Our lives revolve around communication. We communicate with our friends and family and many of our businesses depend on communication. Communication can be written or verbal; it also takes into account non-verbal gestures such as nodding your head, smiling, or turning away from someone. If we have a strong understanding of the types of verbal communication, we can often better utilize our voices and be overall more confident in our communication.
There are four main types of talk. Each style has its own purpose and its own unique qualities. An awareness of how we talk and what purpose each type of talk serves can help us use communication in the healthiest way possible. After reviewing these types of talk, consider what styles you use and what styles may be problematic for you.
1. Small Talk. This is the chatty, sociable conversation that fills most of life. It’s watercolor talk. No feelings are communicated. It is ordinary, everyday communication – like “how was your day?” “thank-you for coffee” or “good morning.” The tone of voice and pace of speech are normal, relaxed, friendly and even. Small talk is inadequate for handling any important issue. 70% of talk is small talk.
2. Control Talk. This is directive talk: giving advice or telling others what they should think or do. This type of talk gives the listener one message – “I am in control and I know what’s right. We will do it my way.” This type of talk is sometimes necessary in a work environment. It can be troublesome, however, if one is forcing another to change or implementing ideas that are not well accepted. Heavy or constant control talk is always negative. Sometimes we stop listening to the content and only focus on the control. Control talk does not always have to be negative. We often need to use control talk with children – as parents often know what is best and need to exert our will at times. Use control talk carefully and be careful of sending a constant message that you are right and others are wrong.
3. Search Talk. This is brainstorming in a detached way. This is a non-threatening style that allows you to analyze, explore and speculate the past and future without making decisions or taking action. Children often ask questions. They engage in a lot of search talk as they try and figure out the world. In work, many decisions and strategies are first designed through search talk. This is not the style of talk used for making decisions. Rather, search talk is used for gathering information or examining alternatives when making decisions.
4. Straight Talk. This is the most intimate communication that takes place between two people who are important to each other. Straight talk occurs very much in the here-and-now. Each person in the conversation must have a sense of understanding and being understood. Both of you accept thoughts and feelings of your own and share information to reach a solution or compromise acceptable to all. Straight talk often occurs in relationships and less likely at work. However, in stressful work situations, such as evaluating performance or letting an employee go, straight talk may provide a more genuine and healthy means for communicating tough issues.
Having an understanding of the types of talk you and those around you use, can help you find healthy ways to communicate. Throughout our day, we transition between different types of talk. It’s this variety that keeps things interesting, but our insight into the substance of communication styles can help us have healthy relationships and happy workplaces.
If you would like to learn more about healthy relationship techniques and how they can be implemented at home and in workplaces, contact Kimberly Miller at kimberly at millerandmillerllc.com.