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Communication is the most important human interaction. Knowing the aspects of verbal and nonverbal communication gives tools for successful professional and personal relationships. But, do words always express what people really mean? Actually, they do not.
Apart from words, there are numerous ways to send a message to the addressee. Nonverbal communication may be conscious and unconscious. It includes intonation or tone of voice, facial expression, eye contact, posture and body movements, touch, paralanguage, dress, smell and others (Non-Verbal Communication Modes n.pag.). A person can achieve success in life and profession if she or he is able to understand all the nuances of nonverbal communication. Such ability allows managing conflict situations or create favorable atmosphere.
What does nonverbal communication really mean? Generally speaking, it is the variety of gestures people use when talking, in the way they sit, stand and react to verbal messages. However, nonverbal communication is not only limited to speaking. People continue communicating nonverbally without saying a word. Even if there is silence, human body says a lot about person’s thoughts or emotions.
Furthermore, knowing the aspects of nonverbal communication allows detecting if the person is sincere and truthful, or lying and perfidious. It is very important if the words mean the same as the person’s nonverbal messages. It is how a positive, trustworthy and supportive situation is created. If the words produced by a person differ from nonverbal messages she/he sends, the atmosphere of mistrust, suspicion or even indifference will be created. That is why nonverbal communication plays an important role in human lives.
The first part of human body that is easy to read is a face. It is very expressive and says much without words. Moreover, facial expressions are universal across the cultures. Looking at person’s face, people may say if she or he is sad, happy, pleased or surprised. In addition, the way people stand, sit, walk or fold their hands says a lot about them. It is difficult to imagine a person speaking without gestures. People may point, wave or use hands when they explain something. Thus, gestures are not universal. One must study them before using across cultures to avoid misunderstandings.
Eye contact is also very important. It says much about person’s truthfulness or hidden intentions, if she or he is really interested in his partner. Touch, in addition, means a lot. Think about a father hugging his daughter or colleagues shaking their hands, close friends giving hugs or a grandfather giving a pat on his grandson’s back. However, it is of great importance to be aware of physical space. Not all people feel comfortable standing too close to each other when communicating. Strange people usually do not like to invade each other’s personal space. Finally, the way people utter a word tells a listener a lot. Voice is as well read by the listener during communication. It may signal about person’s diffidence or confidence, affection or anger.
Nonverbal communication differs in various cultures and it is very important to remember about this. First of all, it concerns dressing. Some people are very expressive in looks and appearances. The others are modest and reserved concerning their general appearance. Secondly, body movements are not universal as well. Some of them are appropriate in one country, while in another they may offend a person. The same is about gestures and postures. Thirdly, facial expressions are mainly the same across cultures. Thus, there may be differences in perception. For instance, many Asian cultures are reserved in emotions and try not to show anything on their faces.
To sum up, it is important to know that nonverbal communication is inevitable part of human life. It depends much on nonverbal signals sent by a person. It requires special knowledge and skills to be successful both in personal communication, at work and while travelling across the globe.