What is nonverbal communication?

As important as verbal communication, this type of communication says much more about us than we think.

KNOW YOURSELF

30 March 2021

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Non-verbal communication is the set of signs, gestures, intentions and perceptions that, both ourselves and others, show with a communicative purpose, thus accompanying verbal language, enriching communication and allowing us to influence the message we want to transmit.

Research has shown for many years that nonverbal behaviours make up a large percentage of our communication.

It has always been important to know and recognise the messages that our speaker transmits to us, but with this new reality in which we must wear a mask on a regular basis, non-verbal language has become even more important. It is the communication that cannot be heard that provides the best and most information to us today when it comes to communicating.



Tips to train and improve non-verbal communication

  • Learn to read non-verbal cues. They are all the movements of the head, face, hands, legs and posture that we adopt. Some of these are usually consistent with the conversation we have. When we detect a different signal, we tend to ignore what has been said and instead focus on expressions related to moods, thoughts or emotions. When someone expresses something but their body language indicates something else, it is better to listen to non-verbal signals.
  • Tone of voice. The volume, intensity and frequency of our voice helps to emphasise our ideas in a conversation. Varying these three aspects facilitates and generates interest to the listener, and emphasises ideas that we wish to convey.
  • Eye contact. To maintain proper communication, the use of eye contact is essential. A lot of eye contact can be intimidating or inquisitive. Not having it shows disinterest or a need to hide something. The time that the researchers consider adequate ranges between 4 and 6 seconds to be comfortable and natural between both people.


  • Paraphrase. To facilitate understanding and improve empathy, it is best in a conversation to use phrases such as "I understand that what you are telling me is ...", then repeating a phrase that our speaker has told us. Other phrases could include: "Do you mean that we have to ...?", Or "I agree with the last thing you said, because I understand that ...".
  • “There is no harm in asking”. As a way to help when overcoming the fear to understand the messages of others. If we don’t understand a message, we will have to ask: it is better to do it than remain in doubt.
  • Signs to emphasise the message and its meaning Verbal and non-verbal communication join together to convey a message. Oral communication can be improved with proper body language that reinforces what is being said. It is very useful when giving presentations or when speaking with a large group of people.
  • Think about the context you need to adapt yourself to. When we communicate, you need to think about the context where the communication occurs. There are behaviors that, depending on the context, could be interpreted differently in any other environment: it is important to consider whether non-verbal behaviours are appropriate here.
  • Practice, practice, and more practice. Some people have the ability to use non-verbal communication effectively and correctly interpret the signals of others: they can read intentions. Non-verbal communication is a skill that you can improve on. It can be developed by paying close attention to behavior and putting effort into practice, starting from small goals, such as the examples indicated in this article.