Discuss the role non-verbal communication (NVC) plays in the operation and effectiveness of verbal communication.

Authors Avatar
Discuss the role non-verbal communication (NVC) plays in the operation and effectiveness of verbal communication.

Everyday interaction depends on a subtle relationship between what we express in words

and what we convey through numerous forms of non-verbal communication (Giddens,


Non-verbal communication (NVC) is the body signals that we deliberately or

inadvertently make when we are with other people. NVC tends to run in parallel with

verbal communication. It can influence another by many means, which may be

intentional, or it may be unintentional.

"When we communicate with others we not only speak but we also emit non-verbal

vocalisations, gestures, facial expressions and gazes. These are closely integrated with

words and may amplify or disambiguate them" (Argyle, 1975). Argyle's view shows that

NVC is part of verbal communication and is vital to the interpretation of meaning of


Abercrombie's view supports that of Argyle's. "People speak with the vocal organs but

communicate with the whole body" (1968).

The three main forms of NVC are body language, paralanguage and appearance. Body

language includes eye contact, proximity, gestures and facial expressions.

Paralanguage can be non-verbal but vocal, using the voice to modulate words, intonation,

voice pitch, tone and volume and 'stressing' of words or a part of a word.

Appearance is the way we present ourselves for example through the clothes we wear.

All forms of NVC aid our vocal communication and everyday interaction. NVC

exchanges information and meanings for example through facial expressions, gestures

and movements of the body.

Gestures and other bodily movements include emblems, illustrators and body touching.

Emblems are non-verbal acts that have direct verbal meanings, usually shown by hand
Join now!

movements, and are sent deliberately. The "peace" or victory sign and the "thumbs up"

meaning OK or good are examples of emblems. "Mostly, these emblems are culture

specific" (Knapp, 1978, p13). Emblems may represent different meanings in different

cultures. In some cultures it is rude to point with the finger.

Illustrators are 'movements' that are directly linked to speech, illustrating what is being

said verbally, such as pointing at an object. "They are used intentionally to help

communicate, but not as deliberately as emblems" (Knapp, 1978, ...

This is a preview of the whole essay