What is nonverbal communication?
Nonverbal communication includes all behaviors, attributes, or objects (except words)
that communicate messages that have social meaning.
It includes tone of voices, facial expressions, posture, gestures, and appearance, all of
which are used to communicate messages.
It can also change the intended meaning of a message or make it confusing and unclear.
We tend to take nonverbal communication for granted because it is so basic, but its
importance is unmistakable, and its connection to communication is undeniable.
Without realizing it, we often use nonverbal communication as the basis for many daily
decisions. Ex: when your professor’s facial expression suggests that she is in a good
mood, you decide that now is a good time to ask her permission to skip a class.
Characteristics of nonverbal communication
Nonverbal communication occurs constantly
When another person is present, you have to communicate. Whether you make eye
contact, smile, frown, or totally ignore the other person, you are communicating
Sometimes what is said is less important than what is not said.
Facial expressions, appearance (sex, race, physique), clothing, willingness to make eye
contact, body movements, and posture all communicate.
Nonverbal communication depends on context
The context in which nonverbal communication occurs plays a crucial role in its
Ex. Direct eye contact with a stranger can mean something entirely different from direct
eye contact with a close friend.
Nonverbal communication is more believable than verbal communication
Most of us then to believe nonverbal communication, even when it contradicts the
accompanying verbal message.
Nonverbal messages are much more difficult to control than verbal messages because
nonverbal cues are more representative of our emotions, which are also more difficult to
Verbal communication is more conscious; it involves more processing of thoughts and
impulses into words.
Nonverbal communication is a primary means of expression
We can often detect other people’s feelings or frustrations, anger, or sadness, without
their actually saying anything.
Almost all of our feelings and attitudes are expressed
through our nonverbal behavior.
Nonverbal communication is related to culture
Culture contributes significantly to differences in nonverbal behavior.
Norms and rules that govern the management of behavior differ from culture to culture.
Culture formulates rules that message communication. Culture formulates rules that
dictate when, how, and with what consequences nonverbal experiences expression are
Ex. In the united states, males often sin in a slumping and leaning back position as well
as sprawled out so that they occupy a lot of space.
However in the other country, like
it is the symbolic of rudeness and poor manner.