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The word communication is derived from the Latin word communis which means common. In its
application, it means a common ground of understanding.
Communication in general is process of sending and receiving messages that enables humans to share
knowledge, attitudes, and skills. Although we usually identify communication with speech,
communication is composed of two dimensions - verbal and nonverbal.
Everything communicates, including material objects, physical space, and time systems. Although
verbal output can be turned off, nonverbal cannot. Even silence speaks.
Nonverbal communication involves those nonverbal stimuli in a communication setting that are generated
by both the source (speaker) and his or her use of the environment and that have potential message value
for the receiver (listener). Basically it is sending and receiving messages in a variety of ways without the
use of verbal codes (words). It is both intentional and unintentional. Most speakers or listeners are not
conscious of this. First known use of NONVERBAL is in 1924.


Nonverbal communication has been defined as communication without words. It includes apparent
behaviors such as facial expressions, eyes, touching, and tones of voice, as well as less obvious messages
such as dress, posture and spatial distance between two or more people.
Commonly, nonverbal communication is learned shortly after birth and practiced and refined throughout a
persons lifetime. Children first learn nonverbal expressions by watching and imitating, much as they
learn verbal skills.
Young children know far more than they can verbalize and are generally more adept at reading nonverbal
cues than adults are because of their limited verbal skills and their recent reliance on the nonverbal to
communicate. As children develop verbal skills, nonverbal channels of communication do not cease to
exist although become entwined in the total communication process.


1. Nonverbal communication may be intentional or unintentional, since often when people communicate
nonverbally, they are unaware of it.
2. Nonverbal communication is primary, because it takes precedence over verbal communication.
3. Nonverbal communication is often ambiguous, since a nonverbal behavior may have different
meanings depending on the users personality, family influences, and culture.
4. Nonverbal communication is continuous, because one is constantly communicating through nonverbal
5. Nonverbal communication is multi channeled, since we use a variety of cues to make an interpretation.


1. Repetition:
They can repeat the message the person is making verbally.
2. Contradiction:
They can contradict a message the individual is trying to convey.
3. Substitution:
They can substitute for a verbal message. For example, a person's eyes can often convey a far more vivid
message than words do.
4. Complementing:
They may add to or complement a verbal message. A boss who pats a person on the back in addition to
giving praise can increase the impact of the message.
5. Accenting:
They may accent or underline a verbal message. Pounding the table, for example, can underline a


Non-verbal communication basically includes two types of communication:
1. Meta Communication:
Meta-communication is an implied meaning conveyed by the choice of words, tone of voice, fumbling,
silence, or omission. It is a message communicated not by words, but along with words. Metacommunication can be intentional or unintentional.
2. Kinesics Communication:
Kinesics is the study of how we use body movement and facial expressions. We interpret a great deal of
meaning through body movement, facial expressions, and eye contact. Many people believe they can
easily interpret the meanings of body movements and facial expressions in others. But the reality is, it is
almost impossible to determine an exact meaning for gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact. Even
so, we rely a great deal on kinesics to interpret and express meaning.

There are also many different types of nonverbal communication such as:
Facial expressions:
The human face is extremely expressive, able to express countless emotions without saying a word. And
unlike some forms of nonverbal communication, facial expressions are universal. The facial expressions
for happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, and disgust are the same across cultures.
Body movements and posture:
Consider how our perceptions of people are affected by the way they sit, walk, stand up, or hold their
head. The way we move and carry a wealth of information to the world. This type of nonverbal
communication includes posture, bearing, stance, and subtle movements.
Gestures are woven into the fabric of our daily lives. We wave, point, beckon, and use our hands when we
are arguing or speaking animatedlyexpressing ourselves with gestures often without thinking. However,
the meaning of gestures can be very different across cultures and regions, so its important to be careful to
avoid misinterpretation.
Eye contact:
Since the visual sense is dominant for most people, eye contact is an especially important type of
nonverbal communication. The way we look at someone can communicate many things, including
interest, affection, hostility, or attraction. Eye contact is also important in maintaining the flow of
conversation and for gauging the other persons response.
We communicate a great deal through touch. Think about the messages given by the following: a weak
handshake, a timid tap on the shoulder, a warm bear hug, a reassuring slap on the back, a patronizing pat
on the head, or a controlling grip on our arm.
Have we ever felt uncomfortable during a conversation because the other person was standing too close
and invading our space? We all have a need for physical space, although that need differs depending on
the culture, the situation, and the closeness of the relationship. We can use physical space to communicate
many different nonverbal messages, including signals of intimacy and affection, aggression or
Its not just what we say; its how we say it. When we speak, other people read our voices in addition to
listening to our words. Things they pay attention to include our timing and pace, how loud we speak, our
tone and inflection, and sound that convey understanding, such as ahh and uh-huh. Think about how
someone's tone of voice, for example, can indicate sarcasm, anger, affection, or confidence.


1. Positive Gesture:
Positive gestures are body signals that make the communication look relaxed, confident, and polite.
Examples of Positive Gesture:


Positive Indicators
Turn and face sender.
Relax body.


Lean slightly forward toward the person.

Move slowly.
Limit repetitive movements (e.g., moving a leg up and down).
Nod to express understanding.


Tilt or turn an ear slightly toward the sender to help indicate we are listening.
Look at the person but be aware of their comfort.


Smile frequently.
Keep arms relaxed and open.


Rest arms on the table or the arm of our chair.

Keep hands open with palms up.


Touch the person gently.

Use gestures of understanding.
Use a soft tone of voice.


Reduce verbiage.

2. Negative gesture:
Negative gestures involve certain body movements, postures, gestures, or non-verbal activities such as
shaking, tapping ones feet, looking at the watch and so on. Putting ones hands in the pockets is also a
negative gesture. If one put hand in ones pocket it usually suggest s arrogance. If one put both, it might
show nervousness.

Examples of Negative gesture:

Arms folded across chest a defensive reaction.
Putting chin on a hand, index finger extended along the cheek, the remaining fingers are below the mouth
critical evaluation.
Hand covering the lower part of the face, thumb props a chin critical evaluation.
Looking at a watch in a hurry, would like to finish the meeting.
While handshaking turning a hand in a way that it becomes on top of the palm of a companion
Turning a head slightly sideways a polite refusal to communicate.
A hand compressed in a fist authoritativeness, determination.
Fingers intertwined closed for communication.
Looking aside suspicion and doubt.
3. Lateral Gestures:
Besides the non-verbal gestures that convey wordless message through body languages facial expressions,
there are lateral wordless signs of power , position, taste, and culture such as decoration and size of ones
office, dress, grooming and so on.
Lateral gestures include the following broad categories:
A) Physical Setting:
An executives position of power may be gauged from the size and furnishing of his or her office.
B) Dress:
Although most people are only superficially aware of the wear of others, clothing does communicate.
Often dictated by societal norms, clothing indicates a great amount of information about self.
It identifies sex, age, socioeconomic class, status, role, group membership, personality or mood, physical
climate, and time in history.
In addition, attitudes most often associated with clothing relate to

A desire to conform


A desire for self-expression


A desire for aesthetic satisfaction


Prestige values


The desire for social participation


Physical comfort, and



C) Personal Space:
Personal space, unlike territory, has no fixed or semi-fixed geographical position. Personal space has been
likened to an invisible bubble that moves with the individual and may expand in size or become smaller
depending on the given situation.
As human being grow and mature, they increasingly learn to control their responses to invasion of their
personal space. However, small children have not yet learned to do so. They may respond very negatively
to one another, with both verbal and physical aggression, without being aware of what exactly has
produced their behavior.


In "Nonverbal Communication" notes that body language may reveal even more about a person than
verbal communication does. Being aware of our posture can help us make the right impression in many
areas of our life.
Posture is important and coveys a message.
Some Examples of Posture:
Good, straight Posture indicates leadership and confidence.
It tells the audience that one is in control. It conveys the message that one has confidence in ones
Leaning slightly forward shows the audience we care.
Slouching to one side delivers the opposite message. It shows disinterest.
Hunched shoulders indicate lack of confidence and possibly low self-esteem.


Do not jingle!
Putting one or both hands into pockets and jingling loose change or keys is a nervous habit some people
fall into.
Its distracting to the audience and takes away from message.
A good tip is to leave change; keys and everything else normally carry in pockets, somewhere safe when
Do not fidget
Even if hands are not in pockets, do not rub nails or fingers together or any engage in any other type of
No Fig Leaf stance
Hands crossed at the crotch, or over rear end, or anywhere else, indicates non-openness.
The military At Ease position, crossing our arms in front of clasping hands in front or behind also to be
Do not rock from heels to toes
This would be very distracting to the audience, and interfere with message.
Do not lean on the lectern
It conveys too relaxed of an attitude and gives the impression that do not care.
Do not cross arms
People do that when they are feeling defensive. Be especially aware of this during Q&A session. If we do
this, the audience will pick up on it, and it is not the message we want them to receive.
Do hold head high and chin slightly up
This gives the audience the impression that we are in control.
Do not look down
I know, I know thats where notes are!


Nonverbal cues include all the communication between people that do not have a direct verbal
translation. They are body movements, body orientation, nuances of the voice, facial expressions,
details of dress, and choice and movement of objects that communicate. Time and space can also be
perceived as having nonverbal cues.
We should simply put, nonverbal cues include all the ways we present and express ourselves, apart from
the actual words we speak, Price adds. And they are critically important at work and in business
because perception is reality.
Because nonverbal cues are sent primarily from the emotional brain rather than the neocortex, they
create more honest and revealing messages. Nonverbal cues can help business people determine others
motivations and analyze business interactions with much more richness, depth, and insight than can come
from simply relying on spoken or printed words.
In power-differential relationships, such as with superiors and subordinates, successful interactions
depend on both parties being able to use and read body language. Superiors need to know how to make
their subordinates comfortable while communicating their desires in order to get results. Subordinates
need to know how to read the bosss subtle signals to discern the best way to approach professional


Here are some non-verbal cues that convey confidence and credibility in the workplace:
Good eye contact:
Eye contact is our primary tool for establishing nonverbal connections with others, Price says. It
communicates our level of involvement, interest and warmth. When speaking to others, ideally look
directly into their eyes at least two to three seconds before looking away or moving to the next person.
Merely glancing at someone for one second or less is known as eye dart and conveys insecurity, anxiety
or evasion. The next time were in a meeting or giving a speech, ask a friend to count how long we look
at specific individuals and if we visually engage with everyone in the room.
A confident handshake:
Communicating through touch is another important nonverbal behavior. Always put hand out to shake
hands, Wood says. A classic good handshake is one with full palm to palm contact.
In business, the handshake is often the only appropriate expression of touch so its critical to have a good
one, Price adds. A good handshake consists of a full and firm handclasp with palms embraced web to
web. Shake up and down once or twice, coupled with a sincere smile and eye contact. Avoid the extremes
of either a weak limp handshake or an aggressive bone-crushing one. Strike the right balancefirm
enough to convey confidence yet matched to the strength of the other person. Treat men and women with
equal respect when shaking hands. Gender makes no difference, and either may initiate the handshake.
Effective gestures:

A gesture is any physical movement that helps express an idea, opinion or emotion. Strive to punctuate
words with movement that is natural, lively, purposeful and spontaneous, Price says. Be genuinely and
let motions match message. Avoid common distracting mannerisms such as finger-pointing, fidgeting,
scratching, tapping, playing with hair, wringing hands, and twisting a ring.
Dressing the part:
Shakespeare asserts in Hamlet, For the apparel oft proclaims the man. For men and women, clothing
speaks volumes in the workplace, Price says. Make sure business casual is not business careless.
Choose high quality, well-tailored garments that convey professionalism. Depending on corporate culture,
wear a business suit or at least a jacket for important meetings and presentations, especially with senior
leaders and customers. Avoid showy accessories, busy patterns, tight garments and revealing necklines.
Dress for the job we want, not the job we have. If career advancement is our goal, we should convey a
polished professional presence in the workplace.
Authoritative posture and presence:
Take up space, Wood says. Use the arms on the chair, or stand with feet a bit apart. A female leg stance
in North America is with the feet typically 4 to 6 inches apart, and a male power stance starts with the feet
more than 8 inches apart.
Appropriate facial expressions:
Each of the seven basic human emotions (anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise)
has been scientifically proven to have a certain facial expression.
Initiating interactions:
Be the first to make eye contact, offer hand to shake, have an idea or solution, go into a room, and make
the call, Wood says. We can only afford to wait and go last when we are in the C-suite and ready to
Appropriate voice tone:
Nonverbal elements include voice tone, pacing, pausing, volume, inflection, pitch and articulation. Like
facial expressions, choosing the appropriate paralanguage is critically important because it conveys
emotional meaning, attitude and impact.
Giving full attention:
When speaking with persons, need to point toes and square shoulders toward them. This conveys
attentiveness and creates open body language. We should avoid angling body away from them and need to
learn into the conversation.
Responding to others nonverbal cues:
When leading a meeting, speaking to a group, or interacting one-on-one, pay close attention to the other
persons body language and voice tone, Price says. Listen with your eyes. Their nonverbal cues can tell
us when they have a question, want to say something, agree or disagree, need a break, require more

explanation, or have an emotional response. By responding appropriately to others cues, we not only
convey confidence in ourselves, we show a high level of empathy, sensitivity and care for them which
build trust.


Good communication skills can help us in both personal and professional life. While verbal and written
communication skills are important, research has shown that nonverbal behaviors make up a large
percentage of our daily interpersonal communication. How can we improve our nonverbal
communication skills? The following top ten tips for nonverbal communication can help to learn the
nonverbal signals of other people and enhance own ability to communicate effectively.
1. Paying Attention to Nonverbal Signals:
People can communicate information in numerous ways; so pay attention to things like eye contact,
gestures, posture, body movements, and tone of voice. All of these signals can convey important
information that isn't put into words. By paying closer attention to other people's unspoken behaviors, we
will improve own ability to communicate nonverbally.
2. Looking for Incongruent Behaviors:
If someone's words do not match their nonverbal behaviors, we should pay careful attention. For example,
someone might tell they are happy while frowning and staring at the ground. Research has shown that
when words fail to match up with nonverbal signals, people tend to ignore what has been said and focus
instead on unspoken expressions of moods, thoughts, and emotions.
3. Concentrating on Tone of Voice When Speaking:
Tone of voice can convey a wealth of information, ranging from enthusiasm to disinterest to anger. Need
to notice how tone of voice affects how others respond to and try using tone of voice to emphasize ideas
that we want to communicate. For example, if we want to show genuine interest in something, need to
express our enthusiasm by using an animated tone of voice.
4. Use Good Eye Contact:
When people fail to look others in the eye, it can seem as if they are evading or trying to hide something.
On the other hand, too much eye contact can seem confrontational or intimidating. While eye contact is
an important part of communication, it's important to remember that good eye contact does not mean
staring fixedly into someone's eyes. How can we tell how much eye contact is correct? Some
communication experts recommend intervals of eye contact lasting four to five seconds.
5. Use Signals to Make Communication More Effective and Meaningful:
Remember that verbal and nonverbal communication work together to convey a message. We can
improve communication by using body language that reinforces and supports what we are saying. This
can be especially useful when making presentations or when speaking to a large group of people.

6. Look at Signals as a Group:

A single gesture can mean any number of things, or maybe even nothing at all. The key to accurately
reading nonverbal behavior is to look for groups of signals that reinforce a common point. If we place too
much emphasis on just one signal out of many, we might come to an inaccurate conclusion about what a
person is trying to communicate.
7. Consider Context:
When we are communicating with others, always consider the situation and the context in which the
communication occurs. Some situations require more formal behaviors that might be interpreted very
differently in any other setting. Consider whether or not nonverbal behaviors are appropriate for the
context. If we are trying to improve own nonverbal communication, need to concentrate on ways to make
signals match the level of formality necessitated by the situation.
8. Be Aware That Signals Can be Misread:
According to some, a firm handshake indicates a strong personality while a weak handshake is taken as a
lack of fortitude. This example illustrates an important point about the possibility of misreading nonverbal
signals. A limp handshake might actually indicate something else entirely, such as arthritis. Always
remember to look for groups of behavior. A person's overall demeanor is far more telling than a single
gesture viewed in isolation.
9. Facial Expressions:
Our facial expressions convey our emotions. Facial expressions are typically universal, which means they
convey the same message globally. A frowning person is usually upset. Offer a smile when talking to
someone. This tells people that we are happy or in a good mood. It also creates an atmosphere with
warmth and friendliness, allowing others to feel comfortable.
10. Space:
Need to pay attention to proximity of others. Different cultures view proximity in various ways, so take
notice if the person were communicating with is uncomfortable. This could mean that we are standing
too close, and should create some distance. The amount of physical space given can convey many
emotions. For example, a person who is behaving aggressively is probably standing very close to the
other person.
11. Posture:
To slouch shows that we are not interested in what a person is saying. Our body movement is also
important. For example, swinging leg back and forth while sitting in a meeting tells others we are
impatient, bored and uninterested. Sit up straight and face others when talking.
12. Practice, Practice, Practice:
Some people just seem to have a knack for using nonverbal communication effectively and correctly
interpreting signals from others. These people are often described as being able to "read people." In
reality, we can build this skill by paying careful attention to nonverbal behavior and practicing different

types of nonverbal communication with others. By noticing nonverbal behavior and practicing own skills,
we can dramatically improve our communication abilities.

Words are accented and punctuated by body movements and gestures, while the face shows a myriad of
expressions. Men are like Geneva watches with crystal faces which express the whole movement.
It is important to be aware of the dominance of the nonverbal message. If there is disagreement between
the verbal and nonverbal message, the nonverbal will win. Also, the validity and reliability of verbal
messages are checked by nonverbal actions. Again, if discrepancy exists, the nonverbal will dictate.
Therefore sub-ordinates see the superiors nonverbal messages as more honest reflections of what he is
really thinking or feeling.
Effective communication depends on successful communication. By definition of non-verbal
communication, without uttering a single word, no one can constantly send messages to each other.


Business Communication: Concepts, Cases and Applications

By Mukesh Chaturvedi & P D Chaturvedi