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Have Your Students Mastered All Three Types of Communication?

October 25th, 2017 Mike Gecawich

When journalists asked HR executives from a variety of sectors what skill they most look for in new recruits, the most common answer given was communication skills.

Exemplary communication skills are essential to be successful in today’s professional world.

Both written and verbal, in person and over the phone. Being an effective communicator matters in order to have a successful career and healthy relationships.

So how would your students stack up against the competition when it comes to their communication skills?

The answer to this question is likely to vary depending on which type of communication we’re talking about.

While each type of communication might be more relevant for different contexts, we want students to excel in all three before they head off into the world beyond high school.

Three Types of Communication

Verbal Communication

Verbal communication consists of a lot more than just talking.

It includes not only what you say, but how you say it.

Word choice, tone, register, volume, and fluency all contribute to how effective someone is at communicating verbally.

In helping students become master verbal communicators, consider giving them a rubric that describes what each of these elements sounds like when it’s perfectly executed.

Get students into the habit of referring to this rubric when they and their classmates share ideas with one another. Soon they’ll become more adept at identifying these different elements and monitoring them in their own speech.

Nonverbal Communication

Imagine slouching in your chair during an important job interview. Or letting out an audible yawn without covering your mouth during a high-stakes business meeting.

These are examples of (unprofessional) nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication consists of your body language and facial expressions when you are conversing with someone else.

Oftentimes this is the form of communication that students are least aware of because it is something that they’re doing when they’re listening instead of talking.

While appropriate nonverbal communication changes depending on the context, there are a few ground rules that always apply.

Consider giving students a checklist that they can keep on their desks during class discussions to remind themselves of appropriate nonverbal communication norms.

What are some non-negotiables? Sit up straight. Make eye contact with the speaker. Nod to show you are listening. Avoid fidgeting with your hands.

Written Communication

Anyone who’s ever read a correspondence laden with typos or casual slang can sympathize with how much professional written communication matters.

In particular, when it comes to applying for jobs, written communication is often the first impression you’ll make through a cover letter or resume.

Help your students put their best foot forward when it comes to written communication.

Apart from emphasizing the importance of proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation, help your students think about appropriate tone and register in written communication.

Show them sample emails to a close friend, a coworker, and a business client. How does word choice and formality change depending on the audience?

If students are always considering who will be reading their writing before they start, they are much more likely to communicate effectively.

With a little practice, your students will stand out in the professional world for their exemplary communication skills.

Mastering all three types will make them better candidates, employees, managers, and even friends.

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