Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication Definition

People can exchange different types of information at various levels of understanding. Communication as the process of interaction is not limited to verbal or written messages and implies a wide range of possibilities for transmitting necessary data. Regarding intimate relationships, the level of communication has special features since there is an interrelation between those people who are well acquainted with each other and can afford not to use stereotyped patterns of behavior.

This proximity allows adjusting not only verbal forms of interaction, involving speech as the method of transmitting information and the means of influence, but also non-verbal techniques (facial expressions, gestures, and other mechanisms). The peculiarity of a non-verbal language is that its manifestation is due to the impulses of people’s subconscious ideas, and an inability to fake these impulses contributes to trusting this language. Therefore, in the context of intimate relationships, this form of interaction is no less valuable than verbal contacts. This work is aimed at identifying the features of verbal and non-verbal forms of communication, the importance of both types of interaction, and their manifestations in various situations.

Features of Verbal Communication

Verbal communication is the most studied type of human communication since it is the universal way of transmitting thoughts. According to Miller (2017), the speech side of the interaction has a complex structure and acts in various stylistic variations, which allows conveying certain ideas as accurately as possible. Despite the context of the situation or the nature of a problem, the verbal method of transmitting information makes it possible to present all the facts in the interpretation that seems appropriate to a person. Words as the units of interaction among close people can be effective tools due to the variety of forms of emotional expressions.

As Grebelsky-Lichtman (2016) notes, “interpersonal communication contexts exist in which verbal communication dominates” (p. 640). In particular, the discussion of everyday and routine events is hard to imagine without speech as one of the main tools of interaction. Intimate relationships in which people actively support this form of information exchange, as a rule, differ in trust and stability since any questions and issues can be discussed openly.

Types of Verbal Communication

An outwardly directed speech is one of the types of verbal communication, which, in turn, is divided into written and oral. Internally directed speech means preparing for a particular conversation or writing. Also, Remland (2016) considers dactyl interaction the form of verbal communication. It includes a manual alphabet, which is a substitute for oral speech and is used for the interaction of deaf or blind people and those who are familiar with fingerprinting. Despite the non-verbal background of such a contact, the absence of any other possible form of communication among people with disabilities leads to the inclusion of such interaction in the category of verbal.

Feedback affects the accuracy of people’s understanding, perceiving information, and the meaning of speakers’ statements. It is established only if a communicator and a recipient exchange data. The task of a recipient is to make a communicator understand how he or she perceives the meaning of the information with the help of specific statements. It follows that a dialogue speech is the consistent change of the roles of communicative interaction during conversations, and in its process, the meaning of speech statements is revealed. A monologue speech, on the contrary, can last long enough without interrupting the replicas of other conversations. It requires preparation from speakers and serves as giving signals to others.

Also, as Remland (2016) argues, verbal communication is divided into business and interpersonal interaction. The first type is performed among several individuals, and its result is the emergence of psychological contact and certain relationships. Verbal business communication is the complex multilateral process of developing interaction among people in their professional sphere. Since the purpose of this work is to analyze intimate relationships and peculiarities of information exchange in these conditions, a business form will not be discussed further.

Main Peculiarities of Verbal Communication

Verbal interaction as an indispensable condition of communication involves the acquisition of language. Due to its potential, it is much richer than all types of non-verbal contacts, although it cannot replace it entirely. According to Grebelsky-Lichtman (2016), close people may resort to different stylistic variations, but the most typical form is a spoken language.

The successful or unsuccessful implementation of a communicative act is facilitated by all speech components or other characteristics. From a wide range of various tools of speech interaction, a person selects such mechanisms that seem the most appropriate for the formulation and expression of personal thoughts in a particular situation. Reblin et al. (2018) call this phenomenon a socially significant choice. Such a process is endless in its diversity and implies constant experience exchange.

The effectiveness and efficiency of verbal interaction are largely due to the level of communicators’ oratory skills and personal qualitative characteristics. As Remland (2016) argues, today, the competent knowledge of speech is considered the most important component of an individual’s professional realization. Moreover, with the help of speech, not only the movement of messages but also the interaction of people is performed.

Intimate relationships suggest the influence of interlocutors on each other, their orientation, and moods. In other words, a certain behavior transformation is successfully achieved. Although speech is a universal tool for communicative interaction, it acquires meaning only when it is included in an activity. Verbal contact should be complemented by the use of non-speech sign systems for the effectiveness of interaction. The communicative process will be incomplete if particular non-verbal means are ignored.

Features of Non-Verbal Communication

People’s non-verbal communication is the feature of transmitting all types of information or the possibility of influencing the environment without using speech mechanisms. Miller (2017) considers this form of interaction and notes that regardless of the style of communication, using the characteristic features of such a contact is typical for almost any situation. The main tools used in non-verbal communication are gestures, facial expressions, head turns, and other movements that can help explain certain emotions and states.

Over the years, people have exchanged similar signs of interaction, and today, some gestures may be perceived equally by the representatives of different ethnic groups. For instance, nodding, as a rule, indicates agreement, and waving a hand means a farewell or a greeting. These and many other actions reflect the peculiarities of non-verbal communication that do not imply any linguistic elements but also bears the function of interpersonal contact. Accordingly, not pronounced information but the manner of its presentation is fundamental in the communication of humanity.

Peculiarities of Non-Verbal Communication

Close people can learn much about each other by the way they speak, the gestures that they use, their facial expressions, and other factors that are not expressed through speech but convey a certain behavior. Elder (2018) studies the characteristics of such contacts and their influence on intimate relationships and argues that today, one of the most common forms is the use of mobile technology when voice messages are not needed.

According to the author, the modern means of remote communication are the reflection of the evolution of non-verbal communication (Elder, 2018). For example, emojis in social networks is cited as a way of conveying people’s moods and messages.

In order to convey specific feelings, close people do not always need to use speech because regular interaction involves getting used to each other and, as a result, recognizing any gestures and mimic changes. Grebelsky-Lichtman (2016) notes that today, this type of interaction is more common and important in the context of interpersonal communication. Despite the value of a language as the means of conveying information, specific behavioral traits can say more about a person than his or her vocabulary.

Miller (2017) remarks that intimate relationships at the closest stage of interaction may suggest the complete absence of the need for dialogues. Moreover, the aspect of individuality also plays a significant role. In case a person has the characteristic features of behavior, for instance, gestures or facial expressions, it may say more about him or her than particular words. According to Remland (2016), it is more difficult to hide unconscious emotions expressed in a non-verbal form than to lie or cheat. Therefore, the features of such communication make it no less valuable in the context of intimate relationships.

Typical Manifestations of Non-Verbal Communication in Intimate Relationships

Non-verbal communication can become a common point of view and influence the process and result of communication with an interlocutor. Social sciences pay much attention to the study of this behavioral aspect since specific information can be extracted from the analysis of certain emotions. Brown and Winter (2019) provide a detailed description of facial expressions as the most relevant means of communication among people since this manifestation of behavioral motives, for the most part, acts on a subconscious level.

The success and proximity of relationships can be judged by mimic manifestations. The emotions and feelings experienced by a person at the moment of communication are reflected on his face, to this or that degree. It happens by relaxing or contracting the muscles of the face, which are often called facial structures. The distinctive feature of these expressions is their complexity and plasticity.

In addition to facial expressions, many other ways of non-verbal communication exist. Human gestures make it possible to not only track a particular reaction but also to receive a specific message. Also, despite the fact that speech refers to verbal interaction, the characteristics of voice, for instance, its timbre or pitch, can say much about a person and his or her mood. Dewaele (2018) notes “the strategic use of silence” as the way of transmitting anger utilized by one of his research participants (p. 50). These and other techniques for the implementation of non-verbal communication are used actively in intimate relationships when interlocutors know each other’s habits and the typical manifestations of certain emotions.

Using Both Means of Communication

The features of non-verbal communication and verbal interaction consist of using various tools for accepting and analyzing incoming data in the course of interpersonal contacts. For the perception of information transmitted by words, people use intelligence and logic, and they often resort to intuition to understand the specifics of non-verbal communication. According to Remland (2016), at every stage of interaction, obstacles arise, which hinder its effectiveness.

In the course of interaction, the illusory nature of mutual understanding between partners in intimate relationships often arises. Such an illusion is due to the fact that individuals use the same words in order to designate completely different things.

Also, data loss and corruption may occur at all stages of communication. The level of such losses is determined by various factors. Among these aspects, Elder (2018) cites the general imperfection of the human language system and the impossibility of accurately and completely transforming thoughts into verbal structures. Grebelsky-Lichtman (2016) mentions personal attitudes and aspirations (what is perceived as real), the literacy of the interlocutors, their vocabulary, and some other criteria that affect misunderstanding and the wrong interpretation. In order to avoid these problems, it is important to listen to each other and to strive for the adequate recognition of both the verbal and non-verbal components of interpersonal interaction in intimate relationships.


The unique features of verbal and non-verbal communication and the special ways of their use in interpersonal interaction largely determine the nature of intimate relationships. Each of the two categories is distinguished by the peculiarities that manifest themselves in the process of people’s contacts and serve as the means of transmitting information and reflecting emotions. The combination of both types makes it possible to maintain a qualitatively high level of communication and create a favorable environment for people.


Brown, L., & Winter, B. (2019). Multimodal indexicality in Korean: “Doing deference” and “performing intimacy” through nonverbal behavior. Journal of Politeness Research, 15(1), 25-54. Web.

Dewaele, J. M. (2018). Pragmatic challenges in the communication of emotions in intercultural couples. Intercultural Pragmatics, 15(1), 29-55. Web.

Elder, A. M. (2018). What words can’t say: Emoji and other non-verbal elements of technologically-mediated communication. Journal of Information, Communication, and Ethics in Society, 16(1), 2-15. Web.

Grebelsky-Lichtman, T. (2016). Verbal versus nonverbal primacy: Children’s response to parental incongruent communication. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 34(5), 636-661. Web.

Miller, R. S. (2017). Intimate relationships (8th ed.). Ney York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Reblin, M., Heyman, R. E., Ellington, L., Baucom, B. R., Georgiou, P. G., & Vadaparampil, S. T. (2018). Everyday couples’ communication research: Overcoming methodological barriers with technology. Patient Education and Counseling, 101(3), 551-556. Web.

Remland, M. S. (2016). Nonverbal communication in everyday life (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.