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Difference Between Verbal And Nonverbal Communication

Explain the difference between verbal and nonverbal communication.

Quick Answer

Verbal communication is the use of auditory language to exchange information with other people. It includes sounds, words, or speaking. The tone, volume, and pitch of one's voice can all contribute to effective verbal communication. 

Non-verbal communication is communication between people through non-verbal or visual cues. This includes gestures, facial expressions, body movement, timing, touch, and anything else that communicates without speaking.


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fernholz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Verbal communication includes both face-to-face conversation between people and written communication. It includes sounds, words, or speaking.

Nonverbal communication includes gestures, facial expressions, body movement, timing, touch, and anything else done without speaking. People seem to notice nonverbal communication more than verbal. For this reason, it's important to control yourself nonverbally. Tone of voice, volume, and pitch are all ways to effectively communicate nonverbally.

Language barriers sometimes affect communication. American gestures mean different things in different countries. It's important to be aware of these different meanings when traveling or working with people from a different culture.

Nonverbal combined with verbal communication can be interpreted in different ways. People may seem very confused if someone is speaking in a polite tone while swearing at them. Usually people's nonverbal communication signals their mood. Communication can either be seen as passive or aggressive depending on both verbal and nonverbal clues.

The combination of both verbal and nonverbal communication is key to effectively communicating with other people.

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readerofbooks eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The other answers do a good job when it comes to verbal communication. So, I will focus on nonverbal communication.

Nonverbal communication is communication between people through nonverbal or visual cues. This includes body language (kinesics), distance between people (proxemics), voice quality (paralanguage), and touch (haptics).

Based on these considerations, nonverbal communication communicates just as much or, at times, more than verbal communication.

For example, if a person has an angry facial expression, enters into an aggressive stance (kinesics), encroaches upon another person's personal space (proxemics), and touches another person in an inappropriate way (haptics), then it is clear that a confrontation is in view, even if the verb communication sounds neutral. The nonverbal cues override anything verbal.

Another consideration is that even in written text, there is nonverbal communication such as handwriting style, spacing, and the like.

In conclusion, communication is both verbal and nonverbal, which shows that human communication is more complex than it might first appear.

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psyproffie eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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When you are looking at verbal communication, you are looking at the use of auditory and written language. Language is the symbolic representation of actions or items within the environment. For example, humans have developed words to represent items (nouns) and actions (verbs) and to describe items (adjectives). We use these words to express our needs, wants, and intentions to others within our environment.

When you have nonverbal communication, you are looking largely at body language. It is through body language that we use our past experiences to determine the intent of the environment around us. Body language actually comprises the majority of human communication and can be used to interpret the truth and authenticity of verbal communication.

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