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The disadvantages of nonverbal communication

Updated July 20, 2017

People communicate verbally and nonverbally. They use verbal communication intentionally. Most people are aware of what things come out of their mouth, but nonverbal communication can happen subconsciously. For example, people may fidget in their seats while being interviewed for a job because they are feeling nervous. Actions speak louder than words. They may say one thing while it is interpreted another way because of their body language or other nonverbal cues. This can be a disadvantage to them if they are not careful.

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Facial Expression and Eye Contact

Two powerful forms of nonverbal communication are facial expressions and eye contact. Looking into someone's eyes while the person speaks to you can show that you are truly listening and that you care about what is being said. Unfortunately, you send a negative message if you look away from the speaker. You may even roll your eyes at something with which you do not agree. Your facial expressions can portray a stern and serious attitude or one of open friendliness and joy. A simple smile or frown can communicate more than you realise.

Proximity and Posture

Standing close to someone while communicating shows the person you like to be near him and feel an interest in him. This is a common nonverbal signal in dating. The opposite is just as true. When someone is angry with someone, standing too close can provoke a physical confrontation. Standing or sitting up straight shows an attitude of confidence and alertness. Slouching, however, displays a disconnected attitude of boredom or a lack of self-confidence.

Gestures and Touch

You are at a serious disadvantage in your communication skills if you do not learn to control your gesturing and touching. Reaching out to lay a hand on someone's arm may bring her a measure of comfort. However, it might make others feel awkward. Some people do not like to be touched, even though your intention is innocent. Gestures send powerful signals to others. A thumbs-up speaks volumes on your approval of something. A simple sweep of the hand can make someone feel carelessly dismissed. Your body language speaks louder than your words.

Volume, Sound and Segregates

The tone of your voice can change the mood of the words spoken. Shouting and speaking loudly can be threatening to others. The sounds you make tell much about what is going on inside your mind. A whimper or a moan may indicate pain or fear. Giggling and laughter indicate happiness. Vocal segregates such as: uh-huh, ooooh, um, eh or uh are a dominant part of our everyday speech. Using too many of them can weaken the power of the message. For example, public speaking is effective when the deliverer of the message is direct and nonrepetitive. Overusing segregates confuses the point, making the speaker seem uninformed and lacking in confidence.

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About the Author

Bobbi Walls has been writing professionally since 1994. She has worked with Orange Frazier Press and F&W Media on fiction and nonfiction, and has had articles appear in "Washington Stake" and other local newsletters. Walls is pursuing a bachelor's degree in English at Ashford University.

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