Non verbal communication

Some types of nonverbal communication discussed

Facial expression

The face is responsible for most meaning in nonverbal communication. Basic facial expressions such as happiness, surprise, and fear are fairly universal while subtle expressions are difficult to interpret. Facial expressions differ across cultures.

Eye contact

Eye contact shows interest and attentiveness. This type of communication signals one’s wish or willingness to participate. Eye contact is also a means to control and persuade others.

Movements and gestures

Movements and gestures include emblems, illustrators, regulators, and adaptors. Emblems are gestures that have a specific agreed-on meaning. Illustrators are used to illustrate the verbal message they accompany and are the most common type of gesture. Adaptora are touching behaviors and movements that indicate internal states typically related to arousal or anxiety.

Clothing and appearance

Clothing and appearance determine credibility, persuasiveness, status, and hiring decisions. This nonverbal communication type affects the public perception of organizations and is often problematic due to the casual confusion syndrome. The casual confusion syndrome arises when a casual clothing culture in a business or other organization leads people to wear inappropriate casual clothing.

Distance and personal space

Distance may convey several meanings based on Hall’s distance categories. Intimate distance ranges from contact to 18 inches. Personal distance ranges from 18 inches to 4 feet. Social distance covers 4 to 12 feet while public distance is from 12 Feet and above.

Physical environment

The physical environment reveals the characteristics of the owner or occupier. Color affects emotional response. Lighting and room size alter communication. Odor can stir emotions. Ergonomics can affect physical well-being with implications for overall health.


Most business is conducted on an informal level. Status determines the sequences of lateness. The time spent on something or with a party signals significance. Perceptions of time depend on cultural background.

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