Verbal and Nonverbal Communication



Verbal and Nonverbal Communication

When we speak with other people face-to-face the nonverbal signals we give—our facial expressions, hand gestures, body movements, and tone of voice—often communicate as much as, or more than, the words we utter. When our nonverbal signals, which we often produce unconsciously, agree with our verbal message, the verbal message is enhanced and supported, made more convincing. But when they conflict with the verbal message, we may be communicating an entirely different and more accurate message than what we intend.

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    <-NARRATOR:-> Now listen to part of a lecture on this topic in a psychology course.
    <-MALE PROFESSOR:-> Last month my favorite uncle paid me a surprise visit.
    I hadn't seen him for many years.
    The doorbell rang, I opened the door and there was Uncle Pete.
    Now I am sure when I saw him, I said something like "Uncle Pete, what a surprise! How nice to see you!"
    [pause] Anyway, my wife was standing next to me, and according to her, I wasn't really aware of this, my eyes got really wide and I broke into a huge big smile.
    She said I was actually jumping up and down like a little boy.
    Well, anyway, later that evening Uncle Pete told me how very very good he felt when he saw how happy I was to see him.
    But compare that with this, my daughter, she is six.
    We were building a birdhouse together last week.
    And I was showing her how to use a hammer and nail.
    And of course, stupid me, I wasn't being very careful and I smashed my thumb with the hammer.
    Boy did it hurt!
    I almost felt like screaming, but I didn't want to upset my daughter, so I said, "Don't worry, honey, it's nothing."
    Meanwhile, I was shaking my hand as if that would stop my thumb from hurting, and my face was contorted in pain.
    My voice was trembling too.
    So even though I told my daughter I was okay, I'm sure she didn't believe me because she kept asking me if I was okay.


Explain how the examples from the professor's lecture illustrate the relationship between verbal and nonverbal communication.


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