Anyone who has ever applied for a job will know that one of the things an organisation will be interested in, is your general communication style and your verbal communication skills. If you’re well prepared for the interview you will easily be able to demonstrate your verbal communication skills during the course of the interview process and show what an effective communicator you are. However, once appointed to a role how many of us think about our verbal communication skills on a day to day basis? Not many of us.
The fact is that many of us take much of our verbal communication for granted and we rarely consider whether it needs to be improved, unless we have to do some public speaking, some negotiating or when something goes wrong. Thinking about the words and language you use can impact on all areas of your working life.
Tips - Verbal communication skills
1. Listen to other people. We’ve all cringed on occasions when we’ve heard someone else speak. Spend one week, really listening to what people say. Think about what they say and then compare their verbal communication skills to your own, You may find that you actually have some of the same bad habits.
2. Think before you speak. Yes, I know it’s a bit obvious, but too many of us speak unthinkingly and then regret it.
3. Use active listening skills. Active listening isn’t just about listening carefully, it also means being able to check what people have said, reflect back what they have said and check for understanding.
4. Accept that people have different verbal communication skills and styles, which may be very different from your own. Don’t interrupt and ensure that you allow other people the time to say what they need to say.
5. Use jargon with care. It’s easy to assume that colleagues are familiar with jargon. Just be aware that sometimes people may not be. They can feel excluded if you pepper your language with jargon that they do not understand, and yet may not tell you.
6. Don’t use language that undermines people. Sarcasm is poisonous and it’s unnecessary, so don’t be tempted into using it.
7. Don’t be verbally aggressive. Resorting to shouting or swearing to make a point is unprofessional, so is criticising staff in front of colleagues.
8. Be aware of ‘in jokes.’ They exclude anyone who’s not familiar with them.
9. Use people’s correct names. It sounds a small things, but it’s easy to upset people if you mispronounce their name, shorten their name without permission, or use a nickname that they’ve never like.
10. Praise people. People like to be told they have done a good job. Make sure that you’re praise is appropriate. Ie – don’t tell people their work is ‘ outstanding’ if it is only good.
Verbal communication is just one facet of the way we communicate and is key to the success of or working relationships. I believe that the most important aspect of the effectiveness of our verbal communication skills, is that we don’t take them for granted and periodically see what we can do to improve them.
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