Nonverbal Communication

Paul A. Soukup, SJ

 Paul A. Soukup, SJ / Culture / 4 February 2020

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Human communication inevitably and inseparably combines nonverbal and verbal elements. Most people intuitively understand this and, even if they take the processes for granted, they seldom have any difficulty communicating. However, the study of the nonverbal part of communication struggles with two problems of definition. People tend to define it negatively: either as “communication without words” or as “body language,” that is, communication performed by the body without grammar or vocabulary. A recent handbook settles for this definition: nonverbal communication “encompasses almost all of human communication except the spoken or written word . . . [W]e define [nonverbal communication] as ‘the transfer and exchange of messages in any and all modalities that do not involve words.’”[1]

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