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Verbal and non-verbal communication: how can we communicate more effectively?

Both verbal and non-verbal communication are equally important. Whether it is the words spoken, an attitude, or a certain look, they all greatly influence how we work with others.
How can we decode verbal and non-verbal elements to communicate better in business? Let's dive into how verbal and non-verbal communication are essential
soft skills to learn.

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Verbal and non-verbal communication: what are they?

Verbal communication: definition


Verbal communication is anything that relates to human language. At first sight, we believe that human language is based on what we say, the verb, the voice, the intonation, the pronunciation of words or sentences, and a specific vocabulary expressed either orally or in writing. This language also includes signs or coded information, depending on the situation.


These different forms of verbal communication allow two individuals or a group of people to communicate, listen to each other and understand each other. It can be communicated in a personal and professional context.


Verbal communication allows us to establish the contact that will reflect the company. It is, therefore, an essential interpersonal skill. At the heart of all exchanges, good verbal communication helps to avoid misunderstandings. As the key to mutual understanding, it facilitates interaction and interpersonal communication between different stakeholders, both internal and external.

Salespeople, for example, must have excellent verbal communication to clearly and accurately communicate the right information with their clients and to convey an attractive deal. 
Although communication takes different forms, whether verbal or non-verbal, it is verbal communication that confirms a person's personality, charisma and self-confidence, particularly on phone calls. It is also through verbal communication that first impressions can be corrected.

From an overall perspective, the key elements of verbal communication are:

  • Voice
  • Intonation
  • Pronunciation
  • Choice of words, phrases, expressions
  • Sign language or other codes language
  • The written word


Employees discussing a project


What is non-verbal communication?


Non-verbal communication refers to how beings convey information about their emotions, needs, intentions, attitudes, and thoughts without using verbal language. Non-verbal language can be based on gestures, general behavior, postures, mimics, tics or grimaces, facial expressions, looks, or attitudes. Many signals are sent out consciously or unconsciously by one person and felt by another.
For example, in a job interview, these signals can indicate certain character traits or a state of mind.


These signals can be positive or negative. In the job search context, recruiters are increasingly interested in both forms of communication, allowing them to fully analyse the candidates they receive as early as possible. This is why many ask for a face-to-face meeting, either in person or via a video conference call.

What is paraverbal communication?


Paraverbal communication is the third communication type. How is it different from verbal and non-verbal communication?

Paraverbal communication refers to the tone and cadence of speech but also the pauses during a conversation. In the context of paraverbal communication, we could almost say that it is the way we present words. This form of communication alludes to the feelings we put into each word; for example, a sentence that would be perfectly normal in one context might seem hurtful in another.

Paraverbal communication could be defined as the dressing that we wrap around words. It is directly influenced by our emotions, whether it is joy, animosity, discontent, or sadness. All these factors will influence communication.


The 3V rule in communication


The 3V rule established in the research conducted by Professor Albert Mehrabian concludes that 93% of communication is non-verbal, so we cannot underestimate the importance of this form of communication.

This research shows that:

  • 38% is vocal (based on intonation and sound of voice)
  • 55% is visual and based on facial expressions and body language


Employees discussing a project


Non-verbal communication: decoding the body


With 93% of communication being weighted by non-verbal, it is important to learn how to deconstruct non-verbal communication to communicate effectively.


In both personal and professional environments, some people project a more positive image that makes us want to get to know them better and work with them in a team.


How do you build affinities through non-verbal communication? First, you must understand the four types:


  • Kinesics:
    This is based on signs related to behavior. The main branches of kinesics are gestures, posture, facial expression, and gaze.

  • Proxemics:
    A science that studies the role of space between speakers in a communicative exchange. It should be possible to determine the most appropriate space for any kind of relationship and communication.


  • Iconology:
    This is known as the science of images because it consists of conveying the message transmitted by an icon, an image.

  • Non-communication:
    This looks at any signs where communication could have taken place but did not. Certain actions can also mean something, such as arriving late. Here it is a sign that the person did not want to be in that place.


The characteristics of non-verbal communication

  • Voice:
    Voice is the primary vehicle for the words used in oral communication. Someone's voice can reflect their state of mind, if they are tense, nervous, smiling... A voice can be warm, cold, powerful, or weak. These feelings are reflected in the pitch and volume of the voice, the speed of the words, the intonation, etc.


  • Physical appearance:
    Even though we can't judge a book by its cover, physical appearance sends messages about someone's personality. Colors chosen can also reflect a state of mind. 


  • Posture and gesture:
    The way we move and even the way we make certain movements reflect our intentions and our feelings, and our relationship with the other person is largely determined by the position we adopt in front of them.


  • Gaze:
    It’s no coincidence that we say that our eyes are the mirror o the soul! Our gaze sends out a lot of information; you just have to know how to decipher this information. Whether your eye contact is fixed or shifty, watch out, your gaze says it all!


Want to master the full art of communication? Learn how to communicate better with off-the-shelf best-practice training


As this post has illustrated, communication occurs at every workplace level. Self-control, well-being, self-confidence, empathy, and negotiation skills - there is a wide range of hard and soft skills we can’t afford to neglect.


Rise Up offers businesses the opportunity to access a wide range of skills and knowledge through targeted and engaging online content. You can access a comprehensive training catalog with Rise Up's range of off-the-shelf content.


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