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While verbal communication can easily be understood, you may not understand non-verbal communication and just how important a role it plays in interactions. 

Through our years of interacting with many individuals, we have been able to pick up on their body language. This has helped our communication significantly.

Our aim in this article is to first help you understand precisely what this communication form encompasses and the importance of non-verbal communication

The Importance of Non-verbal Communication 

Non-verbal communication is a way of communicating that does not involve written or spoken words. In other words, it is the transmission of information through other means of expression, including body language, facial expressions, gestures, posture, eye contact, tone of voice, and even touch.

Non-verbal signals form a significant part of human daily communications. More often than not, however, they are unintentional and instinctive. This means you don’t have to pay conscious attention to doing them; they just happen. Thus, they can reflect one’s true feelings, whether or not words accompany them.  

Man holding a mic and pointing his finger towards his audience

Why Is Non-verbal Communication Important?

The importance of communicating without words in professional, personal, and social connections cannot be overstated. This form of communication is so closely intertwined with verbal communication that it is almost impossible to separate them. Here are some of the reasons these signals are so important: 


Promotes Understanding

Non-lexical signals provide context and clarity to verbal communication. They help to convey emotions, attitudes, and intentions more accurately than words alone can. For example, a smile followed by a compliment shows sincerity and friendliness, while a sneer may indicate sarcasm. 

By paying attention to non-linguistic signals, you can better understand the true feelings behind what others say. This greatly improves your understanding of their emotions and perspectives. 

Builds Relationships

Effective communication is required to build and maintain healthy relationships with people, and non-lexical signals play a major role in making sure of this. These cues can be used to build rapport, promote trust, and strengthen connections between individuals. 

For instance, maintaining eye contact or using open body language can signal interest, empathy, and sincerity, thereby improving relationship quality.

Expresses Emotions

Non-linguistic signals are one of the most common ways people express emotions such as joy, sadness, anger, fear, or affection without using words. If you know how to read these signals properly, you can tell a person’s emotional state simply by watching them. 

Facilitates Professional Success

Non-lexical communication skills are particularly important for career growth, leadership, and teamwork in professional settings. They help you communicate better with your colleagues, superiors, juniors, and clients, resulting in better collaboration, decision-making, negotiation, and problem-solving. 

Additionally, professionals with strong non-linguistic skills are more likely to be seen as competent, trustworthy, and influential. This increases their chances of career success and growth.

People listening to a speaker during a presentation

Bridges the Gap Caused by Language Barriers

While verbal communication is fundamental for conveying information, it can be limited due to several factors, including: 

In instances where verbal language fails to fully capture a person’s emotions, non-lexical cues can fill the void. They allow you to express and interpret feelings effectively, improving your understanding. 

Types of Non-Verbal Communication

When communicating without using words, there are various signals that people usually use to express how they feel. These signals can then be interpreted to better understand both spoken and unspoken messages. They include:

Facial Expressions

The human face can convey a wide range of emotions without words, making facial expressions one of the most common non-lexical signals. Most facial expressions are universally recognizable, meaning that regardless of a person’s cultural background or race, you can simply tell what they’re feeling by studying them. 

Some easily read emotions through facial expressions are happiness, anger, sadness, fear, surprise, and disgust.

Gestures

Gestures are movements done with the hand, leg, and body to communicate with others. They include: 

  • Waving
  • Pointing
  • Beckoning 
  • Raising a hand 
  • Thumbs up/ thumbs down

Body Language

Body language, such as posture and stance, can convey information about a person’s confidence, attentiveness, and general emotional state. For example, standing tall with shoulders back may convey confidence, while slouching or crossing arms may indicate defensiveness or discomfort.

Eye Contact

Sustained eye contact typically conveys attentiveness, sincerity, and confidence, while a lack of eye contact may signal discomfort, dishonesty, or disinterest. Keep in mind that the appropriate duration and intensity of eye contact varies by culture and social situation.

Man raising his hand during a presentation at a conference on stageTouch

Touch is a powerful way of communicating without words that can convey intimacy, affection, support, or aggression. Depending on the situation and relationship between individuals, touch can range from a comforting hug or a reassuring pat on the back to a firm handshake or an aggressive shove.

Tone of Voice

The tone, pitch, and volume of your voice can convey subtle messages that words alone cannot express. A warm, soothing tone may indicate empathy or reassurance, while a harsh or monotonous tone could convey irritation or indifference. 

Related Questions 

How Can I Improve My Non-verbal Communication Skills? 

You can improve your communication skills by paying close attention to your body language and facial expressions. Stand or sit with your back straight to convey confidence, do not shy away from eye contact, and use gestures to buttress your point when appropriate. Additionally, you can work on smiling more often to put your audience at ease. 

Can Non-verbal Cues Be Faked?

Yes, non-lexical cues can be faked to some extent. People may consciously manipulate their facial expressions or body language to convey emotions that do not accurately reflect their true feelings. However, genuine emotions often leak through this pretense, making it quite challenging to completely deceive people, especially those skilled at observing.

Can Non-verbal Signals Be Used in the Workplace?

Yes, non-lexical signals can be used in the workplace. It builds rapport among colleagues, clients, and superiors and can promote understanding, trust, and collaboration. For instance, eye contact demonstrates attentiveness, while a confident posture indicates credibility and readiness. A strong and steady tone of voice and gestures can also contribute to effective communication during presentations or meetings.

Conclusion 

From building relationships in and out of the workplace to helping people to express their emotions more accurately, non-verbal signals play a major role in shaping interactions and connections with others. By recognizing its importance, you can learn to better incorporate non-lexical cues into your daily communication.