Non-Verbal Communication: Examples, Types & Definition

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ron Fritz
In this lesson, you will learn where non-verbal communication comes from and why people display non-verbals cues. You will also see several examples of non-verbal communication that you will be able to spot in others.

What is Non-Verbal Communication?

How good of a poker player are you? Every good player knows that the secret to winning is to never let the other players know when you have a good hand. How often would you win if you always knew what kind of hand your opponents held? The other players are telling you about their cards with non-verbal communication; do you know what to look for? The phrase 'poker face' has come to mean 'hiding your emotions;' however, a professional poker player knows to watch his or her opponents' entire body for non-verbal cues, not just the person's face.

Non-verbal communication is as much a language as English, Spanish, or French; it is a form of communicating with others. Like other languages, non-verbal communication is used to carry your message to those around you. Sometimes the message is intentional, such as giving someone a thumbs up sign, and sometimes the message is from the unconscious mind and automatic, such as turning red in the face when you become angry.

Non-verbal communication, or wordless communication based mostly on visual cues, is most likely the oldest form of communication known to man. Long before the first words were spoken or the first grunts uttered, man communicated with others through non-verbals. When early man became angry, his body language indicated his aggression towards others. If he became fearful, his body language communicated that as well.

Although verbal language originates in the frontal lobes of the brain, unconscious non-verbals come from the temporal lobes; they are instinctual. One of the functions of the temporal lobes is survival skills, which is the area that is responsible for non-verbal communication. Simply stated, verbal language formulates in our thinking brain and therefore can be controlled; non-verbal communication originates in our instinctual brain and is very difficult (sometimes impossible) to control.

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