What are the advantages of nonverbal communication over  verbal communication?

business studies

Expert Answers

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

The main advantage of nonverbal communication is to avoid the inaccuracies of verbal communication, which is imperfect, in that the signified/signifier connection is weak, because of the varying conditions under which we connect one with the other. Obviously, the “language” of the signifier is the source of most mis-connections (“gift” means “poison” in German). Secondly, verbal communications have layers of formality – slang vs. academic vs. business, etc. (“benefits,” for example). Thirdly, there is the diachronic element – signifiers (words) change signifieds (referents) over time ( “pot” didn’t mean the same thing in 1930 as it did in 1960.) Nonverbal communication cannot avoid these ambiguities altogether, but it can depend on a more universal experience (a picture of a dog is recognizable to all cultures). Nonverbal communication skips the step of translating words into pictures (when you give a person directions to your house, the person must “draw a map” in his head – better would be to give them a map, a nonverbal communication). Also, there is such a thing as “visual rhetoric,” which allows the communicator to give the recipient an emotional point of view (a child in a car seat to stress safety features in a product, for example). Finally, it avoids synonyms – the word “file” can mean at least two things (technically, the synchronic element in words) but a yellow rectangle with a tab cannot be confused with a long metal tool with a handle.

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