Non-Verbal Communication | Skills You Need to Know

Non-Verbal Communication | Skills You Need to Know

Non-Verbal Communication | Skills You Need to Know​

Non-verbal communication is indirect, without words. Pouple mostly believe in actions, more than in words. Virbal communication is communication through words. Researchers have found that even in a spoken language, the listener pays more attention to Non-verbal Communication. Non-verbal cues can complement, enhance, or even contradict what is being said, making them an essential aspect of effective communication and interpersonal interactions. 

Non-verbal communication refers to the transmission of messages or information without the use of words. It includes a variety of visual, auditory, and tactile signals, such as facial expressions, body language, gestures, posture, eye contact, and tone of voice.

For example in a candidate’s resume he communicates not only with words which describe his education and experience, but also with the quality of paper and ink which were ma resume. Non-verbal communication is more important this Verbal Communication, Non-Verbal communication, can speak louder than words. Non-verbal communication includes all unwritten and unspoken messages, both intentional and unintentional. They have a great impact on the receiver but it is difficult to interpret them accurately. They should not be ignored but understood correctly.

Communication is transfer of information from one person to another. 75% of our time we spend in communicating our thoughts and ideas but we fail to realize that our communication is more in non-verbal form than oral and written forms

Characteristics of Non-verbal Communication:

1. Non-verbal Communication involves usage of sign language, symbols, etc. that enables communicating in the absence of words: It uses body language, proxemics, visuals, etc. for communicating. The meaning is shared through involuntary responses.

2. Non-verbal Communication is used to perform specific functions: In some situations, some functions of non-verbal communication are important, ie., like to express emotions, to manage interactions, create impressions, in greeting someone, etc.

3. It is an inexpensive speedy mean of informal communication only if the receiver is able to see the sender: It does not cost much and saves time. It involves experiencing or sharing something which is not expressed in words but the receiver is able to see the sender.

4. Non-verbal Codes are used to establish and maintain interpersonal relationship: It builds healthy relationships. It is more polite to communicate non-verbally especially to avoid embarrassing situations

5. It can support in the building of corporate image by complimenting verbal communication: It builds the corporate image as team members; need to understand the message of others more than merely listening to the spoken words.

6. It provides scope for feedback: As it happens only in face-to-face situation, feedback can be given immediately.

7. Is success depends on the attentiveness of the receiver and his capability of understanding the communication:

The receiver has to pay attention, otherwise he will miss out or fail to hear the non-verbal message.

Types of Non-Verbal Communication​:

Types of Non-Verbal Communication​:​

1) Kinesics:

Development of scientific study is called KINTISICS a science of body language. George Terry uses the expression body language, to include facial expressions, gestures, posture, body movements, etc, as non-verbal means of communication. An unspoken communication that happen in face-to-face encounter is body language as it reveals the true feelings on how well your words are being acknowledged. For example: When we welcome someone, we extend our hands, smile, etc. When boss is giving instructions, we shrug our shoulder it indicates doubt or disapproval.

It is said that only 10 per cent is communicated through actual words and around 70 per cent is communicated through body language. A lot is told by our body in different ways as we communicate. It can indicate attitudes and feelings. Out body movement includes our head, eyes, shoulder, eyebrows, fingers, hands, etc. Together these ploces say whether we are sad, happy, nervous comfortable, etc.

a. Facial Expressions:

The non-verbal messages sent by this channel are first noticed but is difficult to understand because of the complexity of possible expressions. There are so many ways in which the eyebrows, lips and jaws can move. But research shows that people mostly are accurate in judging the meaning of facial expressions. For example: We can judge the warmth or coldness, varying moods from the sender’s face. It communicates emotions like surprise, sadness, fear and attitudes like friendliness, anger, affection, etc. A face is a book in which you can read a lot. For example: If your boss smiles you are pleased but if he frowns it leaves you into discomfort position.

Facial expressions also provide information about a candidate’s thought process. For example: The interviewer can judge the confidence of the candidate in the information being given. The high quality messages are produced through face in which the meanings are same with the expressions.

b. Posture:

Posture is another indicator of our mood and attitude. Slouching while sitting may indicate lack of interest. The way we stand or sit and the position of the head and hands influence communication. When we keep our hands folded it shows that we adopt defensive position and we don’t agree to the other person.

The right posture:

It is said that you will feel better if your posture is right. So whenever you feel a bit low then take a look at your posture, you might be slouching.

There are certain types of postures that convey inclusion or exclusion. In a group the members can place his her body in a way that will include or exclude an individual from a conversation. For example: A group of people may form a little circle that excludes all others. Also, one can acquire a posture that agrees with the person with whom he is communicating. Posture indicates relationship between people superior and subordinate, shows confidence level, shows inferiority or shyness.

c. Gestures:

Gestures are observed actions. Movement of the parts of the body specially hands, arms, legs and feet is Gesture, Gestures in face-to-face communication always add and support oral communication, Gestures communicate following things:

* Gestures can give information:

For example: Raising of hand-waiting to ask a question, V-Victory. It is alused as a Dumb and Deaf sign language. While praising the work of the employee, the employer pats him on his back.

* Gestures helps to give feedback:

When the audience is fidgeting it indicates lack of interest or boredom, Non-verbal feedback can warn that you must change or do something different so that you get the result that you desire.

* Gestures are used to support speech:

During his speech a person moves his hands, body and head continuously. For example: Nod of the head-Yes, horizontal headshake means ‘No’.

* Gestures can indicate emotions:

Clapping of hands to indicate appreciation, touching of face-nervousness or anxiety, Putting hands on mouth or head-tensed, etc.

2. Oculesics:

The usage of eyes while communicating is Oculesics. This may include eye contact or the avoidance of eye contact. Eye contact is a very important form of non-verbal communication. For example: The boss maintains a longer eye contact than the employee. When a candidate goes for the interview if he maintains eye contact it shows the confidence. Avoidance of eye contact may also mean a person is guilty or telling lies. In a class if a student is slouching then as soon as the teacher stares the student will sit straight. Eyes can communicate a wide range of meanings.

At the end of a social evening, people may signal ‘Let’s go!” only by eye contact. Length of eye contact may be confusing. For example: If a boy looks at a girl for a prolonged period then she feels embarrassed or uncomfortable. If a person maintains good eye contact it shows respect and interest.

3. Haptics:

Haptics or tactile communication or touch is an important form of Non-verbal Communication. Bonds are formed with touch. When your boss pats your back you feel pleased as his touch shows the appreciation. Mostly touch is used during greetings and departures but it can also be used in conversations. For example: touching the feet of elders is considered to be respectful.

If touch is used properly in communication it can create a more direct message then words but if used improperly, it can build barriers and cause mistrust. Touch not only sends the message but also has the emotional impact of the message. When a person is trying to influence the other person the touch reinforces the message. It can also indicate the relationship between people. Touch is especially good at imparting a same of empathy. Touch is very important way to convey comfort and reassurance.

4. Prosemics:

The way we use the space around us, how we arrange it and what we arrange in it is called Proxemics. It is the study of space and its effect on human communication. For example: Many families have a particular chair which is Dad’s chair so no one dares to sit on it. An employee will never sit on the boss’s chair, In a class, students have their favorite bench, and this space is respected by others. Sometimes if someone is standing very close to us we will feel they have invaded our space.

Types of Spaces:

(a) Intimate Distance: It is the closest phase which shows relationship of parent-child, lovers, close friendship, etc

(b) Personal Distance: In this phase there are two areas close personal distance and far personal distance. When you hold your partner’s hand is the close personal distance. When you cannot comfortably touch your partner at this distance it is far phase of personal distance. Still the distance is close where personal discussions can be made.

(c) Social Distance: It is the distance that house wife keeps from the repair man, distance which a business man maintains when he meets the new client.

(d) Public Distance: It is the distance that politicians, celebrities or VIP’s maintain with the public.

5. Appearance and Artefacts:

People are impressed if a person is muscular and good in shape. A person’s physical appearance creates an image and is a part of Non-verbal Communication. A girl who is attractive would be able to influence the people. The opinion of a person is made on his personal appearance. People can even change their appearance by changing their clothing styles, hairstyles, accessories, etc. 

For example: If a person is poorly dressed he is treated poorly and well dressed people are treated well. Casual wear indicates a relaxed, casual and approachable attitude where as formal wear indicates a professional business like attitude. The most influential artefacts you own are your clothes.

6. Paralanguage/Vocalics:

Para means support, so paralanguage means supporting language. It is the changeable, connected used of speech related mechanisms we use to complement our oral communication like tone, stress, accent, pitch and register.

(a) Tone: The combination of raised and lowered voice is tone which is used for supplementary meaning. Tone can be direct, commanding, loud, soft, etc. For a request, we use politely raised tone and a lowered tone for a command. During a speech we must well-modulate our tone so that people will be paying attention.

(b) Stress: Stress is unique to English opposed to Indian Language. In English for correct pronunciation and meaning a particular syllable in a word is stressed. For example: complete.

(c) Accent: Accent is the tune which we speak. For example: American and British accent. Americans flatten their vowels more that the British.

d) Pitch: the measure of how high or low a voice is Pitch and is determined by speed of vibration of the vocal folds. For example: While speaking to child we raise our pitch but we reprimand an employee in a low pitch. Some people have the habit of speaking on the telephone with a higher pitch.


The usage of time is known as chronemics. It is like a message system which shows punctuality, waiting time, etc. A silent message is given by the way we use time. if an employee comes on time to office it shows his sincerity and the boss is impressed. The amount of time we spend on a task shows how much importance we give to it.

Techniques for Improving Non-Verbal Communication Skills:

1) Establish and maintain eye contact.

2) Use Posture to Show Interest.

3) Reduce or Eliminate Physical Barriers.

4) Probe for more information.

5) Avoid assigning non-verbal meanings out of context.

6) Associate with people from diverse cultures.

7) Appreciate the power of appearance.

8) Observe yourself on video type.

9)  Enlist Friends and family to monitor your body movements and gestures.

Difference Between Verbal & Non-Verbal Communication?

Verbal Communication

1) Involves the use of spoken or written words to convey messages.

2) Includes vocabulary, grammar, tone, and intonation in spoken communication, and syntax, punctuation, and structure in written communication.

3) Utilizes spoken dialogues, speeches, phone calls, and written texts such as emails, letters, and reports.

4) Often more direct and explicit, providing clear and specific information.

5) Immediate in face-to-face conversations or phone calls, but can be delayed in written forms.

6) Language and its usage can vary greatly between different cultures and regions.

Non-Verbal Communication

1) Involves the transmission of messages without the use of words.

2) Includes body language, facial expressions, gestures, posture, eye contact, tone of voice, and even physical appearance.

3) Utilizes visual cues, physical gestures, and vocal variations beyond the actual words spoken.

4) Can be more ambiguous and open to interpretation, often influenced by the context and the individuals involved.

5) Typically immediate and often unconscious, as people constantly read and respond to non-verbal cues in real-time.

6) Greatly influenced by cultural norms and practices, with different meanings attributed to the same gestures or expressions across various cultures.