Employers will often ask us to prove our communication skills during an interview. To do this, don’t just tell them about your communication skills – demonstrate them!
Communication skills come in all shapes and sizes. Being a good communicator involves not just what we say, but a range of other aspects like how we speak, our active listening abilities, nonverbal communication cues, and the ability to adjust our message for our audience.
Below are 66 of the best communication skills you can have in an A to Z list. Have a scan to find the communication skills that you want to demonstrate to your future employer.
Communication Skills Examples
Acknowledging others’ points of view can help diffuse tense situations, build relationships, and show that you’re listening. By showing that you understand where someone is coming from, you can better collaborate with them towards a resolution.
Related Article: 41 Top Examples Of Communication
2. Active Listening
Active listening is a communication technique that requires the listener to fully engage with the speaker, understand their message, and provide feedback. It helps people know that you respect their points of view while also helping you to take-in information more effectively.
3. Active Voice
Using active voice in your communication can make your writing and speaking more clear, concise, and impactful. Active voice is when the subject of a sentence performs the verb. For example: “I am writing a paper.” This is opposed to passive voice, which would be something like “A paper is being written by me.
4. Asking Questions
Asking questions is a key communication skill because it shows that you’re interested and engaged in the conversation. It also helps you to get more information from someone to help you to understand them more effectively and make better decisipns.
Assertiveness is the ability to express yourself confidently and stand up for your needs and beliefs. It’s a balance between being too passive and too aggressive. Being assertive can help you better manage difficult situations, express yourself more effectively, and build healthier relationships.
See More: List of Examples of Assertiveness
6. Authenticity and Honesty
Authenticity and honesty are important communication skills because they help create trust. When you’re authentic, you’re being true to yourself and your beliefs. And when you’re honest, you’re sharing accurate information that people can rely on.
7. Body Language
Your body language is a nonverbal form of communication that can influence how others perceive you and respond to you. It includes your posture, facial expressions, eye contact, and hand gestures. By changing your body, you can change the message in your communications.
Boosting is a strategy that involves emphasizing important points. It involves using strong adverbs and adjectives such as strongly and amazing in order to emphasize and draw attention. The opposite of boosting is hedging, which can also be useful in some situations.
Hedging involves softening language. It can be useful when giving feedback or demonstrating thoughtfulness. For example, if you wanted to hedge the term “You’re always late! I should fire you!”, you could say “You’re often late and I need you to try harder.” By changing ‘always’ to ‘often’, you’re likely being more honest but also less aggressive.
Brevity is the ability to communicate effectively in a concise manner. It’s important to be clear and to the point in your communication, especially when time is limited. As a professor, I find my students appreciate brevity because it shows I respect their time and don’t want to waste it.
Calibration is the act of adjusting your communication style to match your audience. For example, you might speak more formally to a boss than you would to a friend. By calibrating your communication, you can ensure that your message is better received.
Clarification involves making sure that you understand someone and that they understand you. It’s important to clarify things when there is potential for misunderstanding. This can be done by asking questions, repeating back what you heard, or providing additional information.
Clarity is the act of making something clearer or easier to understand. When communicating with others, clarification can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and reduce misunderstandings. Some people are far better at communicating complex ideas in a clear way than others.
Conciseness is the quality of being brief and to the point. In communication, conciseness can be achieved by using clear language and avoiding unnecessary details. It’s important to strike a balance between being too brief and providing too much information. Conciseness is that perfect middle ground.
Confidence is key in communication because it helps you to project authority and credibility. When you’re confident in your abilities, it comes across in your words and actions, making it more likely that others will listen to you and take you seriously.
Congruence is the alignment of your words, actions, and beliefs. When you’re congruent, people can trust that you’re being honest and authentic. This alignment helps build credibility and rapport. It’s embodied by the phrase “actions speak louder than words.”
Conciliation is the act of making peace or restoring harmony. In communication, it can involve strategies like apologizing, seeking ways to move forward, forgiveness, and finding common ground. It’s important to be able to conciliate with others when there is conflict so that you can resolve the issue and move forward.
18. Consensus Building
Consensus building is the process of coming to an agreement with others. It involves active listening, compromise, and respect for differing opinions. When you’re able to build consensus, it shows that you’re able to work well with others and find common ground. This is a valuable skill in any workplace, and in particular, a vital skill for leaders.
Consideration is the act of thinking about someone and their perspectives. In communication, it involves taking others into account and being mindful of their needs. For example, if you’re considering your audience when giving a presentation, you might choose to use simpler language so that everyone can understand. Similarly, if there are people in your audience with vision impairments, you would make sure you didn’t provide information in an exclusively visual format.
Consultation is the act of seeking advice or input from others. In communication, it can involve getting feedback on a proposal or idea, or asking for input on how to best proceed. Consultation shows that you value others’ opinions and are willing to consider them before making decisions. This can help build trust and rapport.
Cooperation is working together with others to achieve a common goal. In communication, it can involve compromise, collaboration, and respect for differing opinions. When you’re able to cooperate with others, it shows that you’re able to work well with others and find common ground. This is a valuable skill in any workplace, and in particular, a vital skill for leaders.
Go Deeper: Cooperation Examples
22. Creative Writing
Creative writing is the art of using words to create a piece of writing that is original and expressive. It involves using your imagination to come up with new ideas and ways of looking at things. Creative writing can be used in many different ways, such as novels, poems, short stories, or even marketing copy.
23. Debate and Rebuttal
Debate and rebuttal are two important skills for communicating effectively. Debate involves presenting opposing arguments in a respectful way, while rebuttal involves responding to those arguments. Both skills require you to think on your feet and be able to defend your position. Effective communicators will be able to debate in ways that convince their opponents of their positions.
See More: Rebuttal Examples
24. Dress (What you Wear)
Your appearance, including your clothes, can communicate a lot about you. The way you dress sends nonverbal cues about your status, professional identity, and level of authority. When you go for a job interview, it’s important to dress in a way that shows you’re taking the meeting seriously. Similarly, if you’re giving a presentation, you might want to dress in a way that projects confidence and authority.
25. Email Etiquette
The tone in an email conveys a message just as much as what is written. Steps like using an appellation (Dear Name), a professional tone, avoiding abbreviations, and proofreading your email before you send it can help show your communication skills to the person you are emailing.
26. Eye Contact
Eye contact can show interest, attentiveness, and respect. It can also make you appear more credible and trustworthy. People with strong communication skills make eye contact both when speaking and listening as a way to demonstrate that they are fully present in the situation. However, overly staring at someone can be taboo, so this is a communication skill that takes some time to master!
27. Facial Expression
Facial expressions are an important form of nonverbal communication. A soft smile can encourage someone to continue speaking, while a furrowed brow may discourage people. Good communicators often maintain an animated face, with smiles, eye contact, and even subtle nods of the head, to engage in active speaking and listening.
Good communicators remember to follow up on a discussion that was previously had. For example, if you had an interview for a new job, following up with an email a few days later thanking them for the opportunity can show interest, engagement, and enthusiasm. Similarly, as a boss, you might follow up on a discussion with a staff member to see if they took action on what you agreed upon. This can help improve results, whether it’s in the workplace or for job applications.
Being friendly makes you more approachable, helping you with your overall skills in communication. It can make people more likely to want to listen to you and engage in conversation. If you’re friendly, it shows that you have good social skills and are easy to talk to. This is a valuable skill in any situation where you need to communicate with others, whether it’s at work, school, or even just meeting new people.
Gestures are a form of nonverbal communication that can reinforce or replace verbal messages. For example, you might use gestures to show agreement, emphasize a point, or express pleasure or displeasure. Good communicators know how and when to use gestures to support and reinforce their message. Some people, such as teachers, will also use gestures without even speaking to subtly direct and manage their students.
31. Giving Examples
Good communicators are specific. They don’t provide vague commentary. Instead, they give very clear and explicit examples. This is especially important with essays, where precision and clarity are often valued. Giving examples can also help to build trust, as it shows that you know what you’re talking about and that you’re not just making things up.
32. Giving Space and Time
Sometimes, the best thing you can do as a communicator is to give someone the space and time they need. This is especially true when someone is upset or angry. If you try to force them to communicate before they’re ready, it will only make the situation worse. Good communicators know how to Respect personal space and boundaries, and they’re patient enough to wait for the right time to engage in discussion.
Humor is a great way to build rapport, make people feel comfortable, and get your point across. It can also be used as a tool to diffuse tense situations. However, not everyone appreciates the same type of humor, so it’s important to use it sparingly and only when you’re sure it will be well-received. It’s also sometimes inappropriate to use humor in some situations, so its use needs to be culturally appropriate.
34. Medium Selection
A medium is the means through which a message is communicated (e.g., spoken words, written words, pictures, etc.). The selection of medium is important because it can affect the clarity, effectiveness, and even the meaning of the message. For example, a text message may be misinterpreted if the receiver doesn’t know the sender’s tone, whereas rich media such as face-to-face conversation can usually avoid such misunderstandings. Good communicators carefully select the most appropriate medium for their message and their audience.
Mirroring is a form of nonverbal communication in which you match the body language, tone, and energy level of the person you’re talking to. It’s often used as a way to build rapport and make people feel comfortable. When done correctly, mirroring can make you appear more likable, trustworthy, and competent. However, it’s important to be aware that mirroring can also come across as fake or insincere if it’s not done naturally.
36. Multimodal Communication
Multimodal communication is the use of multiple modes (media) t communicate a message. For example, a multimodal message might include spoken words along with visual presentations. Multimodal communication is often more effective than uni-modal communication because it can provide more information to the receiver to understand the message. If you need to prove your communication skills, consider demonstrating them by using multiple modes of address at once.
37. Naming (Saying People’s Names)
One of the simplest but most effective ways to build rapport is to say people’s names. This is a strategy that is taught in the famous book How to win Friends and Influence People. It makes the interlocutor feel seen and valued, and it helps you to remember them better. When you’re talking to someone, make an effort to catch and use their name often.
38. Open Door Policy
An open-door policy is a way of communicating that encourages openness and transparency. It’s often used in business settings, but it can also be applied to personal relationships. The basic idea is that people should always feel free to come to you with any concerns or questions they have, no matter what or when! This can help to build trust and improve communication. If you want to adopt an open-door policy, make sure that you’re approachable and that people feel comfortable coming to you with their concerns.
39. Open-Ended Questioning
Open-ended questions are questions that can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” They require the respondent to elaborate on their answer. For example, instead of asking “are you feeling okay?”, you can say “what’s on your mind?” These types of questions are useful for getting people to open up and share more information than they would if you just asked closed-ended questions.
40. Closed-Ended Questioning
Closed-ended questioning is usually discouraged, but it has some value in some contexts. For example, if you need quick and simple responses that won’t slow your down, you can ask for a simple yes or no answer to a quick check-in question. This is common, for example, in the restaurant industry. Your server doesn’t say “What do you like about the meal?” Rather, they say “Is the meal okay?” so you can give a quick nod and the server can get on with their job.
Paralinguistics is the study of nonverbal communication that accompanies speech. This includes things like tone, volume, pitch, and rate of speech. Paralanguage can give extra meaning to the words that are spoken, and it can be used to build rapport or convey emotions. For example, saying someone’s name with a warm tone can make them feel appreciated, while saying it with a cold tone can make them feel unwelcome.
42. Personal Space (Proxemics)
Personal space is the distance that people like to keep between themselves and others. It varies from culture to culture, but in general, people like to have more personal space when they’re talking to someone they don’t know well. Respecting personal space can make people feel more comfortable and help you to build rapport.
Your posture can communicate a lot about how you’re feeling. For example, slouching often conveys boredom or disinterest, while standing up straight often conveys confidence. If you want to appear more open and approachable, try to avoid crossing your arms or legs, which can make you seem closed off.
Prompting is a way of giving someone a cue to continue speaking. It can be verbal, like saying “yes” or “go on,” or nonverbal, like nodding your head. Prompting shows that you’re interested in what the other person is saying and that you want to hear more. It’s commonly used in teaching, where the educator uses a prompting signal to try to get students to provide more information and further demonstrate their knowledge.
45. Providing Examples
Examples can be exceptionally useful for helping get across a point. Providing examples is a way of clarifying your point by illustrating it with a real-life example. This can be helpful if you’re trying to explain a concept that’s difficult to understand, or if you want to make sure that everyone is on the same page. When providing an example, try to choose one that’s relatable and easy to understand.
46. Providing Handouts
Handouts can supplement an oral message, helping people to further understand what you are communicating. They can be useful for giving people something to refer back to after a meeting or presentation as well as a way to help people follow along with what you’re saying. Handouts can also be used as a way of providing more detailed information about a topic than you could include in a presentation.
47. Public Speaking
Not everyone is a skilled public speaker. So, people with the ability to get in front of a crowd and confidently entertain them have a communication skill that many other people don’t have! Good public speakers can command an audience’s attention, project confidence, keep people engaged, and think quickly on their feet. Examples of excellent public speakers include Barack Obama and Tony Robins.
Questioning is a fundamental communication skill. It involves asking questions to gather information, clarify understanding, or encourage someone to continue talking. There are different types of questions that can be used for different purposes. For example, open-ended questions are often used to encourage someone to keep talking, while closed-ended questions are often used to gather specific information.
Rapport is a feeling of harmony or understanding between people. We could describe it as a “connection” between people, and it’s an important part of effective communication. Building rapport can make people feel more comfortable talking to you, and it can make it easier to resolve conflicts and disagreements. Excellent communicators can get up in front of a group of people, or have one-to-one conversations, and leave the situation having built a warm relationship with the people across from them.
50. Reading Body Language
Reading body language is the ability to understand the nonverbal cues that people use to communicate. This can include things like facial expressions, eye contact, and body position. Being able to read body language can help you to better understand what someone is really saying, even if they’re not using words. As a result, it helps you to more effectively craft your response so it’s catered to the needs and, importantly, emotions of the person you’re taking to.
Responsiveness is the ability to quickly and accurately respond to the communication of others. As a general rule, I try to respond to all emails within 24 hours. This is an essential communication skill for me as a professor because it helps my students to learn more effectively, helps to quickly clarify confusion among my students, and lets them know I am there for them.
52. Role Playing
Role playing is a technique that can be used to help people understand a concept or scenario. It involves acting out a situation in order to explore different possible outcomes. This can be helpful for exploring what might happen in a difficult conversation, or for understanding how to respond to someone in a difficult situation. This communication strategy is most regularly used in business and therapy settings.
53. Scanning (with eyes)
Scanning is a strategy used in public speaking to improve your rapport with your audience. It involves using our eyes to ‘scan the room’ and make eye contact with the people you are talking to. Scanning can help us to better understand our audience’s reactions and identify whether we have said something that has confused or distracted our listeners. It’s also a strategy commonly used by teachers who scan their students to ensure they’re keeping up with the lesson.
Sometimes, the best way to make yourself come across as relatable and to get people to open up is to share our own experiences. This makes people more comfortable with reciprocally sharing. When we share, we should aim to be vulnerable so that others feel comfortable being open with us. However, it’s also important to be aware of the boundaries of what is appropriate to share and what isn’t. We don’t want to overshare or make people feel uncomfortable.
Silence can be a powerful communication tool. It can be used to show that we’re listening, to give people time to think, or to emphasize a point. When used effectively, silence can make us appear more confident and in control (often called a ‘strategic pause’). However, it’s important to be aware of the different types of silence and when they are appropriate. For example, too much silence in a conversation can make us appear disinterested, bored, or even rude.
Simplifying our message can be an effective way to communicate, especially when we’re talking to people who are not experts in the same field as us. When we simplify, we break down complex concepts into smaller, more manageable pieces that are easier for others to understand. This can be done by using analogies, metaphors, or other figurative language. This is essential when teaching people new and complex ideas.
57. Small Talk
Small talk is the kind of conversation we have when we’re just getting to know someone or when we’re trying to fill an awkward silence. Some people are great at small talk, but for introverts like me, it’s not easy. Samll talk is generally light and superficial, but it can be an important part of building rapport with someone. Small talk can also help us to learn more about the other person, find common ground, and make friends and professional contacts (i.e. a network).
Storytelling is a powerful way to communicate. When we tell stories, we can engage our listener’s emotions and help them to understand complex concepts. We can also use stories to share our values, experiences, and beliefs. Stories can be used to entertain, teach, or inspire others. When done well, storytelling is an art form that can be used to create lasting memories. For example, great orators like Barack Obama know that stories help them to connect to audiences more than hard facts and data.
Summarizing is a skill that involves taking a complex message and distilling it down to its essentials. It’s a really important skill to have if you’re a project leader or educator. It’s particulary helpful when we need to share a lot of information in a limited amount of time, or when we’re trying to make sure our listener has understood what we’ve said. Summarizing can also help us to remember information more effectively. When we summarize, we should focus on the main points and omit any unnecessary details.
60. Supporting Evidence
Providing supporting evidence is a way to add credibility to our claims and arguments. When we make statements, we should back them up with facts, data, examples, or testimony from experts. This helps our listener to understand why we believe what we do and makes it more likely that they will be convinced by our argument. It can build credibility and help people to leave the conversation feeling confident in you and your knowledge.
Teachers are, generally, excellent communicators. They have to spend most of their days thinking about the best ways to communicate new knowledge to people! When we’re teaching, it’s important to be clear, patient, and adaptable. We need to make sure that our students understand what we’re saying and that they are able to apply the new concepts. If someone asks you if you have good communication skills, you can provide your teaching skills as an example and explain how you teach people new ideas.
Related: A to Z List of Teaching Skills
Tone is the way that we express our emotions and attitudes through our words and actions. It can be difficult to control our tone, especially when we’re feeling emotional. But it’s important to be aware of how our tone might be coming across to others. For example, if we’re angry, our tone might be aggressive or confrontational. If we’re happy, our tone might be cheerful or enthusiastic. If we’re sad, our tone might be sorrowful or regretful. Our tone can influence the way that our message is received, so it’s important to be conscious of it.
62. Touch (Haptics)
Touch is an important nonverbal communication tool. It can be used to express affection, show support, or build rapport with others. When we touch someone, it sends a physical and emotional message. For example, a hug can communicate comfort or love. A handshake can communicate respect or appreciation. A pat on the back can communicate encouragement or congratulations. However, keep in mind that touch can also be seen as inappropriate, depending on the context and relationship. So it’s important to be aware of the cultural norms around touch before using this communication method.
63. Using Props
Props can be a helpful way to communicate, especially when we’re trying to illustrate a concept or make a point. Props can be anything from physical objects to visual aids. For example, if you’re giving a presentation on the solar system, you might use a model of the sun and planets to help your audience understand the concept.
64. Voice Intonation
Voice intonation is the pitch, volume, and rhythm of our voice. It’s an important part of communication because it can influence the way that our message is received. For example, if we speak in a monotone voice, our listener might tune out or become bored. But if we vary the pitch and volume of our voice, we can keep our listener’s attention and make our message more interesting. Voice intonation can also be used to convey emotions. For example, if we speak in a high-pitched voice, we might sound scared or nervous.
65. Voice Projection
Voice projection is the act of speaking loudly enough to be heard by our listener. It’s an important skill to have, especially in noisy environments or when we’re trying to reach a large audience. When we project our voice, we should make sure that we’re not shouting. Instead, we should focus on breathing from our diaphragm and using our resonant cavities to amplify our voice.
66. Volume Control
While voice projection can be a good thing, sometimes it’s equally important to know when to keep our volume down. This is especially true when we’re trying to be respectful or sensitive to others. For example, if we’re in a library or a place of worship, we should make sure to keep our voices down so as not to disturb others. Similarly, if we’re talking to someone who is hard of hearing, we should make sure to speak up so that they can understand us.
Communication is a vital part of our everyday lives. It’s how we interact with others, share information, and express ourselves. By understanding and using these skills, we can become better communicators and make sure that our message is received the way that we intend.
When an employer asks you to demonstrate your communication skills, they’re looking to see if you have the ability to effectively share information and express yourself. There are many different ways to do this, but some common skills include active listening, nonverbal communication, and using props or visual aids. Show-off your communication skills to the future employer so you’re not just telling them you’re good at communicating: you’re also showing them!
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]