It seems when we think of the word “communication,” talking is what we first think of. However, there is much more to communication than words coming out of our mouths!

Talking is merely a part of oral communication. Oral communication also includes listening. Listening can take skill and it is an important part of communication itself.

Listening is what lets the speaker know that we are paying attention to what is being said. For instance, by repeating or responding to what we hear, we let the speaker know we are paying attention.

There is also written communication. Right now, we are communicating this way. The most common form of written communication today includes text messaging, email, and posting comments to articles and blogs. There is also instant messaging (IM), which is similar to text messaging only on a different format than a cellular phone.

These forms of written communication have become extremely significant because they are rather inexpensive and easily accessible to everyone. So much, in fact, that we had posted a blog earlier this year, entitled, “Pros and Cons of Texting, IM, and Social Media Posts.”, see: https://www.mcrchoward .org/uncaterogized/pros-cons-to-texting-im-and-social-media-sites/. That reminds me, reading (alike listening) is an integral part of written communication.

Furthermore, when we use written communication, much of an intended message may be lost in translation. For example, it can be difficult to express emotion when text messaging without the use of abbreviations, such as “YOLO” or “LOL” and emoticons. These are used in an attempt to capture the ambience of a particular message. There is almost an art to it!

These forms of written communication are also asynchronous, which means the conversation between the speaker and the listener is not happening at the same time. Other issues have arisen, as these forms of written communication are not designed for a direct response , as a “sender” of a message often infers a response by no response at all.

For this reason, it can be helpful to communicate face-to-face because it allows us to see one another. Although this can be rather difficult when you’re amidst a global pandemic, but you get the point! When we are face-to-face, we can see the responses to what we say when we talk to one another. We are likely able to be aware of whether what we say is being heard and how the other person may feel about what is being said by how they react and respond.

These responses can be verbal or nonverbal. Nonverbal responses include the tone of voice, and body language. Responses illustrate the receiver’s understanding and active participation in a conversation. The tone of voice is the easiest to alter. When a message is delivered with a harsh or forceful tone, we can most likely assume the recipient will not respond as positively as we may expect one to react to an encouraging and calmer tone of voice.

When it comes to how we hear what is being said, 55% is body language, 38% is tone of voice, and 7% is the actual content. Therefore, the mindfulness of the delivery of our message is much more important than the subject matter.

Nonverbal communication includes our body language, such as facial expressions, posture, eye contact, touch, space, gestures, voice, and body movement. The way we carry ourselves, the emotions we display on our faces, how we move our arms around, as well as looking someone directly in the eye as they speak with us conveys information.

The expression on our face as we speak can be a large determinate as to whether the receiver decides to trust or believe what we say. Our body language can be insightful whether we are aware of it or not. These physical behaviors have become extremely important during the COVID19 Pandemic, as we are more likely to rely on facial expressions during webinars and other virtual gatherings.

Moreover, both oral and written communication are considered verbal communication, meaning the use of words within our vocabulary. These words are constructed of a shared language among various people. Language connects us with a society and helps shape our culture. Nowadays, society can be shaped by several shared languages because of our ability to reach outside of smaller communities.

Considering all of this, when we communicate, we promote a trust-based connection in order to be understood and validated by those around us. This process can leave us feeling vulnerable because communicating is an intimate process. As we look at conflict, we often find communication as the primary source of a misunderstanding.