Unconscious (or intuitive) communication is the subtle, unintentional, unconscious cues that provide information to another individual. It can be verbal (speech patterns, physical activity while speaking, or the tone of voice of an individual) or it can be nonverbal (facial expressions and body language). Some psychologists instead use the term honest signals because such cues are involuntary behaviors that often convey emotion whereas body language can be controlled. Many decisions are based on unconscious communication, which is interpreted and created in the right hemisphere of the brain. The right hemisphere is dominant in perceiving and expressing body language, facial expressions, verbal cues, and other indications that have to do with emotion but it does not exclusively deal with the unconscious.
Little is known about the unconscious mind or about how decisions are made based on unconscious communications except for the fact that they are always unintentional. There are two types of unconscious communications: intrapersonal and interpersonal.
Research has shown that our conscious attention can attend to 5–9 items simultaneously. All other information is processed by the unconscious mind. For example, the unconscious mind sometimes picks up on and relates nonverbal cues about an individual based on how he or she has arranged his or her settings such as his or her home or place of work.
Not much is known about the unconscious mind but it is believed to contain the biological instincts that we act on every day, such as sex and aggression. A person is completely unaware of what happens within the unconscious mind. Psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, made the concept of the unconscious popular and based most of his theories on psychoanalysis on the concept. The subconscious mind, according to Freud, rests right below the conscious mind and has easy access to the thoughts and feelings that are kept in this state as opposed to unconscious mind which is impossible to gain access to. Freud believed that we projected our unconscious emotions onto others.
Intrapersonal communication is language use or thought internal to the communicator. It includes many mental activities such as thinking, calculating, planning, talking to one’s self, internal monologue, day-dreaming. Intrapersonal communication affects how we perceive our self: either in a negative or positive way. Joseph Jordania hypothesized that intrapersonal communication was created to avoid silence because as social creatures we feel uncomfortable with extended periods of silence. Intrapersonal unconscious communication is when dreams, previous experiences, or hypnosis affects a person’s choices or experiences unconsciously.
Interpersonal communication includes message sending and message reception between two or more individuals. This can include all aspects of communication such as listening, persuading, asserting, nonverbal communication, and more. Interpersonal unconscious communication includes unintentional facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and speech patterns while interacting with another individual that the other individual interprets for their own knowledge. Studies suggest that when presented with an emotional facial expression, participants instinctively react with movement in facial muscles that are mimicking the original facial expression.
There are six different reasons for nonverbal communication:
- Complementing: adding extra information to verbal communication
- Contradicting: our nonverbal messages contradict our verbal messages
- Repeating: emphasize or clarify the verbal message
- Regulating: coordinate the verbal dialogue between people
- Substituting: when a nonverbal message is used in place of a verbal message
- Accenting: emphasizing a particular point in a verbal message
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