Verbal communication refers to our use of words while nonverbal communication refers to communication that occurs through means other than words, such as body language, gestures, and silence. Verbal communication is an agreed-upon and rule-governed system of symbols used to share meaning. In this chapter, we explore verbal communication in greater depth focusing on the nature of language, the impact of language on our lives, language barriers, and finally how to improve our verbal communication.
- 4.1: Introduction to Verbal Elements of Communication
- As we discussed in chapter one, when we use language to communicate, we are engaged in verbal communication. When we think of verbal communication we often focus on speaking, but both verbal and nonverbal communication can be spoken and written.
- 4.2: The Nature of Language
- Our language is symbolic, meaning it is made up of symbols. A symbol is something that stands for something else. The symbols that we use stand in for something else, like a physical object or idea, they do not actually correspond to the thing in any direct way. The use of symbolic communication is uniquely human, and it allows us to have abstract conversations about things that are not in our immediate reality.
- 4.3: Language Barriers
- We assume that because we have been communicating our whole lives that we have attained skills. However, communication does not mean that we simply get “better” with experience, without knowledge and practicing specific skills. In fact, when employers describe their ideal candidate, “communication skills” is on the top of the list. Therefore, it is important for us to learn about barriers we experience, skills that will improve our communication competence, and putting those skills to practice.
- 4.4: Improving Verbal Communication
- Communication skills are attained over time and with practice. Therefore, there are many things we can do to sharpen our skills to help us become more communication competent. We want to consider the reason for our communication, what goals we have, understand our perspectives, own our thoughts and emotions, and precision in the language we choose.