Types of Communication: a detailed Discussion

Communication is a very essential part of our life which helps us express ourselves, connect with others, satisfy our needs and achieve our goals. We are constantly communicating every moment — from answering phone calls, nodding heads in agreement, and writing an application to presenting a business project. In the present era, communication has become the heart of any organization. All works revolve around and result from good communication. At the professional level, strong communication skills help us carry out our jobs effectively and accomplish our goals.

Definition of Communication

As for definition, we can say that communication is the successful transferring or sharing of information, ideas, or feelings between two or more people (sender and receiver), from one place to another, using a medium (such as speaking or writing).


The imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium is called communication.


Communication is a process by which information is transferred or exchanged between people through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.

Components of Communication

Communication comprises three key components, namely—a sender, a message, and a receiver. These three components employ the following steps to make communication successful:

  1. The sender generates and encodes the information, ideas, or emotions, i. e. the message.
  2. The message is then put into a medium for transmission to the intended person or group.
  3. The receiver decodes the transmitted message and gives feedback accordingly.

Only proper and smooth discharge of the above-mentioned steps can make the entire process of communication successful and effective. Disturbances like a slight misunderstanding of the message on the part of the receiver or distortion in the medium will lead to unsuccessful communication.

Types of Communication

There is a varied range of ways in which we communicate. While in some situations we use a singular form of communication, often some situations arise (such as giving a PowerPoint presentation) when we need to use a blend of several types of communication. Let’s now discuss the different types of communication.

types of communication

1. Verbal Communication

It is the most general type of communication that involves the use of language and words to convey a message. Verbal communication can be subdivided again into the following four categories:

  • Intrapersonal Communication Intrapersonal communication, also known as internal communication, is the communication within us through self-analysis, self-thinking, reflection, solo talking, self-awareness, assessment, etc. It connects us with our inner state of mind, and a second person is not required as a receiver.
  • Interpersonal Communication Interpersonal communication, also known as one-on-one verbal communication, takes place directly between two individuals, using/not using any technological device. It includes face-to-face conversation, online modes of communication, telephonic conversation, and so on.
  • Oral Communication The communication that employs spoken words, voice, and sound to share messages is called oral communication. This type of communication uses only one channel, i.e. sound, to transfer information. It provides means of getting quick feedback and a scope of clearing doubts immediately.
  • Public Communication – In this type of communication, one sender (or the speaker) sends a message (or speech) to a mass of people or audience, face-to-face or using technological devices such as radio, television, etc. However, the chances of receiving verbal feedback are limited in public communication, although non-verbal feedback can be expected.

Examples of Verbal Communication

  • Face-to-face conversation
  • Giving a speech
  • Telephonic conversation
  • Sending voice note
  • Taking interviews
  • Group discussion in the workplace

Advantages of Verbal Communication

  • It saves a lot of time, money, and energy.
  • There are fewer chances of confusion because of the clarity of the method.
  • The information conveyed in verbal communication is easy to understand, as the doubts are cleared immediately.
  • Feedback is got quickly once a message is delivered.
  • It is a very reliable form of communication and thus people prefer it worldwide over other types of communication.
  • Verbal communication is the most convenient method of communication for its straightforward and understandable quality.
  • Any person who can speak a language can easily communicate verbally and does not need any material to convey messages.

Disadvantages of Verbal Communication

  • Language differences – If the receiver is unaware of the sender’s language, then communication cannot be carried out. So, the difference in language and dialect is a big barrier in the path of effective communication.
  1. Lack of records – There is no means of recording the information permanently unless any modern device of storage is used. Hence, one cannot refer to the communication later on.
  2. Unsuitable for long messages – When a lengthy message is to be imparted, then this form of communication is not at all suitable. The important points may be missed out and the lengthy paragraphs may cause misinterpretation by the receiver.
  3. Communication gap – While conveying messages orally several irrelevant and unimportant information may get included. This may cause a communication gap and thus retard the effectiveness of the communication.
  4. No rectification – Speaking is a spontaneous process and several mistakes can happen in the process if not taken into consideration. There is no place for rectification once a message is sent.

2. Non-Verbal Communication

Non-verbal communication is a passive form of communication where information, thoughts, and feelings are conveyed through gestures, body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, signals, and symbols. It is wordless communication which mainly aids verbal communication by giving clues and additional information. Non-verbal communication is sub-divided into the following different types :

  •  Kinesics or Body Movements The interpretation of non-verbal behavior associated with any part of our body or the whole body, such as facial expressions, hand gestures, nodding of the head, etc, is called kinesics. It is one of the key and easiest elements of non-verbal communication.
  • Paralanguage The study that focuses on ‘what we say and the way we say it’, is called paralanguage. It includes non-verbal elements of communication such as pitch and intonation of the voice, rate of speech, and stress on words to impart the meaning of the information and the related emotion. The same message can convey different meanings according to the difference in the tone and pitch of the voice.
  • Proxemics or Physical SpaceThe term ‘proxemics’ was coined by the American anthropologist, Edward Hall, who tried to understand and explain how humans use space around them in communication. It determines the level of comfort or intimacy of a person with other people. It is culture-specific and also depends upon the setting.
  • Haptics Interacting or exchanging information through the sense of touch is known as haptics. It is a very essential form of communication, especially non-verbal communication. It is very impactful and can convey the feelings and intentions of a person. For example, ‘handshakes’ give a sign of a positive attitude and confidence; ‘hugging’ gives a friendly and warm feeling.

Example of Non-Verbal Communication

  • Nodding head in approval
  • Showing a ‘thumbs up sign to express positive feelings
  • Smiling at someone
  • A confident handshake as a welcoming gesture
  • Giving a hug to show affection
  • To talk in a raised voice while in anger

Advantages of Non-Verbal Communication

  • ComplementaryNon-verbal communication complements verbal communication by adding clues and additional information for a better understanding of the message.
  • Easy PresentationThe use of gestures, facial expressions, signs, and other audio-visual means of non-verbal communication makes the presentation very easy. This leads to faster and more effective communication.
  • Helpful for illiterate peopleSpoken or written methods of communication become complex and hard for illiterate people. So usage of gestures, signs, and facial.

expressions, touch, etc. help them greatly in communicating.

  • Helpful for physically impaired peopleThe physically impaired people, especially deaf and dumb can communicate successfully by using signs. Blind people can receive messages through touch and sounds. For such people, non-verbal communication proves to be the best mode of communication.
  • Time-SavingThrough signs and symbols we can transmit messages more quickly than other forms of communication. This reduces the wastage of time.

Disadvantages of Non-Verbal Communication

  • Imprecise and unreliableThe gestures, expressions, and signs may have different interpretations for different people. They are highly culture, context, and intention-specific and thus don’t have a fixed, accurate, or universal meaning. Therefore, many people find non-verbal communication to be unreliable due to its lack of precision.
  • Difficult to understandAll people may not have the same mental bend to be able to understand the signs, symbols, and other non-verbal elements. So they find it difficult to understand and thus need a lot of repetition in non-verbal communication.
  • No room for long conversationsNon-verbal communication may take place in a flash to transfer a short and quick message. But long conversations cannot be possible using kinesics, proxemics, signs, and symbols as lengthy explanations and discussions can not be done.
  • Distortion of true meaningAs non-verbal communication is very culture and context-specific, so the message encoded by the sender may get distorted when decoded by the receiver, thus producing an undesirable result.
  • Culture-BoundAlthough a few gestures and symbols are universal yet a large part seems to vary with different cultures. What is seen as positive in one culture may be obscene in another culture. Thus, the true and essential meaning of the message is lost.

3. Written Communication

The act of transferring and exchanging information through written letters, symbols, and words is called written communication. It is the most common and effective form of business communication.

Example of Written Communication

  • Letters and applications
  • E-mails
  • Memos and reports
  • Bulletins and advertisements
  • Brochures, handbills, and leaflets
  • Instant online messages
  • Forms and questionnaires
  • Invitations

Advantages of Written Communication

  • Permanent RecordThe written documents can be recorded and stored permanently as proofs and evidence for future reference.
  • AccuracyWritten documents are most likely to be accurate as there is a wide scope of repeated checking, rectification, and authentication.
  • Allows lengthy and complex communicationLong messages can be conveyed very easily through written communication. It also facilitates the transmission of complex official orders, agendas, manuals, assignments of responsibilities, and the like.
  • AcceptabilityThe written form of information is accepted widely as it is considered authentic and removes any misunderstanding and conflict.
  • Multitudinous and uniform approachA large number of people can get information at the same time through written communication. The written document also ensures uniformity of the information sent to each and every person.
  • Slow and steady processWriting can be carried out slowly, carefully, and consciously by checking and correcting mistakes, unlike verbal communication which is more spontaneous and prone to errors. In this way, written communication becomes more effective than any other form of communication.
  • Creative The availability of more time enables the sender to employ creativity in their writing. This elevates the quality of communication, thus opening better and more effective outcomes.

Disadvantages of Written Communication

  • Time-consumingCompared to speaking, writing takes a lot of time and becomes more difficult for those who struggle with their writing proficiency.
  • Not helpful for illiterate peopleIlliterate people can neither read nor write. So, written communication is totally fruitless for them.
  • Lack of personal touch – A written form of communication is unable to display facial expressions, sentiments, emotions, and tone of voice. Hence the messages cannot be obtained in their totality and may cause miscommunication.
  • Delayed feedbackFeedback is a very important element of communication. It provides remarks to the senders which help them to gain confidence or understand the errors and drawbacks in the communication and do the needful adjustments. Unlike verbal communication, written communication lacks immediate feedback.
  • Carelessness increases with length As written communication generally includes detailed explanations and complete information so it becomes very lengthy. For this reason, the receiver loses interest and tends to skim through the long paragraphs, thus missing important points.

4. Visual Communication

Visual communication is a very essential type of communication as you must be well acquainted with the line– “A picture is worth a thousand words”. It mainly enhances the effectiveness of communication as people retain visuals for a longer time, and create better understanding when backed with verbal and auditory information along with other sounds.

So, from the very term, we can infer that the act of transmitting information using visual elements, such as drawings, signs, typography, colors, shapes, graphic design, illustration, animation, etc., is known as visual communication.

Examples Of Visual Communication

  • Advertisements
  • Teaching and learning
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Posters
  • Charts and graphs
  • Road maps
  • Visual reports
  • Manuals

Advantages of Visual Communication

  • Direct and to the pointLooking at the visuals the audience can receive and understand the message directly and instantly. In the case of some complex information, such as statistics, conveying through pictures is much easier and faster than verbal or written explanations. The pictures and diagrams convey to-the-point information, making communication simpler.
  • Flexible An image holds the power to break all the cultural, geographical, ethnic, and language barriers and convey a universal message to all diverse audiences. Unlike verbal and written communication, visual communication is much more flexible as it makes sense to every distinct audience.
  • Helpful for illiterate peoplePictures and signs make more sense to the illiterate receivers. They can easily understand the message and the communication can be more effective.
  • Easy and simple explanationThis feature has made visual communication more popular. Anyone and everyone can easily explain themselves through simple drawings and visual presentations. The receivers also understand the message easily, creating a successful and fruitful communication process.
  • Reduces wastage of timeAs the encoding and decoding of messages happen very quickly in visual communication, so a lot of time is saved.
  • Attention-grabbing and engagingVisual elements grab attention instantly and generate interest among the audience. They tend to be more engaged with the visual presentation, which the verbal and written modes fail to achieve.

Disadvantages of Visual Communication

  • Expensive The preparation of diagrams, charts, drawings, animations, etc. incurs heavy expenses. Moreover, the channels and technical devices used to project or deliver the illustrations and presentations are also costly. So, the whole process of visual communication becomes quite extravagant.
  • Open to misinterpretationAlthough visual imagery appeals to every audience, it may be open to misinterpretations. As some pictures may have multiple meanings, so the receiver can have an interpretation different from that of the sender. The receiver may even misjudge the prime significance of the message conveyed.
  • Time-consumingThe thought process behind the images and then their preparation takes a lot of time. It also requires the implementation of creativity, which again is time-consuming.
  • Incomplete methodVisual communication is not considered a complete and successful method without verbal or oral communication. The images are not sufficient to convey a compelling message if not backed with oral or written information.

5. Listening Communication

Listening is a very vital element of effective communication skills. Messages are easily misunderstood without active listening. The ability to receive sounds and information attentively and accurately in a communication process and also interpret the same is called listening. We can say that listening is the key to any effective communication.

Examples of Listening Communication

  • Face-to-face conversation
  • Noting down class lectures
  • Listening to the news on the radio
  • Demonstrating concern
  • Using brief affirmations to messages
  • Paraphrasing to show understanding

Advantages of Listening Communication

  • Prevents missing information There is less chance of missing information with active listening. We can understand different topics in a better way. In this way, we can gain more knowledge that will be helpful in our personal as well as professional life.
  • Better clarityCareful listening provides better understanding, hence, offering an opportunity to avoid confusion, misunderstanding, and potential conflict. We get a clear picture of the message in our minds.
  • Better relationships Active listening to others creates connection, respect, and goodwill in the relationship. Empathizing with others and appreciating them can enhance the relationship and generate a feeling of mutual trust. The active listener can also help in building self-esteem and resolving conflicts.
  • Building confidence – By gaining a better understanding of our surroundings and other people, we feel empowered. Empowerment builds confidence in us. This confidence, backed by respect, likeability, and trust in people, instills leadership qualities in us.

Disadvantages of Listening Communication

  • Energy and time consumingActive listening consumes a lot of energy, and sometimes time as well.
  • Need greater effortThe primary requirement of active listening is continuous, disciplined, and persistent effort. It becomes quite difficult to have such dogged concentration.
  • Interruptions Trying to listen actively and obtain a clear understanding, weak listeners may interrupt the speaker quite often. This disruption of speech is a major drawback to listening communication.
  • Repetitions All people are not good at listening. So, they cannot get a complete understanding of the information and may require repetitions and breakdown of the message.

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