Nonverbal Messages in Business Communications

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  • 0:03 What Is Nonverbal…
  • 1:11 Space
  • 1:55 Time
  • 2:19 Body Language
  • 3:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tammy Galloway

Tammy teaches business courses at the post-secondary and secondary level and has a master's of business administration in finance.

In this lesson, we'll define nonverbal communication as it relates to business communication. You'll also learn about the three main types of nonverbal communication: space, time, and body language.

What Is Nonverbal Communication?

Jim, an investment broker, is a little late meeting with his first wealthy client, Jan. He finally arrives at her home and apologizes for being late. He sits down at the table and tries to convince her to invest one million dollars in a startup company. Jan explains to Jim why she's not interested in putting that much money in an unproven company. While she's talking, Jim folds his arms, looks at his watch, and stands up and walks across the room to put his papers in his briefcase.

After Jan finishes, she tells Jim she thinks he's very rude and would never do business with him! Jim is perplexed, as he's trying to figure out what happened. He wasn't rude and he listened attentively. What could have happened? As Jim discusses the meeting with his boss, he notices her smiling. After Jim finishes, His boss says, 'Jim, although you didn't verbally say anything rude, your nonverbal communication showed your true feelings.'

Nonverbal communication is any communication that occurs without words. There are three main types of nonverbal communication: space, time, and body language. For the rest of this lesson, we will explore each type and discuss examples.


Most people do not think about space as being nonverbal communication. However, how we use space tells a lot about how we view a person or the situation. In the example, Jan was trying to explain to Jim why she didn't want to invest one million dollars. When Jim walked away from Jan, it showed disinterest in her explanation.

Instead, if Jim could have stayed seated and leaned in a few inches closer, Jan would have felt he was sincere in listening to her. In business communication, you never want someone to feel that you are disinterested in what they have to say. It is a good idea to stay relatively close to people you interact with professionally; sitting in a chair next to someone or remaining seated at a meeting table is a good way to show you are interested and listening. Now let's see how time plays a factor in nonverbal communication.


Jim's boss asked him what time he arrive at Jan's house. Jim told her he was a little late. Arriving late to meetings and not returning phone calls promptly are forms of negative nonverbal communication. It's always best to arrive at meetings early and return phone calls in a timely manner to show your interest and professionalism.

Now, let's discuss the most obvious form of nonverbal communication, body language.

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