Verbal and Non-Verbal Communications - Explained
What is Verbal Communication? Non Verbal?
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What is Verbal Communication?
Verbal communication is made up of oral and written language.
Verbal communication involves the words said while non-verbal communication consists of how the words are spoken.
The facial expressions, tone of one's voice, gestures and body language matter a lot.
Written communication also has two sides to it that are Verbal and Non-verbal.
What are the Types of Nonverbal Communications?
Meta communication - This takes place when messages are not expressed through words but are rather co-existent with a verbal message. This generally comprises of an implicating statement or a statement that invariably leads to an inference. For instance, if one states don't eat junk food it implies that the person in question is in the habit of eating junk foods.
Kinesic Message - A Kinesic message includes communication that is conducted without the use of words. The visual forms mainly include behaviors, movements, clothing, etc. while the vocal may include various accent, pronunciations, sound, change in the tonal quality of the voice, voice modulation, etc.
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What is Language?
Language is a compilation of symbols, numbers, letters, or words with random meanings. They are ordered according to the rules forming a code.
It is used to make conversation with one another. You need to grasp the context and understand the meaning of words to read or speak it correctly.
Rules for Word Use in Language
Three rules that are followed while using words are:
- Syntactic rules: These rules control the order in which the words are in a sentence.
- Semantic rules: These rules control the words meaning and their interpretation. The meaning of words or what they are made to mean rather than their grammar, spelling, sound is considered.
- Contextual rules: These rules control the meaning and text combination concerning the social practices and contextual rules.
Despite all these rules, a communication gap or miscommunication may happen as words are interpreted differently in different communities.
But at times, they are restricted by certain factors that we cannot control. To make a universal vocabulary, the need to further explain the meaning of words is required.
Words do not carry any meaning with them. Humans add sense to them, and the definition itself changes from time to time.
The letters, punctuation marks, and numbers are arbitrary symbols that attach concepts to the sentences according to our experience.
The description of the word has to be discussed and defined (through images or dialogues) in order to comprehend with our listeners.
The Meaning of Words in Communication
Two types of meanings that words have are:
- Denotative meaning: This is the most common meaning that may be found in the dictionary.
- Connotative meaning: This meaning will not be found in the dictionary but may be derived from the words according to the communal norms.
Words may be associated with emotions (positive or negative) and might be a collective or personal, but not universal.
When two speakers speak in the same language but across cultural boundaries, generations and styles, capturing the essence of the ideas becomes difficult as the complex structure of thoughts increases exponentially.
Words play a pivotal role in the environment and represent its spheres at the same time.
Words may be used to describe an idea or a concept, but labeling and using a particular word to describe it, simplifies and changes the concept of the thing as well. It is easier to communicate when you can simplify concepts, but in the process, it makes us lose the precise meaning that we try to express through abstraction.
To create and convey a sense of order in the world, we use language.
Based on concepts of physical closeness or the like, we choose a group of words that represent ideas.
Systems of classification are used to navigate around the world, but it becomes problematic when we use them to support deep-seated assumptions and biases that are irrelevant in today's times.
Through our biases, we can assume that elements are related when they share no relationship between them.
Consequently, our thinking is restricted and understanding of reality is impaired.
These biases can be visible in others, but it becomes our responsibility as communicators to become wary of them in ourselves.
Holding biases unconsciously will hinder our growth, limit our understanding and the ability to communicate efficiently.
Relative Biases Associated with Words
Individuals develop and express biases with regard to the words they use and they way that they use words. Some notable examples include:
Cliche - An apt word or a phrase that has lost its importance because of being overused is called a cliche.
Jargon - A language that is used specifically by people in a particular profession or field is called Jargon. Jargon does not entail formal education. It only focuses on the tongue that lets you communicate with one another.
Slang - Already existing or newly invented words that replace standard traditional words by adding humorous, non-standard, unusual, unruly and unconventional meaning are known as slangs. Slangs are different from jargon as they are used in informal gatherings and not by professionals in an institution.
Sexist and Racist Language - In this case, gender is used as a discriminating feature. This kind of language discriminates people from a specific ethnic group or race.
Euphemisms - When an acceptable word is replaced by an unpleasant, controversial or intolerable word that somehow conveys a similar meaning, it is called a euphemism. The objective in business is clarity. The goal of euphemism is to be unclear.
Doublespeak - The purposeful use of words to mask, obscure or alter meaning often noted in technical communication is called doublespeak. It is used to derogate someone in an organization. This type of language can be somewhat harmful when it is used purposely to tamper with the meaning, and the listener cannot render and foresee the consequences based on the ineffective exchange.
Understanding Non Verbal Messages
One can hardly turn a blind eye to the use of non-verbal messages. They are intrinsic in our day-to-day communication and how we process and analyze as well as share certain information.
The non-verbal messages may have different connotation for different people with different mindsets, and it may also vary according to ones culture.
Sometimes, such messages may be used with some predefined motive and sometimes, they may be used unintentionally.
If there is no synergy between the verbal and non-verbal message, it can have a negative impact on the communication process.
It may also affect the way an individual perceives such messages with their belief and value systems.
Non-verbal messages are often more importance than verbal messages and may do more to demonstrate the senders motives, values, or belief system.
Non-verbal messages may be useful or dangerous based on the circumstances in which they are communicated.
Principles of Nonverbal Communication
Fluid - Nonverbal communication involves the entire body, the space it occupies and dominates, the time it interacts, and not only what is not said, but how it is not said. Nonverbal communication is always in motion, as long as we are, and is never the same twice. Nonverbal communication is irreversible. In a speech, nonverbal communication is continuous in the sense that it is always occurring, and because it is so fluid, it can be hard to determine where one nonverbal message starts and another stops.
Add to or Replace Verbal Communication - Intentional nonverbal communication can complement, repeat, replace, mask, or contradict what we say.
- Regulators are nonverbal messages which control, maintain or discourage interaction.
- Affect displays are nonverbal communication that express emotions or feelings.
Adaptorsare displays of nonverbal communication that help you adapt to your environment and each context, helping you feel comfortable and secure. Adapters are of two types: Self-adapter and object-adapter.
- A self-adaptor involves you meeting your need for security, by playing with your hair for example, by adapting something about yourself in way for which it was not designed or for no apparent purpose.
- An object-adaptor involves the use of an object in a way for which it was not designed.
Universal - Every culture communicates with non-verbal methods.
Confusing and Contextual - Nonverbal messages that conflict with verbal communication can confuse the listener. As such, the non-verbal communication will vary based upon the context of the verbal communication.
Intentional or Unintentional - These types of communications can be conscious or unconscious. Shaking ones head is an intentional signal. Crying can be unintentional.
Communicate Feelings and Attitudes - A smile indicate happiness; blushing shows embarrassment; crying shows sadness, pain, or fear.
Confidence - We believe nonverbal communication more than verbal communications. According to Miron Zuckerman, Bella DePaulo, and Robert Rosenthal, there are several behaviors people often display when they are being deceptive:
- Reduction in eye contact while engaged in a conversation
- Awkward pauses in conversation
- Higher pitch in voice
- Deliberate pronunciation and articulation of words
- Increased delay in response time to a question
- Increased body movements like changes in posture
- Decreased smiling
- Decreased rate of speech
Types of Nonverbal Communication
Space - We mean the space between objects and people. People from diverse cultures may have different normative space expectations. Proxemics is the study of the human use of space and distance in communication.
In The Hidden Dimension, he indicated there are two main aspects of space: territory and personal space. Hall drew on anthropology to address the concepts of dominance and submission, and noted that the more powerful person often claims more space.
Territory is related to control. Territory means the space you claim as your own, are responsible for, or are willing to defend. personal space, or the bubble of space surrounding each individual.
Categories of space include:
- Social, and
- Public Space
Time - Time varies by culture and normative expectations of adherence (or ignorance) of time. cIn social contexts, it often reveals social status and power. Chronemics is the study of how we refer to and perceive time. Tom Bruneau at Radford University has spent a lifetime investigating how time interacts in communication and culture. The expectations vary by context, and we often grow frustrated in a time-sensitive culture when the delivery does not match our expectations.
Physical Characteristics - Taller people get paid more. People prefer symmetrical faces (where both sides are equal) over asymmetrical faces (with unequal sides; like a crooked nose or having one eye or ear slightly higher than the other). We often make judgments about a persons personality or behavior based on physical characteristics, and researchers are quick to note that those judgments are often inaccurate.
Body Movements - The study of body movements, called kinesics, is key to understanding nonverbal communication. Body movements that complement, repeat, regulate, or replace your verbal messages. Body movements can complement the verbal message by reinforcing the main idea. Your verbal and nonverbal messages reinforce each other.Body movements can also regulate conversations. Nodding your head to indicate that you are listening may encourage the customer to continue asking questions. Body movements also substitute or replace verbal messages. Ekman and Friesen found that facial features communicate to others our feelings, but our body movements often reveal how intensely we experience those feelings.
Touch - Touch in communication interaction is called haptics, William Seiler and MelissBeall identify five distinct types of touch:
- Impersonal to Intimate,
- Functional - Professional
- Friendship- Warmth
Paralanguage - Paralanguage is the exception to the definition of nonverbal communication. Paralanguage involves verbal and nonverbal aspects of speech that influence meaning, including tone, intensity, pausing, and even silence. Pregnant pause, a silence between verbal messages that is full of meaning.
Artifacts - Artifacts are forms of decorative ornamentation that are chosen to represent self-concept. From tattoos, clothes to cars, watches, briefcases, purses, and even eyeglasses, what we choose to surround ourselves with communicates something about our sense of self. They may project gender, role or position, class or status, personality, and group membership or affiliation.
Environment - Environment involves the physical and psychological aspects of the communication context. The perception of ones environment influences ones reaction to it.