Opportunities to communicate are all around us. Understanding the different types of communication can help us become more effective as we connect with others. As we begin to develop these essential skills, it will impact how we see the relationships around us and help us better navigate them.
We often think about communication and only associate it with what we say. After all, speaking is a large part of the process. However, there is more to communication than just speaking. There are several types of communication that we probably come across daily. Verbal (what we say), non-Verbal (what our body is saying), written (texting, social media posts, and emails), visual (pictures, memes), and listening. Each type of communication is important, so let’s take a closer look.
Verbal communication is the most widely recognized type of communication; it is what we say. However, it is more than just what we say; it is also how we say it. Verbal communication includes anything we do with our voice when trying to get a message across, like our pitch and tone. For example, if you say something with an angry-sounding tone, most people would conclude that you are upset about something. When expressing your message to others, make sure you check in with how you deliver your message.
This type of communication is all about what you do not say. Non-verbal communication includes body language, gestures, and facial expressions. Sometimes the things we do with our body when communicating to others, say more than our actual words. Make sure that your body language is matching your message. If you want to convey that you are approachable, make sure your body language is expressing it.
As our society has shifted into a more digital age, written communication has become a more significant part of how we communicate. I also think written communication can lead to many misunderstandings as we are missing voice inflection and body language. One way to avoid misunderstandings in written communication is to keep it simple; consider if a conversation is better had to face to face. Also, proofread before you send, there is nothing worse than auto-correct sneaking up on you after you have already sent a message.
With the age of social media, we often post pictures and memes to convey our thoughts or feelings. This is one way we use visual communication in our lives. With my social media, I try to post things that I find are funny; to me, I am trying to express the importance of humor. We all use pictures to convey different messages. Just make sure that whatever picture you post depicts the message you are trying to send.
This can be an overlooked part of communication, but it is an essential skill to develop. Listening helps us engage with others; if we are always doing the talking, how can we develop relationships with others? Listening is so much more than just being quiet. When my husband is talking to me about something, sometimes I get so caught up in my thoughts that I am distracted and not listening. This is not active listening, because I am listening to respond and not listening to hear. When we are actively listening, we are trying to understand the message a loved one or friend is sharing. Learning to summarize what the speaker is saying will help express and communicate our understanding.
Communication is important. As we learned above, we use communication in almost everything we do each day. Taking a moment to understand what message we are trying to convey in each type of communication, will help others know what we are trying to say and help us understand others.
This week I want you to be mindful of one type of communication. It might be overwhelming to try and be aware of every area, so pick one. Will you focus on how you listen, or what your body language conveys about your message? Whatever you focus on, be mindful of the next week and see how it shifts how you communicate.