Have you seen The Dying Swan, the signature solo dance performance by legendary ballerina Anna Pavlova? It expresses the pain and struggle of a dying swan trying to survive. As the graceful Pavlova trembles and finally collapses under the weight of melancholy, the passion and the beauty of the performance tugs at the heartstrings of the audience.

Have you heard about miming? It is the theatrical technique of expressing an idea or mood of a character entirely by gesture and body movements. Marcel Marceau, the celebrated French actor and mime artist, described mime as the ‘Art of Silence’.

At the heart of the powerful performances by Pavlova and Marceau lies strong and aesthetic nonverbal communication.

What Is Nonverbal Communication?

When you don’t want to take part in a particular conversation, you may look the other way. Without uttering a word, you convey, “I am not interested.”

Nonverbal communication is conveying your message through gestures, postures, signals, or clues. In our personal and professional lives, we give and receive countless nonverbal clues every day.

Types Of Nonverbal Communication

Let us explore the types of nonverbal communication.

  • Body language:

Body language is an effective means of nonverbal communication. You can tell a lot about a person from their facial expressions, body posture, gestures, eye movement, and use of space. One of the best-known examples is actor Amitabh Bachchan whose effective body language gave an aura to his angry young man persona in his early films.

Learn to read the body language of people around you by noticing their postures and gestures.

  • Eye contact:

Eyes are an effective communication tool to convey messages without saying a word. Eye contact says a lot about a person. For instance, those who avoid eye contact are often perceived as shy or less confident.

It is said that actor Irrfan Khan spoke a thousand words with his eyes. “I’m just beguiled by Irrfan’s magic eyes,” Hollywood star Tom Hanks once said.

  • Facial expressions:

From a lip movement to the raising of eyebrows and shifting of the glance, our facial expressions convey a wide range of emotions.  Some facial expressions are very powerful. For instance, a smile makes any situation easier to handle.

  • Gestures:

A gesture is another form of nonverbal communication. Different gestures could mean different things in different situations.

Have you seen people communicate using sign language? Every hand gesture means something. Even during regular conversations, most of us knowingly or unknowingly use certain gestures such as nodding or giving a thumbs-up or high five.

  • Para-linguistics:

Para-linguistics means vocal communication through the tone, pitch, and volume of your voice. Remember the community tennis matches held on the weekends? The way your sister came shouting, you knew she had won the match.

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said,” said Peter Drucker, a well-known management consultant. 

Examples Of Nonverbal Communication

Let’s look at an example of nonverbal communication.

Hitesh works in an ad agency. He is always given the first preference for final presentations, and his colleagues wonder why. The reason is that his manager knows that in addition to content creation, Hitesh has excellent nonverbal communication skills. His body language exudes confidence and his habit of making eye contact and his gestures express trust and clarity.

Teachers, actors, lawyers, TV anchors, journalists, or salespeople, who communicate with their students, audience or customers regularly, need to have excellent nonverbal communication.

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said,” said Peter Drucker, a well-known management consultant. This pretty much sums up the importance of nonverbal communication.

It is said that 80% of communication happens nonverbally. We express our innermost emotions such as love, hope, pleasure, anger, sadness and anxiety without words.

Empathetic nonverbal communication is the secret ingredient of happy relationships and has the power to clear misunderstandings.

Importance Of Nonverbal Communication

Here’s how nonverbal communication helps. It:

  • Adds value to verbal communication

  • Helps overcome cultural barriers

  • Helps communicate with the nonliterate or people with a hearing disability

  • Increases workplace efficiency

  • Reinforces trust and credibility

You will be an effective communicator if you pay attention to yours as well as other people’s body language.

Harappa Education’s Speaking Effectively course is thoughtfully designed to help you use nonverbal cues to speak powerfully. The course will also tell you about Aristotle’s Appeals—the three appeals of reasoning, credibility, and emotion—besides giving insights through other interesting facts and examples.

Explore blogs on topics such as effective communication, barriers of communication, types of verbal communication, forms of communication, and verbal and nonverbal communication in our Harappa Diaries section to make your world of work better.