How Does NVC Differ from Language?

IDevice Icon Comparing Language and NVC
Nonverbal communication skills are developed at a very young age. Young children know far more than they can verbalize and are generally more adept at reading nonverbal cues than adults are because of their limited verbal skills and their recent reliance on the nonverbal to communicate. As children develop verbal skills, nonverbal channels of communication do not cease to exist but rather they become entwined in the total communication process.

Humans continue to use Nonverbal Communication for lots of reasons, including:

  1. Words have limitations: There are numerous areas where nonverbal communication is more effective than verbal (describing the shape of something, or providing quick direction, for instance).
  2. Nonverbal messages are likely to be more genuine: because nonverbal behaviors cannot be controlled as easily as spoken words.
  3. Nonverbal signals can express feelings inappropriate to state: Social etiquette limits what can be said, but nonverbal cues can communicate thoughts.
  4. A separate communication channel is useful to help send complex messages: A speaker can add enormously to the complexity of the verbal message through simple nonverbal signals.

Basic Properties of Language and NVC

Listed below are some basic properties of language and non-verbal communication:

Some basic properties of language:
Propositionality Language contains propositions that can be proven false
Discreteness Words have discrete, agreed-upon meanings (e.g., dictionary definitions).
Displacement Language can refer to things removed in time and space.
Structure Language must adhere to grammatical rules.

Some basic properties of Nonverbal Communication (NVC):
Universality Some forms of NVC are common everywhere.
Simultaneity Several NV messages can occur at the same time.
Spontaneity NVC can occur mindlessly and automatically.
Iconicity NV signs may resemble the thing(s) they are referring to.


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