Nonverbal communication is a type of communication that uses visual, auditory, tactile and olfactory channels, but not the spoken word. It includes body language, facial expressions, eye contact, touch and the use of space. Nonverbal communication takes place in approximately 93% of our daily interactions—that is more than half of all communication!
Moreover, nonverbal communication can be used to supplement or reinforce verbal communication. For example, if you tell a friend that you are going out to dinner on Friday night, but you do not make eye contact with him while speaking this sentence, he might think that you are lying. In this case nonverbal cues would be used to help support what was said verbally so there would be no misunderstanding between the two friends.
Nonverbal signals can be used to communicate emotions, feelings and attitudes during conversations. In this way, nonverbal communication allows us to share our feelings with others without using words.
It is important because it is often more reliable than verbal communication. Nonverbal cues can be extremely effective in conveying meaning. The tone of voice, the facial expression, or hand gestures can all communicate information that may be more accurate or truthful than words alone.
In addition to being more reliable, nonverbal communication can be used to supplement or reinforce verbal communication. A speaker may use nonverbal cues to emphasize a point in a speech or lecture, making it easier for listeners to understand what he or she wants them to know.