Human language is an astonishingly complex form of communication, comprising countless languages, dialects, and colloquialisms that are constantly evolving. Despite linguistic differences, nonverbal aspects of communication are stable and universal.
When actions speak louder than words, the way your body emphasises or contradicts spoken words is just as important as the words you use, if not more. This is referred to as nonverbal communication, nonverbal cues, or body language (kinesics).
Nonverbal communication is the exchange of information without the use of spoken or written words. Face expressions, gestures, posture, personal appearance, the physical surroundings and the objects that make it up (environmental artifacts, objects), touch (haptics), paralanguage (vocalic), time use (chronemics) and the distance between you and your audience create the nonverbal platform (proxemics).
When interviewing for a job, for example, we may not realise that employers will evaluate what we do as much as what we say. It's possible for crossed arms to imply defensiveness. Poor posture can reflect unprofessionalism and a downward stare (avoid eye contact) can distract from the confident impression we wish to provide.
Nonverbal communication occurs alongside verbal communication, with the latter being less cognitively controlled and revealing more of our true thoughts and feelings. However, linguistic communication is easier to manipulate because it is more intentional than body language, facial gestures, or vocal characteristics. As a result, we rely more on nonverbal cues than on what is said. People are more likely to believe a nonverbal signal when someone says one thing and delivers a contradicting nonverbal signal.
As a result, being conscious of your nonverbal communication while verbally communicating can help others receive messages in the way you intended. Also, don't be "all talk and no action." To make a favourable impression the next time, prepare not only your words but also your body language (practice makes the interview perfect).
Nonverbal Communication can play five different roles:
Repetition: It reinforces the message you're conveying verbally.
Contradiction: It can contradict the message you're trying to send, hinting that you're not speaking the truth to your listener.
Substituting: It can be used as a substitute for spoken communication. Your facial expression, for example, can frequently send a considerably more potent message than words alone.
Complementing: It could supplement or enhance your verbal message. You can increase the impact of your message by giving an employee a pat on the back in addition to praise as a boss.
Accentuation: It can be used to emphasise or accentuate a spoken message. For example, pounding on the table can highlight the significance of your remark.
Nonverbal communication styles
Nonverbal communication or body language can take many forms, including:
Without saying a word, the human face is incredibly expressive. In contrast to other types of nonverbal communication, facial expressions can be seen by everyone, regardless of culture. We all have the same facial emotions when we are happy or sad or angry or surprised or disgusted.
Posture and movement of the body
Take into account how you perceive people based on how they sit, walk, stand, or hold their heads. The way you move and carry yourself tells the rest of the world a lot about you. Nonverbal communication includes your posture, bearing, stance, and subtle movements.
All of our daily lives are intertwined with gestures. Whether you're debating or expressing yourself with animated speech, you're likely to gesture, point, or call with your hands. The meaning of some gestures, on the other hand, differs widely throughout cultures. While the hand gesture "OK" is often employed in English-speaking countries to communicate a good message, it is deemed rude in Germany, Russia, and Brazil. To avoid misinterpretation, it's important to employ gestures with caution.
Face-to-face nonverbal communication is especially vital because vision dominates most people. You may transmit a wide range of emotions by the way you look at someone. Consider maintaining a steady gaze so that you can determine whether or not the other person is paying attention.
We use touch to communicate a lot. Consider the various messages sent by a shaky handshake, a warm bear hug, a patronising pat on the back, or a tight grip on the arm.
Someone standing too near to you, invading your personal space, has caused you to feel uncomfortable often during a conversation. While we all require physical space, it varies depending on culture, situation, and the intimacy of our connections with one another. Intimacy and affection, hostility, and dominance can all be conveyed through physical space.
It is not only what you say, but also how you say it that is important. People "read" your voice as well as your words when you speak. When you speak, they pay attention to your volume, your tone and inflection, as well as words that suggest understanding, such as "ah" and "uh-huh." Consider how you can convey sarcasm, anger, affection, or confidence through your tone of voice.
Body language and nonverbal communication abilities are essential for efficient communication, avoiding misconceptions, and building trusting relationships, both socially and professionally.