Nonverbal communication is the transfer of information through the use of body language including eye contact, facial expressions, gestures and more. For example, smiling when you meet someone conveys friendliness, acceptance and openness. Everyone uses nonverbal communication all the time whether they know it or not. Nonverbal communication is dependent on seeing and analyzing physical movements as opposed to verbal communication, or the use of language to transfer information through written text, speaking or sign language.
When interacting with one another, our nonverbal behavior(s) may or may not coordinate with what we are saying. In different cases, our nonverbal behaviors may have specific or generalized meanings and may emphasize, contradict, aid in the interpretation of, or have little relation to our verbal statements.
Nonverbal communication plays an important role in how we convey meaning and information to others, as well as how we interpret the actions of those around us. The important thing to remember when looking at such nonverbal behaviors is to consider the actions in groups. What a person actually says along with his or her expressions, appearance, and tone of voice might tell you a great deal about what that person is really trying to say. Dr. Ekman discovered how nonverbal behaviors can provide clues to conscious suppression or unconscious repression of our feelings. Therefore, becoming aware of what we and others are communicating through these nonverbal channels opens up greater understanding of both emotions and deception.