Discovering what happens in nonverbal communication is a very useful when you want to know how to improve your communication skills. I have a whole list of types of nonverbal communication examples for you. My website is all about verbal communication, but it would be incomplete without a page on nonverbal communication.
Nonverbal communication is most often linked though with talking and more importantly - listening. Your listening skills - and therefore your responding skills - will hugely improve, if you support listening with observing someone's body language/nonverbal communication. Everyone around you will benefit and it is particularly helpful in your relationship with your boy/girlfriend, partner or spouse.
Just in case you are more interested in body language: click here to see related pages about body language and interpretation further down.
If you are a professional - counsellor/psychotherapist, nurse, mental health worker, other health professional, lawyer, manager, leader, or indeed anyone working with people - your communication skills should be second to none - ideally.
Whatever your reason for finding out about nonverbal
communication - I hope that you will have learned heaps from this
article before you move on to the next page - from vital
information to interesting tit-bits - this page is full of
examples of how we communicate nonverbally.
There is a whole variety
of ways in which we communicate meaning. Some types of
non-verbal communication are more obvious than others.
You could argue that the following sign languages are technically a verbal way of communicating. Although there are no sounds, the languages are made up of a combination of words, expressions and often 'mouthing' words or meanings, as well as gestures.
Of course, not saying anything, when there is an expectation that something should be said is a nonverbal communication, whether that is online or not. Understanding/knowing the exact meaning of that requires careful exploration and most probably additional information though.
Respect or disrespect for cultural differences also communicates meaning - another type of nonverbal communication.
All of the above types of nonverbal communication overlap of
course. Intentional body language and types of non-verbal
communication 'leak' unintentional stuff.
Make yourself a hot drink (or cool one!), sit somewhere comfortable, kick your shoes off and watch this extraordinary video by the dance company Pilobolus. The dance is called "Symbiosis".
This is a great piece for discussing dance as a type of nonverbal
communication - perhaps on a course/for your studies. See
the highs and lows of this couple relationship literally unfold
before your eyes. It is rated as "jaw dropping" on
You also communicate information about you by the following types
of non verbal communications:
the kind of books you read, the way you dress, the programmes you watch, the magazines you subscribe to, the websites you visit, the organisations you belong to.
What you own or what you like to own communicates without your
uttering a word: your house, car, gadgets, furniture - generally
your taste in just about everything.
For an overview of movements of the body, visit my page on body language signs (see Links).
Body language too is a type of non-verbal communication.Thought you weren't any good at reading body language? Think again ... watch that super video from Urban Theory Films on my page on interpreting body language (see Links). Not a word spoken, but so much being 'said'.
How would you know that someone is 'not doing very well' and on the verge of a nervous breakdown?
Here are the nonverbal signs of someone about to have a mental/emotional breakdown:
Communicating with someone close does not only involve talking and listening. You communicate non-verbally with your body too, by making eye contact, holding hands, smiling, winking, stroking, cuddling, kissing, laughing, embracing, making love, etc.
Body language in particular can potentially provide additional information about thoughts and feelings. It may reveal an incongruence between what is being said and what is really going on inside. For instance: someone may say "yes", whilst shaking their head.
Feelings may not be expressed verbally, but they can ‘leak out’ and ‘morph’ into body movements - nonverbal communication - often outside of the individuals awareness.
Use what you observe as a ‘sign post’ and make a mental note. You may want to return to what was discussed. Avoid making assumptions - you could be so wrong! Ask what going through your partner/husband/wife's or even client's mind, if you are visiting this page as a (future) therapist. Do it gently though - you would not want to 'crash' through their defenses.
Your brain makes thousands of minuscule observations that never reach your conscious awareness. Can you really be sure that the non-verbal signs you consciously observe are not connected with another process? Ask yourself what other train of thought, feeling or impulse may have sparked that nonverbal signal? Are you sure that you are not looking for what you would really want to see?
It is not helpful to attach a ‘fixed meaning’ to particular movements. Avoid ‘interpreting’ non-verbal 'signals' without other evidence. You may also like to visit my page on the body language of a liar and body language signs.
You would want to take note of all aspects of body language, so here is another list with a little more detail.
There is constant movement in your body, changing from moment to moment with the meaning of what you are thinking and what you are trying to say outloud in company. The body is seldom static. Really learning to pick up on all the nuances and all types of non verbal communication takes practice and time.
Over time you will find yourself noticing more and more detail as you progress from any stage between being consciously incompetent to being unconsciously competent.
Much of the commonly quoted research on non-verbal communication is incorrect. Do follow the link below and read the article - the author describes exactly how the misconceptions came about.
The mythCommunication is made up of:
Can you really be sure that you correctly match what you observe on the outside with what is happening on the 'inside' of that person - regardless of what type of nonverbal communication we are talking about?
Remember too that you are likely to have an expectation. You may be hoping for a particular sign, such as an indication of interest or love. You may be vigilant and watch out for a potential signs of danger, for example if you live in an environment where there is a potential for violence.
Having an expectation may:
Rather than to take a risk by taking a shortcut, it is far
better to take the time to really get to know someone and/or look
for other signs to confirm your expectations.
Fine-tune your relationship and lift your spirits!
You may also be interested in:
| Interpreting body
Body language signs
Warning signs of a breakup
Infidelity warning signs
Signs of a nervous breakdown
Advanced/active listening skills
Images courtesy of: 1 Sergio Roberto Bichara; 2 Leroy Skalstad; 3 Geo christian; 4 Moy cody
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