The Roles Of Nonverbal Communication

The way we communicate goes above and beyond the words that we speak. Nonverbal communication can carry a lot of power and purpose, and it also has several avenues that it can take. Many experts state that nonverbal communicating actually represents the majority of our communicating. With that in mind, I think the nonverbal ways we communicate are likely the most honest representations of ourselves, as we do much of that communicating subconsciously.

So, there are roles that this nonverbal communication plays. Some of them contribute strongly to communication in general. It probably covers more of the communicating then the actual speaking. The chart below makes this concept quite clear to understand.

Repetition is one of those roles. It can allow a message from a conversation to continue on after the talking is done. As eye contact, facial expressions, and many other ways of body language do their natural process, the repetitive nature helps validate, and strengthen a message that we spoke. Long after we are done talking, the nonverbal communication can live on in the people who are trying to convey a message. The body language does not always stop simply because the words have.

There are times when repetition may even change somebody’s mind, as it can validate just how much somebody is affected. When we are in an emotionally charged discussion, body language usually lingers on. It’s an example of continuing renforcement.

Nonverbal communication can also create Contradiction. It can highlight the untruthfulness that somebody may be speaking. We probably have all heard many times about making direct eye contact. We all know one of the sure fire signs of honesty can be eye contact. With lying, it’s the lack of eye contact. We can often be our own worst enemy, as we advertise our own dishonesty.

We often can Substitute the words we are trying to speak. Again, back to our eyes; it’s our eyes that can convey so much. There are probably many times where we don’t even realize it’s happening. Even if we are consciously thinking of “how our eyes look” I still think it is a difficult thing to control.

We can also express ourselves in other ways that take the place of words. A person who is very anxious may substitute words with other things from being unable to sit still, fidgeting, unable to pay attention and sweating.

Another role that is one that is called Complementing. The main example that experts use for this one is the ol pat on the back. We do a good job at work, and our boss tells us we did good, and as the boss is making that statement, we get the actual pat at the back.

It comes across as a finishing touch. An assurance of the validity of the compliment. It can also come across in other ways like a thumbs up.

There’s one last role that our nonverbal communication can have. It’s Accenting, and it title, clearly represents what it means. Adding a highlight to a statement. A equivalent to underlining a sentence, or phrase. All things that are meant to accent.

We may punch a hole in the wall after we tell somebody how angry we are. It’s usually one of the more outright physical roles. It’s body language like the rest, but it can be presented in a way that is sure to show how passionate one is.

I for one, would not personally punch a hole in the wall if angry. But nothing is to say I wouldn’t pound the table as I finished up making a statement that I feel strongly and passionate about. It can be frustrating when what you are saying may not be taken for the value you want it to have. That, is where pounding on a table could come in. Keep in mind that it would probably be best to keep the pounding to a light pound. Sometimes you don’t want some passion to seem more like aggression.

So nonverbal communication is not something I began to learn about until recently. It seems to teach an awareness of one’s body language and the way we are acting during, and after we finish speaking.

The eye contact, the fidgeting, the inability to make, or keep eye contact, can all send their own messages. The risk with that being, they may send messages that completely contradict the actual words being spoken.

The power of nonverbal communication is not a power to be taken lightly. Good communication in the way we speak, and the way we move, is the best way to assure that we are getting the correct message. The worst communication we can have is miscommunication.

This has been the beginning of our look at body language and just how much it’s a part of our daily lives.




Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Michael Patanella

Michael Patanella

Author, Publisher, and Editor. I cover mindfulness, mental health, addiction, sobriety, life, and spirituality among other things.