During a confrontation or during the period leading up to a confrontation, communication plays a large part in whether the confrontation ends or is escalated. Facing an angry person is a harrowing experience. It would seen that the person is telling you everything you need to know about his or her intent in the words he or she is yelling. However, studies have shown that 65% to 95% of a message’s meaning is communicated through non-verbal clues.
There is relatively little agreement on where exactly the boundary between verbal and non-verbal communication may be drawn. Particularly, the importance of non-word utterances, such as a throat clearing noise, is highly debated. This article considers anything other than word utterances as non-verbal communication.
As with so many other cultural factors, non-verbal communication is subject to the interpretation of the non-verbal signs by the recipient of the message. Frequently, the interpretation and recognition of non-verbal messages is subconscious, and may therefore be extremely misleading in intercultural encounters.
Non-verbal communication may be roughly divided into two groups: active behavior that is consciously controlled and passive behavior that is unconsciously displayed.
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