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Examples of Non Verbal Communication

Examples of non verbal communication include be a smile, wink, or wave.  All of these communicate something without the use of oral or written language.  Even if you do not say a word, your silence can communicate in a non-verbal way.

Categories of Non Verbal Communication

Communication is transferring information between one person and another.  Non verbal communication can be divided into four categories: aesthetic, physical, signs, and symbols. Following is an explanation and examples of non verbal communication.

  • Aesthetic communication occurs through creative expression.  This would include all the arts: music, dance, theatre, crafts, art, painting, and sculpture.  Ballet is a great example of this, as there is dance and music, but no spoken or sung words.  Even in an opera, where there are words, there are still facial expressions, costumes, posture, and gestures.
  • Physical communication covers the personal kind of communication, and includes a smile or frown, wink, touch, smell, salute, gesture, and other bodily movements.  Social conversation uses a lot of these physical signals along with the spoken words.
  • Signs are a more mechanical kind of non verbal communication, which includes signal flags or lights, a 21 gun salute, a display of airplanes in formation, horns, and sirens.
  • Symbols of communication are used for religious or personal status reasons, as well as to build self esteem.  This includes jewelry, cars, clothing, and other things to communicate social status, financial means, influence, or religion.

Physical Communication

Physical communication is the most used form of non verbal communication.  A person that is aware of another’s non verbal cues will understand that person better.  Even the way you are standing and your position in a group of people can communicate.
The amount of distance between you and another person will be interpreted a certain way, and the meaning will change according to the culture.  It can mean either an attraction, or can signal intensity.  Standing side-to-side can show cooperation, where a face-to-face posture may show competition.  Your posture can communicate in a non verbal way, whether you are folding your arms, slouching, crossing your legs, or standing and sitting erect.  Finally, any actual touching can convey attraction or a level of intimacy.  Examples of non verbal communication of this type include shaking hands, patting the back, hugging, pushing, or other kinds of touch.
Other forms of non verbal communication are facial expressions, gestures, and eye contact.  When someone is talking, they notice changes in facial expressions and respond accordingly.  These include raising your eyebrows, yawning, sneering, rolling your eyes, gaping, and nodding.  The meaning of these movements is pretty much the same in all cultures.  Gestures, however, are many times an individual’s way of communicating as most people gesture when talking.  Eye contact is very important in communicating nonverbally.  You can read a person’s emotion through their eyes, and many times is not the same emotion as their words are saying.

Effects of Non Verbal Communication

Non verbal communication, especially body language, can send a strong message, in spite of what your words say.  Even the tone of your voice, its pitch, volume, quality, and speed effects what you say.  Your body language can:

  • Repeat the message your words are saying
  • Contradict what your words are saying
  • Be a substitution for your verbal message
  • Add to the meaning of your message
  • Accent or make the message stronger, like pounding your fist on a table

Relationships depend on non verbal communication if they are to be strong and lasting.  The quality of your relationships can be improved if you can skillfully read people, and understand the emotions behind their words.  When one party receives mixed signals, trust can leave the relationship and it will be damaged.  Trust can be created in a relationship by sending non verbal clues that match your words.  The way you respond to someone nonverbally can show that you understand and care about them and the relationship will grow and be fulfilling to both.


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