Fine-Tuning 5, Oral + Written = Verbal

Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 04:38 am
Oral communication is communication that is spoken.

Written communication is communication that is in writing.

All communication in the form of words (oral and written) is verbal communication.

All too often, people think that written and verbal communication are the same thing. Although written is verbal, verbal is not necessarily written.

Communication without words is nonverbal communication.
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Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 04:53 am
Here's a nice article on non-verbal communication:


One of the problems of communicating on the internet, is the lack of non-verbal communication. For instance, if someone writes, "I can't stand you", you don't really know what the person meant. You don't hear his tone of voice, his body language. He could be joking, or dead serious, but you don't know just by the words. On A2K, that's why the smilies are so valuable. It is not the same as looking directly at a person, but at least you get some clue as to the real message that the person is sending! Surprised
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Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 06:35 am

Thank you for posting this, as the misuse of "verbal" is one of my pet peeves. In my experience, however, the misuse of "verbal" usually stems from the belief that it's synonomous with "oral", not with "written". For example: "Did you send him an e-mail about the meeting?" "No, I told him verbally."

I sometimes try to enlighten people on this matter by asking whether, when they took the SAT verbal exam, it was an oral or a written test. Most of the time, however, I just rage inwardly.
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Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 07:11 am
On the internet, Ive found that my "chat" skills are always misunderstood. Then I reasoned that it was probably my fault.consequently Ive been on a change-program to make my normal, stream-of-consciousness internet speech, actually have a point . Im often dismissed as being condescending and mean-spirited when Im actually trying to be honest and direct.

Communications skills on the internet are special. If we try to remain objective and businees sounding, we sound too stand -offish and give the impression that we are just bystanders.
If we get into the fray, its amazing that unintended consequences occur by how our phrases are interpreted by the readers.

So my suggestion is this, make all your posts intentionally humorous, then youll only piss off a very small percentage.
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Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 08:28 pm
Phoenix, I wrote a book about telephone communication. One of the problems inherent in talking on the phone is that you can't see the other person. Communicating on the Internet is doubly problematic because you can't see or hear. It becomes even more of a problem if people do not have sharp writing skills.

Bree, I knew you would show up here. I remember we discussed this once on abuzz. One of your bugaboos. I'm especially glad I wrote this now, since we're obviously encountering two different mistakes--verbal for oral and verbal for written. I heard the latter a few days ago, which triggered my wanting to write this thread.

farmerman, I understand what you mean all too well. I've spent many years editing and writing formal English (textbooks). I've been on the Internet for almost two years, and I still have trouble sounding like me. The me I am when I talk. I think I spent my first six months on abuzz apologizing. "No, I didn't mean that. I meant this." The little emoticons help a bit.
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