What Are the Six Different Categories of Types of Non-Verbal Communication?

There’s more to non-verbal communication than most people think

Most of us know just enough about non-verbal communication to be dangerous, and end up over-simplifying it. There’s a lot more to it than most lay people understand. There are actually six different kinds or categories of non-verbal communication. Some are most valuable for professional public speakers, while some are not valuable for “regular people”. Here’s the categories in brief. For more detail about each one, click here to go back to the non-verbal main page.


Paralanguage refers to what most of us would call “tone of voice” but it also includes

  • Vocal Quality
  • Vocal Modifiers
  • Vocal Identifiers
  • Voice Quality

Sign Language:

Sign language includes forms of oral speech where numbers, punctuation and words have been supplanted by gestures.

Gestures and Body Action:

Action Language includes all gestures, posture, facial expressions and movements that are NOT used exclusively as substitutes for words.

Object Language:

Object language refers to the display of material things — art objects, clothes, decoration of a room, physical appearance like hair styles and so on.

Tactile Communication:

Tactile communication is communication that occurs via touch.

Space and Time Communication:

This has to do with how space and time are used to communicate. The most common example here is the use of interpersonal space.

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