Communication is a medium through which humans and other animals interact with each other. It is a way of expressing one's emotions, ideas, and feelings to others. Communication can be of two types, verbal and non-verbal communication. Verbal communication is the one that happens through the use of words while speaking or writing. Non-verbal communication on the other hand does not include the use of words instead gestures, postures, and signs are used for communicating. However, words alone are not enough to convey information, and the tone of speaking, volume, and pitch are also required to understand the true meaning of the words and the true feelings intended behind those words. This is paralanguage, an aspect of communication.
Non-Verbal Communication vs. Para Language
Non-verbal communication means communicating without using any words. Verbal means words, so non-verbal means there is no use of words. This is a type of communication through which one exchanges information with the other. Para Language on the other hand is not a type of communication or language but is an aspect of communication. Words are not enough to convey information, in the true sense, as in the true intention of that information. So, the tone of speaking, the body language, and the loudness or softness of speaking are also essential for the receiver of the information to grasp the exact meaning of the information or the communication. This is called para language.
Difference Between Non-Verbal Communication and Para Language in Tabular Form
|Parameters of Comparison||Non-Verbal Communication||Para Language|
|Meaning||It is a method of communication that does not use words.||It is an aspect of communication that defines the true intention of the speaker and the true meaning of the information.|
|Body Parts||Non-verbal communication requires the entire body for communication because it consists of using gestures, and body postures.||Para Language depends more on the way of speaking, modulating the voice.|
|Extent of Relevance||It consists of many moods so it is much easier to grasp.||Its relevance lies in its significance in how it helps to understand the true meaning of a word.|
|Expressing Medium||It requires giving expressions and physical actions to communicate.||Speaking is a must here because the entire thing depends on voice modulation.|
|Difference in Cultures||Non-verbal communication varies across cultures and one sign or gesture can mean one thing at one place and another at other places.||Para language has a universality and means the same in all cultures because it is modulating the voice while speaking.|
What is Non-Verbal Communication?
Communication is a medium through which a person can express his feelings and emotions to another person. Communication can be of two types namely verbal and non-verbal communication. Verbal communication is the one where words are involved, whereas non-verbal communication is done without using any words. The information is exchanged between the sender and the receiver but no words are used in it, instead gestures, body postures, eye movements, signs, and many such things are used. This is not only limited to humans and this method of communication can also be seen among animals communicating with other animals or with humans, like spreading awareness when they are in danger, signals are used.
Charles Darwin wrote a book in the late 19th century about the various methods of non-verbal communication which was named, ‘The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals’. Here, he has researched and analyzed how non-verbal means of communication is used by various animals like tigers, dogs, and lions in the form of facial expression and body movements, and from this non-verbal communication became famous among the general public. It is a fact that a considerable part of everyday communication is non-verbal communication. Moreover, research says that non-verbal communication is used four times more than verbal communication or communicating with words. 80% of communication involves communicating with the help of gestures, postures, and eye contact, and communicating with the help of words is only 20% which proves it all. Three points need to be considered while judging non-verbal communication, which are:
- Considering the conditions of the surrounding area where the particular conversation takes place.
- Secondly, the physical situation of the person communicating needs to be considered
- Lastly, the communicator's behavior needs to be observed.
- This is very significant not only for non-verbal communication but for any form of communication including verbal communication. Body language and expressions are more important to convey the true meaning of any communication. Non-verbal communication is also helpful because when a person does not understand the language of another person of another culture then, non-verbal gestures like body movements, and expressions are very helpful.
Types of Non-Verbal Communication
The vast field of research on Non-verbal communication began with the publication of Charles Darwin’s book on Non-verbal communication. There are several types of Non-verbal communication as identified by researchers, and some of them are: -
- Body Posture and Movements
- Facial Expression
- Eye Gazes
Gestures are various signs and signals that are a very significant form of non-verbal communication when words are not required. There are some gestures or signs that are universal such as pointing at someone or something to mean something, waving to call someone or say goodbye, and the thumbs-up sign are used all over the world. But other gestures vary across cultures and can mean something good in one culture whereas in another culture, it can mean an insult. Gestures are a very influential method of non-verbal communication. In a courtroom, limitations are placed regarding the kind of gestures that can be used there.
Body Postures and Movements
Body Postures and movements are also significant forms of communication when it comes to non-verbal communication. Body postures can reveal significant bits of information about a person which does not get revealed in normal communication with that person. There are several body postures such as sitting while crossing the legs, sitting fully straight, or a simple head nod. But these postures are very indirect and subtle and their meanings are also very difficult to comprehend. So, everybody does not understand the meanings of several body postures that are capable of communicating very important messages.
Facial Expressions can be considered as the most important aspect of any communication, not only non-verbal but also verbal communication because it is the first thing that a person observes while communicating with another person. Non-verbal communication can vary across cultures and regions but some facial expressions like when a person is angry, sad, happy, or frightened are universal and are the same across all cultures. These expressions can convey a lot about a particular person.
Eyes play an important role in indicating a variety of emotions. Staring at a person or simply looking, and blinking are also significant hints of non-verbal communication. The eyes help in indicating whether a person is interested in something or not. They also indicate a person's nature as in if he is an approachable or hostile person. Eye gazes also hint at whether a person is nervous or whether a person is honest and trustworthy. If a person is unable to make eye contact and is shifting his eyes then he is not being honest.
What is Para language?
Communication through words or without words is not enough to understand the true meaning of a conversation. So, to understand the true intention of a person behind his words, vocal modulation is also a significant factor to be considered. This is called Para Language, a part of Meta-communication. It is an aspect of communication that includes voice techniques like the tone of a person, the pitch, and the loudness of volume. It is considered a sub-part of non-verbal communication and can be expressed either consciously or unconsciously. Communication through words is not enough and para language is a must to recognise the true meaning of a communication.
It is like when a person apologizes for something, his tone of speaking will help to identify whether he is actually sorry or whether his sorry does not mean anything, if he says it in a careless and unbothered tone, then it does not mean anything. When a person is nervous, he will say broken sentences. So, para language helps to understand the true intention of a person. Paralinguistics is the name given to the study of para language. Para Language helps a person become a good speaker because listeners also take note of what a speaker says. So, speakers involved in giving a presentation or publicly speaking need to keep in mind the points of para language and carefully deliver their speech. So, studying para language proves to be very beneficial. Para Language is the how part of saying something and not the what part of saying something. It is how the speech or message is delivered. It is more meaningful than the actual words said. Para Language does not consist of any words and it is not any language. It just comes in a conversation and the receiver has to identify its traits.
Types of Para Language
There are several types of Para Language according to research. Some of them are: -
- Speed of Speaking
Voice is the most basic clue that a receiver can grasp during a conversation. It helps to reveal the true intention of the speaker as in the tone of a speaker's voice. The speaker can have a sweet and pleasant voice or a loud voice which helps in making the speaker's message clearer like what he intended even if his words say something else. It also reveals a person's background and level of education along with his current mood.
Speed of Speaking
The speaking speed is also an important type of para language. The speed of speaking varies in different situations and the easy parts of the conversation are conveyed at a brisk pace by the speaker while the speaker slowly conveys the hard part of the conversation. Whenever a person is nervous there is a break in his speaking speed and he pauses for a time. So, the speed of speaking fluctuates which also helps the receiver to understand a particular situation and the nature of the speaker.
Pitch is the extent of how high or low a voice is. It is significant in pointing out the current mood of the speaker like when a person is excited, he will speak in a high-pitched voice. Moreover, when somebody is serious, the pitch of the voice is low. A high-pitched voice can also mean a command like the one given by a boss to an employee. When the pitch is normal, unchanging, it means a normal conversation, with no excitement or seriousness and it may also sound boring for the receivers.
Major Differences Between Non-Verbal Communication and Para Language (In Points)
- Non-verbal communication is a type of communication method where words are not used. It uses only gestures, facial expressions, body movements, and postures to convey particular information. Para Language on the other hand is not any type of language, nor is it a type of communication. It is an aspect of communication and is essential in communication as words are not enough for the receiver to understand the full meaning of something because of which para language is needed. It consists of voice modulation and changes in tones.
- Non-verbal communication takes up the entire body to communicate because it includes making gestures and body postures and producing facial expressions to communicate. Waving hands to convey something or pointing at someone or something are examples of non-verbal communication. Para Language, however, involves everything done with the voice. It is checking voice modulation which helps to understand the true nature of a speaker. Things like the tone of a speaker, pitch, loudness, or softness of his voice are all traits of para language. It is based on how a message is communicated and not what is communicated. The behavior is most important here.
- Non-verbal communication can vary across cultures because one sign may mean one thing in one place and may mean an insult in another place. However, some facial expressions mean the same in all regions and there is no difference. This is why it is important to learn the non-verbal communication techniques of different cultures to converse without any trouble. Para Language is however involved with how a message is delivered. It helps in making the true intention of the speaker or the true meaning of his words clear. Voice modulation techniques like the tone of a person speaking, the volume of speaking, and the pitch are important para-language indicators. They do not change across cultures and remain the same. They are universal such as the tone of an angry person will remain the same across all regions. It will be in loud volume and will have a high pitch. Similarly, excitement includes speaking in loud volume. This proves para language to be a more relevant and efficient medium of understanding a conversation because words are never enough to understand the true emotion of a person which is why para language is necessary. Without para language communication means nothing.
Hence, Non-Verbal Communication refers to a type of communication that does not involve the use of words, instead, communication is done through gestures, expressions, and body postures. Non-verbal communication covers a significant portion of daily communication. Para language on the other hand is not any type of communication, nor it is any language but it can be called as an aspect of communication. Conveying the information is not the only essential thing but how the information is conveyed should also be considered which is why para language is important. It helps to identify the true meaning of a particular piece of information.