Difference Between Verbal And Nonverbal Communication

Explain the difference between verbal and nonverbal communication.

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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Verbal communication relies on the use of words, written and unwritten, to convey a message. Verbal messages are conveyed in a linear fashion, with a clear beginning and end, based on sentence structure. We almost always use a conscious plan to deliver verbal communication. We choose the words we wish to convey, even if they don't always come out exactly the way we intended, and are conscious of choosing to speak or write to deliver a particular message.

Nonverbal communication is much more complex. Instead of using words, we utilize many different techniques to convey information nonverbally. We may gesture with our hands, stomp our feet, or make particular facial impressions that convey a certain meaning. We may also demonstrate a willingness (or unwillingness) for physical touch during communication by shaking hands, rubbing someone's cheek, patting a person's back, or giving a high five. We may make or avoid eye contact with a person, or we may distance ourselves in ways that connote warmth or coldness.

We may not even speak at all, choosing silence to convey a message. Many of these forms of nonverbal communication are not planned—at least not to the degree that verbal communication is. Unlike verbal communication, we may not even be aware that we are delivering a particular message through our nonverbal communication cues, and these cues may conflict with the verbal message we had planned to deliver. For example, I might tell a student (verbal communication) that I am happy to see her, but if I do so while avoiding eye contact, rolling my eyes, crossing my arms, and maintaining a great physical distance from her (nonverbal communication), she isn't likely to believe my verbal message.

We rely on the combination of verbal communication and nonverbal communication to effectively discern intended meanings in the interactions we engage in each day.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 27, 2020
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To my way of thinking, one of the biggest differences between verbal and nonverbal communication is the ease with which one can lie. It is easy to lie using only verbal communication, such as on the phone for example. It is far more likely that your lie will become apparent through your nonverbal communication, which includes elements such as facial expressions, whether or not you are making eye conduct, and hand gestures. As the old saying goes, a picture says a thousand words, and I would argue that you can tell more about what a person is saying based on nonverbal communication.

Verbal communication consists solely of the words that you say. It is an auditory output that is completely controlled by the speaker. Nonverbal communication, however, is a lot more difficult to control. If one is telling a lie, one is far more likely to refrain from making eye contact and to be fidgety, for example. Nonverbal communication can also tell a story about your confidence levels, based on your posture and the tone of your voice. Based on the hand gestures that someone may use without realizing it, non-verbal communication can tell a story about the person’s frustration levels or passion about the topic they are speaking about.

In a nutshell, then, the difference between verbal and non-verbal communication is that non-verbal communication can tell a far fuller picture than verbal communication can. While verbal communication is a purely auditory medium, nonverbal communication involves other senses, such as sight.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 30, 2020
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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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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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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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