Body Language

Body Language (Non-Verbal) vs. Verbal Communication

Communicating with others is one of those basic life skills we all have. But if you want to communicate effectively with others, a good starting point is to understand the importance of not only verbal communication but nonverbal as well.

Some researchers have claimed that somewhere between 60 to 90 percent of all communication is done nonverbally.

Let that sink in for a minute.

 That’s astounding! And pretty hard to believe, considering that there about 4,000 words added to the English dictionary every year. With all those words available how could body language outweigh the spoken word?

What is Non-Verbal Communication?

 You use nonverbal communication methods every single day and probably don’t even realize it. The tone of your voice, your posture and the expression on your face are just part of the equation.

Other nonverbal cues are eye contact, how close you are in proximity to whom you are communicating, and any gestures you might use to get your point across.

Nonverbal communication can be used alone or in combination with speaking to others and still be effective. A baby can nonverbally tell her mother she’s hungry, she’s sleepy, or she’s in pain with three distinct cries.

Now add in the rest of the body parts and just imagine how many thoughts and feelings can be revealed without uttering a single word!

What is Verbal Communication?

 There are two main types of verbal communication: Personal and Public.

Personal communication is one-on-one or even a small group of people. These are people you are familiar with and know on a personal level. Your friends, family, coworkers, etc., are all people you communicate with personally.

Maybe you’re talking to your best mate, at the dinner table with your family talking about your day, or in the breakroom chatting it up with a couple coworkers.

No matter the audience, you are comfortable with these people and the conversation is on a more personal level than if you were addressing a crowd.

Public communication is on a bigger scale, and the majority of the audience isn’t on your Christmas card list. It could be you are delivering speech, offering a congratulatory wedding toast, or heading a presentation at work in front of the entire staff.

Either way, there are going to be unfamiliar faces in the crowd, and your verbal communication skills are going to be challenged much more so than when speaking on a personal level.

Words. Verbal communication is all about using your words to get the point across to one or more people. Of course, you can talk to yourself, in which case you are the audience. Your choice of words is your biggest asset when you are verbally communicating.

Decoding the Message

 Nonverbal and verbal communication work together to effectively communicate with others. Humans use nonverbal actions in conjunction with the spoken word, and their audience is left to decode the message.

Deciphering the true meaning is fairly easy when the two complement each other. It’s natural for our actions to place emphasis on what we are saying.

For instance, if you say your birthday is next week in a normal tone with a flat affect, devoid of excitement or physical activity, your audience is most likely going to interpret that your birthday isn’t a big deal to you.

However, the opposite is true if you are smiling from ear-to-ear, your eyes get big, your arms are outstretched with palms facing up and your pitch gets higher when you say, “Tomorrow is my birthday!”

When nonverbal cues contradict what’s being said, you might be dealing with someone who is not telling the truth or trying to fake enthusiasm. Some people tend to look up and to the right when they are telling a lie, and others look down and fidget or maybe touch their mouth or face while they are speaking.

It’s likely that everyone has tried to fake a smile at one point or another, but the rest of the body language usually tells the truth.

Here’s why correctly decoding the message matters. Your personal and professional relationships are built on trust and integrity. Misinterpreting sarcasm can be the difference between laughing or the start of an argument.

More importantly, as you read another’s body language, you can determine if now is even the time for humor, sarcasm, empathy or no words at all. Effective communication begins and ends with using both nonverbal and verbal to your advantage.

To more effective communication

Fran

P.S.  Be sure to come back for more tips

About Fran Watson

Involved in public speaking since 2000. Joined Toastmasters in 2002 and have served in all Executive roles including serving one year as the District Public Relations Officer. Achieved my DTM in 2014. Develop and facilitate workshops in the area of employment and career development.
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