Almost every job requires workers to use verbal communication skills. That’s why verbal skills are highly ranked on the candidate evaluation checklists used by many job interviewers.
The stronger your communication skills, the better your chances of getting hired regardless of the job for which you’re applying. You’ll do better during the interview, as well as on the job.
What Are Verbal Communication Skills?
Effective verbal communication skills include more than just talking. Verbal communication encompasses both how you deliver messages and how you receive them. Communication is a soft skill, and it’s one that is important to every employer.
Workers who can convey information clearly and effectively are highly valued by employers.
Employees who can interpret messages and act appropriately on the information that they receive have a better chance of excelling on the job.
Verbal Communication Skills in the Workplace
What constitutes effective verbal communication on the job depends on the relationships between communication partners and the work context:
- Verbal communication in a work setting takes place between many different individuals and groups such as co-workers, bosses and subordinates, employees, customers, clients, teachers and students, and speakers and their audiences.
- Verbal communication occurs in many different contexts including training sessions, presentations, group meetings, performance appraisals, one-on-one discussions, interviews, disciplinary sessions, sales pitches, and consulting engagements.
Examples of Verbal Communication Skills
Here are some examples of effective workplace verbal communication skills employed in different workplace contexts.
Verbal Communications for Supervisors: The best supervisors don’t merely tell their subordinates what to do and expect them to listen. Instead, they employ active listening skills to understand employee needs and perspectives, engage in verbal negotiation to address and defuse issues, and capitalize upon opportunities to praise individual and team achievement.
- Advising others regarding an appropriate course of action
- Conveying feedback in a constructive manner emphasizing specific, changeable behaviors
- Disciplining employees in a direct and respectful manner
- Giving credit to others
- Recognizing and countering objections
- Showing an interest in others, asking about and recognizing their feelings
- Speaking calmly even when you’re stressed
- Terminating staff
- Training others to carry out a task or role
- Using affirmative sounds and words like “uh-huh,” “got you,” “I understand,” “for sure,” “I see,” and “yes” to demonstrate understanding
- Using self-disclosure to encourage sharing
Verbal Communications for Team Members: Open and constant lines of communication are vital to team success, particularly when completing quality- and deadline-critical projects. One of the most important team-building skills, strong verbal communications help to ensure that issues will be spotted and resolved in formative stages, averting costly escalation.
- Conveying messages concisely
- Encouraging reluctant group members to share input
- Explaining a difficult situation without getting angry
- Explaining that you need assistance
- Paraphrasing to show understanding
- Posing probing questions to elicit more detail about specific issues
- Receiving criticism without defensiveness
- Refraining from speaking too often or interrupting others
- Requesting feedback
- Stating your needs, wants, or feelings without criticizing or blaming
Verbal Communications with Clients: If a large part of your work involves one-on-one communications with customers, it’s helpful to have a “gift of gab” – particularly if you are a sales professional. Keep in mind, though, that your conversations need to be focused upon identifying and addressing your clients’ needs; using your verbal talents to encourage consultative dialogues will ensure positive client relations.
- Anticipating the concerns of others
- Asking for clarification
- Asking open-ended questions to stimulate dialogue
- Calming an agitated customer by recognizing and responding to their complaints
- Emphasizing benefits of a product, service, or proposal to persuade an individual or group
- Noticing non-verbal cues and responding verbally to verify confusion, defuse anger, etc.
Verbal Communications for Presenters: Public speaking is a talent that is honed both through practice and through formal training. Speaking articulately and persuasively to a live audience involves:
- Enunciating each word you speak clearly
- Introducing the focus of a topic at the beginning of a presentation or interaction
- Planning communications prior to delivery
- Projecting your voice to fill the room
- Providing concrete examples to illustrate points
- Restating important points towards the end of a talk
- Selecting language appropriate to the audience
- Speaking at a moderate pace, not too fast or too slowly
- Speaking confidently but with modesty
- Summarizing key points made by other speakers
- Supporting statements with facts and evidence
- Tailoring messages to different audiences
- Telling stories to capture an audience
- Using humor to engage an audience
Tips to Improve Your Verbal Communications
Even if you are a shy introvert who prefers to work independently, there are ways to improve your verbal communication skills so that you can more easily cultivate rapport with others.
Practice makes perfect, and so take the time to actively practice these communications skills for workplace success: active listening, clarity and conciseness, confidence, empathy, friendliness, open-mindedness, giving and soliciting feedback, confidence, respectfulness, and non-verbal (body language, tone of voice, eye contact) communication.