Effective verbal or spoken communication is dependent on a number of factors and cannot be fully isolated from other important interpersonal skills such as non-verbal communication, listening skills and clarification.
Clarity of speech, remaining calm and focused, being polite and following some basic rules of etiquette will all aid the process of verbal communication.
This lesson is designed to help you think about how you communicate verbally. This lesson includes information on the process involved and the steps you can take to help ensure that verbal or spoken messages are received as intended.
In many interpersonal encounters, the first few minutes are extremely important as first impressions have a significant impact on the success of further communication.
Everyone has expectations and norms as to how initial meetings should proceed and people tend to behave according to these expectations. If these expectations are mismatched, communication will not be effective or run smoothly, and some form of negotiation will be needed if relations are to continue.
At a first meeting, formalities and appropriate greetings are usually expected: such formalities could include a handshake, an introduction to yourself, eye contact and discussion around a neutral subject such as the weather or your journey may be useful.
The use of encouraging words alongside non-verbal gestures such as head nods, a warm facial expression and maintaining eye contact, are more likely to reinforce openness in others.
The use of encouragement and positive reinforcement can:
Active listening is an important skill and yet, as communicators, people tend to spend far more energy considering what they are going to say rather than listening to what the other person is trying to say.
Although active listening is a skill in itself, covered in depth on our listening pages, it is also vital for effective verbal communication.
The following points are Xcite's™ tips for effective and active listening:
Xcite™ believes that effective questioning is an essential skill. Questioning can be used to:
Closed questions tend to seek only a one or two word answer (often simply 'yes' or 'no') and, in doing so, limit the scope of the response. Two examples of closed questions are "Did you travel by car today?" and "Did you see the football game yesterday?" These types of question mean control of the communication is maintained by the questioner, yet this is often not the desired outcome when trying to encourage verbal communication. Nevertheless, closed questions can be useful for focusing discussion and obtaining clear, concise answers when needed.
Open questions broaden the scope for response since they demand further discussion and elaboration. For example, "What was the traffic like this morning?" or "What do you feel you would like to gain from this lesson?" Open questions will take longer to answer, but they do give the other person far more scope for self-expression and encourage involvement in the conversation.
Reflecting is the process of feeding-back to another person your understanding of what has been said. Although reflecting is a specialized skill used within counselling, it can also be applied to a wide range of communication contexts
and is a useful skill to learn.
Reflecting often involves paraphrasing the message communicated to you by the speaker in your own words, capturing the essence of the facts and feelings expressed, and communicating your understanding back to the speaker.
It is a useful skill because:
A summary is an overview of the main points or issues raised. Summarizing can also serve the same purpose as 'reflecting'. However, summarizing allows both parties to review and agree the communication exchanged between them up to that point in time. When used effectively, summaries may also serve as a guide to the next steps forward.
The way a communication is closed or ended will, at least in part, determine the way a conversation is remembered.
A range of subtle, or sometimes not so subtle, signals are used to end an interaction. For example, some people may avoid eye contact, stand up, turn their body away, or use behaviors such as looking at a watch or closing notepads or books. All of these non-verbal actions indicate to the other person that the initiator wishes to end the communication.
Closing an interaction too abruptly may not allow the other person to 'round off' what he or she is saying so you should ensure there is time for winding-up. The closure of an interaction is a good time to make any future arrangements. Last, but not least, this time will no doubt be accompanied by a number of socially acceptable parting gestures.
You have now learnt how to communicate properly using Xcite's™ Formula. Please remember to follow Xcite's™ suggestions as they will increase your work performance.
Xcite™ hopes you enjoyed this information on verbal communication. Please proceed to the next lesson. It will help you become an effective speaker.
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