Non-verbal communication is communicating without saying anything. Often this type of communication is done while talking. The motions we make while saying something or how we say something is an example of non-verbal communication and can have a much stronger effect than the words we are saying.
The five roles of non-verbal communication are repetition, contradictions, substitution, complementing and accenting, according to the book “The Importance of Effective Communication.” Repetition means that you can reinforce what you are saying. Contradiction means that your actions are saying something different than your words. Substitution is when an action is used in place of words. Complementing is when actions and verbal messages go together. Accenting will get a message across stronger.
Facial expressions are an important part of non-verbal communications because they will convey what a person is really feeling, sometimes without the person's knowledge. Also, this is a type of communication that will span cultures and languages because emotions are generally universal. For example, when someone smiles, this will typically mean the person is happy or feels joy, no matter where the person is from.
Gestures are the opposite of facial expressions. They differ very much from culture to culture, but are often things we do without thinking. For example, when a person meets another person, it is customary to shake hands. Some people however kiss cheeks. This can cause confusion and may be uncomfortable if another person is not used to it. Gestures also refer to using our hands while we talk.
Eye contact is an extremely important part of communication. This is because a person's gaze can foremost show interest or disinterest. If you are talking to someone and they are looking at other things, they are telling you with their eyes that what you have to say is unimportant or uninteresting to them. So, to convey to someone that you are listening, make sure to make eye contact. However, the type of eye contact people make will vary amongst cultures.
While non-verbal communication is a very important part of communicating with people, it is important to acknowledge that there are very important limits to it. For example, you can not express facts or detailed information through a look or gesture. This would have to be explained verbally. Also, sometimes non-verbal cues are misread and someone may think the wrong thing is being said. Non-verbal communication is also ineffective when trying to convey sarcasm or something over the telephone.