Our bodies are continuously sending signals which are received as non verbal cues. We can choose to be more purposeful in the body signals we send for more effective communication or we can allow our bodies to send involuntary signals that can undo our communication effort. We send non-verbal cues through the following:
1. Facial expressions. The human face is extremely expressive, able to convey countless emotions without saying a word. And unlike some forms of nonverbal communication, facial expressions are universal. The facial expressions for happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, and disgust are the same across cultures.
Posture and Body Movements
2. Body movement and posture. The way we move and carry ourselves communicates a wealth of information to the world. This type of nonverbal communication includes posture, bearing, stance, and the subtle movements we make.
3. Gestures. Gestures are woven into the fabric of our daily lives. We may wave, point, beckon, or use our hands when arguing or speaking animatedly, often expressing ourselves with gestures without thinking. However, the meaning of some gestures can be very different across cultures. While the OK sign made with the hand, for example, conveys a positive message in English-speaking countries, it’s consider offensive in countries such as Germany, Russia, and Brazil. So, it’s important to be careful of how we use gestures to avoid misinterpretation.
4. Eye contact. Since the visual sense is dominant for most people, eye contact is an especially important type of nonverbal communication. The way we look at someone can communicate many things, including interest, affection, hostility, or attraction. Eye contact is also important in maintaining the flow of conversation and for gauging the other person’s interest and response.
5. Touch. We communicate a great deal through touch. A weak handshake, a warm bear hug, a patronizing pat on the head, or a controlling grip on the arm, for example.
6. Space. Ever felt uncomfortable during a conversation because the other person was standing too close and you felt they are invading your space? We all have a need for physical space, although that need differs depending on the culture, the situation, and the closeness of the relationship. We can use physical space to communicate many different nonverbal messages, including signals of intimacy and affection, aggression or dominance.
7. Voice. It’s not just what we say, it’s how you say it! When we speak, other people “read” our voice in addition to listening to our words. Things they pay attention to include our timing and pace, how loud we speak, our tone and inflection, and sounds that convey understanding, such as “ahh” and “uh-huh.” Our tone of voice can convey sarcasm, anger, affection, or confidence.
Importance of Non-Verbal Cues
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