As human beings, we communicate using many skills. Communication occurs with verbally with oral language, with signs and hand gestures, with expressions, and with behaviors.
Verbal Skills include the use of oral language. Though oral language may be in different languages: French, English, Spanish, along with the use of inflexions, tones, and hand gestures that further clarify the meaning of what is being spoken.
Non verbal communication in the form of expressions and postures are used by all human beings. Some non-verbal communication is certainly is specific to specific cultures but studies do show that some non-verbal communication is universal. Charles Darwin who identified thirteen emotions that could be tied to universal expressions first noted universal communication via expressions in 1872. Darwin authored The Expressions of the Emotions in Man and Animals.
Paul Ekman later pared these emotions down to six in 1972. Happiness, Sadness, Fear, Surprise, Disgust and anger are the emotions identified by Ekman.
Being able to understand what is being communicated is described as decoding. Caregivers spend a lot of time trying to decode expressions of loved ones; especially those challenged with dementia.
Communication skills change as we get older. This becomes clearer as we review our own life or those that we know and outline communication skills during different periods of development.