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What is Verbal Communication?

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Verbal Communication is an informal part or media of communication. It shows a process for spoken communication or communication through words or speech. 

Verbal communication consists of words of a language arranged in meaningful patterns. To convey a message through these words, they are arranged according to the rules of grammar so that they form a proper sequence. 

Verbal Communication

Verbal Communication is an informal part or media of communication. It shows a process for spoken communication or communication through words or speech. 

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Verbal communication consists of words of a language arranged in meaningful patterns. To convey a message through these words, they are arranged according to the rules of grammar so that they form a proper sequence. 

These messages may be shared in interpersonal (one to one), speaker – audience (one to many) and mass media (many to many) contexts. It should be effectively communicated so that the receiver perceives it, assigns it the right meaning and responds to it accordingly. 

Verbal communication may be spoken (oral) or written. When effectively conveyed the spoken word will be listened to, and the written word will be read. Both oral and written communications are important in corporate communication and both have their benefits and drawbacks.


Advantages of Verbal Communication

Verbal communication offers the following advantages: 

  1. Verbal communication is very fast and it saves the time involved in it; 
  2. It build upon an effective and personal touch among the different partners; 
  3. Verbal message can be more easily kept confidential than written message; 
  4. It satisfies one of our deepest needs in any human organisation to establish individual and group identity; 
  5. It may be helpful to develop informal relations among different persons in any organisation; 
  6. It saves the money spent on supporting material and stationary in an organisation; 
  7. It provides an opportunity for developing fast and immediate feedback among the people; 
  8. It provides an opportunity to the speaker to correct himself and can modify his voice, speech and tone etc. 

Disadvantages of Verbal Communication

Some of the disadvantages of verbal communication are as follows – 

  1. The statement that verbal communication saves time and money does not hold true. Sometimes many meetings go on without any result and such meetings can be very wasteful. 
  2. Verbal communication in itself is not always effective and effective verbal communication depends on the attitude of the sender and receiver of the message. 
  3. Verbal messages cannot be retained for a long time and the messages must be acted upon immediately. 
  4. A verbal message does not have any legal validity
  5. Misunderstanding cannot be overruled if the verbal message is not organised carefully by the speaker. 
  6. It is difficult to assign any responsibility for anything or any mistake by omission or commission. 
  7. In case of any disturbance or noise, verbal communication cannot be effective.

Four Areas of Verbal Communication

Within verbal communication, four areas deserve attention: 

  1. Jargon and slang, 
  2. Acronyms, 
  3. Humor, and 
  4. Vocabulary and grammar. 

1.  Jargon:

English is rich in colorful but American-based cultural phrases, such as “in the ballpark,” “raining cats and dogs,” and “put in your two cents’ worth.” Jargon has more of a business orientation, but still has phrases unique to American culture, such as “the bottom line” or delivering a “dog and pony show.” 

Even though the words may translate directly into another language, the meanings often do not. Avoid jargon and slang. 

2. Acronyms: 

The initial letters of a series of words—also should be avoided. People from other counties may be unfamiliar even with such common American acronyms as CEO, R&D, or VP. Use the full version the first time, and perhaps each time. 

3. Humor:

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A third area of verbal difficulty is humor. Clearly, what is defined as humor varies dramatically across cultures. Americans often stereotype British humor as understated and dry or perceive Asians as sharing little humor. Conversely, many non- Americans view American humor as coarse and heavy-handed. 

Because of the serious threat of damaging an otherwise potentially viable business setting with inappropriate humor, the American businessperson is advised to avoid initiating humor. 

4. Vocabulary and grammar:

Help your reader or listener by using your best grammar and by writing with accepted punctuation. English is often the language of business, but not all foreign businesspeople are adequately prepared to handle faulty communication. 

Since written punctuation carries rules for how to speak, you should speak your punctuation. Hesitate at commas, and speak in complete sentences. Select a tone that is not condescending, but rather appropriately businesslike.


Channels of Verbal Communication

The different channels of verbal communication are:

1. Face-to-face conversation:

verbal communication is best when it is face-to-face. A face-to-face setting is possible between two individuals or among a small group of persons at an interview, or in a small meeting; communication can flow both ways in these situations. There is immediate feedback, which makes clarification possible. 

Besides, a face-to-face setting offers a richer communication experience owing to the close presence of the living personality whose voice, tone, expression, eye contact, and movements add significance to the words. 

2. Telephone conversation: 

Telephone has overcome the need for both parties to be present at the same place. Telephone conference facility allows three to five persons at different places to have a conversation together. Telephone talk depends entirely on the voice. It does not have the advantage of physical presence. 

Clarity of speech and skilful use of voice are important. There can be confusion between similar sounding words like “pale” and “bale”, or between “light” and “like”. Names and addresses communicated on the telephone are sometimes wrongly received.

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It is therefore customary to clarify spellings by saying C for Canada, D for Delhi and so on. Telephone skills and manners are necessary for everyone who speaks on the telephone

3. Presentation:

A presentation is a formal, well-prepared talk on a specific topic, delivered to a knowledgeable and interested audience; the audience may consist of just one or up to 50 or more. The larger the audience, the more difficult it is to make an effective presentation. 

If the audience is large, a microphone has to be used; old-fashioned microphones cause some restriction in the movement of the speaker, but modern collar mikes are more comfortable. 

A presentation has a face-to-face setting, but it is largely one-way communication, and the speaker has to make careful arrangements for feedback and for interaction with the audience. A presentation is always followed by questions from the audience. 

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The general tone of a presentation is serious and businesslike, though a touch of humour can enhance the presentation; visual aids are also used to support the verbal communication. 

A good deal of the success of a presentation depends on the environment and the arrangements in the room. 

4. Public Speech

A public speech is given to a large audience through a microphone. It has a face-to-face setting but the distance between the speaker and audience is great; this distance increases as the audience gets larger, as in an open air public meeting. 

Feedback is very little as the speaker can hardly see the facial expressions of people in the audience. A public speech is followed by applause from the audience. 

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The purpose of a public speech may be to entertain, to encourage and/or to inspire. The success of a public speech depends on the arrangements and on the speaker’s skill in using gestures and voice, and using the microphone. 

5. Interview

An interview is a meeting at which one person or a panel of persons, who are the interviewers, discuss a matter with another person or ask questions of another person, who is the interviewee. 

An interview is structured, and is characterized by question and answer type of communication. The environment and the arrangements in the room influence the communication in an interview. 

The purpose of an interview is, usually, to assess, to judge whether it would be worthwhile to enter into a business relationship with the other. Each side makes an assessment of the other. 

6. Group discussion

A group discussion is a meeting of eight to ten persons for discussing a given topic. The group has a problem or a topic to discuss and find a solution or come to a conclusion within the allotted time of half hour to one hour. 

It is a joint effort of the group. While it is not a very formal situation, the communication has to be controlled and focused on the task. 

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There is no appointed leader, but a leader may emerge during the discussion. Often, several persons show leadership qualities, and control and guide the group to a conclusion. All participants need discussion skills. 

A group discussion is a very stimulating and useful communication activity. It helps in understanding a situation, in exploring possibilities and generates a multiple point of view. Group discussion is used as a tool for selecting candidates by observing their behaviour and abilities in the group activity. 

7. Negotiation

Negotiation is an official discussion between representatives of opposing groups who are trying to reach an agreement. Buyers and sellers negotiate to settle the final price, management and employees negotiate to settle their differences. 

Negotiation is a very difficult form of verbal communication and requires complex skills. Both parties have to be shrewd, intelligent, controlled and skilled communicators. Negotiation work is assigned only to experienced and especially skilled persons. 

8. Meeting

A meeting usually involves many persons; there is a chairman or leader who leads and guides the communication and maintains proper order. A meeting is a highly structured event. There is a fixed agenda, that is, a list of items to be discussed at the meeting. 

Persons attending the meeting are informed of the agenda in advance and are expected to be prepared for a discussion. The items are discussed strictly in the order of the agenda, and other discussions are not permitted during the meeting. 

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A meeting is backed up by written communication in the form of notice of the meeting and agenda circulated before the meeting, taking of notes during the meeting, and writing minutes after the meeting. 

Meetings are of many types, from the small committee meeting of three or four persons to the large conference or the shareholders’ meeting. 


Use of Verbal Communication

Verbal communication is more often used because of the following reasons: 

  1. Verbal communication is quicker as many times it is unplanned and spontaneous. 
  2. The sender receives feedback almost immediately and can re-word or present his message in a better way. Immediate feedback helps the sender clarify any doubts the receiver would have. 
  3. While reaching out to masses or groups of people verbal communication is more useful, and more effective especially where illiterate masses are concerned. 
  4. The modulation of the voice conveys the various moods of the speaker. 
  5. The facial expressions speak much more than any languages. So speech is a better and more powerful method for persuasion and for convincing people. 
  6. As it is not always as formal as written communication it helps to bond the sender and the receiver better. It is more personal. 

Role of the Speaker in Verbal Communication

An effective verbal communication can only be possible if both the parties can effectively use their communication skill. However, the role of the speaker in this regard is more vital as he is the key man in making the communication a successful one. 

Some of the speaker’s role is enumerated below:

1. Contents:

Before delivering the speech the speaker should prepare homework. In this way he can be sure that all the relevant information has been gathered. Further, the presentation should be made in a planned manner so that there should not be any doubt for the listener on the speech. 

2. Audience:

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The speaker’s communication should be firmly directed to what his audience wishes to know and not just what he wants to tell them. The speaker should look at the people with whom he is communicating. By this he can get feedback on what he is saying and if necessary instant adjustment in verbal presentation can be made. 

3. Adaptation: 

The speaker must adapt his communication according to the size of his audience. The smaller the audience, the more flexible he should be and larger the audience the more difficult it becomes to customize his communication to any precise degree. 

4. Clarification: 

The speaker should clarify instant doubt and this clarification of the message can make the verbal communication more effective. Unless the speech is clear and if there will be any doubt on any point, the small misunderstanding can be a larger one which in the long run can make the message the most ineffective one. 


Listening as a Communication Tool

In order to develop proper verbal communication, listening is an important part. Verbal communication cannot be effective without proper listening. Listening requires much more attention as more or less it is a deliberative effort. 

The important points for developing a worthwhile listening process may be stated here: 

  1. To appreciate the speakers’ message and information; 
  2. It required that listeners must ask the questions and seek clarification wherever is necessary; 
  3. The listeners’ might emphatically be able to feel the emotions and feelings of the speakers; 
  4. The listeners must appreciate the views, outlooks and concepts as given by speakers; 
  5. The speakers must use the feedback mechanism to check the appropriateness of matter; 
  6. Try to create a positive listening environment. 

Limitations of Verbal Communication

Whereas on the one hand verbal communication has certain advantages, on the other hand, it has its limitations and suffers from the following disadvantages:

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(i) Unfit for Lengthy Message – verbal communication is profitable in having a brief exchange of ideas only. It is not possible for the receiver to remember long messages.

(ii) Unfit for Policy Matters – Where policies, rules or other important messages are to be communicated verbal communication is of no use.

(iii) Lack of Written Proof – In case of verbal communication, no written proof is left for future reference. Therefore, sometimes difficulty has to be faced.

(iv) Expensive Method – When less important information is sent to distant places through telephone, etc., verbal communication proves costly.

(v) Lack of Clarity – Lack of clarity takes place when there is little time for conversation. Something wrong can be uttered in a hurry which can lead to negative results.

(vi) Misuse of Time – verbal communication is considered a misuse of time when during meetings the conversation is lengthened unnecessarily. Parties involved in communication waste their time in useless talks.

(vii) Presence of Both the Parties Necessary – In verbal communication it is essential for the sender and the receiver to be present face to face, while in written communication presence of only one party is required.

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