Actions speak louder than words

A famous proverb reads “actions speak louder than words” but what exactly does that mean? The proverb is referring to nonverbal communication specifically. Research has proven that we are communicating more and more through nonverbal means.  However what even is nonverbal communication? Nonverbal communication is the act of conveying a thought, feeling, or idea through Gestures, Posture, facial expressions, and eye contact. An example of nonverbal communication dealing with gestures is waving, pointing, and using fingers to indicate numeric amounts. Gestures are commonly used in courtrooms by lawyers in order to sway juror opinions. Posture is also another common way we communicate nonverbally an example of this is  Arm/ leg crossing. Posture can indicate feelings and attitudes. Another way we communicate nonverbally is through facial expressions. So much information can be gathered about a person when looking at their facial expression. This is the first thing we notice about a person even before they speak. You can tell a persons mood by the look their face. For example if they are happy they will probably be smiling and if they are angry they will be frowning. The good thing about nonverbal communication through facial expression is throughout the world facial expression relatively mean the same thing.  Finally eye contact is another way that we communicate nonverbally. Examples of this include eye glazing over and rolling of the eyes. Everyone takes nonverbal communication in differently so that is what we need to be aware of when doing it.

We use nonverbal communication in conjunction with verbal communication to repeat, emphasize, support, or contradict the verbal message that was stated. One way it can be used to our advantage is complementing a verbal message by adding to its meaning.  Another way nonverbal communication can be used is to help people who are mentally or physically impaired.  Nonverbal communication specifically helps out deaf people through the movement of hands, fingers, eyes. Finally nonverbal communication can be used to our advantage by reducing wastage of time. Non verbal communication message can reach the receiver very fast.

While there are some advantages of nonverbal communication there are also some disadvantages. One disadvantage is nonverbal communication can sometimes be vague. Since no words are used which can clarify the meaning it can be difficult to figure out what someone meant by their non verbal communication. No dictionary can accurately describe someone means of non verbal communication. Another disadvantage is it is multi-channeled. For example if you are watching someones eyes you may miss a significant hand gesture, which may make it confusing  to try to keep up with everything.   Another disadvantage of Nonverbal communication is it is cultural bound. An example of this is thumbs up which means good job here in the United States, however in other culture this is seen as obscene gesture. Finally distortion of information is a disadvantage of Nonverbal communication. People commonly misinterpret peoples body language for example.

Nonverbal communication can be an excellent way to communicate with others if used correctly. However in order to be a more successful communicator we need both equal amounts of non verbal and verbal communication.

Closing the Age Gap

If I had a dollar every time my grandparents asked me how to use Facebook, fix their phone, or even how to send a text with a picture attached, I’d be rich. In today’s society of ever-evolving technology, the baby boomers seem to have a much steeper learning curve than the millennials.

The communication style between these two generations is drastically different for many reasons. One of which being that the technology that is available today is very different than the technology that was available in the 1970s/1980s. Many millennials have grown up communicating through texts and snapchats instead of through outdated letters and phone calls. Baby boomers would not be able to figure out snapchat and can barely figure out how to text. Most of them would much rather call if they need to talk or reach someone. Although these two styles of communication are much different, the same idea is behind each form of communication and the same goal is achieved, just in a different way.

Another big difference between baby boomers and millennials is cell phone usage. Today, it is becoming more and more acceptable to carry a conversation through text, while also carrying a conversation in person. If you have ever tried to even send just one text while talking to a baby boomer, you most likely received a dirty look, or a snarky remark about your phone. To them, the act of even just checking your phone while carrying a casual conversation can come across as extremely disrespectful.

Even though at times the communication styles between these two age groups seems to be drastically different, the one thing we all have in common is all generations have a need for human interaction. No matter the form.


Emma Sanders

Psychology Major at IUPUC