The process of solving problems and forming concepts without the use of words or language is called non-verbal reasoning. It involves the entire gamut of reasoning skills that are not verbal in nature and can be classified as abstract reasoning, numerical reasoning, spatial reasoning etc. These non-verbal reasoning skills unlike the verbal ones do not use the cognitive skills automatically. Instead they need a purposeful attempt at doing mental operations, like drawing inferences, understanding signals and gestures, forming concepts etc. Say, for example, while stepping out of the house, you notice that it’s cloudy weather; in such a case you would deduce that it might rain later on and you decide to go back and take an umbrella with you. This decision of yours is an example of non-verbal reasoning, which included judging the situation and drawing inference to take a quick and appropriate decision.

Similarly, we use non-verbal reasoning in our professional lives as well, wherein we may have to predict a business outcome based on prior information or statistics, and take corrective steps. This again doesn’t involve verbal skills and language, therefore, such reasoning falls under the category of non-verbal reasoning. Learn more about creating an effective business strategy with this course.

All reasoning that is based on non-verbal skills and is independent of concepts formed by words and language is called non-verbal reasoning. Whether it is logical or spatial reasoning, numerical or abstract reasoning; non-verbal reasoning is in fact used more often than verbal reasoning in our daily lives. Someone aptly said “A picture speaks a thousand words!”, which clearly shows that people communicate better through gestures, body language, visual tools etc. This is the reason why non-verbal reasoning is independent of the languages spoken or written and can be understood easily without words.  For example, most teaching in school still relies on verbal reasoning, including math. However, all children are not necessarily verbal learners. Check out this course that teaches math – including quadratic equations – effectively with picture based learning.

## Measuring Non-Verbal Reasoning

Non-verbal can be easily measured by conducting certain tests that will identify the person’s abilities to perform abstract and spatial thinking. These measurement techniques help find out if the person can solve problems by using innovative strategies that don’t involve words or numbers. The tests guide teachers to understand the reasoning capacities of the students and can be structured to carefully asses their thinking process. There are different ways to measure the reasoning skills of students such as:

• Figure Classification – Here students are shown sample figures and asked to identify the characteristics that are common in those figures. Subsequently, they are asked to choose a figure from another set of figures that matches the original one. The visualization skills and inductive reasoning of the students can be tested by using this method.
• Figure Analogies – This method analyses the deductive reasoning of the students by asking them to find the relationship between a set of figures that represents a similar relation as seen between another set of figures.
• Figure Analysis – Here the students’ inductive and deductive reasoning as well as visualization skills are tested. Students are asked to see drawings representing the folding of a piece of paper for example, and then asked to deduce what the unfolded paper would look like by choosing the best option from a set of figures.

Measuring a student’s non-verbal reasoning capabilities is important to understand how well they can reason in a holistic way, using shapes, figures and pictures instead of words or numbers.  Students can try this course to help them think clearly with pictures, and thereby improve their non-verbal reasoning skills.

## Kinds of Non-Verbal Reasoning

As mentioned earlier, any reasoning that uses cognitive skills other than words is called non-verbal reasoning. There are different kinds of reasoning that fall under this category and they are described as below:

Abstract Reasoning

This is all about understanding situations and arriving at conclusions by using one’s general intelligence and abilities to perceive relationships. Abstract reasoning doesn’t need language skills or mathematical abilities. It tests a person’s ability to recognize similarities in figures or patterns and use prior knowledge to arrive at decisions. Abstract reasoning skills include the following:

• Forming theories by understanding the topic or idea and problem-solving on complex issues
• Analyzing and evaluating situations to arrive at decisions
• Using metaphors or analogies to solve complex problems; to use prior knowledge and apply the skills learned earlier in the present scenario etc.

Abstract reasoning and thinking skills are essential to learn complicated subjects like applied science, maths or social studies. For example, let’s say you want to decide on whether to invest on expanding your business based on the present order situations and ability to meet customer demands. In such a case, you would have to use abstract reasoning to understand the market trends, health of your business and other statistics to make the right decision. People have attempted to break down these abstract concepts to help with business decisions in the face of uncertainty. For example this course shows you how to develop your business while effectively dealing with an unpredictable environment.

Spatial Reasoning

Spatial reasoning abilities help us visualize images, get a sense of direction or position, mentally create scenarios and understand how you would react in certain situations etc. It is the basis on which we are able to imagine something without actually having seen it or been somewhere. Spatial reasoning helps people build successful careers in architecture, design or applied chemistry, wherein individuals have to visualize structures or 3D images etc. Spatial reasoning skills include:

• Identifying and sorting objects, visualizing the space and describing the features of the environment around
• Interpreting maps and diagrams easily, make sense of shapes and symmetry to solve complex problems
• Describing routes and directions effectively and visualizing 2D and 3D objects

Spatial reasoning can be developed by carefully observing and understanding the location around, making use of information stored in our memory from previous experiences and learning and manipulating images mentally. Spatial reasoning consists of visualization of images and reasoning with such images created in our minds.

Numerical Reasoning

This consists of reasoning through numbers, sequences and series, arithmetical problems and solving complicated equations etc. Whether it is a student’s ability to perform mental arithmetic or recognize numeral patterns, reasoning through extraction of data hidden behind the numbers and deducing solutions is a great way to test the numerical aptitude of the student. Tests like simple and complicated calculations etc. are normally carried out to gauge the ability of a person to reason through numbers. Numerical reasoning skills include:

• Ability to find the relation between numbers in a sequence or series
• Easily study charts, tables and deduce the solutions to complicated problems
• Ability to understand the information hidden behind problem statements and carry out quick calculations on fractions, ratios, percentages etc.

Software like Excel can often make this easier, especially when you have a large data set. Take this course to learn how to analyse data with Excel. Numerical reasoning is often used in recruitment tests and employee assessment tests to find out if the candidate is the right fit for your job. Recruiters mainly want to know if the reasoning and deductive skills of the candidate are good, instead of trying to find out his or her mathematical abilities. There are many different kinds of non-verbal reasoning and they can be developed easily by regular practice so as to train our minds to think in a particular way when faced with certain situation.

## Strategies to Develop Non-Verbal Reasoning

Non-verbal reasoning is also known as fluid reasoning and the following are the different ways in which these skills can be enhanced:

• Introduce non-verbal teaching strategies and rely less on verbal tools
• Encourage students to infer solutions to open-ended questions thereby helping them understand different perspectives and scenarios
• Focus on how the student has arrived at the solution to a problem instead of giving more importance to its correctness
• Introduce concepts, help students to form sequence of steps in deriving solutions and use figurative language while explaining instructions etc.
• Encourage students to understand the relationships between different concepts, implications of a decision, derive logical patterns and extrapolating etc.
• Enabling transferring of prior knowledge to handle new situations, develop organizational and social skills etc. to become truly independent
• Encourage self-talk to increase understanding and retention of concepts

These are just some of the ways to develop your non-verbal reasoning skills; the key to master this art is practice because the more you sharpen the concepts, the greater is the ability to recall and apply the reasoning skills to the situation at hand.

If you are a businessman or entrepreneur, an educationist or a professional, be equipped with strategies to develop non-verbal reasoning for greater productivity. Whether its drawing inferences, making predictions based on past experiences or solving complex problems without the help of language, non-verbal reasoning helps us always stay one step ahead and be aware of our surroundings. A lot of this is also related to emotional intelligence. See how you can leverage your emotional intelligence to get ahead in your career with this course.

In short, non-verbal reasoning covers all aspects of our daily lives and is essential for achieving success in today’s competitive world by being perceptive and intuitive.

Page Last Updated: February 2020

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