What Percentage of Communication Is Nonverbal?

Dr Albert Mehrabian found that over 90% of communication is non-verbal through his 1971 research. Nonverbal communication makes up a huge chunk of the way we communicate with others.

This mode of communication is powerful and can be used to sway people’s opinions or feelings toward you, so it’s important to learn nonverbal communication techniques.

By training yourself to pick up on nonverbal signals, you’ll become much better at reading other people and communicating with them well. In this article, we’ll take a look at nonverbal communication and explore how you can improve on this.

What is nonverbal communication?

Nonverbal communication is a type of communication that doesn’t involve words. It includes body language, facial expressions, gestures, and more.  Nonverbal communication includes everything other than the words that we say. This can include body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and more.  It’s important to be aware of nonverbal cues in order to properly communicate with others, as they can sometimes speak louder than verbal messages.

Some nonverbal communication is universal. For example, people around the world smile to show happiness and frown to show sadness. Other nonverbal communication varies by culture. For example, a thumbs-up sign in the US means “okay” or “cool” whereas it is considered a rude gesture in Iran.

What Percentage of communication is nonverbal?

There have been multiple studies to determine the percentage of communication that is non-verbal, with different results. One of such is Dr Albert Mehrabian’s research on non-verbal communication which was published in the book “Silent Messages” in 1971. He concluded that only 7% of communication is verbal, and 93% is non-verbal. Of this 93%, 55% of the message is communicated by facial expressions and body language, and 38% by tone of voice. This means non-verbal cues form a much bigger part of how we communicate than words.

Nonverbal communication contributes to more than half of your message. Cues such as facial expressions, eye contact, and body language often carry more weight than the words you say. This can be problematic because nonverbal messages may not always match verbal messages; for example, a person might tell you they’re not angry, but their body language indicates that they are. It’s important to be aware of nonverbal signals so that you don’t misinterpret someone’s nonverbal cues; some nonverbal communication varies by culture, which can also cause some problems when communicating with people who aren’t from your culture.

Importance of Non-Verbal Communication.

There are many reasons why nonverbal communication is so important. For one, it can help us to express emotions and feelings that we cannot put into words. Additionally, nonverbal cues can help to clarify and support the messages we are trying to send verbally. Also, nonverbal signals can be particularly important in cross-cultural interactions, where certain gestures could be misinterpreted and misunderstood.

Nonverbal communication is a significant feature of interpersonal communication. It reflects how one feels about the person or situation they are communicating with. Interpersonal communication is an important part of everyday life, both in your personal and professional lives. The way you communicate with others plays a big role in how you are perceived.

This nonverbal information can send a stronger message than any verbal words that could be spoken. For example, if one is speaking with another and their  words reflect a certain level of anger, but their nonverbal cues reveal they are being non-truthful about the level of anger they have towards another person, then one can assume that nonverbal communication is more accurate than verbal communication in this context.

Tips to Improve non verbal communication

Here are some tips on how you can improve nonverbal communication:

1. Be aware

Pay attention to your body language and the body language of those around you, looking for subtle clues that might reveal what they’re thinking or feeling .

2. Make eye contact

Maintaining eye contact helps build rapport and show interest in others. 

3. Use open postures 

Postures such as sitting up straight or leaning forward slightly nonverbal signals such as folded arms and slouched shoulders can convey feelings of hostility.

4. Be aware of your surroundings

Non-verbal communication doesn’t happen in a vacuum; what’s going on around you influences nonverbal signals. If someone is shouting, or there’s loud music playing, this will affect how they communicate nonverbally.

5. Maintain an appropriate distance from the person  you are talking to

If you stand too close to a person, they may feel your nonverbal communication is threatening. If you stand too far away from a person, then they may feel as though you’re not interested in what they have to say.

6. Be aware of cultural differences: 

Nonverbal communication varies by culture, so it’s important to be aware that what may seem appropriate in your culture may be considered offensive in another.

7. Practice nonverbal communication

nonverbal communication is like a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it will become. This can be as simple as practicing your facial expressions in front of a mirror or using different body language when you talk to others.

8. Pay attention to non-verbal signs 

Nonverbal signals can sometimes speak louder than words. Looking for nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice can help you read others better.

Tips to Improve Non-Verbal Digital Communication

With the rise of communication via digital platforms, it is also important to understand the importance of non-verbal communication on calls, emails, and other online channels. Here are some tips to improve non-verbal digital communication:

1. Emoticons

Emoticons such as the smiley face 🙂 can help non-verbally communicate emotions and make your nonverbal communication clear.

2. Limit distractions

For video calls,  always make sure that the call is in a quiet place where communication will be optimal. Put down your phone, close your door and turn off the music. For phone calls, make sure to keep it short and sweet; don’t interrupt the other person, but instead, let them ask questions if they need more information.

3. Slang

Avoid using slang or other non-standard words and phrases because these nonverbal cues won’t be understood by non-native speakers

4. Post clear pictures

Using blurry or unclear pictures that don’t reveal much information about yourself may leave people wondering who you are and what you look like.


Nonverbal communication can play a big role in interpersonal communication. For example, nonverbal communication makes up more than half of the “message” that is being communicated.  It is also key when it comes to cross-cultural interactions where non-verbal cues will be even more significant due to different cultures having varying non-verbally derived non-content knowledge about communicating effectively with one another through non-verbal signals such as facial expressions, body language, gestures, and tone of voice.