Non-verbal communication is used in our daily lives. Non-verbal communication is the use of gestures, facial expressions, and other visual images to communicate. This way of communication is learned mainly through socialization. As we grow we learn most of our non-verbal communication from our society or culture that surrounds us. The things that influence this learning (such as family, media, and schools) are known as agents of socialization.  They influence how we view some non-verbal communication such as crying, holding hands, and kissing.

Since most non-verbal communication is learned from our society one problem that surfaces is the different meanings gestures have in different cultures. A certain gesture can be accepted in one culture but not another or that gesture can even have a completely different meaning. The video below shows some examples of different forms of non-verbal communication across the world.

As we grow older we learn what forms of non-verbal communications are, and are not, accepted in the society we are in. To avoid attention or embarrassment, people conform to the expectations in  certain situations. For example, in America we have an unspoken rule that men cannot cry in public because crying is a sign of weakness. Crying, a form of non-verbal communication demotes the man’s “manly status” and makes him appear weak. Non-verbal communication is also used in greetings, specific communications, and involuntary communications. An example of non-verbal communication in greetings is saying hello, or goodbye, to someone. Specific communications are certain gestures used by people on purpose; for example, gestures in a factory or sign language. Involuntary communications are gestures of facial expressions we cannot control; for example, tapping your finger when you are inpatient.

faceAs I stated earlier most non-verbal communications are taught to us by our surroundings, but some are instinctal and involuntary. The basic facial expressions surprisingly look the same no matter your race, culture, age, or sex. These involuntary facial expressions are known as micro-expressions and can convey sadness, anger, contempt, etc.

We use non-verbal communication to convey many messages, some on purpose and some by accident. Many forms of our non-verbal communication are taught and influenced by our surroundings, but some are involuntary. No matter what form of this communication is used we have a message that we want to convey, which is why non-verbal communication is so important and used daily.

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