Emotional Communication: Understanding Emotions Beyond Words

  • 8 months ago
3 minute read.
Emotional Communication: Understanding Emotions Beyond Words

Do you spend a lot of time communicating? Or trying to communicate? From posture to handshake to eye contact, your body language affects your relationships with your family, friends, and colleagues. Good posture conveys confidence; slouching conveys a lack of confidence. Eye contact, or lack thereof, can be a sign of intent or a hint of a lie. Maybe it’s time to pay attention to your non-verbal communication.

Non-verbal communication is usually understood as the process of communication through sending and receiving wordless (mostly visual) cues between people. Messages can be communicated through gestures and touch, by body language or posture, by facial expression and eye contact.

Types of Emotional (Non- Verbal) communication:

1. Facial Expression

Facial expressions are responsible for a huge proportion of nonverbal communication. Consider how much information can be conveyed with a smile or a frown. While nonverbal communication and behavior can vary dramatically between cultures, the facial expressions for happiness, sadness, anger and fear are similar throughout the world.

2. Gestures

Deliberate movements and signals are an important way to communicate meaning without words. Common gestures include waving, pointing, and using fingers to indicate numeric amounts. Other gestures are arbitrary and related to culture.

3. Paralinguistic

Paralinguistic refers to vocal communication that is separate from actual language. This includes factors such as tone of voice, loudness, inflection and pitch. Consider the powerful effect that tone of voice can have on the meaning of a sentence. When said in a strong tone of voice, listeners might interpret approval and enthusiasm. The same words said in a hesitant tone of voice might convey disapproval and a lack of interest.

4. Body Language and Posture

Posture and movement can also convey a great deal on information. Research on body language has grown significantly since the 1970’s, but popular media have focused on the over-interpretation of defensive postures, arm-crossing, and leg-crossing. These nonverbal behaviors can indicate feelings and attitudes.

5. Proxemics

People often refer to their need for ’personal space,’ which is also an important type of nonverbal communication. The amount of distance we need and the amount of space we perceive as belonging to us is influenced by a number of factors including social norms, situational factors, personality characteristics and level of familiarity.

6. Eye Gaze

Looking, staring and blinking can also be important nonverbal behaviors. When people encounter people or things that they like, the rate of blinking increases and pupils dilate. Looking at another person can indicate a range of emotions, including hostility, interest and attraction.

7. Haptics

Communicating through touch is another important nonverbal behavior. There has been a substantial amount of research on the importance of touch in infancy and early childhood. Touch can be used to communicate affection, familiarity, sympathy and other emotions.

8. Appearance

Our choice of color, clothing, hairstyles and other factors affecting appearance are also considered a means of nonverbal communication. Appearance can also alter physiological reactions, judgments and interpretations. Just think of all the subtle judgments you quickly make about someone based on his or her appearance. These first impressions are important, which is why experts suggest that job seekers dress appropriately for interviews with potential employers.

9. Space

Have you ever felt uncomfortable during a conversation because the other person was standing too close and invading your space? We all have a need for physical space, although that need differs depending on the culture, the situation, and the closeness of the relationship. You can use physical space to communicate many different nonverbal messages, including signals of intimacy, aggression, dominance, or affection.

10. Silence

Like other types of non-verbal communication a complete silence also can transmit out inner view of mind. Both positive and negative attitude can be expressed through silence.

Nonverbal communication makes up about two-thirds of all communication between two people or between one speaker and a group of listeners, hence it plays an important role while communicating.

Psychological tricks to make your non-verbal communication better

  1. Maintain eye contact: Making consistent eye contact can indicate that you are engaged and interested in the conversation.
  2. Use open body language: Keep your arms uncrossed, and avoid closed-off postures such as crossing your legs or arms.
  3. Use gestures: Use gestures such as pointing, nodding, and leaning forward to emphasize points and show interest.
  4. Mirror the other person's body language: Mimicking the body language of the person you are communicating with can help build rapport and make them feel more comfortable.
  5. Use facial expressions: Smile, laugh, and make appropriate expressions to show that you are engaged in the conversation. A genuine smile can make the person you're communicating with feel more at ease and can indicate that you are approachable and friendly.
  6. Be aware of your surroundings: Be aware of the environment and adjust your nonverbal cues accordingly.
  7. Practice: Practice nonverbal communication techniques in different situations to become more comfortable and confident.


Remember that nonverbal communication is just as important as verbal communication and often even more so. Being aware of your nonverbal cues and how they may be perceived can help you communicate more effectively and build stronger relationships.

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