Communication predates human civilization. As groups continued evolving, so did the need for the development of different means of communication. Throughout history, we see concepts of communication, including codes, expressions, indications, and signals. Language’s advancement occurred as the populations began increasing, labor division occurred, and the exchange of economy became commonplace.
Today, communication in some form is necessary for every step of commercial and industrial activity. The definition of communication comes from the Latin word “communis.” That Latin derivative means “common.” When looking at the term “communication,” it means “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.”
What is the Concept of Communication?
When individuals are sharing their opinions, ideas, and feelings with others, that’s communication. The concept of communication can occur intellectually, personally, verbally, or in written form. Social needs prompt us to share our thoughts with other individuals consistently. Communication involves more than one person.
For example, in spoken communication, there are listeners and speakers. These speakers are sending verbal messages for the listener to receive. Another example is when you’re using written communication. This communication concept involves writers delivering messages using content for readers to absorb.
Verbal Communication Tips
Using the following verbal communication tips will help you connect, build rapport, gain influence, earn respect, and become more accepted and likable.
Be an Active Listener
During verbal communication, being an active listener is more critical than any words you’re speaking. Showing sincere interest to what the speaker is saying, asking valuable questions, and listening for the speaker’s message all must occur without interruption.
When you’re communicating, the last thing your listeners want to experience is someone who is putting on a show. There are worthier ways to get your point across. Instead, you must be genuine, real, transparent, and speak from your heart. Those practices will attract more listeners.
It’s exhausting and uses too much energy to try to figure out what others are trying to say when they’re not clear or concise. Individuals can lose respect when they’re not direct or hint at things during direct verbal communication. Before saying anything, ask yourself, “How can I straightforwardly communicate this point?”
Being humble means, you’re modest regarding your self-importance. Some view this as one of the most critical personality traits an individual possesses. Being humble is also a good indicator as to whether or not someone has the respect of and for others. When listening to a humble individual, they have genuine respect for their peers.
Don’t Dominate the Conversation
We all have things we want to say. Meetings occur, and we have to express our talents, abilities, verbally, and so on. While being direct and thoughtful during conversations is impressive, dominating the conversation isn’t. If you’re dominating the conversation, that means you’re not giving other individuals a chance to share their thoughts, feelings, or ideas on a subject.
Think First, Then Speak
You must be thinking before speaking. It isn’t uncommon for individuals to talk about whatever is flowing through their minds. These people aren’t giving much thought regarding what they’re saying. As a result, they’re causing miscommunications or saying things that will reflect poorly on themselves.
Use a Friendly Tone
When individuals communicate with a friendly tone along with a warm smile, they tend to have the edge. The main reason is that most people intrinsically attract to those who possess this quality. These individuals bring more enjoyment into our daily lives and help make us feel good.
Practicing humility doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing self-confidence. When you’re speaking with confidence, that means you have an appreciation for your abilities. Having a humble view means you’re modest about those abilities. Speaking with confidence involves your chosen words, tone of voice, body language, and making eye contact.
Types of Communication Skills
There are six distinct types of communication skills, including formal, informal, non-verbal, oral from a distance, face-to-face, and verbal-written. Let’s look at each of the different means of communication and how to develop those skills individually:
This concept of communication occurs through pre-determined channels. Examples of this type of contact include when you’re having discussions at your workplace, financial institution, or with legal professionals. These communications tend to be longer than non-formal interactions because individuals are following specific communication protocols.
Many consider formal communications as a reliable information source. For example, if you receive a notice from a legal professional or financial institution, you must act on that written communication. You’ll also find that oral expressions occur in conjunction with written communication. For example, a work presentation might have written hand-outs containing pertinent information.
Here are tips for improving your formal communication skills:
- Start by clarifying your communication’s purpose
- Use a well-defined structure no matter if it’s an oral or written discussion to give your audience a better understanding
- Use a friendly, open, and professional tone
- Complete the communication by re-iterating your expectations, answering questions, and clarifying statements
- Don’t forget to thank your audience during written and verbal communication
When you’re speaking to someone or a group of individuals in an unofficial capacity, that means you’re using this type of communication. Typically, these interactions occur by delivering word-of-mouth information. Due to the personal aspect of this form of communication, some feel the information is less reliable.
- Some tips for improving your information communication skills include:
- Speaking spontaneously without any formal structure or protocol
- Opening up a communication channel that doesn’t contain any official rules
- Using oral communication that doesn’t involve any documentation
- Avoiding spreading gossip or misinformation
When you use informal discussion wisely, it has many advantages and is user-friendly. For example, when you’re working in an office, you’ll understand the regulations, rules, and services you offer through formal communications. However, an informal conversation reveals who is the top performer in your department.
You can encourage or control positive ideas, expressions, and opinions using this form of communication. It’s possible to do so without making individuals feel like members of the senior management team is thrusting information upon them.
Non-verbal communication is persuasive while remaining subtle. It includes how you’re using attitude, gestures, tone of voice, pacing, and physical postures. For example, the hand gestures you use and posture you adopt will impact your communication. Using the wrong posture or body language gestures can send mixed messages.
It isn’t uncommon for those who feel threatened to maintain a friendly face or posture. Therefore, non-verbal communications are successful when implementing these facets consistently:
- What you’re expressing in verbal form should match your gestures and posture
- Express messages using gestures and your posture
- Share what you feel inside by using subtle body language
Distance Oral Communication
When you’re engaging in two-way webinars, video-conferencing, VOIP, or mobile phone interactions, those are all examples of distance oral communication. When participating in this type of communication, your delivery pace and tone of voice are more critical than any other expression.
Here are tips for how to improve Conversation skills orally at a distance:
- Place more emphasis on listening than speaking to avoid more than one person talking at once
- Use a slightly slower speaking pace compared to face-to-face interactions
- To show you understand when listening, re-iterate what the speaker is saying
- Keep your face friendly when engaging in video interactions
- Whenever possible, back these conversations up with written communications
When you’re engaging in face-to-face communications, that means you’re expressing yourself from your discussions. Face-to-face discussions can occur formally or informally. For example, you can participate in face-to-face talks with your boss or colleagues at work, during formal presentations, with your family and friends, and at formal meetings or seminars.
Tips for improving your face-to-face skills include:
- Maintaining eye contact with your audience confidently
- Perfect your expressions and tone in a mirror
- Use role-playing to rehearse face-to-face interactions
- Avoid letting your discussion become a one-way rant by consciously engaging your audience’s participation
- Use active listening skills to exchange ideas, thoughts, and feelings with your audience
Previously, individuals depended on the mail system for sending and receiving verbal communications. This form of communication included letters, notices, and legal matters, for example, going through the mail system or landing in internal mailboxes at work.
Things have changed dramatically throughout the years regarding written communication. Now, we’re using text messages, social media updates, email, and websites for delivering written communications. That’s why so many believe embracing this form of communication is vital.
Here are some tips for improving this concept of communication:
- Make sure your structure is concise to prevent the context from being all over the place
- Be effectual in your connection through email, social media updates, text messages, and so on
- Wherever possible, clarify your communication’s context
- Adapt a semi-formal tone by keeping your content clean and open
How to Improve Conversation Skills
Learning how to improve conversation skills is beneficial for developing personal and business relationships. If you don’t have excellent conversation skills, that could mean the end of having excellent connections, experiences, and friends.
For example, improving your skills for different means of communication in your career or during business relationships can help you lay the groundwork for promotions in the future or land new clients. In your social life, these skills translate to building life-long friendships, getting a date, and so on.
When you’re approachable, that means others view as someone they can turn to when issues are occurring for friendly conversations. When entering a discussion, keep a slight smile on your face that’s authentic. Keep your eyebrows moving when showing facial expressions to alert others of your friendliness and approachability.
Be Emotionally Expressive
It’s challenging for some individuals to express their feelings or emotions openly. You’ll find this is especially true during conversations with strangers. You’ll find that it’s beneficial to do so, though. Instead of being factual or “robotic” during discussions, express how you feel about the information you’re delivering. People connect the best when it’s at an emotional level.
Be More Social
Each time you put yourself “out there” and have conversations, the more mistakes you’ll make and from which you can learn. That’s a straightforward way of improving your conversation skills–through consistent practice. This method is something you’ll have to work on until it becomes natural consistently.
Self-awareness means having an in-depth understanding of who you are and your interests. This step is vital to social success because, if you don’t know who you are, it’s challenging to connect with others. For example, when you’re getting to know someone else, friendships form as conversations flow. Developing self-awareness means having a firm grasp on your interests, opinions, strengths, and weaknesses.
Boost Your Self-Esteem
It isn’t uncommon for individuals to struggle with self-esteem and, as a result, that harms their conversation skills. These skill issues stem from an individual’s inability to raise their sense of self-worth.
For example, you might feel your life isn’t on track or that you’re not good enough. Feelings and thoughts like those examples will de-rail a conversation before they begin. You fear that, because you don’t like yourself very much, others will feel the same. Appreciate your uniqueness and create a life you love and, in doing so, natural rejection barriers form.
Brush Up on Your Interests
How often are you engaging in written, audio, or video content about your interests? If you’re not doing this regularly, then there’s less of a chance you’ll engage in conversations about these topics. Avoid spending too much time focusing on one interest. Otherwise, that topic will dominate your conversations and is a disadvantage when trying to build relationships.
Diversify your interests to help round-out conversations. These topics don’t require a significant amount of research, but it’s beneficial for you to learn as much as possible to help open up conversations with a variety of people.
Even though no one likes it, interruptions during discussions will happen. You may interject if you’re talking to someone and they bring up a topic with which you’re familiar. If a disruption occurs, or you’re the one doing the interrupting, re-iterate what the speaker was saying before your interjection.
For example, you could say, “Before my interruption, you were talking about [topic].” That phrase acknowledges you were listening to the speaker, that you caused an interruption, and gives the speaker another jumping-off point. If someone else interrupts you without an acknowledgment, you could say, “Going back to my original point about [topic].”
Give Authentic Compliments
It’s easy for anyone to give a generic compliment as a way of earning someone else’s appreciation. “You look nice today,” “I like your hairstyle,” or “That tasted good,” or all examples of generic compliments. They require little thought and don’t look beyond an individual’s facade.
Instead, use unique compliments that garner authentic attention and appreciation. Examples include, “You genuinely drove your point home in the second paragraph of your proposal,” “I love the way you’re decorating your kitchen with miniature herb gardens,” or, “Your use of fresh garlic truly makes a difference in this dish.”
Hold Eye Contact
Some people have a difficult time maintaining eye contact during conversations. It isn’t uncommon for individuals to avoid meeting eye contact and, in most cases, will do so two-thirds of the time during discussions.
Eye contact is something that we have hardwired into us as a method of connection. According to a research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “from birth, human infants prefer to look at faces that engage them in mutual gaze and that, from an early age, healthy babies show enhanced neural processing of direct gaze.”
Those who know how to improve communication skills understand that rushing into a conversation isn’t a good idea. Instead, take your time reflecting on a topic and know when to speak about it out loud. It’s easier to center and collect yourself when using this kind of pacing.
Using Different Communication Techniques
Because few people use the six forms of communication, the top three being formal, informal, and written, mastering communication techniques is challenging. You’ll find that, as people depend more on smartphones and other technical devices, they’re detaching themselves from actively engaging and using different communication techniques.
Here are different communication techniques and strategies for you to implement:
A speaker can’t disclose everything about a topic during conversations. That’s when asking high-quality questions improves conversations. There are two types of questions you should focus on:
- Open-ended questions: You’ll receive a full and more comprehensive answer when asking open questions. For example, instead of asking, “Do you need help finding anything,” ask, “What can I help you look for today?”
- Closed-ended questions: These types of questions set the speaker up to give a straightforward, “yes,” or “no,” answer. If you’re trying to gather direct information, this is an excellent communication technique.
If you’re showing enthusiasm regarding a topic a speaker is delivering to you, that’s an excellent way to elicit a positive response. The same is true if you’re the speaker, and you’re enthusiastically providing a message to listeners.
If you’re rolling your eyes, acting bored, or sighing during a conversation, it will end quickly. Instead, maintain eye contact and modify your body language to show interest and attentiveness. As a result, the speaker or listener will want to engage more.
Develop Listening Skills
If you’re the speaker, it’s challenging to have a two-way conversation if you’re not listening and comprehending the responses you receive from listeners. There’s a difference between “hearing” and using active listening skills.
The same goes for if you’re the listener. You must develop an understanding of what the speaker is saying. Otherwise, you can’t develop a knowledgeable or coherent response. Consider taking a class about how to improve your listening skills and, in turn, you’ll find your communication skills improving as well.
Not talking during a conversation seems counterintuitive, but it carries many benefits. For example, someone may come to you stating their daughter just had a baby. If you respond immediately, then the speaker may not go into further detail about the baby’s gender and name. However, if you remain silent after their initial announcement, they’ll offer up those details willingly.
The Power of Observation
If you’re struggling with verbal and non-verbal communication techniques, observation is an excellent tactic to implement. Look for an opportunity to place yourself within a large crowd. They can be strangers or people you know. Ultimately, you’re looking for those who are skilled communicators.
Once you immerse yourself within this group, practice your observational skills. Listen and watch how effective communicators are using different communication techniques. After gathering this information through observation, try to implement those techniques during your next conversation.
Being empathetic or having emotional awareness is an excellent way of embracing different communication techniques. It isn’t difficult to tell when your emotions are causing disruptions with your ability to communicate. When you’re empathetic, you can determine when the feelings of others are hindering conversations.
Emotional awareness involves being empathetic. You can determine an individual’s emotional state by looking at their body language. For example, those who are happy make eye contact, smile, and walk with their heads up. Those who are unhappy slouch, keep their heads bowed, and won’t smile when participating in discussions.
Use Feedback Effectively
Feedback is a critical component of communication, no matter if it’s from you or your recipients. During discussions, you should be conveying information in such a way that your audience wants to offer criticism or feedback.
If anything is unclear, your listeners should be able to formulate direct questions. You can help develop this communication technique by pairing off with a partner and trying to convey information to them. After doing so, your partner should be able to offer feedback on the quality of your delivery.
What Are the Barriers of Communication?
The best way to overcome the barriers of communication is by implementing skills, including active listening, clarifying, and reflecting. Communication barriers occur during any stage throughout the communication process. As a result, your message may become distorted, or misunderstandings may occur.
Common Communication Barriers
Cultural differences: Social interactions will vary considerably throughout different cultures. For example, the concept of communication varies between social settings and cultures.
Differences in opinions, viewpoints, and perceptions: These differences can cause barriers in communication if the speaker and listener can’t agree.
Emotional taboos or barriers: Some topics may be taboo or “off-limits” by some individuals, while others have difficulty expressing their emotions.
Expectations and prejudices: In these instances, it isn’t uncommon for stereotyping or false assumptions to occur. That leads to people hearing the wrong information and jumping to conclusions.
Gender Barriers: Many don’t realize there are significant differences between the way a man and woman communicate. For example, men speak 7,000 words daily, whereas women say 20,000.
Interpersonal communication barriers: People will distance themselves from others in six ways, including withdrawal, repetitive routines, superficial activities, working, being manipulative, and avoiding closeness.
Lack of interest or attention: If the speaker believes their listeners don’t have an interest or isn’t paying attention to their message, that can de-rail the conversation.
Language barriers: If someone isn’t familiar with our buzz-words, expressions, or jargon, that can cause communication barriers. You’re inadvertently excluding others when using such language.
Physical barriers: If speakers can’t see their listener’s posture, non-verbal cues, or gestures, that lack of body-language signals causes ineffective communication.
Categories of Communication Barriers
If there are barriers involving attitude, that means people can’t communicate effectively. These attitude barriers might be the result of a lack of motivation, management issues, personality conflicts, or resistance to change. Overcoming these attitudes leads to better communication.
Those who have difficulty using the same language or understanding it will experience a language communication barrier. For example, if the speaker is using a lot of technical jargon, the message might be lost on those who don’t understand it fully.
When there’s a geographic distance between senders and receivers, that can cause a physical barrier. Shorter distances help overcome these communication barriers, but that’s not always possible. Modern technology helps reduce the burden of physical communication barriers.
Someone’s physical state may cause physiological barriers. For example, someone who is experiencing hearing impairments may find it challenging to grasp the message of the speaker.
The receiver’s mental state will impact how they receive a speaker’s message. For example, if someone is experiencing stress or personal worries, that preoccupation may prevent them from receiving a speaker’s message.
As you can see, the concept of communication involves many facets, skills, and techniques. Communication success hinges on whether the speaker and listener understand each other, are attentive and are diverse regarding their chosen topics. It’s far more complicated than that, though, which is why you must also understand the barriers of communication.