What are the advantages of nonverbal communication over verbal communication?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Non-verbal communication has several advantages over verbal communication. When the two are used in conjunction, communication quality is far superior to either one alone. There are many situations where non-verbal communication is the best option and it carries a lot of importance. Studies vary, but all agree non-verbal communication relays the vast majority of a message.

Non-verbal communication, or physical communication, can shorten conversation time by transmitting complex ideas with a single action. Time saving is critical in stressful situations. For example, a firm handshake at a business meeting can relay confidence, strength, integrity and moral character with a simple action which only takes a few seconds. In another situation, a soldier may turn to another holding a finger to his lips. This instantly relates there is a need to remain quiet, possibly due to enemies in the area. It also tells the others to remain vigilant or arm themselves for potential combat.

This scenario leads into another benefit of physical communication: it can be useful when you do not want to relay the message where it could be intercepted. It allows people to communicate on a different level, passing information undetected. Combat operations is one arena, but so are other stressful situations. The quick darting of eyes can signal a person to move in a particular direction or indicate there is danger in an area for example. Hand motions can pass along information such as the number, location or size of a threat.

Physical communication can relate to a speaker or observer your interest in the world. Crossed arms or legs, frowns and averted gazes give clues to the observer about the situation. This can alter the communication efforts of another person without the need to speak or when speaking would be inappropriate. Large gatherings are an example of where mass non-verbal communication can be best utilized. Few people clapping, silence or stares can alert the speaker the message is not being received or is disliked by the group.

Non-verbal communication allows for a large amount of information to be transmitted with little effort which can save time, allow for more effective communication, and provide feedback when verbal communication is not possible or appropriate.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team