11 Minutes of reading

Verbal and non-verbal communication: how can we communicate more effectively?

Both verbal and non-verbal communication are equally important. Whether it is the words spoken, an attitude or a certain look, they all have a great influence on how we communicate with others.


How can we decode verbal and non-verbal elements so that we can better communicate in business? Rise Up introduces you to how verbal and non-verbal communication are essential soft skills to learn.



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Verbal and non-verbal communication: what are they?


Verbal communication: definition


Verbal communication is anything that relates to human language that can be immediately defined. At first sight, we believe that human language is based on what we say, the verb, the voice, the intonation, the pronunciation of words or sentences, and a specific vocabulary expressed either orally or in writing. This language also includes signs or coded information, depending on the situation.


These different forms of verbal communication allow two individuals or a group of people to communicate, listen to each other and understand each other. It can be communication in a personal and professional context.

To express oneself correctly and appropriately, mastery of verbal communication is very important, both orally and in writing. In a company, it is essential to be able to express oneself correctly and clearly, whether to communicate with colleagues or to convey a positive image of the company as part of the employer brand.

Salespeople, for example, must have excellent verbal communication in order to clearly and accurately communicate the right information with their clients and to convey a good image. Conversely, salespeople who do not express themselves clearly will have difficulty negotiating with their client because they will have difficulty understanding them.


Colleagues discussing a project


Non-verbal communication: definition


Non-verbal communication refers to all the signals that our body can send out. Here we are referring to body language. Body language translates into a way of being on a general level. Non-verbal communication is represented by all the signs that one individual can send out to another, and quite often without really being aware of it. This non-verbal language is based on gestures, a general behaviour, through postures, mimics, tics or grimaces, facial expressions, a look, or an attitude... For example, in a job interview, all of these vectors can betray certain character traits and give clues about the candidate’s personality or current state of mind.


Obviously, in some cases, certain signals are positive, while others are likely to be detrimental to the person. In the context of a job search, recruiters are increasingly interested in these two forms of communication, which allow them to fully analyse the candidates they receive as early on as possible.


In verbal and non-verbal communication, besides this word "communication", the other common link between the two expressions is the word "verbal", which comes from the Latin word "verbum" meaning "verb" or "word".

Verbal communication refers more specifically to the use of language through the voice, writing and also sign language or coded language. Non-verbal communication revolves around all other forms of language transmitted by body, gestures and visual signals. There are many signals sent out consciously or unconsciously by one person and felt by another.


The 3V rule in communication


The 3V rule established in the research conducted by Professor Albert Mehrabian concludes that 93% of the communication is non-verbal, so we cannot ignore the importance of this form of communication.

This research also states that:


  • 7% of communication is verbal, through the spoken word
  • 38% is vocal (based on intonation and sound of voice)
  • 55% is visual and is based on facial expressions and body language


Paraverbal communication: definition


Paraverbal communication is the third communication type. How is it different from verbal and non-verbal communication?

Paraverbal communication refers to the tone and cadence of speech, but also to the pauses during a conversation. In the context of paraverbal communication, we could almost say that it is the way we present words. This form of communication alludes to the feelings we put into each word; for example, a sentence that would be perfectly normal in a context, might seem hurtful in another.

Paraverbal communication could be defined as the dressing that we wrap around words, it is directly influenced by our emotions whether it is joy, animosity, discontent or sadness. All these factors will have an influence on communication.


The different types of verbal communication

To understand each other, we must communicate!

However, we must also know how to communicate effectively in order to be better understood.

Communication is an action that establishes a relationship between two or more people. It is the first thing that allows you to get a first idea about your interlocutors.

Although communication takes different forms, whether verbal or non-verbal, it is verbal communication that confirms a person's personality, charisma and self-confidence. It is also through verbal communication that first impressions can be corrected.

From an overall perspective, the key elements of verbal communication are:


  • Voice
  • Intonation
  • Pronunciation
  • Choice of words, phrases, expressions
  • Sign language or other codes language
  • The written word

The key elements of verbal communication in business


In the workplace, good verbal communication is essential for all professional relationships. It is essential for good team cohesion, as well as for better conflict management. 

Verbal communication is essential in both internal and external relationships. Internally, good verbal communication is important to create a spirit of understanding and an atmosphere that is conducive to improved performance. Externally, verbal communication is important for business relations, whether it be with customers, suppliers, partners, subcontractors, shareholders, etc.

Verbal communication allows us to establish the contact that will reflect the company. It is therefore an essential interpersonal skill for certain jobs. At the heart of all exchanges, good verbal communication helps to avoid misunderstandings. As the key to mutual understanding, it facilitates interaction and interpersonal communication between different departments and employees..

In both writing and speaking, clarity is essential in all relationships. Obviously, paraverbal communication, i.e., the tone expressed, is also very important; it must be adapted to the situation and the person being spoken to.

Colleagues discussing a project


Non-verbal communication: decoding the body


In our relationships with others, non-verbal communication plays a major role and influences our feelings. While words can have positive and/or negative impact, it is the same for our gestures, our attitude, how we look at people, our appearance...

Non-verbal communication indeed and very frequently encourages a decoding of the body, which should not therefore be neglected.

It is important to learn how to deconstruct non-verbal communication in order to learn how to communicate better in a general way in our personal and professional environment.


Non-verbal communication: examples in the professional environment


In both personal and professional environments, some people project a more positive image that makes us want to get to know them better, or some employees make us want to work with them as a team more than others. On the other hand, some people send out such a negative image that they do not invite people to communicate with them.

So here we are referring to affinities, and we cannot possibly have affinities with everyone.

If we take the example of recruiters, they will analyse much more than just the words spoken or written by the candidates. Recruiters will analyse all signs of non-verbal communication during the pre-interviews to understand the candidate's state of mind. Body language might seem trivial, but what comes across can be more significant about an individual's personality.


Types of non-verbal communication


Non-verbal communication encompasses 4 different types:


  • Kinesics:
    This is based on signs related to behaviour. The main branches of kinesics are gestures, posture, facial expression and gaze.
  • Proxemics:
    A science that studies the role of space between speakers in a communicative exchange. It should be possible to determine the most appropriate space for any kind of relationship and communication.


  • Iconology:
    This is known as the science of images because it consists of conveying the message transmitted by an icon, an image.

  • Non-communication:
    This final part looks at any signs where communication could have taken place but did not. Certain actions can also mean something, such as arriving late. Here it is a sign that the person did not want to be in that place.


The characteristics of non-verbal communication


The characteristics of non-verbal communication are based on a body language determined by:


  • Voice:
    Voice is the primary vehicle for the words used in oral communication. Someone's voice can reflect their state of mind, if they are tense, nervous, smiling... A voice can be warm, cold, powerful, weak. These feelings are reflected in the pitch and volume of the voice, the speed of the words, the intonation...


  • Physical appearance:
    Even though we can't judge a book by its cover, the physical appearance sends out messages about someone's personality. The colours chosen can also reflect a state of mind. The mirror effect is much more important than we think, but it is the natural side of a person that needs to be perceived, and this is much more important.


  • Posture and gesture:
    The way we move and even the way we make certain movements, reflect our intentions and our feelings, and our relationship with the other person is largely determined by the position we adopt in front of them.


  • Gaze:
    It’s no coincidence that we say that our eyes are the mirror to the soul! Our gaze sends out a lot of information; you just have to know how to decipher this information. Whether your eye contact is fixed or shifty, watch out, your gaze says it all!


Verbal and non-verbal communication play a very important role in different departments in companies.


How to communicate better with off-the-shelf training


Recruiters have understood that communication skills are essential both for recruitment and for internal training. Communication takes place on every level within the workplace. Both verbal and non-verbal communication should not be neglected in business relations, whether internal or external to the company. Self-control, well-being and self-confidence, empathy and negotiation skills - there is a wide range of hard and soft skills. In terms of verbal and non-verbal communication, Rise Up details for you all the skills you need to know to better master communication inside and outside the company.

Rise Up offers companies the opportunity to access a wide range of skills, abilities and knowledge through targeted and engaging online content. With Rise Up's range of off-the-shelf content, you have access to a comprehensive training catalogue.


Rise Up content: discover our off-the-shelf training offer