Effective communication involves several different aspects. Although verbal communication is the most common way that people correspond, there are many other specific characteristics involved in the interaction. Let’s take listening, for instance. If someone is talking to another person, but the other person is distracted and isn’t really ‘hearing’ what the speaker is saying, then communication is ineffective. Many people think that listening is simple, but it actually takes skill and practice in order to perfect it. No one is a born listener. A listener has to search for specific clues from a speaker. Verbal communication is often accentuated by body language, eye contact and paraphrasing and good listeners have to recognize when a speaker is using these characteristics to get their point across.

Sometimes body language says a lot more than words do when it comes to verbal communication.

A person may claim to be listening to what someone is saying to them, but if the listener is bored or distracted while the other person is talking to them, then it will be quite obvious. The listener may appear to stare into space, not comment at appropriate times or may not even comment at all.  However, being a good listener does not always involve commenting on what the speaker is saying.  Sometimes it’s not necessary for an individual to utter a single word in order to be considered an avid listener. In certain situations during verbal communication, the person speaking may be satisfied with the eye contact, head shakes, murmurs or the facial expressions of the listener.  Body language is an essential part of communication and often determines the effectiveness of the verbal interaction.

Another extremely important aspect of verbal communication is eye contact. Eye contact is the perfect way to get someone’s attention without using verbal communication. It’s subtle yet effective. It doesn’t matter if the people involved in the conversation are complete strangers, if the communication is to be effective; eye contact is a necessary part of the conversation. Without eye contact, two people can’t connect on an emotional level, which makes the interaction useless. For example, how would a psychiatric patient feel if the psychiatrist never looked at them?

Paraphrasing is also essential during verbal communication. Paraphrasing is repeating what a person has just stated, although using a summarized version.  The use of paraphrasing allows the speaker to accentuate specific and highly important portions of a conversation.  It is often used to clarify direction or confirm agreement among all of the parties communicating.  Paraphrasing is very useful to a listener, as well, because it allows the listener to key into specifically what the speaker believes are the most important portions of the topic they are discussing.

Communicating one’s feelings is as much a learned skill as being a good listener.  Some people have a difficult time properly expressing their feelings, which could adversely affect the verbal communication process by creating miscommunication and misunderstanding. No one is a mind reader. If a person only offers a listener partial information then there will undoubtedly be trouble at the end of the communication road.

There are two critical aspects to effective communication; properly expressing one’s feeling to avoid misunderstandings and effective listening. If either of these keys to successful communication is missing, then the interaction won’t go smoothly and there will be problems.  Make sure that you are both a good listener and a good communicator.

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