Communication is a regular part of our everyday lives. It is through communication that we are able to express our needs, wants, sentiments and every other emotion or message that we wish to share with others. However, communication is not always limited to what we say but also in how we say them. More often than not, what we don’t say often carries more weight than what we actually said.  An article from Social Mojo reveals that ‘verbal communication has only a 7% impact to your overall communication with 93% is coming from nonverbal communication.  Of this, 55% is body language and 38% tonality.’

Despite this both verbal and nonverbal communication have their own appropriate uses and applications.  Being aware of these will help us better understand the key differences between verbal communication and nonverbal communication.

 

Mode of Expression

The most obvious difference between verbal and non verbal communication is how the messages are conveyed and received.  Verbal communication can be spoken or written and requires the use of words which are heard or read by the recipient of the message.

Non-verbal communication is expressed through the speaker’s actions and behaviour in the communication process. These body language, body signals, and mannerism can be observed as follows:

  • Sounds (laughing, snickering, sighing)
  • Body contact (shaking hands, hugs)
  • Facial expressions (smiling, frowning)
  • Eye movements (winking, rolling)
  • Eye Contact
  • Head movements (shaking of the head, nodding)
  • Hand movements (waving, clenched fists)
  • Ways of talking (tone, intonation, pauses, stuttering)
  • Posture (leaning forward, slouching)

Uses and Applications

Verbal communication is most effectively used in phone calls, text messages, chats and emails. Through verbal communication you are able to convey your message through words.

Non-verbal communication is more effective in instances where the speaker and the listener are face-to-face. Often the non-verbal communication conveyed can give more meaning than the spoken word.

A good example of this is a lie detector test. A subject can say anything he or she wants however body signals such as elevated heart rates, avoiding eye to eye contact and constant stuttering can greatly contradict what is said.

In movies both scripts and one-liners can be memorable but it is the acting that wins the award, which just shows that nonverbal communication is effective in conveying emotions.

It should be remembered that the true meaning of a message does not only depend on the words being said but also how those words were expressed and the accompanying body gestures. In order to have meaningful and effective communication, it is essential to be aware of the differences and using each version to ensure there is little communication breakdown.