Non Verbal Communication is communication without words.
It is communication that takes places through bodily gestures,
postures, facial expression, eye movements, spatial relationship,
Non verbal communication refers to all external stimuli other than
spoken or written words, which includes body motion,
characteristics of appearance, characteristics of voice and use of
space and distancing.
All these modes of non-verbal communication taken together are
also known as body language. Body language plays a significant
role in oral communication.
In day to day oral communication, we keep on interpreting non-
verbal clues without being aware that we are doing so.
It is only recently that a systematic study has been made to analyze
non-verbal communication and KINESICS is the name given to
this branch of learning.
The first impact on the audience/listener is created by the
personal appearance of the speaker.
Even before the speaker utters the first word we begin to form
an opinion about him and visualize the way he is going to talk.
Ones appearance may put the audience into a resistant or even
a hostile attitude or induce in them a receptive mood which is
essential for the success of communication.
Dress, hairstyle, makeup etc., provide clues about the
personality of an individual.
A uniform may indicate the kind of work one does or instill a
sense of oneness.
It is an important part of body language and generally refers to
the way one stands, sits and walks.
The movement of the body, the position of hands legs and
other parts of the body while standing or sitting reveal an
individual’s personality – whether he is vibrant, alive and
dynamic, nervous, confident and self assured etc.
The way people hold themselves gives important information.
A good speaker stands tall, feet together and the weight
directly over the instep, keeping the chin parallel to the floor at
right angles to the backbone.
Standing in this posture before a group is in fact one of the
first essentials for success in speaking.
A drooping shoulder and a protruding stomach indicate that
the speaker is discouraged, tired and worn out.
While speaking, naturally there should be shifts in the posture.
These have to be cultivated. One must learn where to place
one’s hands and to shift the weight of the body on the legs
Interested people always pay attention and lean forward.
Leaning backward demonstrates aloofness or rejection.
A firm handshake will give the impression of assertiveness or
honesty. Too firm can, however, seem arrogant or
Folding arms across your chest or body is protective and will
give the impression that you are closed, guarded and
People with arms folded, legs crossed and bodies turned away
signal that they are rejecting messages.
People showing open hands, both feet planted on the ground
give signal that they are accepting message.
A head held straight up signals a neutral attitude. A head
tilted to the side indicate interest while a head down gives a
negative and judgmental signal.
GESTURES AND MOVEMENT OF THE BODY
They too play a significant role in making the communication
effective. A well timed gesture can drive a point home.
Similarly, playing with a ring, twisting a key-chain or clasping
one’s hands tightly rob the speaker the effectiveness of his
Oral communications are accompanied by gestures such as
shrugging of the shoulders, flourish of the hands, movement of
the head etc.
In fact without the accompanying, it would be difficult to
Gestures enhance the impact and add a greater value to what is
being said besides exercising a more powerful impact upon the
Gestures can be used purposefully to emphasize meaning.
Fidgeting (act or move of discomfort) shows boredom and
Pressing fingers together to form a steeple shows interest,
assertiveness and determination.
Touching the nose or rubbing indicates discomfort, or it may
even be a signal that your character is not being completely
A hand in the back may indicate withdrawal from the
NON VERBAL RESEARCHERS IDENTIFY FIVE MAJOR
TYPES OF MOVEMENTS:
These are body gestures that directly translate into words or
Okay sign, the thumbs up for good job V for victory.
Emblems are culture specific.
V in India is different
Middle Finger up means different
Hugging in acceptable in some countries while in others it is not
and if withheld it may communicate unfriendliness.
These are gestures that enhance the verbal message they
While referring something to the left, you might gesture towards
Most of you illustrate with your hands.
You may also use illustrators to communicate the shape or size of
objects when you are talking.
These are movements of the face (smiling, frowning) but also of
the hands and general body (body tenseness, relaxing posture)
communicate emotional meaning.
You might just smile while saying how happy you are to see your
These are behaviors that monitor, control, coordinate or maintain
the speaking of another individual.
When you nod your head it means keep on speaking.
When you lean forward and open your mouth you would like to
These are to satisfy one’s personal needs.
Scratching to relieve an itch,
Alter adaptors are directed on the person with whom you are
speaking like removing lint from the other persons jacket,
straightening their tie or folding your arms in front of you to keep
others at a comfortable distance.
The face is the most expressive:
Smile indicates friendliness
Frown indicates discontent
Raised eyebrow indicates disbelief
Tightening of the jaw muscles indicates antagonism (hostility)
An expressionless face may confuse the listener
Brightness in the eyes may keep their interest sustained and
also evoke enthusiasm
Exuding zeal when one is making a point may make the job of
a speaker easy
Biting lips, raising the eyebrows, blinking the eyes too often
certainly hinders the smooth flow of communication.
Eye contact with the listener is the most important aspect of the
The eye is the extension of the brain and a window of the soul
It tells if the speaker is sincere and whether the listener is
It also means gaining feedback, enabling the speaker to alter,
adjust and reframe his message while transmitting it.
This is automatic and the speaker and listener.
Studies show that better eye contact leads to more effective
A good speaker therefore always looks at all sections of his
audience and not at the ground and ceiling.
If some part is ignored they lose interest.
SPATIAL COMMUNICATION OR SPATIAL DISTANCES:
The study of communication through spatial distances is called
INTIMATE DISTANCE: Ranging from actual touching to about
18 inches. Each person experiences the sound, smell and feel of
the other’s breath.
Intimate distance is used for lovemaking, comforting and
This distance is short and people do not consider it proper in
This refers to a protective ‘bubble’ 18 to 4 feet
Keeps the person protected and untouched
Can still touch the other person by stretching his arms.
4 to 12 feet
Social gatherings are conducted at this distance
Offices of high officials the desks are positioned this way.
12 to 25 feet distance
At this distance one can take a defence action if one is threatened.
SPACE DISTANCING DIFFERS FROM CULTUR TO
In India two males can hug each other and walk hand in hand
because they are good friends.
Abroad this may give the wrong meaning.
Also called HAPTICS
In the case of a child it is fondled, caressed, patted and stroked.
This indicates positive emotions as support, appreciation,
inclusion, sexual interest or intent or affection.
Touch may control or direct the behaviours, attitudes or feelings of
In attention getting you touch to gain his/her attention as if to say
‘look at me’ or ‘look over here’
Shaking hands to say hello or goodby
Hugging, kissing or putting arms around other’s to say farewell
Helping someone to get out of the car.
Black colour indicative of death in many cultures, white signals
peace and red indictes anger and danger.
Students perceive a faculty dressed informally as friendly, fair and
enthusiastic and flexible.
If dressed formally he is perceived as prepared, knowledgeable and
Jewellery also communicates messages like a wedding ring or
If you wear a rolex watch it indicates you are rich.
SOME COMMON NON VERBAL BEHAVIOUR AND THEIR