Have you ever had those moments where you and your friends stare at each other from across the room? And just by looking at each other, you can tell what the other person is trying to say, or in some cases, what they think. Well, experts say that most of our communication is done non verbally. We respond to various different non-verbal cues; for instance, gestures, eye expressions, the tone of voice, and facial expressions. Non-verbal communication is an important source of communication; it reveals who we are and even has an impact on how we relate to others. So what are the different forms of non-verbal communication? How do they work and what connotations do they have? There’re many forms of non-verbal communication but this article will focus on five common ones.
First up we have facial expressions. Honestly, the person’s face is what we see first before paying close attention to their voices. Facial expressions are the most important and common way of verbal communication. We all know the basics expressions and emotions expressed by us – anger, happiness, and sadness – just to name a few. However, there are other forms of expressions that are used to conceal some other negative emotions. You know those days when you don’t feel like talking to anyone or just feel sad about life, so you try to put on a smile on your face to express something positive? Well, these types of expressions are harder to detect and explain. They are known as microexpressions. These expressions are extremely fast and unconscious. That’s why it’s hard to detect them.
Secondly, we have gestures. Examples of gestures include pointing at someone or using your hands to imply numerical amount. But this form of communicant has a limit, compared to expressions that are universal depending on whether someone is expressing the same emotion or not; it varies depending on a cultural and personal connection or relationships.
And now we have paralinguistics. This is basically vocal communication that doesn’t use actual language. This form of non-verbal communication includes pitches, the tone of voice, loudness, and infliction. An example of this would be when a friend asks you how you’re doing and you reply with “I’m fine”. But this sentence can reveal a lot about how you’re actually feeling. A high pitched tone could imply that you’re happy and having a good day, while a cold and low tone could imply that you aren’t fine but you don’t want to talk about it either. A softer sombre and downcast tone could suggest that you’re not fine and you want your friends to go on talking about it.
Then we have body language and posture. This is another example of a common way of verbal communication. For example, crossed arms and legs crossed can imply a defensive posture. Someone who’s slouched down while sitting or standing could imply self-consciousness.
Lastly, we have an appearance. Of course, we as a society try our best not to judge people based on their appearance; whatsoever, this is referring to fashion. Our choices in clothes, hair colours and styles are all considered part of non-verbal communication. For instance, appearance plays a crucial role in determining how people are perceived and how much they earn. We all do judge people based on their appearance and make assumptions. Although we try not to, before that person even talks to us, we have already made assumptions of the type of person he/she may be. If someone is walking on the road without shoes, and with torn and dirty clothes, many of us would assume that they’re homeless.
In conclusion, non-verbal communication demonstrates how we communicate information with others and how we interpret the actions of those around us. One thing to keep in mind is that when observing non-verbal communication take them as a group. What an individual actually says, paired with their facial expressions, gestures, appearance, and tone of voice, can tell you a lot about the person’s true intentions.
Artwork: Fah G9