06 April 2010


Verbal and Nonverbal Communication

Communication is an indispensable part in people’s activities. It falls into two categories, namely, verbal communication and nonverbal communication. When it comes to communication, people tend to view it as verbal communication. Yet besides the language, non-language communication plays a dispensable role in people’s daily life. Both depend on each other.

Verbal Communication

In general, verbal communication means that people communicate with each other by means of language. Through verbal communication, people will learn who they are, and what the world around them is like. Furthermore, verbal communication expresses one’s thought and feelings to others, and to satisfy one’s emotional and material needs. In human’s daily life, communication is something that they do every day. Verbal communication is human’s main communicative form, in which language is its communicative tool.

Non-Verbal Communication

In a broad sense, nonverbal communication refers to all communicative means except verbal communication. nonverbal communication may divide into two categories: non-language information sent by body like body language, facial expression, eye contact, physical touch, smell and para language, and nonverbal information connected to environment such as time, space and silence. In a narrow prospect, definitions of nonverbal communication differ from one expert to another. Nonverbal communication may convey richer information than that of verbal communication. Sometimes, it can send messages independently, and in many situations it is employed in combination with verbal actions to transmit meanings.

Comparison of Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication

In social communication, verbal and nonverbal communication are not absolutely separate each other. Both are indispensable and interactive. Verbal communication sends information only in a way—language. Such information may be repeated, explained, complemented and reinforced with the accompaniment of nonverbal behaviors like tone of voices, smiling, nodding, eye movement, facial expression, etc. During peoples face- to -face activities, verbal communication is a principle communicative means, but once verbal and nonverbal communication happen to conflict, nonverbal messages are more powerful in that it may reflect ones true thinking and feelings. Why is nonverbal communication more forceful than verbal communication when they conflict? The real value of these two kinds of communications lies in their differences.

Direct vs. Indirect

Verbal communication directly sends information through language, while nonverbal communication indirectly conveys messages through some non-language cues such as body languages, physical touch, spatial use and so on .When communicating through human language, people receive direct information. Then, in a conversation, the topic, the content, the direction and the purpose are obvious. Communicators are able to directly gain necessary information and they will reach an agreeable idea. Nonverbal communication, however, may indirectly bring a great variety of messages. Although nonverbal communication differs in different cultures, some basic emotions reflected by behaviors such as smiling, frowning, laughing and crying have common meanings in human communication. A smile signifies happiness, greeting, and welcome; Frown may display disagreement, unhappiness, discouragement, dissatisfaction, anger and so on. On the other hand, people in different culture have different attitude towards physical contact, spatial use and so on. Such indirect information without the aid of language is more effective than that of verbal language.