The Pros & Cons of Nonverbal Communication

Updated April 17, 2017

Nonverbal communication can be more important than verbal communication. Nonverbal communication can indicate whether a person is telling the truth, experiencing stress or being sincere. It can also be the reason you aren’t succeeding on job interviews or meeting people. Interpreting nonverbal communication is crucial to understanding others as well as yourself.

Ease of Use

Nonverbal communication makes it easy for two people to communicate across a crowded room. By using gestures and facial expressions, you can often communicate a wealth of information. This is also helpful when someone is trying to communicate private information. Due to the limitations of nonverbal communication, it's often short and to the point, which can be an advantage.

Reading People

Understanding the basics of nonverbal communication makes it easy to interpret the moods and actions of others. Someone who has his arms crossed across his chest, for example, is closed off from a conversation. When a person lies, he typically looks up and to the left. If someone responds to a question while looking up and to the left, he is most likely lying. Knowing these nonverbal indicators helps you analyse your interactions with others as well. If you're trying to meet new people but have your arms crossed across your chest and a tense expression, you won't attract many new friends.

Cultural Differences

Different postures and gestures have different meanings in different cultures. This can be a disadvantage of using nonverbal communication. A person with her hands in her pockets in most countries is seen as insecure, but the gesture is acceptable. In Turkey, however, standing with your hands in your pocket is seen as disrespectful. in the U.S., sitting with your legs crossed can indicate a wide variety of emotions, depending on how the legs are crossed, but in Ghana and Turkey this is an offensive gesture.

People Reading You

Though nonverbal communication makes it easier for you to gauge the thoughts and emotions of others, it also allows others to determine your thoughts and emotions. This could qualify as a pro and a con. In most instances, you want others to know you're being honest or are interested in the conversation, but sometimes this could be detrimental. Playing poker is an example. If you don't have a poker face, other players can easily ascertain the type of hand you have and bet accordingly.

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About the Author

Jack Powell has been writing professionally since 2008. He graduated from Red River College with a degree in creative communications and currently writes for a variety of local publications.