The 4 Basic Communication Skills

What are the very most basic communication skills?

We have already offered a very lengthy list of specific communication skills. Then we categorized a more focused list of types of communication skills.

But today we are going to narrow all of these skills down to just 4 basic categories.

You may have heard of these basic communication skills categories when people discuss learning a language. These are the 4 areas that you have to learn and excel at to be considered fully fluent in a language. And they can also help us think about improving communication skills in general.


When we mention basic communication skills, most people first think of speaking. There are a huge range of skills and abilities that fall under this basic category. They range from having a large vocabulary to using voice tone effectively to using descriptions and story to enhance your expressions.

For convenience, we can also categorize the non-verbal, non-written expressions as forms of speaking. Some might even include the ability to express oneself through music or dance in this category. Overall, this category includes anything that has to do with you expressing yourself in ways other than through written words or imagery.


This category will include all written verbal communication skills. So written letters, signs, stories, plays, screenplays, novels and much more are accounted for. But it also includes graphics of any kind. Logos, icons, drawings, pictures and so on all help us express ourselves in ways that do not involve speaking.


Different people refer to this category in different ways. But the most common names used for it are “understanding” and “listening.” In any event, what people are referring to is the ability to comprehend someone else’s non-written communication. This includes not only knowing what the words they utter mean, but factoring in how their non-verbal communication and their particular personal and social characteristics shed light on that meaning.


This is the ability to make sense of written communications of any kind. It involves not only recognizing the words, but being able to extract their meaning so as to attain comprehension. It could also be applied to the ability to appreciate and analyze graphical artistic works such as those mentioned under the category of “Writing.”


When you are considering communication skills activities to improve your abilities, you might want to look at these 4 categories and assess your strengths and weaknesses in each. This will give you a framework for understanding where your skills are most developed and where you could use more work.

These categories can also be useful when teaching others about communication. As a learner, it helps to have a small focused schema with which to think about the tasks ahead. The more extensive types of communication skills and list of communication skills linked at the beginning of this article can also be helpful to facilitate delving in more deeply. But the basic communication skills categories give a broader overview through which to organize a big picture view of communication endeavors as a whole.

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