Three Types of Communication
The effect and impact of our communications are ultimately under the control of the author or orator. They can empower people and provide the impetus for achievement or they can crush and demoralise. We can use them to accuse and judge, we can use them to reason and persuade and we can use them to motivate and inspire.
This article is a short glossary around the three types of communication that we need to become skilled at in order to communicate more effectively.
Verbal – The words we choose to use
Non-verbal – Our body language and facial expressions
Para verbal – How we say or use the words we choose
Verbal communication is split into two types:
- Oral communication
- Written communication
When we use oral communication, its effectiveness is governed by the tone, speed, volume and clarity of the sender.
Oral communication uses the spoken word in:
- Face to face conversations
- Telephone conversations
- Video conferencing
Messages can be delivered and received rapidly and in many cases, understanding can be clarified and feedback returned in the same interaction.
Often, oral communication does not allow for the luxury of preparation. This can result in messages not being as clear as we intend because there is little time to think about delivery or responsive feedback.
Written communication is the go to communication type for many businesses and its effectiveness is governed by grammar, vocabulary and writing style.
Written communication can be used for:
- Marketing brochures
Documents can be revised after proof reading and before sending to ensure clarity for the recipients. They can also be saved for further reviews at a later date. Further, written communications allow the recipient time to read the message several times to gain greater understanding.
Written communications take time to prepare and the tone can often be misinterpreted by the reader, depending on their mood or circumstances that surround the communication.
I can´t emphasize enough, the importance and effectiveness of non-verbal communication. Most of us find it difficult to hide our emotions. Even when we are saying one thing, our facial expressions and gestures are very often saying another. Whether you like it or not. You are communicating. Even in silence. One way or another you are saying something. It´s almost impossible to not communicate something.
Think about all the different messages you can communicate with your facial expressions.
Your lips can curl up and smile or they can turn down and express sadness. Your eyes can light up when you see someone you like, close when you see something you don´t like, be vacant in confusion, widen in surprise and stare in disbelief.
Rolling eyes gives an impression of disinterest, fidgeting may indicate boredom, while a relaxed posture with open palms may suggest openness and interest.
Non-verbal communication can be split into two types:
- Body language
The setting of the place where the communication takes place can often have an impact on how effective our communications are.
- Room size
- Too big might dampen the atmosphere
- Too small might make it uncomfortable
- Brightly lit rooms with relevant promotional material creates excitement
- Poorly lit rooms with sparce décor makes for a gloomy atmosphere
- Too cold and people can´t concéntrate
- Too warm and people feel sleepy
Our communications through gestures and expressions are often more accurately received than the messages we speak orally. It´s a complex area and not an exact science but watch out for the following during face to face communications:
- Lack of eye contact (looking at the ground or around the room)
- Fidgeting with clothes or objects
- Body or feet facing the door
- Arms folded and slouched in the chair.
- Hunched posture
I will explore this in more detail in a following article
Para verbal Communication
Para verbal communication is not the words we speak or write but rather the tone and pace of the words we use.
As my father used to say to me often when I was young “son, it wasn´t what you said. It was the way that you said it.” At that point I always knew I had over stepped the mark. Those words ring loud and clear with me today but I learned my lesson young and I learned it well.
Consider this following statement and see how it has different meanings depending on which word you place intonation on.
I didn´t steal the money (someone else stole it)
I didn´t steal the money (I borrowed it)
I didn´t steal the money (I stole something else)
Para verbal communications are influenced by our moods and emotions. When we are excited we tend to talk faster and at a higher pitch. When we are sad our speech is slower and the pitch flatter. When we are angry or annoyed we tend to be a more abrupt.
In written work para verbal communication is illuminated by our choice of grammar and spelling, along with punctuation and overall sentence structure. Poorly structured written communications, riddled with errors, are just as counter to effective communication as a poorly delivered, long, waffling verbal speech.
- Pay attention to the structure of your document as well as the sentence structure.
- Make sure it has a logical flow from start to finish
- Use headings for different sections
- Use bullet points to break up large chunks of text
- Use bold text to emphasize key points or phrases
- Avoid jargon and slang words
Some Final Thoughts
Sometimes it´s hard not to get caught up in the emotion of situations but it very rarely pays when trying to effectively communicate sensitive information. You can go through any number of different emotions during one delivery; anger, excitement, disappointment, pride and nervousness to name but a few. However, your strongest or most dominant emotion will be the one that shines through. It will be the one that sets the tone of the communication. As we have discussed in previous posts, being able to keep control of your emotions, even under pressing circumstances shows great emotional awareness of the feelings of others and the overall impact that your communication will have. Even if the end result of the communication is going to have a negative impact on people or business, let them remember that in spite of all that, you delivered with dignity, poise and respect.
Thank you for taking time to read this article
As always, all comments and feedback are more than welcome