Communication is a process by which two or more people exchange information, and there are many ways to exercise it. Among the range of possibilities are verbal and non-verbal communication.

In this article we will see the main differences between verbal and non-verbal communication , examine their characteristics, and give some examples of both.

What is verbal communication?

Verbal communication is all that occurs through linguistic dialogue between people ; that is, it requires the exchange of words through oral and aural means, which is in itself one of the main differences between verbal and non-verbal communication.

It does not matter if the conversation takes place in person or remotely, through some communication device. The indispensable characteristic of this mode of communication is that it is carried out by means of linguistic rules, therefore there must be speakers and interlocutors exchanging words with each other .

In this type of communication there are certain rules that must be followed in order for the process to be carried out in the best way, these rules are known as the rules of the good listener and the good speaker. Let’s review them.

1. Rules for Good Speakers (Speakers)

This is an outline of the principles of communication that a lover should follow.

  • Think carefully about what you are going to say .
  • Look carefully at the person you are talking to.
  • Pronounce the words properly.
  • Maintain an appropriate tone of voice .
  • Give the others a chance to talk.
  • Be nice and polite when you talk.

2. Rules of the good listener (interlocutor)

As for the receiver or partner rules, they are as follows.

  • Listen to the person who’s talking.
  • Look carefully at the person who is speaking.
  • Avoid interrupting the speaker .
  • Talk after the other person has finished his idea.

What is non-verbal communication?

Non-verbal communication focuses on everything related to the movements we make with our muscles when expressing the thoughts and emotions of the moment .

This type of communication can occur voluntarily or involuntarily. For example, while talking to a person, we might make a gesture of astonishment at the features on our face, due to the surprise caused by the content of the conversation.

On the other hand, it is also possible to make movements and modulate the voice to express ideas and emotions voluntarily .

Some of the communication rules of verbal communication also apply in this case, with the exception of the gaze, which in this case must be attentive to the gestures made by the issuer.

Specific differences between verbal and non-verbal communication

In the following lines we will see a summary of the differences between verbal and non-verbal communication.

1. Predominance

Under normal conditions, verbal communication is the first to be used. Considering that in the early stages of life we communicate through sounds, it is usually a mixture of crying and abrupt gestures, but the predominance is always in the sounds we make.

2. The channels used

As mentioned above, verbal communication requires that the information be directed through the words, which will be interpreted by the speaker, while non-verbal communication is purely bodily .

3. The level of consciousness

Another difference between verbal and non-verbal communication is that in the former the level of awareness and attention used is much higher than in the latter . The tendency is that we think more about what we are going to say than about the gestures we can make while we are talking.

4. emotionality

Non-verbal language generally transmits emotions that the subject does not intend to express; that is, through the language of our body the emotions find a form of direct expression, which does not always pass through the higher levels of consciousness and often escapes our control.

5. The level of inclusion

This point refers to the fact that verbal communication is more considered at all social levels. Currently in the educational centers the importance of non-verbal communication is not taught within the society, being relevant for many essential aspects in the daily life of people.

Some examples of contexts in which it is important to use non-verbal communication are: job interviews, presentations of projects to the public , etc.


By way of conclusion we can say that non-verbal communication, despite not being the most relevant within society, has a fundamental importance within it and should be taken more into account within the formation of individuals, from the young stages of development.

Bibliographic references:

  • Berlo, D.K. (1960). The process of communication. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
  • Olivar Zúñiga, A. (2006). Fundamentos teóricos de la comunicación.