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The 5 differences between verbal and non-verbal communication

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Communication is a process by which two or more people exchange information, and there are multiple ways of exercising it. Among this range of possibilities are verbal and non-verbal communication.

In this article we will see the main differences between verbal and non-verbal communication, we will examine its characteristics, and we will give some examples referring to both modalities.

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What is verbal communication?

Verbal communication is all that happens through linguistic dialogue between people; that is, it requires the exchange of words by oral and auditory route, which is itself one of the main differences between verbal and non-verbal communication.

It does not matter if the conversation happens personally or remotely, through some communication device. The essential characteristic of this mode of communication is that it is carried out through linguistic rules, therefore there must be speakers and interlocutors exchange words with each other.

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In this type of communication there are certain rules that must be followed so that the process is carried out Best done, these standards are known as the good listener and good speaker standards. Let's review them.

1. Standards of a good speaker (announcer)

This is an outline of the communication principles that the friend must follow.

  • Think well what to say.
  • Look closely at the person you are talking to.
  • Pronounce the words properly.
  • Maintain an appropriate tone of voice.
  • Give opportunity to speak to others.
  • Be kind and polite when speaking.

2. Standards of a good listener (interlocutor)

As for the norms of the receiver or interlocutor, they are the following.

  • Listen to the person who is speaking.
  • Look closely at the person who is speaking.
  • Avoid interrupting the speaker.
  • Talk after the other person has finished their idea.

What is nonverbal communication?

Non-verbal communication focuses on everything related to the movements we make with our muscles when expressing the thoughts and emotions of the moment.

This type of communication can occur voluntarily or involuntarily. For example, while we are talking with a person, we could make a gesture of astonishment with the features of our face, due to the surprise that the content of the conversation causes us.

On the other hand, it is also possible perform movements and modulate the voice to express ideas and emotions voluntarily.

Some of the communicative norms of verbal communication also apply in this case, with the exception of the gaze, which in this case must be attentive to the gestures made by the speaker.

Specific differences between verbal and non-verbal communication

In the following lines we will see a summary of the differences between verbal communication and non-verbal communication.

1. The predominance

In normal conditions, verbal communication is the first to be used. Taking into account that in the early stages of life we ​​communicate through sounds, usually It is a mix between crying and sudden gestures, but the predominance is always in the sounds that we emit.

2. The channels used

As already mentioned above, verbal communication requires that the information be directed through words, which will be interpreted by the interlocutor, while non-verbal communication is purely bodily.

  • You may be interested: "The 28 types of communication and their characteristics"

3. The level of consciousness

Another difference between verbal communication and non-verbal communication is that in the first the level of consciousness and attention used is much higher than in the non-verbal. The tendency is that we think more about what we are going to say than the gestures that we can make while we speak.

4. emotionality

In general, non-verbal language transmits emotions that the subject does not intend to express; that is, through the language of our body, emotions find a form of direct expression, which does not always pass through the higher levels of consciousness and many times they are beyond our control.

5. The level of inclusion

This point refers to the fact that verbal communication is more considered at all social levels. Currently in educational centers the importance of non-verbal communication is not taught within of society, being relevant to many essential aspects in the daily life of the persons.

Some examples of contexts in which it is important to use non-verbal communication can be; job interviews, project presentations to the public, etc.


In conclusion, we can say that non-verbal communication, despite not being the most relevant in society, has a fundamental importance within it and should be taken into account more within the formation of individuals, from the young stages of the developing.

Bibliographic references:

  • Berlo, D.K. (1960). The process of communication. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
  • Olivar Zúñiga, A. (2006). Theoretical foundations of communication.

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