Verbal communication involves the sharing of information using spoken words or speech. Verbal communication encompasses everything from simple one-syllable sounds to complex
discussions and relies on both language and emotion to produce desired effect. The type of language or words one uses has an effect on the message conveyed in verbal communication.
Non-verbal communication mainly involves the use of non-cues to communicate. According to Bovee and Thill (2010) non-verbal communication “is the interpersonal process of
sending and receiving information, both intentionally and unintentionally, without using written or spoken language”. In some instances, non-verbal communication can reinforce
verbal communication or even replace it.
The following are some of the non-verbal signals commonly used in non-verbal communication (Bovee & Thill 2010: 85):
Facial expression: the face is the primary vehicle of expressing emotions and can reveal both the type and intensity of one’s feelings. Eyes are especially effective for indicating attention and interest, influencing others, regulating interaction and
Gesture and posture: the way one positions and moves his or her body expresses both specific and general messages, some voluntary and some involuntary. Many gestures have specific and intentional meanings. Slouching, leaning forward, fidgeting
and walking briskly are all unconscious signals that reveal whether one is feeling confident or nervous, friendly or hostile, assertive or passive, powerful or powerless.
Vocal characteristics: voice carries both intentional and unintentional messages. A speaker can intentionally control pitch, pace and stress to convey a specific message.
Personal appearance: people respond to others on the basis of their physical
appearance. Although an individual’s body type and facial features impose
limitations, people can control grooming, clothing, accessories and overall personal style.
Touch: touch is an important way to convey warmth, comfort and reassurance as well as control. Touch is so powerful that it is governed by cultural customs that establish who can touch whom and how in various circumstances.
Time and space: like touch, time and space would be used to assert authority, imply intimacy and send other non-verbal messages.