Non-verbal communication can take many forms depending on the situation, ability of communicators etc.
According to one estimate, there are more than 0.70 million forms of non-verbal communication. The most common forms of non-verbal communication are as follows.
1. Facial Expression
Face is an important communicator. It is commonly said that face is the index of mind. It expresses the type of emotions or feelings such as joy, love, interest, sorrow, anger, annoyance, confusion, enthusiasm, fear, hatred surprise, and uncertainty.
Facial expressions are indicated through mouth (open, wide or closed), eyelids (raised or lowered), nose (wrinkled or relaxed), cheeks (drawn up or back) and the forehead (lowered or raised).
Within the facial area, eyes are especially effective for indicating attention and interest. However, interpretations of facial expressions differ from culture to culture.
Gestures are movements of the arms, legs, hands, and head.7 Some authors opine that gesture is the deliberate body movement as because they express specific and intentional meaning.
a wave of the hand have a specific meaning-“hello” or “good-bye”; a forefinger and a thumb touching to form a circle have the meaning -“ok”..
Alike facial expressions, interpretations of some gestures also differ across cultures For example, in Europe, raising thumb is used to convey that someone has done something excellent while in Bangladesh the same gesture expresses “dam-care” to others threat.
3. Body Language
Body language is another widely recognized form of non-verbal communication. Body movements can convey meanings and message. Body language may take two forms unconscious movements and consciously controlled movements.
When a person is bored, he may gaze around the room rather than look at the speaker or he may shift positions frequently.
When a person is nervous, he may bite his nails or mash hair. These are usually made unconsciously. On the other hand, leaning forward toward the speaker to express interest is the case of conscious body movements.
4. Space and Distance
Space and distance are significant non-verbal tools in the case of organizational communication.
A spacious and well-decorated room indicates a person’s position in the organization hierarchy and external people gets a message about his importance and authority only by visiting his room.
Distance is another communication tool, which expresses degree of intimacy and individual acceptance.
Touch is a widely used form of non-verbal communication tool. By touching, one can express a wide range of emotions. However, the accepted modes of touch vary depending on the gender, age, relative status, intimacy and cultural background of the persons.
For example, in the context of our culture, when one touches you from the back in the examination hall, your understanding is that he wants to know something.
Silence is a powerful tool of communication. It may have positive or negative meaning.
In a classroom, silence indicates that students are listening carefully and attentively. In the same way, through silence one can communicate his lack of interest or a failure to understand.
For example, silence often indicates that a person receiving instruction does not understand the action required or sometimes silence indicates consent.
7. Personal Appearance
Appearance is also an important non-verbal communication tool. Appearance includes dress, hair, jewelry, makeup, belt buckles and so on.
Appearance indicates the degree of importance or interest a person conveys to an occasion. By means of uniform, we can identify a student, a doctor, a lawyer, a police officer etc.
In organization, one’s dress is keenly observed to see whether it conforms to accepted standards of appearance. As an example, workers may wear different cloths when they are on strike than they do when they are working.
8. Audio Communication
When communication is done by reaching sound to the listener’s ear, it is called audio communication. Horns of motor vehicles, sound of calling bells, alarm of clock, telephone ring etc. are the examples of audio communication.
9. Communication through Action
Sometimes performance is regarded as the way of communication. If someone follows the advice of a person, it proves he has become the follower of that person.
In organization, subordinates perform their assigned duties by following the instructions of their bosses. Their compliance with the instructions indicates that they are listening to their bosses.
10. Visual Communication
When communication occurs by means of any visual aids, it is known as visual communication.
Thus, communication that occurs through facial expression, personal appearance, gesture, posture, printed picture, sign, signal, symbol, map, poster, slide, chart, diagram, graph etc. is called visual communication.
For example, to indicate ‘danger’, we use red sign; to mean ‘dangerous’, we use a skull placed between two pieces of bone put in cross wise fashion; to indicate ‘no smoking’, we use an image showing a lighted cigarette with a cross mark on it.
11. Audio-Visual Communication
When communication occurs by using both audio and visual aids simultaneously it is called audio-visual communication. For example, enjoying drama and film in the television.
A symbol is something which represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning.
For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for “stop”.
On a map, a picture of a tent might represent a campsite. Numerals are symbols for numbers. Personal names are symbols representing individuals. A red rose symbolizes love and compassion.