What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say, Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Communication is both verbal and non-verbal. According to Mehrabian, just 7% of any message is verbal communication, i.e., it is conveyed through words; the pitch, volume, intonation, etc. account for 38%, and body language, such as facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, posture, etc., for the remaining 55%.
Maybe you are not certain about these percentages and, of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but there is a general consensus that tonality and physiology are absolutely essential for an effective interpersonal communication.
Let me give you an example. My wife just got home from work, she sat down, and sighed. It was a deep and heavy sigh, showing fatigue. I asked her quickly: “How was your day?” And she answered me back: “Today was a long and exhausting day at work….” Before she could even utter a single word, I already knew that I should ask her with special interest and listen to her actively because she was screaming, without saying a single word, “I am very tired, I have had a very hard day.”
Non-verbal communication is the first communication we receive from and give to another person. It gives us insights into the thoughts and feelings of a person, a more accurate information that can be used to interpret messages and meanings embedded in them.More specifically, it can emphasize, complement, substitute, or contradict verbal messages.
For example, nodding your head means “yes” and shaking your head means “no”. A woman who fancies you will likely make frequent and sustained eye contact. She will smile at you and play with her hair, twirling the ends around her fingers. She will be sitting up straight, orienting herself towards you (leaning backwards means uninterested, boredom, and rejection) and leaving her arms and legs uncrossed versus the defensive stance of crossed arms and legs.
A strong handshake and good eye contact show confidence and honesty. Boredom cannot be denied when people have their heads leaned against their hands, they are rubbing their neck, yawning, checking their phones for texts, email, and social media posts, and/or their eyes are half-closed. If someone is frowning and biting her/his lips, s/he is unmistakeably angry. When people are nervous, they often speak quickly, they fiddle their hands, bite their nails, chew on a pencil, twirl their hair, etc.
Sometimes, non-verbal communication contradicts verbal communication. In this case, it is usually more reliable to trust the body language and tone more than the words. For example, a liar could get fidgety, sweaty, and uneasy when being confronted. He may rub his/her nose, touch his/her ears, and avoid eye contact. They may also cover their mouths, show a fake smile, display anxiety, have stiff body movements, etc.
All these signs provide us with essential and meaningful information for communicating effectively.
This information is very important. Emoticons are useful substitutes for facial expressions and other non-verbal communication - emojis are the non-verbal communication of the digital world! They express our feelings and emotions on social media, chat rooms, and instant messaging. Some examples are: :-) smile; :-( sad; :/ unsure, :D big grin; :* kiss; o_O surprise, etc.