No matter what we think or feel, we express it nonverbally. Some of us either express it (or suppress it) better than others.
The chart below will show how much of your communication is done non-verbally.
|Verbal (words alone)
|Vocal (including tone of voice, pitch, inflection, grunts and other sounds)
|Nonverbal (gestures, body positions, etc.)
The simple truth is that more communication takes place through nonverbal cues such as gesture, posture, position, and distance than through any other way.
Non-verbal messages are hard to interpret since there are many different things that can influence them.
- Cultural background – different cultures use non-verbal messages in different ways
- Social status – people who come from higher social ranks are often better
- Clusters – You need to consider non-verbal messages in grouping rather than just as simple gestures.
There are many different types of non-verbal messages. A Google search will provide a lot of information on these so they won’t be repeated here.
The broad groupings of the non-verbal messages include:
- Hand gestures
- Hand-to-face gestures
- Check and chin gestures
- Head gestures
- Arm barriers
- Leg barriers
- Aggressiveness and readiness gestures
There are some general guidelines for interpreting non-verbal messages.
- Observe gestures in clusters not in isolation
- Be careful to consider the differences in nationalities and ethic origins
- Match the non-verbal message with the verbal message. When there are conflicting signals, think more about how to interpret each of these.