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7 Important Types of Nonverbal Communication

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  • Last Updated : 09 Feb, 2023
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Human-to-human communication is more diverse than simple speech-based conversations. While you can know what the other person is trying to say to you through their words, non-verbal communication cues also say a lot about what a version is trying to express. So, when it comes to conversing with different people, you also need to understand body language. In this article, we’ll discuss what are the 7 important types of non-verbal communication. 

Important Types of Nonverbal Communication

Types of Nonverbal Communication

People often communicate their points through non-verbal signals that others can pick up and react to. Yet, to become the best communicator, it is necessary to familiarise yourself with the different types of nonverbal communication, both from the perspective of the communicator and the recipient. Let’s understand the types available here. But first…

Importance of Understanding Non-Verbal Communication

Non-verbal interaction is essentially the most common type of communication for people. In fact, reports state that 55% of all communication is nonverbal, 7% is word-based, and 38% is vocal. 

Non-verbal communications are typically body language-based actions people make about different things in their environment. Indeed, it is very important to understand non-verbal communication cues properly in personal and professional lives. 

For example, while communicating your point to the other person, you would need to understand their expressions to gauge the impact of your words. This is important for meetings where you can decide whether the listener finds what you are saying interesting. 

On the other hand, when someone close to you is keeping something in, their non-verbal cues can help you understand their emotional state.

So, the different modes in which people express their thoughts or emotions without words fall under non-verbal communication. Now, let’s understand the common types. 

Types of Non-Verbal Communication

The following are the most common non-verbal interaction factors that everyone does. On a professional level and personal lifestyle, it is important to know how to react properly or control your cues, depending on your situation. 

1. Vocalics 

One of the most common types of non-verbal communication aspects is vocalics or paralanguage. While this deals with your voice, the main focus here is the tone of a person’s voice during conversations. 

Indeed, how people mention different points can indicate their thoughts or feelings on the situation. Thus, taking the time to understand this type of communication is beneficial.

To explain, the word “Oh” does have any specialized meaning. But if someone says “Oh!” with a heightened or energetic voice inflection, it signifies excitement or surprise. On the other hand, when people utter “Oh…” in a low, monotone way, it shows a lackluster and sad feeling.

Therefore, take time to understand the vocalics, like the changes in voice pitch and volume, to understand one’s reaction to different situations. For example, speaking in a low voice showcases a person’s nervous energy, while someone speaking loudly seems more high-energy or excited. 

2. Touch 

Another notable type of non-verbal communication is touch which expresses different feelings to people as well. For example, if someone pats a person on the back, it displays an almost congratulatory affection. On the other hand, hugging is a sign of love and comfort for people.

Also, some types of touching showcase a person’s distaste towards a person or the situation. For example, if a person leans away from someone’s touch, fidgets too much, or physically shrinks into themselves somewhat, that shows a feeling of discomfort. 

In this context, remember that the comfort level from physical affection and touch can differ regionally. From a societal perspective, some touches are welcoming between strangers or a professional setting, like handshakes. 

However, other signs of physical touch, like hugs, are inappropriate in the same places, like the hospital. Similarly, a light handshake indicates timidness or self-consciousness, while a firm handshake showcases confidence. 

3. Proximity 

One needs to consider space as non-verbal communication. If someone sits too close to a person, almost invading personal space, and they do not move away- it showcases a sense of closeness. People dear to most people, like family members, friends, or partners, are acceptable to sit close by. 

Similarly, it is important to maintain other people’s personal space well in a professional setting. Violating someone’s personal space can cause discomfort, so keep note of these nonverbal cues. 

4. Eye Contact 

Another well-known type of nonverbal communication is eye contact. In fact, it is one of the most commonly used modes of nonverbal contact, but not extremely easy to detect for many people. 

However, it is one of the most honest forms of communication, so learning to detect these cues is very useful. From eye contact, one can get signs of affection, interest, hostility, or even attraction. 

For example, if someone is not meeting your eyes often or downs down/elsewhere, it showcases a sign of discomfort, nervousness, and shyness. Which one applies to the scenario and the person varies. 

5. Facial Expression 

Besides looking at someone’s eyes, you can understand their emotions through their overall facial expression. The expression on the face can change what words the person is saying and their meaning in the conversational context. 

For example, while talking, scrunching up the nose and grimacing shows a sign of disgust. On the other hand, if one raises their eyes while talking, it shows an expression of surprise, or rolling the eyes shows unhappiness.

6. Gestures 

The gestures people make while talking or in silence can also express their thoughts and emotions in situations. 

While talking, many people often gesture, point at objects, or move their hands too much during exciting conversations. 

Of course, the meaning of the gestures can vary from person to person and also differs in varying cultures. So, this type of non-verbal communication can cause misinterpretation if one is not careful. 

7. Body Movement

The way someone moves around or carries themselves also expresses insights into them. These aspects include how a person stands, sits, or walks around. People focus on stance, posture, and elusive body movements to detect meaning

For example, walking around with drooped shoulders and a slow pace can indicate a sense of tiredness or demotivation. 

Related Article – 10 Body Language Mistakes to Avoid During Job Interview


Overall, for the best interaction with all of the important expressed properly, one should focus on both types of communication- verbal or non-verbal. People who can properly read the non-verbal cues of people well can anticipate things that others are verbalizing. Therefore, it is a useful skill to have in both professional and personal aspects. 

Understanding the types and training oneself to recognize or control the cues is useful, depending on your personal interests.

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