Personal Understanding and Interpersonal Communication

Meanwhile, non-verbal communication (NVC) is something that we do not pay attention to during communication as well as to listeing as it performs functions of face-to-face interaction that do not rely primarily on the content of what we say. Here we are concerned with how we make ourselves known through, for example, a look, gesture, postural shift or trembling voice. At the very outset, however, it should be stressed that distinguishing between verbal and nonverbal communication is not as conceptually straightforward as it might at first seem. As for assertiveness, this quality is nowadays required from professionals and it is a skill that is of importance when dealing with family, friends, peers, superiors and subordinates. It is pertinent to interactions between different groups of professionals, especially where differences of power and status exist, and it is of relevance to interactions between professionals and clients.
In a piece of early but still influential work, Laver and Hutcheson (1972) distinguished between verbal and nonverbal, and vocal and nonvocal communication. Vocal behaviour refers to all aspects of speech including language content and accompanying expressions such as tone of voice, rate of speech and accent, etc. Nonvocal behaviour, in contrast, refers to all other bodily activities that have a communicative function such as facial expressions, gestures and movements. These are sometimes referred to as body language. Verbal behaviour, on the other hand, is taken to mean the actual words and language used while nonverbal behaviour refers to all vocal and nonvocal behaviour that is not verbal in the sense defined above. This system seems therefore to insert a sharp and clearly recognisable dividing line between the verbal and the nonverbal, until it is realised that verbal communication has a nonvocal element. It encompasses types of gestural communication such as formal sign language that one may have expected to find listed as nonverbal. According to Richmond and McCroskey (2000) precise definitions that introduce hard and fast distinctions between verbal and nonverbal communication are illusory. Instead they suggested teasing the two forms apart by pointing up broad differences. As such, by comparison, verbal messages:
– rely much more heavily on symbols (i.e. words) as part of an arbitrary code.
– tend to be discretely packaged in separate words rather than represented in continuous behaviour, as in gaze.
– carry more meaning explicitly rather than implicitly.
– typically address cognitive/propositional rather than emotional/relational matters.
Remland (2000) further noted that verbal interchanges must take place sequentially (i.e. participants must take turns) but interactors can communicate simultaneously using a nonverbal code.
We tend to be less aware of the nonverbal accompaniment to much of what we say, than we are of the actual words spoken. While we often carefully monitor what is said to achieve the desired effect, how we are saying it may escape censor such that the reality of the situation is ‘leaked’ despite our best efforts. In other words, NVC can be thought of as a more ‘truthful’ form of communication through the insights that it affords