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Communication: Meaning, Types and Characteristics
Communication Meaning & Types: Communication is a process of exchanging information, ideas, thoughts, feelings and emotions through speech, signals, writing, or behaviour.
“Any act by which one person gives to or receives from another person, the information about that person’s needs, desires, perceptions, knowledge, or affective states. Communication may be intentional or unintentional; it may involve conventional or unconventional signals, may take linguistic or non-linguistic forms and may occur through spoken or other modes.”
In simple words;
Communication is the exchange of ideas, opinions and information through written or spoken words, symbols or actions.
Communication is a dialogue, not a monologue. In fact, communication is more concerned with a dual listening process. For communication to be effective, the message must mean the same thing to both the sender and the receiver.
Characteristics of Communication:
- Two-way communication: Communication is a two-way process of understanding between two or more persons; sender and receiver. A person cannot communicate with himself or herself.
- Continuous Process: Exchanges of ideas and opinion amongst people is an ongoing process in business and non-business world. Continuous interaction promotes understanding and exchange of information relevant for decision-making.
- Dynamic Process: Communication between sender and receiver takes different forms and medium depending upon their moods and behaviour. It is, thus, a dynamic process that keeps changing in different situations.
- Pervasive: Communication is a pervasive activity. It takes place at all levels (top, middle, lower) in all functional areas (production, finance, personnel, sales etc.) of a business organisation.
- Two People: A minimum of two persons; sender and receiver, must be present for communication to take place. It may be between superior, subordinates and peer group.
- Exchange: Communication involves the exchange of ideas and opinions. People interact and develop an understanding of each other.
- Mutual understanding: Communication is effective when sender and receiver develop a mutual understanding of the subject. Messages conveyed should be understood by both parties.
- Goal-Oriented: Communication is goal-oriented. Unless the receiver and sender know the purpose, they intend to achieve through communication, it has little practical utility.
Types of Communication
People communicate with each other in a number of ways that depend upon the message and its context in which it is being sent. Choice of communication channel and your style of communicating also affect communication. So, there are varieties of types of communication.
Types of communication-based on the communication channels:
- Verbal Communication
- Nonverbal Communication
Verbal communication refers to the form of communication in which a message is transmitted verbally. Communication is done by word of mouth and a piece of writing.
Verbal Communication is further divided into:
- Oral Communication
- Written Communication
In oral communication, Spoken words are used. It includes face-to-face conversations, speech, telephonic conversation, video, radio, television, voice-over-internet. In oral communication, communication is influence by pitch, volume, speed and clarity of speaking.
In written communication, written signs or symbols are used to communicate. A written message may be printed or handwritten. In written communication message can be transmitted via email, letter, report, memo etc. The message, in written communication, is influenced by the vocabulary & grammar used, writing style, precision and clarity of the language used. Written Communication is the most common form of communication being used in business. So, it is considered the core of business skills.
Memos, reports, bulletins, job descriptions, employee manuals, and electronic mail are the types of written communication used for internal communication. For communicating with the external environment in writing, electronic mail, Internet Web sites, letters, proposals, telegrams, faxes, postcards, contracts, advertisements, brochures, and news releases are used.
Nonverbal communication is the sending or receiving of wordless messages. We can say that communication other than oral and written, such as gesture, body language, posture, tone of voice or facial expressions, is called nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication is all about the body language of the speaker.
Nonverbal communication helps the receiver in interpreting the message received. Often, nonverbal signals reflect the situation more accurately than verbal messages. Sometimes nonverbal response contradicts verbal communication and hence affects the effectiveness of the message.
Non-Verbal communication has the following three elements:
Speaker: clothing, hairstyle, neatness, use of cosmetics
Surrounding: room size, lighting, decorations, furnishings
facial expressions, gestures, postures
Voice Tone, Volume, Speech rate
Types of Communication Based on Purpose and Style:
Based on style and purpose, there are two main categories of communication and they both bears their own characteristics. Communication types based on style and purpose are:
- Formal Communication
- Informal Communication
In formal communication, certain rules, conventions and principles are followed while communicating a message. Formal communication occurs in a formal and official style. Usually, professional settings, corporate meetings, conferences undergo in formal pattern.
In formal communication, use of slang and foul language is avoided and correct pronunciation is required. Authority lines are needed to be followed in formal communication.
Informal communication is done using channels that are in contrast with formal communication channels. It’s just a casual talk. It is established for societal affiliations of members in an organization and face-to-face discussions. It happens among friends and family. In informal communication use of slang words, foul language is not restricted. Usually. informal communication is done orally and using gestures.
Informal communication, unlike formal communication, doesn’t follow authority lines. In an organization, it helps in finding out staff grievances as people express more when talking informally. Informal communication helps in building relationships.
Types of Informal Communication
Communication is the exchange of ideas, opinions and information through written or spoken words, symbols or actions. Communication is a dialogue, not a monologue. In fact, communication is more concerned with a dual listening process. For communication to be effective, the message must mean the same thing to both the sender and the receiver.
Types of Communication in an organization:
- Internal Communication
- External Communication
Communication within an organization is called “Internal Communication”. It includes all communication within an organization. It may be informal, formal function, or department providing communication in various forms to employees.
Under Internal Communication, types are:
✔ Upward Communication
Upward communication is the flow of information from subordinates to superiors, or from employees to management. Without upward communication, management works in a vacuum, not knowing if the messages have been received properly, or if other problems exist in the organization. By definition, communication is a two-way affair. Yet for effective two-way organizational communication to occur, it must begin from the bottom.
Upward Communication is a mean for the staff to:
- Exchange information
- Offer ideas
- Express enthusiasm
- Achieve job satisfaction
- Provide feedback
✔ Downward Communication
Information flowing from the top of the organizational management hierarchy and telling people in the organization what is important (mission) and what is valued (policies). Downward communication generally provides information – which allows a subordinate to do something. For example, instructions on how to complete a task. Downward communication comes after upward communications have been successfully established.
This type of communication is needed in an organization to:
- Transmit vital information
- Give instructions
- Encourage 2-way discussion
- Announce decisions
- Seek cooperation
- Provide motivation
- Boost morale
- Increase efficiency
- Obtain feedback
Both Downward & Upward Communications are collectively called “Vertical Communication”
✔ Horizontal/ Lateral communication
In this communication, normally involves coordinating information, and allows people with the same or similar rank in an organization to cooperate or collaborate. Communication among employees at the same level is crucial for the accomplishment of the assigned work.
Horizontal Communication is essential for:
- Solving problems
- Accomplishing tasks
- Improving teamwork
- Building goodwill
- Boosting efficiency
✔ Diagonal communication
Diagonal communication includes the horizontal flow of information, among people on the same or similar organizational levels and the diagonal flow, among persons at different levels who have no direct reporting relationship with one another.
It is an informal, unofficial and personal communication channel or system that takes place within the organization as a result of rumour and gossip. It is a complex web of oral information flow linking all the members of the organization. The grapevine does not have any definite pattern or direction, though it is largely horizontal in nature. It can be effective horizontally, vertically and even diagonally.
Communication with people outside the company is called “external communication”. Supervisors communicate with sources outside the organization, such as vendors and customers.
It leads to better:
- Sales volume
- Public credibility
- Operational efficiency
- Company profits
It should improve:
- Overall performance
- Public goodwill
- Corporate image
Ultimately, it helps to achieve:
- Organizational goals
- Customer satisfaction
Types of Communication based on Receivers:
It classifies communication according to the number of persons (receivers) to whom the message is addressed:
Intra-Personal Communication: It refers to talking to oneself in one’s own mind. It is a communicator’s internal use of language or thought. Examples: Asides or soliloquy in dramatic works.
Interpersonal Communication: It is the exchange of facts, information and messages between two persons. For example, a conversation, an interview, letter or dialogue, in which two persons interact (others may also be present as the audience). An author is also an example where he/she interacts messages with the reader, who is a silent audience in the author’s mind.
Group Communication: It is an extension of interpersonal communication where more than two persons are involved in the exchange of ideas, messages, skills, and interests. Examples: Meeting in an organization, club or classroom, Committee meetings
Mass Communication: It refers to imparting and exchanging of information on a large scale to a wide range of people. It occurs when the information is shared with large groups of people. There are fewer chances of direct feedback as there is no personal contact between the senders and receivers. Examples: It can be done through various mediums such as newspaper, radio, or television, social networking etc. Click for More detail on Mass Media
You can also refer to some textbooks and e-books for further study on this topic.