Nicole Beurkens 
Article Title
Nonverbal Communication: What’s it all about? Part 1 
Posted Date

This is part 1 of a 3 part series on nonverbal communication. Communication is critical to continued human development throughout our life span. It is what allows us to share thoughts, feelings, wonderings, and knowledge with others. Whether you are a verbal or nonverbal communicator, the vast majority of communication we do is through nonverbal channels. So if nonverbal communication makes up a substantial portion of our communicative experience, what does it involve?

Many of us associate facial expression and gestures with nonverbal communication, but these are not the only two types involved. There are, in fact, eight different types of nonverbal communication:

  • Facial Expression This makes up the largest proportion of nonverbal communication. Large amounts of information can be conveyed through a smile or frown. The facial expressions for happiness, sadness, anger, and fear are similar across cultures throughout the world.
  • Gestures Common gestures include pointing, waving, and using fingers to indicate number amounts.
  • Paralinguistics This includes factors such as tone of voice, loudness, inflection, and pitch. Tone of voice can be powerful. The same sentence said in different tones can convey different messages. A strong tone of voice may indicate approval or enthusiasm, whereas the same sentence said with a hesitant tone of voice may convey disapproval or lack of interest.
  • Body Language and Posture A person’s posture and movement can also convey a great deal of information. Arm crossing or leg-crossing conveys different meanings depending on the context and the person interpreting them. Body language is very subtle, and may not be very definitive.
  • Proxemics This refers to personal space. The amount of space a person requires depends on each individual’s preference, but also depends on the situation and other people involved in the situation.
  • Eye Gaze Looking, staring, and blinking are all considered types of eye gaze. Looking at another person can indicate a range of emotions including hostility, interest, or attraction.
  • Haptics This refers to communicating through touch. Haptics is especially important in infancy and early childhood.
  • Appearance Our choice of color, clothing, hairstyles, and other factors affecting our appearance are considered a means of nonverbal communication.

In part 2, I will explain how and when children begin to use nonverbal communication

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