The Ways We Communicate

Communication is more than the words you use. It’s the tone of your voice, your body language, and the mediums you use to send your message. Each way you communicate conveys different levels of meaning, emotion, and urgency to your message.

However, you can’t just throw things together and hope they stick.  

Let’s start from the top. 

Verbal Communication

First and foremost, we communicate through sound. Language, laughter, screams, snorts, grunts, clicks, and sighs are a few ways we communicate through sound, and we often receive verbal/auditory communication better than any other sense. 

However, verbal communication is more than words and sounds. It’s also the words used, how you connect them in a sentence, your tone when relaying the message, and your non-verbal cues. 

Visual Communication

David Hewett, a communication expert, states, “Human beings communicate with incredible detail using language, but we are also probably more detailed visual communicators than other animals. In fact, the scientists who study these things will usually make the observation that human communication is visual communication first and foremost.

We often intertwine visual and auditory communication because we use them so often. Visual communication includes body language, facial expressions, eye contact, proximity to the speaker, and gestures. 

It can also include written communication (like this article), photographs, videos, drawings, and other visual-related content. 

Physical Communication

Handshakes, hugs, shoulder pats, slaps, punches, and kissing are all examples of physical communication, and you use these gestures to convey emotions and relay a message. 

However, the effectiveness of physical communication depends entirely on familiarity, culture, intention, and personal preference. 

For example, if someone doesn’t like hugs and you hug them anyway, expect a negative reaction. It doesn’t matter that you’re hugging them because you love them- if they’re uncomfortable with that form of physical communication, they will see it as a negative experience. 

Olfactory Communication

Your sense of smell is the sense that’s most connected to memories, and that’s because of the information the sense of smell acquires. Pheremones, perfume, body odor, or a person’s breath are all examples of olfactory communication because we use these smells to gather context clues about the speaker, their message, and the overall mood of the environment. 

Unfortunately, that also means YOUR smells communicate information to the people around you, so make sure they’re scents you don’t mind sharing. 

 Gustational Communication

Yes, you can communicate through taste, though it’s usually more abstract than the other forms. 

Figuratively, it can represent the taste of success when you correctly relay a message and see immediate results. Or, it could mean a taste of defeat when you walk away from an argument that you can’t win. 

Literally, you can use taste to convey happiness through a favorite meal or preferred drink, or you can show displeasure through over-salted food or burnt coffee. 

You can also use taste to receive information from the world around you. The taste of ozone or chemicals in the air may warn you to vacate the area, a bad aftertaste can warn you of spoiled food, or a change in taste can inform you of medical conditions. 

You can also lick things to assert dominance, but don’t try that unless you’re 1000% comfortable with the person and ready for their reactions. 

Communication is more than words and language.

It involves all your senses, and you use these senses to gather context clues about the person you’re communicating with, the message they’re trying to send, and how you can respond to it. 

So, next time you’re having a conversation, take notice of the other person and ask yourself questions like: 

  • What can you smell? 
  • How are they standing? 
  • Are they making eye contact?
  • Are they touching you in some way?
  • Do they seem happy, sad, or otherwise?
  • Are they leaning towards you or away?
  • Does their tone match their words?
  • Are they fidgety or calm?

Then, compile the information and see what new insights you can make about the person and their message. Remember, the more information you have, the better you can respond to the communication! 

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