By: Tom Goulding

Everybody knows someone who can brighten up the room the moment they walk in. It’s been the subject of seminars, TED talks and popular Dale Carnegie books. We’re fascinated by charismatic people and want to know what makes them so likable.

This is due to great verbal communication — a trait that likable people all share. They know when to listen, when to speak and are intentional in what they say.

Here’s how you can improve your verbal communication for your career:

Verbal communication is one of the most basic ways to connect with others. An email or text can be helpful, but talking through things with others helps to add another level of connection. It ultimately leads to increased confidence and time saving.

Let’s review the four types of verbal communication. These are important to break down because they’re used every day in most lines of work. They are categorized as:

  • Interpersonal communication. A perfect example of this would be two people in a conversation. They each take turns being the receiver of the message or the communicator, back and forth (and sometimes even both at the same time!).
  • Intrapersonal communication. This is how you communicate and talk to yourself. It includes what kinds of thoughts you have and how they’re transmitted and received.
  • Small group communication. These are meetings, small gatherings and so forth — one communicator, multiple recipients.
  • Public communication. Like the aforementioned TED talk, this is when one individual addresses a large group of people. This form of communication is typically reserved for communicating a strategy or agenda.

For the workplace, there’s a professional filter that naturally needs to be added to verbal communication basics. It’s common to avoid conversation on polarizing topics, say “please” and “thank you” and try to be as friendly as possible. These skills are extremely helpful tools to utilize within the four types of verbal communication we‘ve covered.

Best practices to consider

To add to your likability toolkit, here are some methods to consider as you network and foster relationships with others:

  • Active listening. This is an essential component of professional communication. If given the right attention and time, there’s great value in truly hearing the other person and responding in kind.
  • Reflect before speaking. Take a moment to process what they say and consider what you would like to reply with. Thoughtfulness goes a long way.
  • Paraphrasing. This method helps with active listening. To paraphrase means to convey the other person’s idea back to them in your own words. This is done for clarification and to build trust with one another, which helps them know that you understand.
  • Be confident. Maintain eye contact, speak clearly and try to be warm in how you speak. Be calm but trust yourself in what you are saying. Confidence builds rapport and helps you improve communication skills.
  • Friendly persuasion. You often will find yourself in an environment where ideas are competing, even if indirectly. But remember, persuading someone to your way of thinking is contingent on intent and being empathetic, not for the sake of your own ego.
  • Ask questions when you don’t know. Questions are your friends. If you’re not understanding something, ask for clarification. It’s okay to appear uninformed for a few moments — this will only help you in the long run. Be open to feedback and constructive criticism for more valuable two-way communication.

Verbal communication is a skillset every pro needs. And with these considerations in mind, you can find ways to improve your likeability in any chosen field. At UCR University Extension, we give students the tools they need to learn key communication strategies that lead to long term success in the workplace.

One of our specialized professional certificate programs is Supervision and Leadership, which dives into what it means to be a leader in the business world — and how to grow relevant skills, such as verbal communication. Within this program, students can hone their verbal communication with courses such as Communicating Effectively and Motivating, Managing and Developing Others.