Do you know how essential communication is? Indeed, it is a critical factor in building lasting relationships, be it at the workplace or in personal life. But are you acquainted with the fact that communication, too, is subdivided into two parts: verbal and non-verbal communication.
Research shows that a substantial portion of communication is non-verbal. Interestingly, 93% of the communication we hold is non-verbal, i.e., it includes our body language, expressions, touch, gestures, eye gaze, etc. And only 7% accounts for verbal communication!
Every day we respond to numerous non-verbal cues and behaviors. From handshakes to hairstyles, non-verbal communication impacts who we are and how we relate to others.
In this blog, we will discover what non-verbal communication is and why it is essential. Further, we will also discuss how you can improve it. Since it is the most indispensable communication skill, make sure you read it till the end!
What is Non-Verbal Communication?
Non-Verbal Communication skills are related to body languages, like eye gaze, touch, facial expressions, and vocal tone, to name a few. Compared to non-verbal communication, verbal communication is undertaken through texts and signs to express oneself.
Mastering the art of expressions and body language can immensely help you in your career. You can develop confidence and expertise through them.
Now, there are different kinds of non-verbal communication. But before discussing them, let us look at why nor-verbal cues are integral.
Why is Non-Verbal Communication crucial?
As mentioned above, non-verbal communication accounts for most of the conversation. Have a look at the reasons to know why it is essential.
1. Supports the Message
Non-verbal cues help accentuate and highlight the content of the message you are sending. Suppose you are participating in an event or business meeting. Employing hand movements and gestures will help you quickly convey your message. In addition, utilizing non-verbal cues will also encourage the listeners to pay better attention and remember the critical points.
2. Effective Communication
Non-verbal communication is a great means of carrying out interaction with other people. For instance, if you agree with the other person’s point, you can nod in support and consent. This way, you will effectively communicate without even speaking. Thus, non-verbal communication is an excellent way of conversing with people and expressing your opinion.
3. Express Feelings
Non-verbal communication assists you in expressing your emotions, such as disappointment, satisfaction, relief, happiness, anger, etc. These expressions shine through your face, body language, and tone of voice. For instance, smiling or laughing when someone cracks a joke indicates you are happy and entertained.
4. Showcases your Personality
Non-verbal cues are a great way to show who you are and help establish the authenticity of your feelings with the people you are interacting with. Complementing your words with a strong/ confident posture and direct eye contact may imply that you are genuine and assertive. For instance, an optimistic person often smiles and uses friendly gestures to carry out a conversation.
Non-verbal communication is an integral part of our lives. We use it every day, either consciously or unconsciously. But there is so much more to non-verbal communication than we know. So, let us dig further into this topic.
The following section discusses the common types of non-verbal communication and how you can improve them.
Types of Non-Verbal Communication
Be it your personal life or professional, non-verbal communication can affect the way you interact with people. This is because what you communicate through words is entirely different from what you communicate through expressions.
Here are the types of non-verbal communication that you can use while conversing with others.
Also known as paralanguage, vocalics includes the way you speak and the tone of your voice. It doesn’t matter what you say. But the way you say it communicates more than the words you choose.
Besides the tone, vocalics also include the volume and pitch of your voice. For instance, if you feel uncomfortable in a specific situation, you might speak quietly to draw less attention. But if you talk loudly, then it signifies that you are trying to overpower the other person. This might even lead to arguments!
Sarcasm is another example of vocalics as it involves saying words in a tone that conveys the opposite meaning. For instance, if you are being sarcastically happy about a situation, you might say ‘Oh Great’ or ‘wonderful!’ in a sarcastic tone. Although the word shows a positive response, how you say it depicts otherwise.
How close you stand or sit to the other person is also a part of non-verbal communication. Proxemics or proximity is often related to your personal space, which is generally between 6-18 inches around your body.
For some people, this place is just for friends and family. If someone else violates that space, you will definitely feel out of the conversation with them.
Social & cultural expectations, personal preferences, and your relationship with the other person primarily determine proximity. Thus, knowing your propinquity/ vicinity will help you better understand other people’s personal space, and as a result, you will refrain from violating it.
Non-verbal communication includes your appearance, such as your clothing style, color association, hairstyle, etc. Different color hues elicit different feelings. Therefore, how you look can easily influence other people’s physiological judgment and reaction. Moreover, it also affects and determines a person’s first impression of you.
4. Facial Expressions
Your face often reveals your emotions in a specific situation. Your expression can convey how you feel about a person or situation. For instance, rolling your eyes is a way to express unhappiness with the circumstance. As you communicate with others, you can clearly see their facial expressions and determine their feelings during a conversation. Thus, facial expressions play an integral role in understanding what the other person perceives about you.
Communication via touch is known as haptics. It is often used to express support or comfort. For instance, a hug conveys warmth and love, while a pat on the back shows a job well done. On the contrary, unsolicited touch can make a person feel uncomfortable and underconfident.
The most common form of touch is a handshake, which conveys different meanings. Thus, a weak handshake may show a lack of confidence, while a firm handshake shows strength, conviction, courage, and respect.
6. Eye Contact
‘The eyes are windows to the soul’. We completely agree with this statement! Eye contact is an effective non-verbal communication skill, and it includes monitoring engagement, transmitting information, and creating interpersonal bonds. Using or avoiding eye gaze with the other person can help express your interest and attention. For instance, looking at the other person while conversing depicts that you are genuine, authentic, and confident. While avoiding eye contact means that you are nervous, uncomfortable, or hiding something.
Kinesics, also known as gestures, are conscious body movements that include waving, pointing, giving thumbs up, nodding, etc. Gestures are used to transmit information to others, purposely or accidentally. They also include body movements that might indicate excitement or dejection towards a conversation.
Gestures can also be involuntary, including wringing your hands, shaking when you are nervous, clearing your throat often, etc.
How to improve Non-Verbal Communication?
A lot can be said without words in a conversation. Non-verbal communication speaks louder than our words. The cues play a substantial role in how our words and intentions are interpreted.
If you are not good at interacting via your expressions or body language, it’s time to work on your non-verbal communication skills. Here are the tips you can follow!
1. Pay Close Attention
Paying close attention to what the other person says assists you in becoming a good listener. It will be easier to reply when you understand what the other person is saying. Thus, attention to detail signifies that you care.
2. Maintain Eye Contact
It is not suggested to avoid eye contact. Eye gazing depicts that you are interested and attentive while communicating. Therefore, you must maintain a comfortable eye gaze; but do avoid staring. This can make the situation awkward!
3. Ask Questions
When you are confused about what the other person is insinuating, it is best to ask questions. Asking questions can help clarify the conversation and encourage the other person to keep conversing. Such questions are a part of active listening and help demonstrate your engagement in the conversation. Here are some examples you can use:
- “Do you mean that we must…”
- “So what you are saying is…”
- “From what I am hearing, what do you think…”
4. Use Signals
Using signals comes in handy in non-verbal communication. For instance, one can employ them in presentations while addressing a large group. In addition, you can use cues such as body postures, hands, tone of voice, etc., that help convey the message in an easier and more efficient way.
Communication is a crucial aspect of human life. It is the way one expresses emotions, skills, expertise, and knowledge.
Non-verbal communication undeniably plays a prominent role and helps determine how one interprets the information and actions of others. Furthermore, non-verbal cues can be conveyed through various channels. One needs to be skilled in it to have effective communication in every relationship. Thus, it is essential to learn to communicate nonverbally and advance yourself both personally and professionally!