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Non-verbal communication I

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 ―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, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but everyone agrees that tonality and physiology are essential in effective interpersonal communication.

Let me give you an example. My wife just got home from work, she sat down, and sighed a heavy sigh of 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 had to ask her with special interest and listen to her actively because she was screaming, without saying a 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 meaning to our interactions. 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 make frequent eye contact, she will smile at you, and play with her hair. She will be sitting up straighter, orienting herself towards you (leaning backward means uninterested) 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, and their eyes are half-closed. If someone is frowning and biting her/his lips, s/he is unmistakeable 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 body language. For example, a liar could get a bit fidgety and uneasy. 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, etc.

All these signs provide us with essential information for communicating effectively.

This information is very important and meaningful. 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.



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