Non-verbal communication refers to ways through which people communicate such as gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, posture and so on.
We focus so much on our fluency, vocabulary and pronunciation we fail to realize that communication is much more than conveying ideas through words.
According to experts, only 7% of a message is conveyed through words and the rest is expressed without words using gestures, facial expressions, eye contact and so on.
Non-verbal communication will help you to engage better in conversations and develop strong relations with people. Have you ever seen someone say “I am fine!” when they were sad or angry? How did you figure out they were sad or angry? – Through their body language! Body language is an important aspect of non-verbal communication so are others.
Following are the 7 most important aspects of non-verbal communication:
(1) Facial Expressions
- The most common and easy to identify non-verbal signals are the facial expressions. You can determine a person’s mood by their facial expressions.
- If you are happy, it exhibits through your smile. If you are angry, your face will tell that your are angry. If you failed a test, your sadness could be seen on your face. What I intend to say is, facial expressions exhibit your true feelings and are not easy to fake!
- You can, however, make use of facial expressions while communicating with people. If you are talking about something bad, you can observe your face droops and when you are talking about an achievement, automatically you will be filled with energy and will convey the message with a wide smile!
- Your facial expressions depend on the topic that you are going to talk about. If you and your friends argue about your favorite cricket teams, you eyes will get bigger and the tone of your voice will be aggressive.
- Expressing something without facial expression will make you look like you are apathetic and want to leave the conversation and your audience will not connect with you. Hence, when you talk to people, try using facial expressions.
(2) Kinesics (Body Movements)
- Non-verbal communication by means of hand gestures or body movements is called Kinesics.
- Kinesics are an important way of conveying your message without using words. Common examples of kinesics are waving of hands, pointing of fingers, using fingers to indicate numbers, etc.
- Body movements convey enthusiasm and excitement and, I am sure, you all have friends who talk a lot with hand movements. The most common hand gesture is the thumbs up also called as the OK sign.
- Using such movements during conversations make you look confident and excited about your message. They are an effective tool for public speaking and during meetings or presentations. They take you a level above those who don’t use them.
- Posture is important aspect of non-verbal communication. How you stand or sit makes an impression about and wealth of information about yourself.
- When you stand with a straight back, head held high and feet hip-width apart, you display confidence and friendliness. This is called as an Open Posture. Also, don’t keep your hands on your hips. This will make you look larger and show a dominating.
- On the other hand, if you keep your arms crossed, slouch or sit with a hunch back, cross your arms and legs, you are emanating unfriendliness and shows that you are bored or not interested in listening to the speaker. This is called as Closed Posture.
- When you talk to people, maintain an open posture to appear welcoming and incorporate body movements and facial expressions to have engaging conversations with them.
(4) Eye Contact
- The best way to create rapport with people is maintaining eye contact.
- How you see in the eyes of the other person plays an important role in non-verbal communication. Eye contact indicates interest, involvement, etc., whereas, failure to make eye contact can indicate that you are uninterested, inattentive, etc.
- Also, how you look into the other person’s eyes is a crucial factor. If you stare into their eyes like a werewolf, you will creep them out! Please maintain a normal eye contact and don’t stare continuously in their eyes.
- It’s alright to break eye contact for a second, but, not more. Also, create an imaginary triangle on their face by moving your eyes from their left eye to the right and then to the bridge of the nose. This will make you look engrossed in the conversation.
- To know more about the triangle technique, please read this blog by Life Hacker.
(5) Haptics (Touch)
- Another aspect of non-verbal communication is haptics or touch. We communicate a great deal with touch.
- A pat on the back of your friend who has achieved something like scoring the highest in school or college will intensify your message and show appreciation. On the other hand, touching the elbow of another person while shaking hands with them conveys powerful feeling without saying them.
- How you touch another person is to be taken care of. Sometimes, the way you touch can offend the other person and create negativity.
- Use this non-verbal means of communication in a formal setting or with someone your are comfortable with and have known them for sometime.
(6) Proxemics (Distance or Space)
- People are conscious of their personal space which is an important type of non-verbal communication.
- When you talk to people, try to keep a distance of about 18-20 inches to not invade their personal space.
- The distance from the person depends on their relation with them. The following are the 4 categories of personal space:
- Intimate distance: Intimate distance is up to 18 inches and is reserved for people you love. This category includes close family members, friends, pets and your lover./li>
- Personal distance: This distance is about 18 inches to 4 feet and reserved for people you dont know much.
- Social distance: This ranges from 4-7 feet and reserved for acquaintances.
- Public distance: If you are addressing a group of people as in public speaking, maintain a distance of 10-12 feet.
- You shouldn’t be too far from the person or group of people suggesting distancing or lack of interest in the conversation.
This TEDx video will help you understand non-verbal communication in-depth.
- Non-verbal communication refers to ways through which people communicate such as gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, posture and so on.
- According to experts, only 7% of a message is conveyed through words and the rest is expressed without words using gestures, facial expressions, eye contact and so on.
- The 6 important aspects of non-verbal communication are as follows:
- Facial Expressions: Smile, frown, rapid blinking, etc.
- Kinesics (Body Movements): Hand gestures or nodding or shaking the head.
- Posture: How you stand or sit conveys your interest in the conversation.
- Eye Contact: The amount of eye contact often determines the level of interest. How you look into the eyes is also important.
- Haptics (Touch): How you touch people conveys a lot without saying a word. A pat on the back exhibits appreciation.
- Proxemics (Distance or Space): Indicates the level of closeness with a person or people.
- The above mentioned means of non-verbal communication are a crucial part of conveying messages. Use them well and you will make a lasting impact on people.