic material. The therapist reads nonverbal cues in order to assess the individual’s reaction.
In body-mind psychotherapy, the therapist measures an individual’s breath, sounds, and movements in order to find counterproductive behaviors and help the individual develop new ones that have a more positive effect.
Cultural Differences in Nonverbal Communication
Certain forms of nonverbal communication have different meanings in different cultures.
For example, a gesture or motion that means one thing to people in the United States may mean something entirely different in Japan.
Whereas an American is ly to point with an index finger, a Japanese person will more ly gesture with a hand, as pointing with an index finger is considered to be rude in many Asian cultures.
An important cultural difference when it comes to nonverbal communication is the display of emotion: Some cultures are more restrained than others and refrain from excessive displays of emotion in public or at all. Some cultures may also suppress facial emotion, believing an animated face to show a lack of control over one’s emotions.
Eye contact is another aspect of nonverbal communication that differs across cultures. In the United States, direct eye contact is generally considered to be a sign of trustworthiness and interest in an individual’s words.
However, in some instances, a prolonged gaze may be considered by some to be a sign of sexual interest or attraction. In countries such as Japan, eye contact is generally avoided, as direct eye contact may be considered to be disrespectful.
Yet in Arabic cultures, the opposite is true: eye contact is believed to show interest and honesty.
Tips for Improving Nonverbal Communication
A person’s mindfulness may help increase understanding of personal nonverbal communication as well as the communication styles of others.
Bringing oneself to the present and attending to facial expressions or posture can enhance self-awareness and may help one communicate more effectively with others.
For example, while talking, a person might actively think about gestures, tone of voice, eye contact, and body movement and take into account the other person’s reaction to these aspects of communication.
Stress also plays an important role in nonverbal communication. Individuals who are stressed tend to misread people more easily and may send out verbal signals that confuse others.
Managing stress well can improve verbal communication and relationships.
Maintaining an awareness of one’s emotions and those of others is also important in recognizing and understanding another person’s nonverbal cues.
People who feel often misunderstood or distanced from others may find it helpful to ask a close friend or loved one how they come across when communicating. When nonverbal communication is often incongruent with spoken words, others may not be sure of intentions and may find it difficult to have faith in what a person is saying.
An individual may also nonverbally convey a particular emotion others find off-putting, such as a sense of judgment or aggression. This may not come across in 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 opening lines of communication can provide insight into ways to better align verbal and nonverbal communication.
- Foley, G. N., & Gentile, J. P. (2010). Nonverbal communication in psychotherapy. Psychiatry (Edgmont), 7(6), 38.
- How much of communication is really nonverbal? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nonverbalgroup.com/2011/08/how-much-of-communication-is-really-nonverbal.
- Owen, S. (2013). Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication – Impact on Relationships. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/sam-owen/verbal-and-non-verbal-communication_b_2485864.html.
- Sanders, A. (2014, January 22). How Does Nonverbal Communication Affect Relationships? Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/123418-nonverbal-communication-affect-relationships.
- Segal, J., Smith, M., Boose, G., & Jaffe, J. (2015). Nonverbal Communication. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships/nonverbal-communication.htm.
- Tidwell, C. (n.d.). Non-Verbal Communication Modes. Retrieved from http://www.andrews.edu/~tidwell/bsad560/NonVerbal.html.
24 Types of Nonverbal Communication
Now that you have learned about the general principles that apply to nonverbal communication, here are eight types of nonverbal communication to further understand this challenging aspect of communication:
3. Physical characteristics
4. Body movements
When we discuss space in a nonverbal context, we mean the space between objects and people. Space is often associated with social rank and is an important part of business communication. Who gets the corner office? Why is the head of the table important and who gets to sit there?
People from diverse cultures may have different normative space expectations. If you are from a large urban area, having people stand close to you may be normal. If you are from a rural area or a culture where people expect more space, someone may be standing “too close” for comfort and not know it.
Territory is related to control. As a way of establishing control over your own room, maybe you painted it your favorite color, or put up posters that represent your interests or things you consider unique about yourself.
Families or households often mark their space by putting up fences or walls around their houses. This sense of a right to control your space is implicit in territory.
Territory means the space you claim as your own, are responsible for, or are willing to defend.
Among most humans there is a basic need for personal space, but the normative expectations for space vary greatly by culture. You may perceive that in your home people sleep one to each bed, but in many cultures people sleep two or more to a bed and it is considered normal.
If you were to share that bed, you might feel uncomfortable, while someone raised with group sleeping norms might feel uncomfortable sleeping alone.
From where you stand in an aerobics class in relation to others, to where you place your book bag in class, your personal expectations of space are often at variance with others.
Watch the following 3 minute video from CBS with special correspondent Taryn Winter Brill about personal space:
In the same way that there are cultural contexts and expectations for nonverbal behavior, public speaking also happens in contexts. In North America, eye contact with the audience is expected. Big movements and gestures are not generally expected and can be distracting.
The speaker occupies a space on the “stage,” even if it’s in front of the class. When you occupy that space, the audience will expect to behave in certain ways. If you talk to the screen behind you while displaying a PowerPoint presentation, the audience may perceive that you are not paying attention to them.
Speakers are expected to pay attention to, and interact with, the audience, even if in the feedback is primarily nonverbal. Your movements should coordinate with the tone, rhythm, and content of your speech.
Pacing back and forth, keeping your hands in your pockets, or crossing your arms may communicate nervousness, or even defensiveness, and detract from your message.
Do you know what time it is? How aware you are of time varies by culture and normative expectations of adherence (or ignorance) of time. Some people, and the communities and cultures they represent, are very time-oriented.
When you give a presentation, does your audience have to wait for you? Time is a relevant factor of the communication process in your speech. The best way to show your audience respect is to honor the time expectation associated with your speech.
Always try to stop speaking before the audience stops listening; if the audience perceives that you have “gone over time,” they will be less willing to listen. This in turn will have a negative impact on your ability to communicate your message.
You didn’t choose your genes, your eye color, the natural color of your hair, or your height, but people spend millions every year trying to change their physical characteristics.
You can get colored contacts; dye your hair; and if you are shorter than you’d to be, buy shoes to raise your stature a couple of inches. However, no matter how much you stoop to appear shorter, you won’t change your height until time and age gradually makes itself apparent.
If you are tall, you might find the correct shoe size, pant length, or even the length of mattress a challenge, but there are rewards.
Regardless of your eye or hair color, or even how tall you are, being comfortable with yourself is an important part of your presentation. Act naturally and consider aspects of your presentation you can control in order to maximize a positive image for the audience.
The study of body movements, called kinesics, is key to understanding nonverbal communication.
Body movements can complement the verbal message by reinforcing the main idea. For example, you may be providing an orientation presentation to a customer about a software program. As you say, “Click on this tab,” you may also initiate that action.
Your verbal and nonverbal messages reinforce each other. You can also reinforce the message by repeating it.
If you first say, “Click on the tab,” and then motion with your hand to the right, indicating that the customer should move the cursor arrow with the mouse to the tab, your repetition can help the listener understand the message.
In addition to repeating your message, body movements can also regulate conversations. Nodding your head to indicate that you are listening may encourage the customer to continue asking questions. Holding your hand up, palm out, may signal them to stop and provide a pause where you can start to answer.
Body movements also substitute or replace verbal messages. For example, if the customer makes a face of frustration while trying to use the software program, they may need assistance.
If they push away from the computer and separate themselves physically from interacting with it, they may be extremely frustrated.
Learning to gauge feelings and their intensity as expressed by customers takes time and patience, and your attention to them will improve your ability to facilitate positive interactions.
Before giving your presentation, you may interact with people by shaking hands and making casual conversation. This interaction can help establish trust before you take the stage. Once on stage, most people do not touch audience members physically, but you can interact with audience members through visual aids, note cards, and other objects.
Watch the following short video that demonstrates the importance of handshakes. Bad Business Handshakes:
Paralanguage is the exception to the definition of nonverbal communication.
You may recall that nonverbal communication was defined as “not involving words” but paralanguage is a unique form of nonverbal communication that exists when we are speaking, using words.
Paralanguage involves tone and nonverbal aspects of speech that influence meaning, including how loudly or softly you are speaking, intensity, pausing, and even silence.
Perhaps you’ve also heard of a pregnant pause, a silence between verbal messages that is full of meaning. The meaning itself may be hard to understand or decipher, but it is there nonetheless.
For example, your coworker Jan comes back from a sales meeting speechless. You may ask if the meeting went all right. “Well, ahh…” may be the only response you get. The pause speaks volumes.
Something happened, though you may not know what.
Silence or vocal pauses can communicate hesitation, indicate the need to gather thought, or serve as a sign of respect. Sometimes we learn just as much, or even more, from what a person does not say as what they do say.
Watch the following 1 minute video. It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It:
Do you cover your tattoos when you are at work? Do you know someone who does? Or perhaps you know someone who has a tattoo and does not need to cover it up on their job? Expectations vary a great deal, and body art or tattoos may still be controversial in the workplace. In your line of work, a tattoo might be an important visual aid, or it might detract from your effectiveness as a business communicator. Body piercings may express individuality, but you need to consider how they will be interpreted by employers and customers.
Artifacts are forms of decorative ornamentation that are chosen to represent self-concept. They can include rings and tattoos, but may also include brand names and logos.
From clothes to cars, watches, briefcases, purses, and even eyeglasses, what we choose to surround ourselves with communicates something about our sense of self. Artifacts may project gender, role or position, class or status, personality, and group membership or affiliation.
Paying attention to a customer’s artifacts can give you a sense of the self they want to communicate, and may allow you to more accurately adapt your message to meet their needs.
In this 1 minute, 24 second video, Adoni Irani, from the University of Toronto, shares the story behind his tattoos:
Environment involves the physical and psychological aspects of the communication context. More than the tables and chairs in an office, environment is an important part of the dynamic communication process. The perception of one’s environment influences one’s reaction to it.
For example, Google is famous for its work environment, with spaces created for physical activity and even in-house food service around the clock. The expense is no doubt considerable, but Google’s actions speak volumes.
In Google’s view, the results produced in the environment, designed to facilitate creativity, interaction, and collaboration, are worth the effort.
To summarize, nonverbal communication can be categorized into eight types: space, time, physical characteristics, body movements, touch, paralanguage, artifacts, and environment.