Difference between Verbal and Nonverbal Communication

By Jaxson

Verbal vs. Nonverbal Communication

Communication is a necessary act of socializing as it involves interacting with others and those around you. It involves conveying information and ideas. There are presently two types of communication in the general sense, verbal communication and nonverbal communication.

Verbal communication is the most ancient form of communication. It includes the use of sounds, words, voice tone, pitch and volume. It takes place mostly in face to face conversations but can also involve writing. Non verbal communication, on the other hand, involves the use of gestures, body language, use of senses such as touch and vision. It is a more latent form of communication but can be used more effectively than verbal communication.

Comparison Chart

Verbal CommunicationNonverbal Communication
DefinitionIt is the mode of communication in which words are used by the sender to convey ideas and information to the receiverIt is the mode of communication which involves the use of sign language and methods other than verbal, between two or more participants
TypesFormal and InformalVocalics, Haptics, Chronemics, Kinesics, Proxemics and Artifacts
Consumption of timeLimitedExtensive
Chances of miscommunicationLessMore
Possibility of  documentationYes. Verbal words can be written downMostly gestures and no documentation
AdvantageIt makes instant feedback possible and there is clarity in expressing thoughtHelps in understanding emotions, gestures and lifestyles more accurately
ModesThere are several modes through which it is possible such as letters, telephone, email etc.No elaborate mode of conversation
PresencePresence of participants not requiredPresence of participants required

Verbal Communication

In this type of communication, the sender uses words, either through spoken means or written, in order to communicate his thoughts to the receiver. It is the most effective and the most practiced mode of conversation, which results in immediate interchange of thought and feedback. The definite and clear usage of words leaves fewer chances of miscommunication between two parties. It allows the sending of a clear message and facilitates immediate enquiry in case of any obscurity.

Verbal communication transpires in two ways; a. Oral – This involves face-to-face conversation which can take place through a phone call, lectures and seminars etc. b. Written – This includes writing letters, emails, messages etc. Other than these there are two variations of communications that need to be considered as well:

  • Formal Conversation: This type of communication is used for mostly official purposes, hence is also known as official communication. In formal communication usually a pre defined medium, tone or format is followed in order to convey information.
  • Informal Communication: In this form of communication the sender of the message does not need to follow any pre defined format. Informal communication is most popularly known as Grapevine. It also does not require the use of any definite channel is of a more personal tone.

Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal Communication is a more complex form as it requires both parties to have a clear or similar understanding of the subject in question. This is important as the communication between parties is without the use of any words. Sign language and other methods are used in place of this type of communication. Based on the understanding of the receiver, upon receiving the message, feedback is then conveyed.

There are six primary types of nonverbal communication:

  • Chronemics: Focuses on judging the use of time in the communication between parties. It gives the impression of the personality of the sender or receiver in case of adeptness in speech, punctuality patterns etc
  • Vocalics: Also called paralanguage, the tonal difference in voice and pitch while the sender communicates with the receiver. The difference and variation sends out a different message.
  • Haptics: Involves the use of touch in communication feelings and emotions to a receiver.
  • Kinesics: It is the use of body language of a person for communicating thoughts, for example the use of gestures, postures and facial expressions etc.
  • Proxemics: The distance between people gives an impression regarding the relationship they share. Closeness could signify intimacy and attachment while distances could imply discomfort or even animosity.
  • Artifacts: The objects used for ornamentation of an individual’s appearance can send a clear message regarding their personality, status or preferences. For example, modern clothing, use of jewelry, lifestyles and habits etc.

Key Differences

  • Verbal communication involves the use of words, whereas as nonverbal communication involves the use of signs.
  • There are less chances of any miscommunication occurring during the use of verbal communication. In nonverbal communication there are more chances as there is no definite mode of language.
  • Verbal communication takes place in a faster pace and facilitates instant feedback. Whereas in nonverbal communication depend on the understanding of the parties and hence is slower.
  • It is not necessary for all parties to be present in verbal communication as it can be done through means like SMS, email and phone call. In nonverbal communication, all parties need to be present in order to perceive messages.
  • There is the chance of documentation in verbal communication, through written means, but no such chance in nonverbal communication.

Video Explanation

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