There are five characteristics of nonverbal communication that help explain why it is so important in our daily lives (Floyd pg. 211)

  1. Nonverbal communication is present in most interpersonal conversations, including cyberspace communication with the use of emoticons.  
  2. Nonverbal communication often conveys more information than verbal communication. It is possible that up to 93% of what we say is translated by nonverbal clues. However, it is more realistic that only 65-70% of translation is due to nonverbal communication. (That is still a lot higher than I would have ever thought!)
  3. Nonverbal communication is usually believed over verbal communication. This could be due to the fact that it is harder to hide or fake our nonverbal clues such as our facial expressions.  
  4. Nonverbal communication is the primary means of communicating emotion. Think of what someone's facial expressions look like when they are overjoyed or extremely sad. You can usually tell how they are feeling without them saying a word.
  5. Nonverbal communication is meta communicative, for example, a wink for sarcasm or covering our mouth with our hand to indicate we are telling a secret.    


6 common types of nonverbal communication:

  1. Facial expressions. Unlike most communication, facial expressions are universal.
  2. Body movements and posture. The way we move and carry ourselves can tell a lot about us.
  3. Gestures. We often use gestures without thinking about it. Since gestures are so different across cultures it is important to be careful when interpreting someone's gesture to avoid misinterpretation.
  4. Eye contact. This is a very important piece of nonverbal communication since the visual sense is dominant for many of us.
  5. Touch. A firm handshake during an interview goes a long way.
  6. Space. Personal space has to do with how close we like to be when communicating with people. This varies greatly by culture.

Find out how much you know about nonverbal communication and how well you can read other people's nonverbal signals by taking the quizzes at the following link:  http://humanresources.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=humanresources&cdn=money&tm=7&f=00&su=p560.7.336.ip_&tt=2&bt=1&bts=1&zu=http://nonverbal.ucsc.edu/