the role of verbal and nonverbal communications in interpersonal interactions

The Role of Verbal and Nonverbal Communications

in Interpersonal Interactions


It is a well-known fact that to be a member of society means being concerned with everyday human relations, emotions and interpersonal skills. Actually, human interactions refer to everyday activities involving, for example, exchanges of relevant information, ideas, and interesting thoughts. Furthermore, interpersonal interactions involve communication of emotions, feelings among not only individuals, but also among groups. Every person has a need to form relations with other people to meet his communicative needs. (Axley 1996)

It is necessary to mention that interpersonal interaction suggest constant self-development, enhancement and application of possessed skills. Apparently, communication process affects human morale, quality of life and work, professional activities providing positive impact on productivity. Therefore, effective communication plays crucial role in human relations and interpersonal skills. The objectives of the paper are to define the role of verbal and, especially, nonverbal communication in interpersonal interactions and to provide explanation how both types of communications affect human behavior and perception. The paper aims at providing detailed overview of communication constituents, barriers and skills and assessing their role in interpersonal communication process. (DeVito 1995)


Effective verbal communication is playing nowadays one of the most important roles in organizations and companies, because it is the only source of mutual understanding among employees and customers, directors and suppliers, etc. Verbal communication arouses great interest compared with that of several decades ago. It means that the future success of a person mainly depends on his ability to use language and to communicate effectively not only within organization/company, but also across cultural boundaries. Nevertheless learning how to communicate effective isn’t limited only to one organization, because, for example, learning cross-cultural communication suggests how cultural traditions and patterns are understood and how cultural values may affect the process of communication. (Hargie 2003)

Recent researches prove that verbal communication affects emotional, physical and cognitive state of a person playing significant role in interactions. For example, verbal communication is able to make people fight, express joy and anger or can cause apathy. Actually, communication defines the objectives and directions of interactions and shapes desired outcomes. Verbal communication possess such qualities as being dynamic and irreversible (words once spoken you can never recall). Moreover, verbal communication is really dependable from cultural background, on human ethics and is based on competence as well as is transformed and changeable.  (DeVito 1995)

Learning effective verbal communication is nowadays necessity; it is not only an option. Lots of spheres are influenced by communication involving, for example, health care providers, businesses, educational institutions, social service agencies and non-governmental organizations. Modern world recognizes and appreciates the role of language that is played in developing communication beyond cultural boundaries. Studying of effective communication will help to achieve goals within and outside the native country. (Gamble 2004)

Understanding how to communicate effectively will help to promote creating smoothly working project teams; responding to customers, clients, and markets; living and working in a culturally diverse world. Effective communication skills are really important as well as learning of cultural customs and traditions of the country, because they will assist in better company’s performance either in domestic or international market. In a modern swiftly changing world people and cultures are circulating and interacting as at a really dizzying speed. Those people who know how to use language and how to communicate effectively have a crucial advantage over others. As it was mentioned, “communication is the greatest luxury given to people”. (Axley 1996)

Communication provides new relationships and friendship, good and warm attitude of parents and relatives. There is no doubt that close relations are created not by mutual influence or efficiency, but by communication skills of each person. Therefore, the role of verbal communication is important and, certainly, crucial, because it is verbal communication that helps to overcome the following communication barriers:

1.      Fear is the most spread reason of communicative failure. It is even called “silent killer” of relations. People always withhold their sincere thoughts and feelings, because they are afraid to be refused and rejected. Fear very often breaks down the process of communication and creates obstacles and barriers to problem solving.

2.      Running away means that if there is problem with communication most people prefer to avoid this situation rather than to overcome it. And the best way for them is to find excuse for running away. (Smith 2002)

3.      Desire not to be wrong means that people want to be up to the mark and they don’t want to be considered weak and incapable. The desire to be always right can lead to a gap between communicators. It is necessary to stop in order to improve communication. (Smith 2002)

4.      Not listening. Many people try to listen, but they don’t understand the matter. The main reason of it is the fact that they perceive information from their own point of view which doesn’t always coincide with thoughts of other people. Therefore it is necessary to patient to other people and not to hurry up.

5.      “Beliefs and social conditioning that do not serve us”. It is a matter of fact that social conditions create communication problems in different ways. People may communicate with somebody only not to hurt his feelings. (Smith 2002)

Continuing to define the role of verbal communication it is necessary to admit that communication helps people to discover who they are, to establish meaningful relations with other individuals and groups, to examine or to change attitudes and behaviors, etc. Key function of communication is self-other understanding meaning to penetrate into inside world of yourself and others. It is suggested that when a person gets to know another one, he gets to know himself and when he gets to know himself he learns is able to learn how other affect him. Furthermore, communication promotes self-awareness and offers opportunity of self-other discovery. Communication allows people to learn why they are trusting or untrusting, whether they can make their ideas and thoughts clear, whether they can make decision effectively and solve problems or conflicts.  (DeVito 1995)

Apparently, verbal communication is inevitable and essential part of every person, because, according to psychologists, people need other people as they need food and water. When people are cut off from human interactions, they are disoriented and their lives may be placed in jeopardy. Further, people being isolated from communication feel serious lack of social relationships and they are more likely to experience health problems. What is more awful, isolated people die earlier than people having abundant satisfying relations. Therefore, communication helps people to satisfy “needs for inclusion, control and affection” meaning need to be with others, to feel responsibility and to express and receive love. (Hargie 2003)

So, communication plays important role in personal relation and people don’t feel unwanted or unloved. Communication allows revealing to other people what is important for both sides of communication process. It is important to admit that communication gives people chance to share their personal reality with people from other cultures. During communication process people have ample opportunities to use the power of persuasion and influence over others. People spend much time making attempt to persuade people other to think, to act and to behave the same way.  (DeVito 1995)

Concepts of social behavior are the most important in communication, because what is considered polite in one country may be considered rude in another one. For example, in some countries it is acceptable to make small gifts to partner’s wife, whereas in Germany presenting a woman a red is rose is associated with a romantic invitation and thus is inappropriate for establishing business relations. Therefore, the role of communication is very important for human interactions, because it is the core of future success. Failure to communicate effectively with foreign partners will inevitably lead to failure of business.


Nonverbal communication is of great importance for communication process. Nonverbal communication involves tone of voice, intonation, speech volume, talk speed, gestures, smile, look, etc. An excellent example of nonverbal communication is the cue uttered by Sherlock Holmes: “By a man’s finger-nails, by his coat-sleeve, by his boot, by his trouser-knees, by the callosities of his forefinger and thumb, by his expression, by his shirt-cuffs-by each of these things a man’s calling is plainly revealed”. (Hargie 2003) The first and the most important role of nonverbal communication is to express implicit meaning of what has been meant. Nonverbal communication is crucial in human interaction as it shapes provides subconscious attitudes and relations towards another people. The purposes of nonverbal communication: (DeVito 1995)

Message complementation (complements and reinforces verbal communication)
Message contradiction (words spoken are positive and nonverbal signal are negative or visa verse)
Replace verbal communication
Message intensification (it provides message with additional emotions)
Message regulation (it regulates and modulates conversational turn).
It is necessary to underline the role of body language in human interactions. Body language is known to be a widely-used term for communication when using gestures and other body movements instead of sounds and other verbal language. Body language belongs to the category of paralanguage which involves even the most subtle movements such as winking and movements of eyebrows. People mostly are not aware that such signs are full of sense. Body language is very important in group communications. In such situations only one person may speak and all other persons will emit the body language drowning out the message being sent. Body language is subconscious and subtle mean of communication among individuals. (DeVito 1995)

Body languages tell something about the relations between people. Body language is considered more important than spoken words. In order to make clearer the meanings of the words people often use body language in order to intensify the impression. Body language is used all time, for example when looking at someone in his/hers eyes. It is a matter of fact that body language occurs on the subconscious level. It decides to a large extent the quality of people’s communication. It is possible to learn how to use body language for purpose, because it will significantly improve the process of cultural and intercultural communication.

But it is important to note that body language has different meanings in different cultures and it may be difficult to understand and to interpret body gestures. Gestures’ interpretation depends on the culture, situation and the relationships among people as well as their gender. It means that “there is not one signal that has the same meaning all over the world”. If person doesn’t understand this he may get into serious trouble. Also various body signs may complement each other and in such a way to make the meaning clearer. Some groups have even developed the specific body language which is explicit and can be used for communication purposes (e.g. prisoners, homosexuals, etc.). (DeVito 1995)

Nonverbal communication gives the ability to convey relational message, status, power and deception. According to DeVito, “the role of signing and gestures in learning garnered attention when it was reported that infants and toddlers who learn to use and read gestures may learn to read faster and do better on future IQ tests than children who do not”. Facial expression allows communicating emotions and, to analyze the feelings and, certainly, analyze sentiments of other people. Facial expression, reinforce the message communicate through dialogue. (DeVito 1995)

As it was mentioned different cultures may use different body gestures to say the same thing. And it is known that gesture in one country may have the opposite meaning in other. Such intercultural differences can cause misunderstanding and they make communication more difficult. It is known that in Bulgaria people used to nod their heads up and down in order to signify the discontent saying “No”. They shake their heads from side to side in order to signify the consent saying “Yes”. Other cultures find such gestures odd and think they bring confusion in the communication process. Such differences lead to a great number of misunderstandings among cultures. (DeVito 1995)


Summing up the material provided it is necessary to admit that that both verbal and nonverbal communication are the cores of success and key elements in running business. Verbal communication play important role in setting friendly contacts with partners, employees and simply friends, whereas nonverbal communication is important when it is necessary to send implicit message. Nowadays, the world is swiftly changing, new technologies are being implemented. Thus, communication is a necessary link between individuals aiming at providing friendly environment. Communication gives people an opportunity to express their emotions, feelings as well as thoughts and ideas. As it is said “communication is the greatest luxury given to people”. (Axley 1996)


Axley, Stephen. (1996). Communication at Work: Management and the Communication-Intensive Organization. Westport, CT: Quorum Books.

DeVito, J. (1995). The Interpersonal Communication Book. New York: Harper Collins.

Gamble, Teri Kwal & Gamble, Michel W. (2004). Communication Works. Australia: McGraw-Hill College.

Hargie, Owen. (2003). Skilled Interpersonal Communication: Research, Theory, and Practice. London: Routledge.

Smith, Hilary. (2002, December 8). When Communication Breaks Down. Retrieved January 13, 2007, from


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