Communication Skills Activities
There are several different types of communication skills that are worth keeping in mind.
Recently, we shared our list of communication skills and abilities, a thorough and very specific inventory of many of the capacities involved in all kinds and all phases of communication. But what categories do these many specific examples fall into?
Here is an attempt to answer that in a shorter list of the types of communication skills. As you will see, some of the specific skills from the previous list are also broad enough to serve as categories of their own.
Mental State Optimization
Different communication situations call for a somewhat different mindset. But, in general, the ability to get yourself in a mindset that balances focus with adaptability upon a foundation of courage will come in handy.
In order to assess communication situations, you first have to have be able to perceive what is around you. The more you’re able to notice with your five senses, the more information you’ll have to go on in deciding how to best communicate.
Non-Verbal Cue Interpretation
This involves reading other people’s body language, facial expressions and voice tone.
This involves everything from recognizing and being able to name emotions in oneself and others to understanding how to best communicate in the context of different emotional states and contexts.
Adaptability to Individual Differences
It’s crucial to be able to assess people’s various personality types and values so as to more accurately understand them and how to express yourself to be understood by them.
Adaptability to Group Differences
Whether you are traveling in another part of the world or just talking to someone with a background there, it is very helpful to know about and be able to vary your communication to account for ethnic, cultural, religious and other such differences.
This includes language skills ranging from basics, such as spelling and grammar, to very advanced, such as the ability to use and translate between multiple languages.
While some communication situations are casual and spontaneous, others have higher stakes and require a plan. So the ability to devise a workable plan can be key.
Even with the best communication plan, we cannot foresee every situation that will arise. So we also have to be able to imagine new possibilities and improvise as conversations develop.
Humor is like a “secret sauce” of communication. There are few situations where at least a little humor can’t make a big difference in your effectiveness. That’s why, even though it may seem very specific, it deserves to be listed as one of the broad types of communication skills.
Acting, storytelling, miming and so on. This is the place where communication becomes art.
Just as it is important to be able to interpret the non-verbal expressions of others, it is important that you can convey your desired message not only through verbal communication skills, but through body position and movement, voice tone and facial expression, as well.
This can include everything from the ability to put together graphs and charts and PowerPoint presentations that help support your message to a talent for the lighting, sound and computer programming needed to produce a great play or film.
Like it or not, how you, your clothing/costuming and your surroundings look does contribute, to some extent, to your message. Aesthetics is the area that studies how to convey meanings through appearances.
Whether you are trying to convince someone to go on a date with you, sell real estate or win votes in a debate, the ability to persuade others is one of the most powerful skills for a communicator to possess.
One of our very first articles focused on listening skills because they are so crucial. You usually don’t learn as much when your mouth is moving as you do when you focus on what someone else is conveying. And there is more to listening than just taking in what someone says. Active listening involves actually using particular techniques to hone in more clearly on what they really mean and demonstrating to them that they were heard, understood and cared about.
Scientists, lawyers and schoolchildren alike all need to understand how to go about finding out information that is of value. What is the right question to ask? How should it be worded? And who will be the best source to ask it to? These are the kinds of things that someone with a talent for inquiry can figure out.
Each of these types of communication skills could take a lifetime to master. Many of them have entire academic fields and many resources such as books, videos and training courses devoted to them. There is probably nobody who can master all of them in one lifetime. But if you can just become the best you can at each of them, you will certainly take your communication skills to a much higher level.