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3: Verbal Elements of Communication

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    Have you ever turned in a paper that you thought was excellent only to find that your instructor questioned or even marked through many of the words you used?  Or perhaps you said something in a conversation that you thought was harmless only to learn later that you unintentionally offended your listener?  If so, you are not alone.  Some of the most common problems in communication step from the use of words.

    Verbal Communication means communication through words or language.  You might find it helpful to think of verbal communication as what we say, whereas nonverbal communication, discussed in another chapter, is how we say what we say.

    Words are arbitrary symbols used to represent objects, ideas, or feelings. Language, on the other hand, is a system of human communication using a particular form of spoken or written words or other symbols. Language consists of the use of words in a structured way.

    Words and language help us understand others’ wants, needs, and desires. They help us build emotional connections that are vital to all human beings.  But used thoughtlessly, they can create conflict and hurt.  In this chapter, you will learn about how words work, different types of words, and how to improve verbal communication.

    • 3.1: How Words Work
      Although we have dictionary definitions to guide us, it is important to remember that many words in the English language have multiple definitions, and the meaning can change based on the context in which the word is used.
    • 3.2: Types of Language
      This section will look at names, how we use language to express affiliation, and ways in which the words we use can express bias. To be effective communicators, we need to realize the different ways that language can be significant and instrumental.
    • 3.3: Formal and Informal Language
      Competent communicators adapt their words to their audience and the communication context
    • 3.4: Improving Verbal Communication
      Since verbal communication can be challenging, we need to be aware of steps we can take to improve our verbal communication.

    This page titled 3: Verbal Elements of Communication is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Lisa Coleman, Thomas King, & William Turner.