Reasons for Poor Verbal Communication

Oral communication is an essential aspect of human interaction, but it can sometimes fail due to various reasons. 


Gerald Miller and Mark Steinberg: “The process of using words to share information and ideas with others.”


James McCroskey and Patricia Andersen: “The process of using spoken language to convey information, feelings, and thoughts.”


Joseph DeVito: “The process of using words to send and receive messages.”


Michael Burgoon and Judy Hale: “The process of using words to create meaning.”


John Cragan and Donald Shields: “The process of using words to influence others.”


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Reasons for Poor Verbal Communication

Reasons for Poor Verbal Communication

Basically, here are some specific reasons for poor verbal communication. 

  1. Poor listening skills
  2. Cultural and language barriers
  3. Lack of clarity in communication
  4. Nonverbal signs that are inappropriate
  5. Communication overload

Poor listening skills

When people do not listen to closely/actively to what the other person is saying, it can lead to misunderstandings and breakdowns in communication.

Example: A manager gives instructions to their team, but some members don’t pay full attention and miss important details, causing errors in their work.

Solution: Improve active listening skills by focusing on the speaker, asking clarifying questions, and summarizing key points.

Cultural and language barriers

Different cultures and languages can create communication challenges, as people might have different ways of expressing themselves or interpreting messages.

Example: A multinational team experiences miscommunication due to differences in accents, idiomatic expressions, or cultural norms.

Solution: Encourage cultural sensitivity and understanding, and provide language training or translation services when necessary.

Lack of clarity in communication

Ambiguous or unclear messages can cause confusion and misunderstandings.

Example: A speaker uses technical jargon or complex language that their audience doesn’t understand.

Solution: Use simple, clear language, and explain any necessary technical terms or concepts.

Nonverbal signs that are inappropriate

Nonverbal communication, such as facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice, can occasionally communicate confusing or contradictory messages.

Even if a speaker’s words are polite and respectful, their body language (e.g., crossed arms or lack of eye contact) conveys disinterest or anger.

Solution: Be aware of nonverbal cues and ensure they align with the intended message.

Communication overload

When people are bombarded with too much information or too many messages, it becomes difficult for them to comprehend and retain the information.

Example: A presenter delivers a lengthy, information-dense lecture without giving the audience time to absorb the material.

Solution: Break information into smaller chunks, use visuals to support the message, and give the audience time to process the information.

Strategies to Overcome the Failure of Oral Communication

Oral communication can be improved by employing various strategies to reduce failure. Here are some techniques and examples to enhance effective communication:

Active listening techniques

  • Maintain eye contact with the speaker.

  • Nod your head to show understanding.

  • Use verbal cues such as “I see” or “OK I understand.”

  • Paraphrase or summarize the speaker’s points to ensure comprehension.

  • Ask open-ended questions to encourage elaboration.

Clear and concise messaging

  • Use simple language and avoid jargon.

  • Organize your thoughts before speaking.

  • Be specific and provide relevant examples.

  • Stick to the main points and avoid going off on tangents.

Nonverbal communication skills

  • Maintain appropriate eye contact.

  • Use hand gestures to emphasize points.

  • Practice good posture and avoid crossing your arms.

  • Control facial expressions to convey the right emotions.

Emotional expression and control

  • Be aware of your emotions and how they may affect your communication.

  • Practice self-awareness and self-regulation to manage your emotions.

  • Use appropriate tone and volume when speaking.

  • Express empathy and understanding when discussing sensitive topics.

Building rapport and empathy

  • Show genuine interest in the other person’s thoughts and feelings.

  • Find common ground and shared experiences.

  • Use open body language and maintain a relaxed demeanour.

  • Offer support and encouragement when needed.

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