What Are the Four Communication Skills?

Updated July 20, 2017

There are four important skills that you use to communicate on a daily basis. They are receptive skills (listening and reading) and productive skills (speaking and writing). Each of these skills are also split into two groups, which are oral and written. Using each of these skills allows us to both comprehend and articulate language, which is very important for any occupational activity and/or social interaction with others.


Listening is the communication skill that involves receiving and comprehending a message that is being transferred verbally by others. This is a receptive oral communication type. The listening skill can be used in the same interactive situations as the speaking skill. It is also used for lectures, TV and films, sermons and listening to the radio. Using this skill requires that you recognise rhythm and tone patterns, understand the context, recognise the vocabulary and notice key words.


Reading is a receptive written communication skill that involves receiving and comprehending written material. This skill also helps to build your vocabulary, which in turn will improve your listening skills. The reading communication skill requires that you recognise the grammatical forms of words, such as nouns or adjectives, and find the main idea and distinguish it from the supporting details. You also need to find the meaning of unrecognized words, and find connections and links to other parts of the text.


The speaking skill involves verbally transferring and delivering a message to be received by others. This is a productive oral mode of communication that allows us to open up and start a conversation. Speaking skill situations are face-to-face conversations, giving a speech or engaging in a radio broadcast. Speaking skills require that you pronounce the sounds and words in a language clearly so that people can understand you and arrange words in the correct order. You need to use your vocabulary properly.


Writing is a productive written communication skill. This skill is needed for articulating and presenting thoughts and ideas through writing. Situations where this skill is needed is taking notes, writing essays or articles and writing a novel. Use of the writing skill requires that you use words in their correct forms that express right tense or gender, use the appropriate style for your audience and genre and make your text coherent so that others can understand your ideas.

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About the Author

Sean Barboza started his freelance writing career in 2005, with his work appearing in various online publications. His writing expertise lies in many areas such as technology, culture and music. He is pursuing a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from California State University at Bakersfield.