How to win at work with verbal communication skills: A 2023 guide

Jobstreet content teamupdated on 20 July, 2023
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Do you struggle to communicate your thoughts clearly? Did you ever feel that while you wanted to constructively contribute in a meeting, it was perceived differently? Then this guide is for you.

Strong verbal communication skills mean you can express yourself effectively through your choice of words and tone. This involves the use of language to convey ideas, thoughts, and feelings clearly to others. Solid verbal communication is an essential workplace skill, and can significantly impact your success and career advancement.

Importance of verbal communication skills in the workplace

You can use verbal communication skills to build relationships with colleagues, clients, and customers. This sentiment is especially true in Singapore, where companies have realised the value of communicating well.

According to a report by the NTUC Learning Hub, effective communication is the most desired skill among employers in Singapore, with 68 % stating that it is crucial to business viability.

In addition, secondary students taking their GCE O-level and N(A) level examinations must now take a new oral exam to assess their communication skills as part of their comprehensive test. This development highlights the country's goal to develop better communicators.

Impact of poor verbal communication skills in the workplace

When you have strong verbal communication skills, you can promote teamwork and ensure everyone is on the same page. You can also help prevent or reduce misunderstandings and conflicts.

Good verbal communication skills are also essential for other aspects of your professional life, such as leading meetings, public speaking, networking, negotiating, and giving presentations.

On the other hand, poor communication skills can negatively impact your career and workplace relationships. Being unable to express your ideas clearly can lead to confusion and uncertainty. For example, a team member might misunderstand unclear instructions, leading to frustration, wasted effort, andwrong execution.

Such misunderstandings could create a hostile work environment. Poor communication can also lead to low productivity, missed deadlines, and reduced collaboration, which can hurt the overall success of a team or company.

So if you want to know how you can excel in the workplace, focus on developing good verbal communication skills. Coupled with non-verbal cues, these can boost your growth and career advancement. Developing and practising proper communication skills are crucial to ensure positive workplace relationships. Such skills will also help promote productivity and professional success.

Types of verbal communication skills

Verbal tone and pitch

Choosing the right words is one thing, but the tone and pitch of your voice can convey emotion and attitude. An appropriate tone can help communicate your message, engage your audience, and get them to respond accordingly.

A confident and assertive tone in the workplace can better establish your presence during presentations and meetings. In contrast, a friendly, upbeat quality in your voice is essential in building rapport with colleagues and clients.

Voice modulation and inflection

Voice modulation and inflection refer to the variations in tone, pitch, and volume used in speaking. Such variations can keep your audience engaged and interested in what you're saying.

Using suitable voice modulation and inflection creates specific nuances. These include emphasising essential points during a meeting, maintaining attention during presentations, and conveying sincerity when interacting with clients.

Clarity and pronunciation

Clarity and pronunciation refer to how well you say words to ensure your message is understood. Clear pronunciation is especially important in the workplace when orally communicating technical information, discussing crucial details, or presenting information to clients.

Articulation and enunciation

Articulation and enunciation are essential to clarity and pronunciation, but focus on the precision of sounds and syllables. When you can articulate and enunciate clearly, you can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure you get your message across accurately. In the workplace, articulation comes in handy when discussing complex ideas or presenting technical information.

Use of appropriate language

The use of appropriate language means using words and phrases suitable for your audience, situation, and context. This can help you communicate your message effectively and avoid misinterpretation. In the workplace, using appropriate language means using professional language, avoiding jargon or slang, and being mindful of cultural differences.

Listening skills

Listening skills are essential to effective verbal communication because they allow you to understand the perspectives and needs of others. Listening actively and attentively can help you build friendships and positive relationships with colleagues and clients, and respond appropriately to questions or concerns.

Good listening skills are especially necessary for customer service, team collaboration, and conflict resolution in the workplace.

Benefits of effective verbal communication skills

Group of individuals exchanging ideas

Improved team collaboration

Excellent verbal communication skills allow your team to express their ideas and receive feedback from others. These skills lead to better collaboration, as team members can work together to solve problems and achieve common goals. Increased overall productivity and improved workplace relationships can indicate that individuals feel heard and valued.

Increased workplace productivity

Verbal communication skills can increase workplace productivity. These ensure that you convey your instructions and expectations clearly, avoiding confusion and mistakes.

Employees are more likely to complete tasks correctly and efficiently with clear directions. Good verbal communication skills also enable individuals to manage their time effectively, allowing them to meet deadlines.

Enhanced customer service

Good verbal communication skills are essential to providing excellent customer service. When you express yourself well, you can listen actively to customers, understand their needs, and provide appropriate solutions. Proper communication can build positive customer relationships, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Better conflict resolution

The right verbal communication skills can also help resolve workplace conflicts and make difficult conversations easier. You can express concerns clearly and calmly and listen actively to others. Communicating well can reduce tension and misunderstanding, leading to better relationships among colleagues.

Increased job satisfaction

Good verbal communication skills can result in increased job satisfaction for employees. When you can express your feelings and opinions to your colleagues and managers, you are more likely to feel valued and appreciated. You also feel more motivated, productive, and satisfied with your job.

Barriers to effective verbal communication skills

Language and cultural differences

diverse individuals engaged in a lively discussion

Differences in language and culture can make it difficult for individuals to communicate effectively. Language barriers can lead to confusion, while cultural differences affect how people digest information and express themselves. Try learning about other languages and cultures and practise active listening to ensure you understand what others are saying.

Physical barriers

Physical barriers, such as noise, distance, and poor acoustics, can make communicating difficult. These barriers can lead to errors, missed information, and reduced productivity. To work around this, try to find a quiet and private space to talk, use appropriate technology to communicate remotely, and speak clearly and loudly enough to be heard.

Psychological and emotional barriers

According to Communication Theory, there are many possible causes of psychological and emotional barriers. Personal circumstances, such as your lack of sleep or intoxication, can diminish your ability to express yourself, since they can affect your psychological and mental state.

Anxiety and stress can also hamper your communication skills, which may lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and reduced productivity.

Technological barriers

Technological barriers, such as poor internet connection, outdated or malfunctioning equipment, and unfamiliar software can make it challenging to converse, especially in remote work settings. These can lead to inattention, reduced productivity, and missed information.

7 strategies for improving verbal communication skills

1. Practise active listening

Active listening means giving your full attention to the person speaking to you. Signs of active listening include maintaining eye contact, nodding your head, and asking relevant questions. For example, during a meeting, listen carefully to what your colleagues say, take notes, and ask follow-up questions to clarify their points.

You could also repeat some of the things they said to emphasise what you've understood from the conversation.

2. Use clear and concise language

When communicating verbally, opt for clear and concise language that is easy for others to understand. First, you must understand your demographic:Are you talking to Gen Z or seasoned managers? As a general rule, avoid using complex jargon or technical terms that might confuse your listeners.

For instance, when teaching a group of content writers about SEO, use simple language to describe the process. Or, try using analogies or comparisons to help them digest the information faster.

3. Ask questions for clarity

If you are unsure about something, don't hesitate to seek clarification. Asking questions can avoid mix-ups and ensure everyone is on the same page. For example, if your supervisor gives you a task but is unclear on the details, ask questions to clarify the scope, expectations, and timeline.

4. Be aware of non-verbal communication

Non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice can also express a lot. Be mindful of your non-verbal signals and how others may perceive them. For example, maintaining good eye contact, sitting up straight, and smiling during a job interview shows confidence, engagement, and enthusiasm.

5. Use positive language

Use positive and constructive language to communicate your ideas and feedback. Avoid using negative language or criticism that might create a hostile or defensive environment. For instance, when giving feedback to a colleague, focus on their strengths and offer suggestions for improvement.

6. Be mindful of tone and inflection

The tone and inflection of your voice can affect or even change the meaning and impact of your message. Be aware ofhowyou deliver your message to deliver it successfully. For example, adopting a compassionate and reassuring tone when providing feedback to a colleague can make them feel cared for rather than criticised.

7. Use stories and analogies

Using stories and analogies can be an effective way to convey complex ideas or concepts. Remember our content writers? Using familiar examples can help them, your listeners, understand your message more easily. For instance, when explaining a new product to a customer, use a real-life scenario or analogy to help them visualise benefits and features.

Verbal communication skills for remote work

Man working remotely

Verbal communication is crucial in remote work because it is the primary means of communicating and collaborating with colleagues, managers, and clients.

Remote work requires employees to be more intentional and clear in their verbal communication because there is limited physical presence or body language to supplement their message.

Effective verbal communication can help remote workers build trust, establish expectations, and foster better working relationships with colleagues and clients.

Challenges in remote verbal communication

One of the most significant challenges in remote verbal communication is the lack of visual cues, such as facial expressions and body language, which can lead to misinterpretation.

In addition, technical issues such as poor audio quality or dropped calls can also hinder effective communication. There may also be language barriers and cultural differences among remote team members that can complicate verbal communication.

Additional tips for effective verbal communication in remote work

To overcome these issues, consider the following tips:

  1. Use video conferencing whenever possible. Video conferencing can help add visual cues and provide a more personal touch to remote conversations.
  2. Repeat important points. To ensure clarity, go over key items again or ask the listener to rephrase what they have heard. If you're presenting, it might help to add a summary slide to your deck.
  3. Use collaborative tools. Collaborative tools such as chat platforms or shared documents can help supplement oral communication and ensure everyone is on the same page.
  4. Be aware of cultural differences. Be mindful of the different backgrounds of remote team members, and adjust communication style and language accordingly.

Roles that require good verbal communication skills

Good interpersonal skills are essential in a wide range of careers. Here are some examples of jobs that require excellent verbal communication prowess, and how to apply it:

Sales

Salespeople convince others for a living – and that requires intense communication skills. They must be able to explain the features and benefits of their products or services and answer any customer questions. They must also be able to negotiate effectively and close deals.

Customer service

Customer service representatives need to communicate clearly and compassionately with customers regarding their concerns or frustrations. They must listen actively to the customer's concerns and provide helpful solutions.

Teacher

Teachers talk to students, parents, and colleagues all the time. They must explain complex ideas in simple terms and provide clear instructions. They must also be able to give constructive feedback to help students improve.

Lawyer

Lawyers must communicate persuasively with clients, judges, and juries. They have to argue their case effectively and anticipate and respond to counter-arguments.

Journalist

A journalist’s job is to spread clear and accurate information. They must be masters in communication, especially in the format they’re using. Are they magazine writers? Broadcasters? Content creators? Journalists conduct interviews, gather information, and report on events clearly and unbiasedly.

Social worker

Social workers must listen actively and provide emotional support. They must also be able to explain complex regulations and procedures in simple terms. Most importantly, social workers need to be aware of differences in backgrounds and cultures.

Doctor

Doctors have to explain prognoses and treatments effectively and with sensitivity  to patients, colleagues, and other healthcare professionals. They must also listen actively to patients' concerns, and show compassion.

Psychologist

Psychologists must excel at active listening. After all, they should pay close attention to a client's concerns, staying empathetic and providing support. They must make their patients comfortable enough to open up, and offer them logical advice. They also have to explain complex psychological concepts in simple terms.

Human resources manager

Human resources managers communicate company policies and procedures and answer employees' questions. They must be knowledgeable in handling disputes and other tricky employee matters. On the recruitment side, HR executives conduct interviews, evaluate job candidates, and maintain strong negotiation skills.

Event planner

Event planning requires massive coordination, and oral communication is key. Event planners work with clients, vendors, and other professionals and ensure everyone's efforts are concerted. They must take note of the client's needs and preferences and provide creative solutions. They must also negotiate contracts and manage budgets effectively.

Conclusion

Verbal communication skills are indispensable in the workplace and can greatly influence an individual's professional success and career advancement. Developing and practising effective communication skills are essential to fostering positive workplace relationships, boost productivity, and achieve career growth.

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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

  1. What are some benefits of having good verbal communication skills in the workplace?
    Good verbal communication skills in the workplace can help build positive relationships with colleagues and clients, foster teamwork, prevent misunderstandings and conflicts, enhance productivity and creativity, and facilitate professional growth and career advancement.
  2. How can I improve my verbal communication skills?
    You can improve your verbal communication skills by practising active listening, speaking clearly and concisely, using appropriate tone and body language, being mindful of cultural differences, and seeking feedback from others.
  3. What are some common barriers to effective verbal communication in the workplace?
    Common barriers to effective verbal communication in the workplace include language barriers, cultural differences, poor listening skills, noise and distractions, lack of clarity and specificity, and emotional or psychological factors. Tech issues can also hamper remote conversations.
  4. What are some strategies for effective verbal communication in remote work?

    Strategies for effective verbal communication in remote work include:
    • ⁠Using video conferencing tools
    • Using clear and concise language
    • Avoiding technical jargon
    • Establishing communication protocols and expectations
    • Being responsive and available⁠
  5. How can I develop effective verbal communication skills for customer service?To develop effective verbal communication skills for customer service, focus on being empathetic and attentive to customer needs. Use positive language and tone, be clear and concise, actively listen, and provide accurate information.
  6. What is the impact of poor verbal communication skills in the workplace?
    Poor verbal communication skills in the workplace can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, reduced productivity and collaboration, missed deadlines, low morale, and negative impacts on professional relationships and career advancement.

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