Nonverbal communications skills are required in many social situations. These involve reading the emotions revealed in a tone of voice, sensing how close to stand when talking to someone, facial expressions, assessing the mood of others. Where such skills are lacking, possibly because of disruption in the socialization process, this may sufficiently important to impair their social or academic functioning. When trying to make friends, any approach made without such skills, may be rejected. Unpopular people may not even realize that they are initiating many of the negative reactions they receive from their peers. They may even inadvertently communicate overeagerness that their peers interpret as aggression. Since most emotional messages between people are communicated nonverbally, by gesture or tone of voice, the inability to read such messages adeptly is a major social handicap.
Recent studies of children in the USA found that up to 10% may have nonverbal communication problems severe enough to impair social or academic functioning. Studies of more than 1,000 children aged from 9 to 11 showed that those scoring lowest in such skills tended to be among the least popular in the class.