When you communicate, you send all kinds of messages. There are the things that you say with words – or verbal communication. And there are the things that you say through your tone of voice, eye contact and facial expressions. All of the things you communicate without the spoken word are non-verbal communication.
So which form of communication do you think is more powerful? Well, this statistic may surprise you. When we speak, only 7% of the message we convey is through verbal communication.
That means that a whopping 93% of what we communicate is done nonverbally. Pretty amazing stuff.
This means that it is often not what you say, but how you say it. Just think about your teenage years. What got you in trouble was not usually the words you said.
It was more likely the way you rolled your eyes when you said them, or the mocking tone in your voice. You were probably good at glaring at your little brother when he irritated you. You sent messages loud and clear.
While verbal and non-verbal communications are clearly different, they often work together to compose the message we are sending. If the two do not match, we are guilty of sending mixed messages.
To give a frequent example, your aunt gives you a really ugly lamp for your birthday. You know the correct thing is to act grateful. So you say that you appreciate the present. But what you may not realize is that your facial expression is one that says: This lamp is the ugliest thing I have ever seen.
In this case, your words, or verbal communication, do not map to your grimace, or non-verbal communication. You have sent a mixed message. But remember, non-verbal communication tend to communicate more strongly.
So if your aunt is watching closely, she will know she missed the mark with her gift selection. Your non-verbal communication gave you away.
There are many forms of non-verbal communication. Examples include eye contact, smiling, touching, talking with your hands, body proximity and tone of voice.
Of the forms of non-verbal communication, your tone of voice is one of the most difficult to control. That’s why a close friend or loved one can almost instantly tell when something is wrong – even if you have said things are fine. They can hear the sadness or exhaustion in your voice.
If you want to improve your communication techniques, study techniques for more effective verbal and non-verbal communication. After all, you use both forms of communicating frequently