Emotions are an integral part of our everyday life. We show our feelings through them. We find them in everything we do and in communication. Showing emotions can be verbal and nonverbal.

Nonverbal communication is defined as the way people communicate without the use of words, either intentionally or unintentionally. Neverbal signs are a key part of our communication. Sometimes they are the most important part of our message. Understanding and successful use of nonverbal behaviour are crucial in every part of our everyday life. Non-verbal signs include facial expressions, tone of voice, gesture, body position or movement, touch and view. Charles Darwin believed that human expression of emotion was universal – that all people in the same way express and interpret emotions in facial expressions. Studies show that Darwin was right for six major emotional expressions: anger, happiness, surprise, fear, disgust, and sadness. Although the expressions of basic emotions are universal, the culture in which we live still influences the expression of emotions. In each culture there are specific rules for showing emotions that determine when and to whom it is appropriate to show different nonverbal behavior. Burping in Japan after meals is considered desirable as a praise of food and the expression of meal satisfaction, while in Croatia it is considered rude. Another important mean of expressing emotions is the voice. Although we primarily send a verbal message in the voice, it also serves as a means of nonverbal communication. A tone of voice, lowering or raising voice, accelerated or slow speech, emphasis on individual words, pauses, and the like are used to show emotions and attitudes. Holding the body is also a key indicator of the intensity of some emotional states, eg cloning posture associated with sorrow or stubborn posture associated with anger. Also spreading and narrowing our minds is sometimes an indicator of interest, attention or involvement. The gestures or movements of arms, heads, shoulders and the like are also an essential part of the non-verbal expression of feelings. So, for example, the thumb up indicates that we like something.

The basic function of verbal communication is to convey the message by words, while the nonverbal communicator transmits emotional states and attitudes. Nonverbal expression is of great importance in order to fully interpret the message we receive or send. Therefore, nonverbal communication is an inevitable part of the communication.

Dorotea Lukić,  Vladimir Prelog Science School, Zagreb, Croatia