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Non-Verbal Communication

Verbal communication involves language and non-verbal has no language


Non-verbal cues can speak louder than words.

Personal appearance
Facial expression
Facial expressions
Eye contact
Touch…all these are non-verbal signals that influence the way a message
is interpreted.
Non-verbal communication involves all unwritten and unspoken messages
both intentional and unintentional.

Eg: movie hall

Raising your eyebrow, patting one’s back
Deafening roar of applause

The voice, intonation, stress, emphasis, speed, accent, volume….all these

convey non-verbal cues.
We can define non-verbal communication in several ways:

It is communication through any other means other than words

It is the transmission of messages by some medium other than speech or
It refers to all external stimuli other than the spoken or written words and
that includes body motion, characteristics of voice, appearance and space
It is the communication that uses non-linguistic means to convey the
It refers to the transfer of meaning by body language, space, time, and

We express our true feelings non-verbally.

Forms of non-verbal communication:

Conscious non-verbal communication:

Senders of this form of communication are aware that they are sending a
message and are also aware of the general meaning of that message. For
eg: a hug. When we hug someone it is normally perceived as an indication
of affection. The giver as well as receiver know that therein lies an
implied message of friendship.

Subliminal non-verbal communication

Subliminal messages are communicated to the subconscious mind of the

receiver. Receivers of subliminal messages are not consciously aware of
the message. However, these messages are important.

Gut reactions are based on your subconscious reading of subliminal non-

verbal communication

Police and military uniforms subliminally communicate the authority of

those wearing them.
Well-dressed executives project success and credibility
A poor sense of dressing up transmits a message of failure and a lack of
Young and beautiful people are seen in ads to communicate the
subconscious message that the advertised product is associated with youth
and beauty.

Although subliminal messages do not create awareness on a conscious

level, they still influence the listener or receiver. In fact, subliminal
messages are more powerful than conscious messages.

Eg: Ads. Companies spent large sums of money to have their products
appear in movies. While these appearances are not typical product
advertisements, the mere association of the product with the movie
transmits subliminal messages that will influence the viewers. Conscious
and subliminal messages can be both transmitted voluntarily and

Most non-verbal messages are involuntary. In fact many communicators

are not aware that they communicate non-verbally.

Every day people convey thousands of non-verbal messages through their

body language…facial expressions, gestures and body postures.

You can make out when a person tells lies from the way they keep
blinking their eyes.

Why do we use non-verbal communication?

To create impressions: Physical appearance cues weigh heavily on this


To manage interactions: Facial expressions, vocalics etc

To send relational messages: We convey love, anger, power, respect and

dominance through non-verbal messages
To convey deception: Deception is conveyed and detected through non-
verbal cues

To send messages of power and persuasion: Non-verbal communication is

used to send messages of power and persuasion.

Types of non-verbal communication

KINESICS………………facial expression, posture and gesture

OCULESICS……………Eye contact

HAPTICS……………….the communication of touch

PROXEMICS……………the communication of space and proximity

ARTIFACTS…………….the physical traits, the dress, accessories,

VOCALICS……………...variations in pitch, speed, volume and pauses

CHRONEMICS …………the effects of time on communication.

Kinesics: Means body language, the unspoken communication that goes

on in every face-to-face encounter with another human being. Kinesics is
articulation of the body. Body language parallels paralanguage. Our body
says a lot about us . Body movement can indicate attitudes and feelings.

Facial expression: Your boss’s smile makes you happy while his frown
makes u unhappy.

Watch out for expressions. But facial expressions are the most difficult to
comprehend or understand.
The neutral expression: pleasure, mask, respect, thoughtful
The Relaxed: love, pleasure, submission
The tense: fear, surprise, determination, contempt, extreme interest
The uplifted: happiness, anxiety, rage, love, astonishment, ecstasy,
The droopy: distress, suffering, grief, shock

The right posture

Get your posture right and u will automatically feel better.

Slumped posture………low spirits

Straight posture………..high spirits, energy, confidence
Lean forward………….open, interested
Lean away…………….defensive, disinterested
Crossed arms………….defensive
Uncrossed arms……….willingness to listen


Oculesics is the way eyes are used during a communication exchange.

This may include eye contact or the avoidance of eye contact.
Eye contact is a direct and powerful form of non-verbal communication.
A direct look says the person is open and frank.

Downward glances indicate modesty

Eyes rolled upward express fatigue
Your eyes can say whether you are listening

The avoidance of eye contact can also signify something very important.
Prolonged eye look may be quite embarrassing
Short eye contact too is bad
Good eye contact enables the sender of a message to determine whether
the receiver is paying attention, showing respect or responding favourably
or feeling distress.

Maintain the following as effective guide:

If you have trouble staring someone in the eye, look at something else on
their face.

When speaking to a group, look at everyone.

Look at people who are key decision makers or who hold power
Look at reactive listeners
Do not look at the floor or anything that causes you to tilt your head away
from the listener
Do not look at bad listeners who may distract you.

Haptics: Haptics or tactile communication is an important form of

communication for several people. Touch helps the group form bonds and
stay peaceful.

Mother and child

Animals and young ones

A pat on the back boosts one’s confidence

Touch is the first non-verbal communication in life.We feel loved, cared

for and wanted by a sense of touch.
Haptic behaviour may be divided into the following degrees of intimacy:

The boundaries between the different levels of intimacy are somewhat

Eg: Touching the feet may be a sign of respect in India, but it may look
strange in other countries
In Arab countries, men walk closely, embrace each other frequently, but
this may be misinterpreted in other countries

Touch can convey feeling which are both positive as well as negative.


For most of us someone standing very close to us makes us

uncomfortable. We feel our space has been invaded. Personal space is the
space you place between yourself and others.
A fascinating area in the non-verbal world of body language is that of
spatial relationships or proxemics _ the study of man’s appreciation and
use of space.
Physical distance communicates mental attitudes.

Stand too close and u will be seen as being too pushy on in the face of
Sit or stand too far away and you will be regarded as too stand offish. Or
keeping your distance. We want to convey neither.

The study of spatial territory for the purpose of communication uses four
categories of space.

Intimate distance for embracing or whispering

Personal distance for conversations among friends
Social distance for conversations among acquaintances and
Public distance used for public speaking

Appearance and artifacts

Personal appearance is a major factor in used to judge a person.
Clothing, hairstyles, jewellery etc do matter.


Paralanguage refers to all vocally produced sound that is not a direct form
of linguistic communication. Thus paralanguage may have utterances that
may have strong signifying traits, but no semantic meaning. Eg:
exclamations, tone, pitch, articulation,

Like for example how we say hello:

HELLO……anyone there?
Hello?........a policeman
Hello………I’ve found it
Hello……..here we go again
Hello…… greeting a friend


Chronemics refers to the use of time as a message system including

punctuality, amount of time spent with another and waiting time.
The way we use time provides a number of silent messages.
Coming on time, or a little earlier, a serious sttitude towards work and all
such behaviour comprise the study of chronemics.
The amount of time we spent on a task also indicates the importance we
give to it.

The time we give a person for an interview, getting down to business

fast, and all such things connected with time relates to chronemics.