• Jan Gleisner

The importance of nonverbal communication

You may wonder about the importance of nonverbal communication. If it really concerns you at all. Some people have already realized the importance and started to wonder in which ways nonverbal communication affect them and ways they affect others. Some have got to the point where they are trying to learn how use nonverbal communication with intention instead of unintention. A few may have started to use nonverbal communication, for broadband communication with people across all boundaries.

Joker - Importance of nonverbal communication

It's vague enough

If you've once thought about taking a class, you've probably pondered over the usefulness of it. Learning a language is a good example: "Will all the hours needed for studies pay off?" you may ask yourself, silently doing the math. Learning nonverbal communication, like body language, like any subject, is not different here. But there are less numbers to go on. Yes, you've heard about some numbers of nonverbal communication, ranging somewhere between 60 and 85 percent of all communication in real life. That's one big vague spann. And some people argue that we already use nonverbal communication - so why should we learn it again? All this fuzziness around the matter makes it a bit difficult make up the mind about investing some time in it. This article is ment to help out a little, by listing a few arguments and putting them into the both the ordinary and extraordinary part of life.

Typical functions of nonverbal communication

  • Enforce verbal message: A verbal message can be enforced with nonverbal communication, or be weakened by it. Which of depends of how well the verbal and the nonverbal message reflect each other.

  • First impression: Before you even had the chance of saying what you had to say, the person you are going to talk to has already received a message though your appearance. And may have already made up his/her mind of how to interpret your verbal message and how to handle you.

  • Read a persons emotional state: Before opening up a conversation it could be good to know how a person feel, as it gives you a clue of how to best approach and handle this person.

  • Teaching/learning how to interact: Nonverbal communication can be an important way of teaching/learning how to interact with the environment. In some cultures even the most important way for children to learn interaction.

  • Adjust and reinforce relationship: A relationship is usually defined through interaction between humans. And interaction between humans is basically made through communication. And human communication mainly consist of nonverbal communication. So, mastering nonverbal communication gives you greater possibility to adjust and reinforce a relationship.

  • Give feedback: With nonverbal communication you show your opinion of others behavior, without using words. By a subtle gesture you can give a discrete hint - it may even give a better result than launching into a long and frustrated discussion about unwanted behaviors.

  • Moderate the verbal communication: Start, stop, faster, slower, louder, lower - you seldom hear someone give these instructions while having an conversation. But they are intentionally or unintentionally expressed by nonverbal communication, to help regulate the verbal communication. By being aware you'll have more control over the frame and flow of the verbal conversation, making way for a successful one.

Typical situations for nonverbal communication


If most i said through nonverbal communication, the outcome of a date will by far depend on what is said nonverbally. Your sweet words can be enforced or weakened by your body language. The right approach to an attractive other could be to say the right words at the right time, which could come from reading the persons state of mind. And what about making a good first impression; you think that is important here?


Most of us would probably prefer an open and candid channel between os and our partner. But feelings are not always easy to bring out in the open, as they can be unwanted, mixed or even not even in our conscious. What if the other half then would able to see that something is wrong and actually ask: "Hey loved one - I sense troubled mind here. Want to talk about it? Share the burden?". And in many relationships there can be a lot of talk, sometimes so much that you would like to have some sort of regulator. Nonverbal communication is one. Extending regulation of talk a bit you also have "feedback": Letting someone know (in a respectful and loving way) what you like and not like. Nonverbal communication helps you with that too. As it does in adjusting and reinforcing the relationship overall.

Family and children

A lot under "relationship" goes for family and children too. But with more persons under same roof comes more emotions, more talk and by that more usefulness of reading emotional state, regulating talk, giving feedback and adjusting the relationship. Nonverbal communication can also help you to help the, not yet talking, little ones to interact with their environment. A simplified example: As soon as they have learned to read basic emotions like happiness and anger (during their very first year) from your face you can start teaching them what you like and not like: They'll start learning through nonverbal communication long before they'll have a verbal language.

Job interview

First impression is important - no more words needed there. After that you probably want to get your message through: "I'm the person you are looking for". To get the message through you would need to back up your words with your body language: If they say the same thing, your message will be taken for truth. But if your body language express something else than your words the employer will not trust your words. And even worse: They will more likely chose to trust your nonverbal message. So if you say: "I'm your guy" and your body says "I'm a looser" the employer will go with the later message. No job for you.

Hiring people

Having honest and hard working people around you would be nice? To get them in the first place you do some searching and filtering. And nonverbal communication is one of the tools you use, either you are aware of it or not. Example: A candidate who says one thing but with the body language express something else is probably not completely sincere with you. It may not relate to the situation at hand. But it probably does. And you may need to dig a little deeper there (in a respectful way).

At work

Essence of improving at work is being able of giving and receiving feedback. While quantitative feedback is given through numbers in a program of some sort quality feedback is given verbally. Even more nonverbally. And with more feedback exchanged, the higher potential to improve, right? Regulation of verbal communication is important at work as you may need to communicate with a lot of different people, who have very different skills in communication. Being able to regulate the talk, you can all have a good conversations where all will be heard and confirmed. At work (especially in crowded workspaces) you may also need to regulate the relationship with co-workers and employees, which can be done through nonverbal communication. No need to put up a serious talk about your boundaries or such- you can just show it (in a respectful an loving way). At work you sometimes have something important to say. Saying the same thing verbally as well as nonverbally will enforce your message, making it more believable, making it stick to peoples mind, making that change.

In school

You have a lot of people around you, which makes communication essential here. School also makes a perfect place to learn how be successful in communication. Learning how to regulate talk, to give and get feedback, to define relations and how to be heard will not only improve your chances in school but throughout your life. If you are a teacher of little children you can use your words together with body language to enforce your message or save your throat by showing instead telling. It's well known that lot of knowledge in lower grades can be taught visually. Nonverbal communication is a part of that. Intentional nonverbal communication can be a strong part of that. Feedback and regulation of talk fits in nicely here.


It is you moment - you know it. If your audience still doesn't know it you have to start making it to: First impression - what have you nonverbally already told them while entering the room/meeting? "Here's a man/woman with a mission" or "here goes nothing"? And then the speech: Say it AND show it. If you say one thing and through nonverbal communication unintentionally say something else the audience will not buy your point. At best the will get confused. More likely they will believe your nonverbal message. Bad for you if that message was "I'm so bored I can hardly stand straight", "I don't belong here - they'll send me away any minute now" or "You fools..." No, to succeed with your speech you need to enforce your words with your nonverbal communication.

Down to you

Reasons and situations - above are only examples but them alone do cover a lot in everyday life like being at school, at work and keeping a family. But also in crucial moments when starting up a new relation like in a date, promoting in yourself during an job interview or standing up for something important to you. And being on top of the everyday life or in the crucial moments depends a lot of your skills in nonverbal communication. Should make it worth learning more about.

Still wonder about the importance nonverbal communication? You found this page, probably by some interest. And more people seem to be interested too: A quick search on the net gave me today about 1,4 million hits. And searching for the more narrow but more popular area "body language" gave me 456 million(!) hits. There seem to be a great general interest in this matter.

Still wonder about the importance nonverbal communication? Well, then look at yourself. Right now. How do you look? What do you do? How do you sound? Are you even around?

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