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53 Types of Communication Skills

Communication skills are abilities, talents and knowledge related to communicating information and influencing people. The following are common types of communication skills.

Formal Communication

Communications that require careful and precise language such as answering investor questions in a public forum.

Informal Communication

The ability to communicate effectively in regular conversation. For example, being able to build rapport with someone in a short conversation in a coffee room or elevator.

Relationship Building

Building and sustaining relationships such as a salesperson who builds a positive relationship with a large number of people in their industry.


Influencing the actions of others by leveraging communication and relationships.


Influencing the thoughts and beliefs of others. For example, convincing people that a risk is serious and imminent.

Cultural Capital

The ability to influence, persuade and build relationships in a particular culture. This may require social status and knowledge of the norms and expectations of the culture.

Cross-Cultural Communication

The ability to communicate and build relationships where you are an outsider in a particular culture. For example, a German salesperson who is able to close sales in China.


Reaching agreements with favorable terms.

Closing Sales

The art of getting to yes to close sales. A specialized skill that is highly valued by industry.

Win-win Conversations

Supporting the ideas of others and exploring shared opportunities.

Win-lose Conversations

Handling situations that are inherently win-lose or lose-lose.

Argument & Debate

Engaging in the exchange of diverging or opposing views. An essential process for resolving disputes and actively exploring ideas.


The ability to navigate politics such as office politics to get things done.

Meeting Management

Organizing and running meetings.


Helping others to communicate by creating direction and structure around a conversation. Facilitation also requires stepping in when a conversation becomes unproductive to get things back on track.


Assisting others to negotiate a settlement or reach an agreement.


Directing a structured conversation whereby you ask questions of someone. This has many variations such as a job interview or market research interview. Interviews may follow a methodology such as a ladder interview.


The art of asking useful questions to explore information, challenge ideas and debate.


Developing and delivering critical feedback.

Constructive Criticism

Building on the positive when delivering criticism in order to reduce the likelihood it will be received negatively.

Dealing with Criticism

The ability to respond to criticism in an intelligent and appropriate way. This includes defending yourself from unfair criticism and accepting fair criticism with grace. Dealing with criticism is an essential element of personal resilience that allows an individual to thrive in an environment of stress and competition.


Wit is mental sharpness that allows you to respond with intelligence and perhaps humor.


The ability to make people laugh is a social skill that is valuable to communication and relationship building.


The ability to work with others to be productive and creative as a team as opposed to a situation where each individual is competing to push their ideas forward in an inflexible way.

Consensus Building

The process of making decisions as a group.

Message Framing

Designing messages to be well received.


Storytelling is the art of making information interesting.

Public Speaking

The ability to communicate effectively to groups large and small.

Information Design

The design of information environments and visualizations.

Visual Communication

The ability to visualize information to achieve communication goals.


The ability to communicate with various media such as social media or video production.


The art of writing.


The ability to speak multiple languages.


The ability to translate from one language to another.


The ability to translate what someone is saying in real time.


Listening with intent to understand and showing that you are interested with elements such as questioning and eye contact.

Eye Contact

Information and emotion is conveyed by the eyes. As such, eye contact is considered a basic communication skill.

Body Language

Communicating with your body including both active and passive components such as using your hands to give emphasis or sitting up straight to show interest.

Nonverbal Communication

A catch-all for conversational elements beyond words. This includes elements such as facial expressions, eye contact and body language.

Emotional Intelligence

The ability to read emotion and respond in an appropriate and directed way.


Empathy is the ability to share an emotion with someone.


The ability to sympathize with someone without feeling their emotions. For example, feeling sympathy for someone who has a fear of flying without feeling any such fear yourself.

Direct Language

The ability to get to the point.

Plain Language

Making your language clear to a broad audience by avoiding needless complexity such as obscure vocabulary.


The ability to change someone's mind with gentle suggestion as opposed to harsh and commanding language.

Call to Action

The effective use of commanding language.

Active Silence

The use of silence to further communication.

Stakeholder Management

The ability to build and sustain relationships with stakeholders such as investors, employees and regulators.

Managing Expectations

Communicating what you will do and will not do in order to manage the expectations others have of you.

Setting Expectations

Setting expectations such as a manager who clearly and completely communicates responsibilities and tasks.

Difficult Conversations

The ability to communicate negative information or handle conversations that are likely to invoke strong emotions such as anger or sadness.

Customer Service

Customer service is a highly specialized skill that requires knowledge of service techniques and patience to deal with a wide range of customer needs. This typically requires a high level of personal resilience.

Public Relations

Communications designed to build and defend the reputation of a firm both internally with employees and externally with stakeholders such as investors, community groups and the media.
Overview: Communication Skills
Abilities, talents and knowledge related to communicating information and influencing people.
Related Concepts


This is the complete list of articles we have written about communication.
Action Plan
Ad Hominem
Anticipating Objections
Body Language
Building Trust
Business Comm.
Comm. Process
Civil Inattention
Devils Advocate
Direct Language
Comm. Channels
Comm. Complexity
Dumbing Down
Comm. Context
Echo Chamber
Comm. Design
Comm. Issues
Comm. Objectives
Ground Rules
Comm. Plan
High Context
Comm. Problems
Comm. Skills
Comm. Style
Low Context
Consensus Building
Media Bias
Message Framing
Digital Comm.
Moot Point
Nudge Theory
External Comm.
Plain Language
Positive Criticism
Formal Comm.
Rhetorical Question
Self Monitoring
Hypothetical Question
Informal Comm.
Information Design
Interactive Media
Internal Comm.
Mass Comm.
Media Studies
Nonverbal Comm.
Open-Ended Question
Shared Meaning
Small Talk
Social Comm.
Social Cues
Strategic Comm.
Tag Question
Target Audience
Thought Experiment
Tone Of Text
Touching Base
View From Nowhere
Word Of Mouth
More ...
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