Components of Verbal Communication

Verbal communication begins with babies using sound to convey pleasure or pain.

When we think of communication we often think of speech. Communication involves conveying thoughts or ideas from one person to another. It is made up of both verbal and nonverbal components like tone changes and body language and even timing. But research shows that our verbal communication -meaning the actual words we say - makes up only a portion of our communication. However, even if our words are only a small part of the way the get our messages across, our verbal components are vital. Without them, people would not be able to express the full range of human emotions.

1 Sound and Volume in Communication

Sound is a basic component of verbal communication. Babies use sound to communicate as soon as they are born. One cry may send a message such as "I'm hungry" and another cry may say "I hurt." Communication progresses with babbling or urgent noises until a child is finally able to use words. The use of sound in communication continues into adulthood. Some noises are a confirmation of a statement as if to say, "I agree." Others are warning sounds. These types of "paraverbal" communications are sometimes classified as nonverbal but they do use the component of sound.

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2 Verbal Components in Communication

Speech is a more progressive component of verbal communication. It is the combination of many unique sounds in a specific order to convey meaning. The first steps toward speech may simply be "Mama" or "Dada." This small beginning can elicit a strong emotional reaction. For speech to be effective in a relationship or in a public setting, it must be given in a manner that does not offend. A person's culture and background contribute to what is acceptable in speech. If acceptable etiquette is not followed, then communication may be misunderstood and unsuccessful.

3 The Use of Language

The skillful use of language is a complex component of verbal communication. Language involves expressing yourself accurately in order to be understood. Use of language to convey meaning advances well beyond basic speech. It includes figurative expressions, literal descriptions, the use of hyperbole, illustrations and examples. Language allows for an unlimited number of meaningful expressions to be formulated and conveyed. It is not confined to the present but can express information from the past and expectations for the future.

4 Communication as Conversation

Conversation can be viewed as an art form. It is an important verbal component of communication. This component can be difficult for some to master as it involves complex patterns of language and interaction. These interactions include interjections, interruptions, trailing sentences, questions, topic changes and incomplete thoughts. All these verbal exchanges come together in a unique way to convey ideas.

Tracy Anglada is an award-winning mental health author and has been a special needs parenting writer since 2001. Anglada's articles have been published by "Pediatrics for Parents," "Calgary's Child" and "The Balanced Mind Foundation." Anglada's books have been recommended as resources by Harvard, Scholastic, and AACAP.