• Researchers do not completely agree about how much of communication is nonverbal, though none of their approximations are small. Most researchers estimate that nonverbal communication accounts for between 65 and 90 percent of all human communication, a mild challenge to the 93 percent theory that was made popular in the 1970s.

    Movements, Gestures, Posture

    People often use movements and gestures to help illustrate a verbal point or to nonverbally communicate a simple idea. For instance, a thumbs-up, in America, means that things are okay or everything is ready to go. Posture and stance communicate a degree of self-confidence, comfort with the speech or task at hand, and current level of energy.

    Expressions and Eyes

    Facial expressions also add to the repertoire of nonverbal communication; smiles can convey happiness, blushes embarrassment, and the 23 distinct motions of the eyebrows can communicate even more emotions and nonverbal thoughts. Eye movement, or occulesics, communicate meaning as well, whether through rapid, shifty movement, soft gazes or hard stares.


    Researchers classify intonation as nonverbal communication because it focuses on how words are said, rather than on the words themselves. The best known instance of nonverbal intonation is the use of sarcasm, in which the speaker says one set of words, but the speaker's voice communicates an entirely separate meaning.

    Display and Appearance

    The way a person displays herself---clothing, footwear, jewelry---also sends strong, if sometimes superficial, messages. Appearance can communicate gender, age, comfort, class, social participation, climate, era, and mood, as well as numerous other factors. Other appearance elements, such as skin tone, hair styling, and good oral hygiene, communicates how well a person cares for herself.


    While nonverbal communication can give great insight about any given speaker and serve as a great tool for inferring meaning, it is not without its flaws. Nonverbal cues cannot convey factual information or complex ideas. It also becomes even more limited when visual cues such as eyes, gestures and appearance are factored out (as in telephone calls).


    Buffalo State University: Verbal and Nonverbal Communication Nonverbal Communication

    Fort Hays State University: Introduction to Nonverbal Communication

Copyright 2023, Wired Ivy, LLC

Answerbag | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy