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Paraverbal Communication

Paraverbal refers to how we say the words we say, for example do we seem happy, sad, angry, determined or forceful. Some researchers suggest it accounts for about 30% of what we communicate.

Tone of voice and the way in which we choose our words is important here. When we are angry, we tend to speak more rapidly and at a higher pitch. If we feel someone is attacking us, we tend to respond in short, curt, sentences. You can usually tell if a person is bored by a tendency towards a slow and monotone delivery.

However, the paraverbal can also be misread. Regional or culturally influenced accents can confuse our reading of tone. Some people tend to end their sentences on an upward note, others on a downward note, regardless of the mood they are in.

Click on the speech bubbles to see how the same sentence can have different meanings, depending on the tone, emphasis and facial expression.