Verbal Associates

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  • Our communication extends far beyond the words we say. It's laced with subtle vocal cues that paint a richer picture of our message — this is the realm of verbal associates.

Kinds of Verbal Associates

Verbal associates are audible signals that, while not technically classified as body language or nonverbal communication, play a crucial role in conveying meaning beyond spoken words. These elements add richness and depth to our speech, often expressing emotions, attitudes, and intentions that words alone cannot fully capture.

Verbal associates differ significantly from the spoken words themselves, each contributing unique layers of meaning. Unlike body language, verbal associates are entirely audible. They encompass the vocal variations that accompany our speech, influencing how our message is perceived. According to Chapman (2010), some notable examples of verbal associates include:

  1. Pitch: The constant musical note of the voice, which can convey different emotional states and nuances.
  2. Pace: The speed or rate of talking. A faster pace might indicate excitement or urgency, while a slower pace can suggest thoughtfulness or hesitation.
  3. Volume: Ranging from whispering to shouting, volume can signal intensity, urgency, or confidentiality.
  4. Volume Variation: Changes in volume throughout phrases or longer passages of speech, which can emphasize certain points or emotions.
  5. Intonation and Musicality: How the pitch changes according to what is being said, adding expressiveness and helping to convey questions, statements, or emotions.
  6. Timbre: The quality or sound of the voice, and how it changes. Timbre can reflect emotions, moods, and individual vocal characteristics.
  7. Emphasis: The stressing of syllables, words, or phrases to highlight important information or convey emotions.
  8. Projection: The extent to which the voice is projected. Speaking with lots of projection might indicate confidence or addressing a large group, while mumbling could suggest shyness or uncertainty.
  9. Silences and Hesitation: Pauses and moments of silence that can indicate contemplation, hesitation, or a deliberate emphasis.
  10. Fillers: Common verbal fillers (e.g., “um,” “er”) that often indicate thinking or uncertainty.
  11. Breath Sounds: Intakes and exhalations of breath (e.g., gasps, tuts) that can convey surprise, disapproval, or other reactions.
  12. Speech Habits: Repeated phrases like “I think...,” “You know...,” or “Like...” which can indicate speech patterns or thought processes.
  13. Laughing and Giggling: Laughter interspersed within speech or as separate signals, such as nervous laughter, which can convey various emotions.
  14. Accents and Dialects: Regional or cultural variations in speech that can indicate background or identity.
  15. Accent Affectations: Received or conditioned accents, sometimes exaggerated for effect, such as a 'telephone voice' or a voice used when speaking to authority figures.
  16. Speech Mistakes: Errors like spoonerisms, malapropisms, or mispronunciations that can sometimes convey anxiety or nervousness.
  17. Drying Up and Stuttering: Pauses due to being lost for words, or stuttering, which is distinct from a stammer, indicating nervousness or other emotions.
  18. Over-Talking: Speaking excessively to fill a silence, often indicating nervousness or a desire to dominate the conversation.
  19. Interrupting: Cutting in while someone else is speaking, which can indicate enthusiasm, impatience, or lack of social awareness.
  20. Holding Back: Hesitation or reluctance to speak, suggesting the speaker has something to say but is unwilling to say it.
  21. Coughs and Grunts: Non-verbal sounds that can suggest discomfort, hesitation, or an attempt to get attention.
  22. Belching and Burping: Often unintentional but can sometimes carry social or cultural meanings.
  23. Whistling: Can indicate a range of emotions, from happiness to impatience.
  24. Tongue Clicking and Teeth-Sucking: Sounds made with the mouth that can express impatience, annoyance, or contemplation.

Understanding and recognizing these verbal associates can significantly enhance communication skills. By paying attention to these vocal elements, one can gain deeper insights into the speaker’s emotional state, intentions, and underlying messages, leading to more effective and empathetic interactions.

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  • References
    • Body Language: A Guide for Professionals, by Hedwig Lewis

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