Jumpstart Communication After Deployment

Section Two: Verbal and Nonverbal Communication

Verbal modeling, eye contact, and simple messaging can improve your communication.

Verbal communication is the process of communicating ideas with words and is communication that is spoken aloud. In verbal communication it is important to choose your words wisely. If you’ve ever listened to that “little voice inside your head,” then you’ve practiced filtering your thoughts. This awareness helps keep you from blurting out everything you’re thinking and gives you a chance to consider the effect of your thoughts and words before you say them. This habit is especially important during reintegration when stressful or difficult conversations may occur. Roll your mouse over the image to the right to explore more tips!

Use nonverbal communication techniques to support and enhance your message.

Nonverbal communication encompasses body language, voice tone and pitch, facial expressions, gestures, and posture. When verbal and nonverbal messages are inconsistent, such as when someone says he/she is happy while staring at the ground, research has shown that people tend to ignore the verbal and focus on the unspoken expressions instead. Nonverbal communication can enhance and emphasize your verbal message and convey emotions that your words don’t capture. Nonverbal communications involve both the speaker who sends the signals, and the listener who receives and interprets them. Roll your mouse over the image to the right to explore more tips!

Avoid language or mannerisms that can be perceived as harsh or attacking.

Using “I” messages instead of “you” statements, and paying attention to nonverbal cues, can pave the way for effective communication. “I” messages are statements that focus on how a specific action makes you feel, not what someone else has done. These statements allow you to share your feelings without attacking or blaming others. “You” statements are when you focus on how others are feeling or what they’re doing instead of how you feel. These statements can seem attacking and be perceived negatively. In the activity to the right, decide whether each item is a verbal or nonverbal communication skill by dragging the item in to the corresponding category. Then, select the Resources tab to download the handout, Communication Skills and Tips.