Verbal communication explained — definition and examples
Last updated on: February 1, 2023
Communication is a skill we all are pretty familiar with.
Since the moment we are born, we use some type of communication to get our feelings and needs across to other people.
And, eventually, we start communicating verbally.
In this article, we want to focus on verbal communication and help you brush up on its definition and different types and styles of verbal communication.
So, let’s take it from the top.
What is verbal communication?
Verbal communication is a type of communication where we use spoken and written words to get our message and information across to the other person.
In other words, whenever we use our words to express ourselves, our feelings, and our thoughts, we are verbally communicating. Yes, even when we are writing to someone, it is considered verbal communication.
We use communication from the moment we wake up in the morning to the moment we close our eyes at night. Humans are social creatures, and it’s only natural that our communication methods have improved over time.
Now, instead of grunting noises to alert those present of danger, we use language to shape our thoughts in a way that our co-communicator will understand.
We have all come a long way, haven’t we? However, we do still use small pictures in our text messages to convey feelings we have trouble putting into words.
There are different types of verbal communication and different styles of communication in this article.
So, without further ado, let’s tackle them.
The difference between verbal and non-verbal communication
According to the National Library of Medicine’s research article about communication, it is said that non-verbal communication is much more present and effective than verbal communication.
That is because our body language and facial expressions can change without our control or without our knowledge. Over time, we might be able to learn how to control major changes in our facial expressions or body language, but the subtle signs and reactions are far from our control.
So, what is the difference between verbal and non-verbal communication?
It’s right there in the name.
For verbal communication to exist, we need to speak, talk, to use our words. With verbal communication, we can mask or reveal our true thoughts and feelings with the words that we choose.
But when it comes to non-verbal communication, it is a reaction of our body to the information we have just received. In other words, it is a string of signals to show what we think without using any words.
Some examples of non-verbal communication are subtle and meaningful glances we share with friends when we see something shocking or unusual, or when we wave to someone across the street. But, while these two ways of communicating are different, they are often used together. For instance, some people like to use their hands while they speak, to emphasize their words with movement.
The importance of verbal communication in the workplace
Everything in our life is a way of communication, from small gestures to big words, it is all around us. Whether it is verbal or non-verbal communication, we are constantly sending and receiving messages.
When we think of workplace communication, we think about professional vocabulary and polite but direct conversations.
Furthermore, the workplace is one of the most important places where we should let our communication skills shine.
Whether you are speaking to your boss or a colleague, your verbal communication skills should be on point. According to the research paper “Communication in the workplace – guideline for improving effectiveness”, there are numerous benefits to perfecting your communication skills in the workplace. Let’s name a few and talk about them.
- Communication creates job satisfaction — When a company advocates for open communication between its employees, no matter their rank or seniority, it helps the company’s employees to feel that their opinions are heard and valued.
- Communication leads to fewer conflicts — Workplace conflicts are common, but when a company implements and advocates for open communication in the office, it is easier to resolve misunderstandings. Therefore, if we speak our minds in a clear and direct manner, it will ensure that our coworkers understand where we are coming from.
- Communication strengthens relationships — If a company’s goal is to have a healthy and productive collective, then practicing open communication can help to achieve that goal. Open communication helps employees connect with each other and it ensures that the professional relationship is built on trust.
- Communication leads to more productivity — When miscommunication happens in the workplace, it usually affects productivity in the office, and more often than not, the tasks involved are delayed. So, when a company teaches its employees to use open communication and ask for clarification on their tasks, it helps to keep misunderstandings to a minimum and to keep productivity levels rising.
5 Different types of verbal communication
Types and styles of verbal communication are two different things, and to help you get a better understanding of the key differences, we will first talk about the types of verbal communication. The key difference to remember is that styles explain how we use verbal communication and types explain where and with whom we are communicating.
According to CommunicationTheory.org, there are 5 different types of verbal communication, and yes, we will cover them all.
Type #1: Intrapersonal verbal communication
Do you have an internal monologue? Do your thoughts form into words and sentences?
If the answer is yes, then you have been using verbal communication — more specifically, intrapersonal type of verbal communication.
Intrapersonal verbal communication covers everything from us talking to ourselves to quietly processing information and messages in our minds.
So if types of communication describe where we are speaking or with whom we are talking, then intrapersonal communication happens within us.
Type #2: Interpersonal verbal communication
Dyadic or Interpersonal communication is a type of verbal communication that happens between two parties.
This type of communication is outwardly, so for it to be successful, we need to:
- Use spoken or written words,
- Understand, and
- Relay the information that is being exchanged.
Type #3: Group verbal communication
Group verbal communication occurs when there are more than three individuals involved.
The main difference between interpersonal communication and group communication is only the number of people involved.
The same rules apply — we will still have to use our words and engage in active listening and understanding.
Type #4: Public verbal communication
Have you ever attended a Ted talk? Or a press conference?
If the answer is yes, then you have been a part of public verbal communication, but as a listener. Public speaking has a distinctive attribute that sets it apart from group communication. To be called a speech, public speaking needs to have:
- A keynote speaker addressing the audience and
- An audience that assembled with a need to receive information.
Type #5: Mass verbal communication
This type of verbal communication differs the most from other types we mentioned.
Mass verbal communication uses a medium to get their message across to a larger audience. While it is common to have one main speaker in the types we previously mentioned (intrapersonal, interpersonal, group, and public verbal communication), in mass verbal communication, the main speaker consists of a small group of people who are sharing their ideas together, as a team.
When we speak of mass verbal communication, we talk about:
- Television, or
- Radio shows.
Most recently, social media posts have become a new vessel of mass verbal communication.
4 different styles of verbal communication
Now that we have covered the different types of verbal communication, it is time to take a closer look at what are styles of verbal communication. Alvernia University published the “4 Types of communication styles” which illustrate that the style of communication explains and describes how we communicate.
Here are the styles of communication we will talk about in the next few paragraphs
- The aggressive style
- The passive style
- The passive-aggressive style
- The assertive style
Let’s dive in.
Style #1: Aggressive style of verbal communication
People who use the aggressive style of communication are often perceived as those who don’t have any regard for other people’s emotions.
Aggressive style users are too direct and oftentimes ruthless.
They are domineering and when they speak they expect a certain level of obedience.
Style #2: Passive style of verbal communication
People who use the passive style of verbal communication are often perceived as timid, introverted, and aloof.
These people tend to be the ‘peacekeepers’ when it comes to disagreements.
They usually keep their opinions to themselves, and when they are asked to give them, they are vague.
When it comes to passive speakers, they usually have no problem going with the flow of others. This doesn’t mean that they are spineless, but simply, they are not comfortable with confrontation, and they will go to great lengths to avoid it.
Style #3: Passive-aggressive style of verbal communication
You might be familiar with passive-aggressive people.
Passive-aggressive style speakers conceal their true emotions and displeasure when they are met with disagreement. These style users try to seem passive on the surface, while their resentment or disagreement keeps building underneath their mask of passiveness. Their behavior is not consistent with their words. Passive-aggressive people are more comfortable expressing negative reactions indirectly instead of being open about their true feelings.
Style #4: Assertive style of verbal communication
People who use this style of verbal communication are the ones who are not afraid to be assertive or express their feelings and opinions in a good way. According to the aforementioned Alvernia University’s article, assertive style of communication is the most effective. The assertive style user strives for compromise and respects their own rights as well as others.
These people often use the phrase “I feel” to get their messages across, but they also show a lot of respect for the person they are talking to.
What are verbal communication skills?
To be a good communicator, you will need to acquire some verbal communication skills.
So, what are verbal communication skills?
Simply put, it is how you engage in conversation and how you keep your co-communicator focused.
Here are the skills that will help you keep that conversation going, no matter if you are speaking to your boss, colleague, or friend.
Skill #1: Active listening
Most of the time, when we are engaged in a conversation, we worry more about what we will say next and how we will form our sentences than about listening to the person in front of us.
This is where active listening comes into play.
Active listening means that we are paying close attention to what the person is saying and trying to understand the messages that they are sharing with us.
When we engage in active listening, we are letting the other person know that they have our undivided attention.
Active listening is a way to show the other person that what they are saying is important, and help them feel more confident when they are speaking.
That being said, active listening doesn’t only mean that our ears are focused on the speaker’s words, but also that our eyes are fixated on them, and only them.
If you are having trouble focusing because of the background noise, ask the person you are having the conversation with to move to a quieter place where nothing can disrupt the flow of the conversation.
When we are actively listening, we are being more open-minded about the information that we are receiving, and coming up with what to say next will come easier than when we are overthinking our next move.
💡 Pumble Pro Tip
If you want to explore your active listening skill, you should check out our blog post on the subject:
Skill #2: Ask for clarification
Verbal communication is the transactional process of using words to exchange information, ideas, thoughts, and feelings with another person.
But, what should you do when you are not sure what the person is saying? Ask them to explain further.
When you are asking for clarification, you are not disrespecting the other person, but clarifying with them that the message you have received is the same as the one that they were trying to get across.
There is nothing wrong with asking questions, and you shouldn’t feel bad about needing clarification.
Getting clarification from the other person will only deepen the conversation, and it will leave no room for confusion or miscommunication.
Skill #3: Mind your tone
Emotions can be our best asset and our worst enemy.
Although it’s important not to bottle up our emotions, letting them run loose is not the way to go either.
So what do our emotions have to do with our verbal communication skills? If we get too heated in an argument, we might notice our voice getting louder or more high-pitched.
Keep in mind that just because someone is louder, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are in the right. That is why, when we are speaking to a colleague, we should never let our emotions get the best of us, no matter how much we disagree with the information that we are receiving.
The tone you use can help you be perceived as a reliable and confident speaker.
No matter the situation, if you mind your tone, you will get the message across more easily.
Conclusion: Explore all the ways you use verbal communication
Now that we have covered everything you need to know about verbal communication, you should keep in mind that as much as it can be used to better the way you communicate, it can also be misused sometimes.
Before you start perfecting your communication type and style, we recommend that you use the information that you have learned from this article and find out about your personal style of communication. Get to know yourself before you start fixing your communication.
✉️ Verbal communication is versatile and very important in our day-to-day lives. Do you know what your communication style is?
Share your experience and tips at firstname.lastname@example.org and we may include your answers in this or future posts. If you liked this blog post and found it useful, share it with someone you think would also benefit from it.