Interpersonal communication not only involves the explicit meaning of words, the information or message conveyed, but also refers to implicit messages, whether intentional or not, which are expressed through non-verbal behaviours.
Non-verbal communications include facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, gestures displayed through body language (kinesics) and the physical distance between the communicators (proxemics). These non-verbal signals can give clues and additional information and meaning over and above spoken (verbal) communication.
Non-verbal Messages Allow People To:
- Reinforce or modify what is said in words. For example, people may nod their heads vigorously when saying “Yes” to emphasise that they agree with the other person, but a shrug of the shoulders and a sad expression when saying “I’m fine thanks,” may imply that things are not really fine at all!
- Convey information about their emotional state.
- Define or reinforce the relationship between people.
- Provide feedback to the other person.
- Regulate the flow of communication, for example by signalling to others that they have finished speaking or wish to say something.