While many dealings in the business and social world these days take place online, via text or pictures, often condensed into a quick email or a 140-character tweet, the art of verbal communication is not yet entirely lost. It is important that you maintain the ability to communicate effectively face to face, whether you are a business person needing to negotiate or you just want to sit around the table at dinner time with your family and actually have a conversation.
Verbal communication skills are at heart as basic as the ability to get your point across clearly, concisely and without distraction, regardless of the subject matter. To improve your basic conversation skills, here’s a short course on How Conversation Works, with six basic lessons for better communication.
In daily life with friends, family and so on, verbal communication can keep your relationships running smoothly and ensure that both they and you are happy and feel valued and understood. It is important to talk to your family regularly, and one of the most important parts of communication is listening. Being able to express yourself clearly is only half as important as being able to wait and listen when it comes to personal relationships. If you really listen, rather than just waiting for your turn to talk, then you have the most basic part of verbal communication mastered. It is impossible, after all, to communicate only with yourself – thus the understanding that any conversation is a dialogue between two or more people is crucial. To ensure you can work your interpersonal relationships in a mutually beneficial way, consider practicing your Communication, Assertiveness and Boundaries skills.
When meeting new people, either as yourself or as a representative of your business or company, your initial impression is based partly on your appearance, partly on any preconceptions those people may have of you, but almost entirely on how you communicate with them. Body language is a big part of communication, as it adds an extra layer to what you say, and it can entirely change the interpretation of your words. Understanding the way your body language adds to how you communicate is vital for good verbal communication, and with the increased usage of text-based communication or video conferencing where only the face can be seen, many people have forgotten how to use appropriate body language.
While it may sound manipulative and crafty, the correct application of body language can improve any negotiation. You can get your way much more successfully if you apply the correct body language to win over the person you are speaking to. From getting everyone to agree to your choice of restaurant, securing a raise, getting a phone number from someone in the street or closing a sale, friendly, confident and assertive body language can empower your verbal communication and bring other people around to your point of view. 1000 Watt Presence is a useful online course for maximising the potential of your personality and bringing powerful business communication skills to bear on your daily life. Mirroring people’s body language is one example of a powerful way to make yourself appear friendly and on the same level as the person you are talking to, it will make them feel more at ease and they may begin to mirror you in turn, which will allow the conversation to flow naturally. You can use tools like this to turn any communication or negotiation to your favour.
In a business sense, verbal communication is as important for employees as it is for managers, team leaders and directors. While it is vital that a manager can communicate clearly and effectively with his team, it is also necessary for the team to be able to communicate properly in response. A manager needs to be able to deal with interpersonal conflict, deliver ultimatums, hire and fire people and have all manner of other difficult conversations. The ability to manage expectations is also part of verbal communication so while a manager must be able to make his team understand what is expected of them, each individual team member should be able to clarify requirements, feedback about plans and deadlines and liaise with the rest of the team to get the job done. While much of the day to day running of a business can be managed through emails, text messages and pre-defined information such as a job description, without good face to face communication there can never be truly excellent teamwork. Workers build rapport and loyalty when they deal together in person and when that is missing, the end product suffers.
Improving your verbal communication is a matter of practice. You need to speak clearly and concisely, neither too fast nor too slow, and ensure you don’t ramble or repeat yourself. At first you will need to have practiced and have done your research on your topic, making sure you know your facts and are ready for any questions you might receive. Be careful not to seem rehearsed or as if you are reading from your memory. After only a comparatively short time, speaking aloud to other people will seem second nature and you will be able to react quickly and effectively to questions or subject changes without having to practice in advance. At first you may not have too much success if you are trying to negotiate or win somebody over, so start small and work your way up, however any practice is good practice. Take any opportunity you can to speak to people and build up your confidence and skills, so that when you need to make a presentation, wow at a job interview or talk to someone on a date you are ready!
If you still feel you need a bit of guidance on the basics, review this course on Improving your Skills in One Day.