Types of nonverbal communication
Image credit: European Parliament, “EP Journalism Prize 2011 winners are from France, Italy, Finland and Germany” October 19, 2011, via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Nonverbal means of communication (NMC) have recently come to attention of linguists, anthropologists, psychologists, communication and discourse studies scholars. It is now a widely admitted fact that they play an important role in a communicative act. However, how exactly NMC contribute to communication between individuals still remains an open question. Moreover, the complexity and particularities (including micro and macro contexts) of a given conversation may further complicate the case. This post provides a list of useful categories which may be in play in a given situation.
First of all, let us define nonverbal communication. So, nonverbal communication can be defined as a system of non-linguistic signs which complement or substitute linguistic signs. This system includes the following components (Pankovskyi, 2010):
1) adornment – items of clothing, hairstyles, and jewellery;
2) chronemics – time use such as waiting and pausing;
3) haptics – tactile communication or, simply, touch;
4) kinesics (= body language) – foot tapping, gestures, nodding, shrugs, waving by hands, and other body movements;
5) locomotion – displacements in space such as limping, stumbling, running, walking;
6) facial expressions – such as smiling, frowning, and squinting;
7) oculesics – eye movements (e.g. winking, closed eyes, eyes wide open);
8) olfactics – kinds of smell (e.g. pleasant, strong, strange, like Church incense, etc.);
9) paralanguage – variations in voice qualities and manner of speaking:
a) silence – pauses, secrecy;
b) sound symbols – grunting, mumbling (e.g. ah, hm, uhu);
c) vocalics – speed, timbre, tone of voice, and volume;
10) posture – position of the body;
11) proxemics – use of interpersonal space (see also Proxemics: Personal space post).
I hope that these types of NMC may help you and me to do better conversation and discourse analysis or contribute to our knowledge on NMC. Please, feel free to add your comments. Thank you!
Pankovskyi, I. (2010). “Nonverbal means of communication: Benefits for SLA”. Nauka I studia: Przemyśl, Poland, 31-44.