Have you ever found yourself struggling to express your vulnerability or emotions to your partner or anyone else? If so, you’re not alone. Clear communication can be a real challenge for many, and it’s not uncommon to avoid it altogether when it involves discussing difficult topics.

If this sounds familiar, then this article is for you. It’s a guide to understanding the importance of clear, verbal communication. It’s not just about connecting and understanding, but also about navigating life’s ups and downs. It’s about learning to express your needs, give direction, and provide support when it’s most needed.

While the importance of clear, verbal communication may already be familiar to some, it’s worth revisiting this profound topic and its impact on our daily lives.

Why Verbal Communication Matters The Power of Words

Verbal communication is not just a means to express our thoughts, feelings, and intentions (Verbal Communication: Understanding the Power of Words, 2023). It’s a fundamental aspect of human interaction, crucial in our daily lives and relationships. It’s a powerful tool for connecting with others and forming social bonds. However, without clear verbal communication, it can lead to the suppression of emotions, lack of understanding, and even instability in mood. The fear of communicating can hold us back, preventing us from expressing ourselves and leading to a buildup of unexpressed emotions. This can have a detrimental effect on our relationships and our well-being.

Growth Through Communication

The importance of clear verbal communication is not just about the present moment, but also about the potential for growth and improvement in our communication skills. Being clear about what we need to express is essential in understanding, teaching, setting boundaries, articulating survival needs, problem-solving, processing emotions, and connecting. These elements are vital to getting through our daily routines, forming lasting relationships, progressing, and growing as we navigate life stressors, changes, and triumphs.

Being able to articulate clearly also gives you self-understanding about your thoughts and feelings for your own self-care and healthy functioning. But to understand clear communication, you also need to understand communication that is not clear and serves as a barrier to connecting and understanding (Verbal Communication: Understanding the Power of Words, 2023)
clear communication

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Barriers to Clear Communication

Being unable to learn and conduct clear communication can contribute to the inability to process and feel your own emotions because people will just hold it in and allow it to fester, affecting functioning especially when conflict needs to be discussed. Effective, clear verbal communication typically goes beyond talking and may encompass how you deliver messages and how you receive them.

This constitutes another way of connecting with others through communication other than shared experiences that are being expressed because the delivery can cultivate safety and security during vulnerable moments like expressing and communicating.

When talking about pleasant things, it seems effortless, clear, enjoyable, and healthy; however, in conflict discussion, the ability to implement clear verbal communication gets lost in self-preservation to avoid getting hurt by what the other is saying or the anticipation of what they may say. Some barriers that prevent clear communication are defensiveness, stonewalling, criticism, and contempt. These barriers don’t necessarily apply to conflict discussions with romantic partners. They also apply to regular conversations that may be vulnerable and triggering to some who will then engage in any of these communication styles or barriers to protect themselves. Communicating clearly can prevent unnecessary conflict and distress from a lack of understanding (Types of Verbal Communication (With Importance and Tips), 2022).

The Four Horsemen of Communication

The term “Four Horsemen of Communication” according to Lisitsa, refers to defensiveness, stonewalling, criticism, and contempt. Identifying these in your conflict discussions is a necessary first step to eliminating them and replacing them with healthy, productive communication patterns.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a metaphor depicting the end of times in the New Testament. They describe conquest, war, hunger, and death, respectively. We use this metaphor to describe communication styles that can predict the end of a relationship. But it could also imply that the conversation is unclear or disconnected and can escalate into emotional distress that could result in conflict in professional or interpersonal relationships.

a group of women sitting on a couch discussing clear communication

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Strategies for Clear Communication

Ensuring that we try our best to maintain clear verbal communication can enhance our ability to connect on a deeper level, embrace vulnerability without fear and anxiety, prevent unnecessary lengthy conversations that typically involve repeating ourselves, and get in touch with our feelings and emotions with self-understanding especially if we want others to understand and empathize with us.

Making sure our communication is clear also ensures there is little room for misunderstanding and interpretations that are not congruent with the point we are trying to convey. If there is a misunderstanding, your delivery can make others feel comfortable asking questions without fear of a hostile response.

Clear communication can look and sound in many ways. For example, stating “I feel _____ (insert emotion/feeling word such as frightened, disrespected, happy, etc.) when you do _________ (specific action, statement, or event). And what I need is _______ (specific behavior change, alternative response, or call to action)” is considered clear communication because it addresses the person’s feelings, what took place for them to feel a certain way, and what they need.

Common Communication Pitfalls to Avoid

In addition to employing effective communication strategies, it’s important to be mindful of common mistakes that can hinder clear and productive exchanges. Some of the most frequent pitfalls include:

Lack of active listening: Failing to truly focus on understanding the other person’s perspective and instead formulating your response.

Unclear or vague language: Using ambiguous words and phrases that can lead to misunderstandings.

Emotional reactivity: Getting defensive or raising your voice, which shuts down effective dialogue.

Failing to check for understanding: Assuming the other person has grasped your message without confirming.

Poor timing/context: Bringing up sensitive topics at an inopportune time or in the wrong setting.

Lack of empathy: Neglecting to consider the other person’s point of view.

One-way communication: Dominating the conversation instead of engaging in a two-way dialogue.

To avoid these common mistakes, continue practicing active listening, using specific and concrete language, regulating your emotions, checking for understanding, choosing appropriate contexts, exercising empathy, and maintaining a balanced, two-way exchange. With time and effort, you can overcome these barriers to clearer, more effective communication.

The goal for communicating effectively is to think about what you can give to the person communicating with you instead of what you can take or assume what is being said before they say it to show you relate to them and understand. This can be diminishing, and it also indicates a lack of intentional listening to understand and, more so, your listening to respond. If you don’t know what is needed, show interest and motivation to learn what is needed to ensure you’re genuinely trying your best to understand them.
a couple looking at a computer discussing clear communication

Conclusion

Prioritizing clear verbal communication should be as automatic in your daily life as brushing your teeth or checking your calendar each morning. Clear communication helps you express yourself, organize complex ideas, assist in thinking through challenging situations, influence your mood, provide clarity, increase motivation, and save time.

The ability to communicate also allows you to validate your own emotions and feelings and feel heard. If you struggle with communication, journal your thoughts and feelings and read them to yourself to feel confident and gain self-understanding of what you are trying to convey before going into conversations that may be uncomfortable. This can also ensure you communicate everything you need clearly.

REFERENCES

Lisitsa, E. (2013, April 23). The Four Horsemen: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. Retrieved from Gottman: www.gottman.com

Types of Verbal Communication (With Importance and Tips). (2022, December 17). Retrieved from Career Development: www.indeed.com

Verbal Communication: Understanding the Power of Words. (2023, May 9). Retrieved from Explore Psychology: www.explorepsychology.com