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Nonverbal Communication: Terms & Uses

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  • 00:00 Nonverbal Communication
  • 00:55 Conversation
  • 3:12 Impressions & Emotions
  • 4:24 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

You can say a lot without saying any words. In this lesson, we'll look at nonverbal communication, including what it is, the five functions of nonverbal communication, and examples of each type of nonverbal communication.

Nonverbal Communication

Chloe just had an odd experience. She was talking to her best friend Bryan, but she felt like something was wrong. Chloe asked if Bryan was upset and he crossed his arms, glared at her, and said, 'Nope.'

If you're like Chloe, you probably don't believe Bryan when he says he's not upset. He seems very angry! That's the power of nonverbal communication, or transmitting a message without words. This can happen with gestures, facial expressions, eye movement, physical movement, or a whole host of other types of nonverbal communication. For example, though Bryan says he's not upset, his crossed arms and glare are nonverbal messages that he is.

Let's look at some of the uses of nonverbal communication, including the role they play in conversation and the way they influence impressions and emotions.

Conversation

When Chloe is talking to Bryan and asking if he's upset, she is having a conversation with him. Conversations almost always include verbal communication (that is, talking to one another), but they also often include nonverbal communication. Take Chloe and Bryan: when she asks him if he's upset and he says, 'Nope,' they are communicating, but his body language is also part of that communication.

Nonverbal communication can serve several purposes in conversation. The first important purpose it serves is integrating messages, or building upon the verbal message. For example, if Chloe is really excited about something, she might say, 'I'm really excited!' At the same time, she might smile and give a thumbs up, offering a nonverbal message that builds upon her verbal message.

Of course, in some instances, like Bryan, the nonverbal communication tears down the verbal message. He's saying that he's not upset, but his nonverbal message is that he is.

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