The ability to use verbal and written communication is unique to humans. It is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. It is, in addition to the ability to think and imagine, the essence of being human. As effective communication has separated us from the animals, so effective communicators stand out in the workplace.

Verbal communication

You probably talk much more than you imagine. Every word you utter and how it is spoken says something about you, which means that you should consider every word. And, equally important, you must consider your audience.

In casual situations you will be relaxed and will be able to be yourself, but meetings and presentations are a different proposition and can take you out of your comfort zone. However, the rules are the same.

In casual conversation, you have to engage your audience. You do this with your tone of voice, subject matter and mode of delivery, along with bodily movements. In formal situations you must engage your audience and create a rapport. This can be done by revealing a little about yourself, so making the audience feel privileged.

It is also a good idea to step away from the podium if you're presenting, which will make you physically closer to your listeners. Watching how politicians present themselves will teach you a great deal about effective public speaking.

There are, of course, a number of things to avoid. It is good to vary your volume and tone to enliven your delivery. You should not shout as this could be viewed as a mask for insecurity while whispering could be interpreted as lack of confidence. At meetings, you should avoid both interrupting other speakers and monopolising proceedings.

Your communication skills in job interviews are also of the utmost importance.

Written communication

Written communications should be carefully considered, as they are a permanent record of your thoughts. Letters, memoranda and reports should be carefully composed and checked for spelling and grammatical errors. They should be succinct – your readers are busy and do not want to have to wade through excess verbiage. Emails and text messages should be formal and treated with the same careful deliberation. All written communications should look professional.

With electronic written communications it is easy to fall into texting language and to add in “smileys” and repeated unnecessary character strings. This is unprofessional and should be avoided. It is also very easy to dash off a text or email in haste or anger, something that you will regret later, so control your emotions.

And finally, don’t forget that not everyone in the office needs to see your correspondence, whatever form it takes. Avoid adding to unnecessary email traffic.

In all communications, remember that whatever you say or write is a reflection of you. Your future progression in the company could depend on how effectively you communicate.