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It is often said that “Action speaks louder than words” (Lincoln, 1856). In actuality, this famous proverb highlights the importance of nonverbal communication. According to Nordquist (2019), “Nonverbal communication is the process of sending and receiving messages without using words, either spoken or written.” Moreover, it includes body language, clothing and appearance, paralanguage, proxemics, color, time, and touch. Nonverbal communication is exceptionally crucial, not just in ordinary interactions, but in intercultural communication. However, this type of communication is often seen yet rarely understood and valued. Nonetheless, our really actions speak louder than words.
First of all, it is worth considering that nonverbal communication makes the message more meaningful. According to Schrier and Shaenfield (2016), “Research suggests that nonverbal behavior accounts for between 60% and 70% of all meanings.” It is also because most people are more comfortable in expressing their thoughts, ideas or emotions through nonverbal signals rather than spoken words. On top of that, the information is delivered with clarity and precision, seeing as nonverbal cues intensify the meaning of the message because of its unique function — repetition, contradiction, substitution, complementing and accenting. Additionally, Schimtz (2012) stated that “Nonverbal communication can convey much meaning when verbal communication isn’t effective because of language barriers.”
Secondly, it aids in gaining the attention of the audience. The reason is that, the speaker uses a different nonverbal signal that attracts the listener/s and thus urging them to pay attention. For instance, holding the audience’s attention when presenting. According to Mcgowan (n.d.), “By nature, everyone has a different tone, pitch, and volume with which they speak. Certain speech characteristics are more engaging and will naturally attract more attention, but those with softer voices who tend to speak quickly can modify how they speak to grab the audiences’ attention.”
Lastly, it uses other senses, not just the sense of sight and hearing, thus the message conveyed will be remembered more. According to Schimtz (2012), “Nonverbal communication, on the other hand, can be taken in by all five of our senses.” For instance, a person can see gestures, hear voices and smell odor or scent. He/she can feel the touches from others and can taste foods and drinks. All of these are nonverbal communication with significant meanings.
To conclude the essay, nonverbal communication can convey a lot of various things, and all of these are based on how effective a communicator an individual is. More or less, all of us are affected by it and the effects may vary from good or bad. Nevertheless, managing our way of conversing and developing our emotional awareness and intercultural sensitivity would strengthen our relationship with others and help us prevent miscommunication that leads to misunderstanding. To sum up, effective communication is best defined as this famous proverb, “The superior man acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his actions.” (Confucius, 551 BC – 479 BC).
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