Seeing the widespread presence, unending relevance, and eternal significance of communication, folks get confused about ‘what is communication actually’.
If you are also amongst those then let me tell you that it just can’t be completely depicted in one line or paragraph. It requires a proper understanding of different interrelated concepts, history, and types of communication.
However, in the simplest form, communication can be understood as a medium for sending and accepting messages.
Another definition of communication considers it as the demonstration of exchanging messages, information, data, and signals via verbal and nonverbal means.
While discussing what communication is, experts suggest different concepts, and we will start this post by delving into those concepts first. So, let us start delving into different concepts of communication.
What is communication?
When you discuss the paradigms of communication, you basically can’t stop at one section, as it rises above psychology, physiology, and technology.
Communication applies to the interchanges all through human beings, other creatures, nature, communities, businesses, countries, and so forth.
Different forms of communication that take place in our personal, as well as professional lives, come into this. Some of those are-
- Regular Communication
- Business Communication
- Technical Communication
- Online communication
- Personal Communication
- Spiritual Communication
- Celestial Communication
From the miniaturized scale elements in the earth to the macro elements in the space to human beings, other creatures to machines, all are interconnected through one or other form of communication.
This way, communication is a ceaseless arrangement of sharing information, feelings, and presence that starts during childbirth and finishes at death – even previously and beyond that as well.
The manner in which we convey our feelings, thoughts, presence, or inclinations regularly involves words and a whole world more than words- means verbal and non-verbal forms of communication.
Now, after being aware of different concepts of what is communication, the time has come to delve into different types of communication. So, let us get started with that-
Types of Communication
As we had discussed, there are a few unique ways to communicate with each other. Primarily, there are four classifications of communication and we are going to discuss that here and now-
1. Verbal Communication
We use this type of communication to share our ideas, information, or thoughts by speaking or by using sign language.
Whenever we communicate using one or other forms of words/sounds, it is verbal communication. It is frequently utilized during face to face conversations, conferences, presentations, public speaking, calls, and so on.
It is significant on the grounds that it is something we use our inherent characteristic of speaking through words or sounds. Some of the times, other types of communication are used for supporting verbal communication as well.
Verbal communication can further be classified into four different parts and they are-
- Intrapersonal Communication- this type of verbal communication is the silent conversation that we do with ourselves.
- Interpersonal Communication- This is the second type of verbal communication which is also understood as one-on-one conversation and in this, two individuals talk with each other.
- Small-Group Communication- when communication occurs amongst more than two people then it is group communication.
- Public Communication- when one person addresses a large gathering of listeners then it is understood as public speaking
Now, after being aware of different types of verbal communication, you should also have a look upon some of the key verbal communication skills-
- Be friendly
- Think before you speak
- Be clear
- Do not talk too much
- Be your authentic self
- Incorporate humility
- Speak with the confidence
- Have the right body language
- Be concise
- Master the art of listening
- Read more
- Think about the words you use
- Do proper preparation
- Show and seek some understanding
- Have power acceptance
- Understand other’s perspectives
- Develop key verbal skills
- Know the right balance between verbal and nonverbal signals
2. Nonverbal Communication
In this type of communication, different non-verbal signals come into play.
Our stances, gestures, postures, eye movements, facial expressions, and other forms of outward appearances enable us in communicating different thoughts and perceptions.
Non-verbal forms of communication tend to be utilized both deliberately and inadvertently. Such a form of correspondence is useful when attempting to comprehend others’ considerations and sentiments.
The effectiveness of nonverbal communication can be quite crucial in setting up a particular type of environment around you. Let us go through them-
Environments Nonverbal Communication can create around you-
- Willingness to take the adventure
- Family orientations
- Artistic interests
Your nonverbal habits also play a crucial role in conveying the tendencies of your personality. For instance, if you want others to find you confident, you need to incorporate the following nonverbal traits in you-
- Good eye contact
- A confident handshake
- Effective gestures
- Dressing the part
- Authoritative posture and presence
- Appropriate facial expressions
- Initiating interactions
- Right voice tone and attention upon paralanguage
- Giving complete attention
- Responding to nonverbal cues of others’
- Know the right physical space and touch
Finally, let us have a look at some key hacks of improving nonverbal communication-
Key Hacks to Improve Nonverbal Communication Skills
- Do not slouch means don’t stand, sit or move in a lazy manner
- Control your smiles or laughter when topics being discussed are serious
- Use hands and facial expression to display some animation in your presence but do not use hands excessively
- Don’t have things or behavioral patterns that could distract communication
- Big not to fidgeting and shaking of limbs
- Opt for frequent eye contacts but do not have piercing and constant contacts while facing an interview
- Have a proper focus on the process
- Adeptly shift eye contact with different members while facing group interview or doing public speaking
- You should introduce yourself with an appealing smile and approachable handshake
- Do not frequently touch your face and hair
- A big no to interruption, instead of listening carefully to respond accordingly is a big plus
- Don’t have folded arms as it shows defensiveness
- Use voice modulation to show excitement
- Use punctuation adeptly to emphasize key points
- Do nodding when you understand something
- Observe nonverbal signal of listeners and respond accordingly
- Do not give fake laughter as a response to someone’s sense of humor
- A big no to looking at your phone, clock or making other signs that show disinterest
- Maintain calmness in nervous situations
- Do not give monotone delivery
3. Written Communication
When words, symbols, letters, images, etc are written to convey any idea, information, and perception then it is a written form of communication.
This type of communication is useful in light of the fact that it gives a record of data to reference.
The written form of communication is usually used to share information, idea, and thoughts through books, blogs, online journals, pamphlets, letters, notices, and many more.
In the professional sphere, emails, messages, and chats are the typical types of written communication.
Some of the places where your written communication skills are tested are-
- On your resume
- In your cover letter
- In your job interview
- In your thank you letter
- In emails
- In your presentations and reports
- In memos
- In Faxes
- In employee manuals
- In instant messages
- In crisis communication
Next thing integral to the effectiveness of written communication is written communication skills, so let us dive into some of those skills as well-
- Active voice
- Grammar and Punctuation
- Word Choice
- Planning and Preparation
You should also be aware of common grammatical errors in written communication such as-
- Use of Effect or Effect
- Use of Then or Than
- Use of Your or You’re
- Use of Its or It’s
- Use of Company’s or Companies, etc.
Now, the final step of mastering what is communication in written form is the composition and style that you choose for your piece. Some common steps here can be-
- Starting with your audience
- Creating an outline
- Using Attention-Interest-Desire-Action (AIDA) formula
- Incorporating some empathy by telling how your piece will do value addition
- Incorporating rhetorical triangle- to communicate why the audience should listen to you, to pitch message engagingly, & to present all the info and details coherently and logically
- Finding out your main theme
- Opting for simple and impressive language
4. Visual Communication
When you use photos, drawings, art, outlines, diagrams, graphs, charts, etc to convey your information, idea, or thoughts, it is visual communication.
Visual communication is more prominently used as a guide during presentations.
It is useful in supportive verbal or written communication by depicting the contexts via relevant visuals. Since individuals grasp things more easily if shared via visual means, this form of correspondence may be progressively useful for sharing your ideas more convincingly.
Some of the visual abilities that play a crucial role in visual communication are-
- Visual Literacy
- Visual Reasoning
- Spatial Analysis
- Visual Analytics
Your artistic and professional skills also play a crucial role in visual communication. Let us have a look upon those as well-
Artistic and Professional Skills used in Visual Communication-
- Aesthetic Sense
- Design Sense
- Artistic Sense
- Cultural Sense
- Graphic Design
- User Interface Design (e. g. Web Design)
- Page Layout Design
- Photo Editing
Next thing that is important for understanding ‘what is communication via visual means’ is information visualization. Some of the elements of information visualization are-
- Visual Expression of Emotion
- Visual Expression of Concepts
- Simplifying Complex Ideas
- Technical Drawings
- Engineering Drawings
- Scientific Diagrams
- Flow Charts
- Data Flow Diagrams
- Concept Maps
- Maps (Cartography)
- Statistical Graphics
- Network Visualization (Representing Relationships)
- Argument Maps
And finally, you should be aware of the contemporary techniques used in visual communication, so let us go through them as well-
- Using Visualization Tools
- Computer-aided Design
- Information Architecture
- Visualization Standards (e. g. UML)
Now, after being aware of different types of communication, the next thing you should learn is the communication process. So, let us have a closer look upon that as well-
What is the Communication Process?
A communication process revolves around a few simple steps.
In this, a sender sends message in encoded form as per the communication channel used in the process. Then, the receiver receives the message, decodes its meaning.
Now, the receiver will share the feedback by following the same channel and practice. So, the receiver will encode the feedback and send it to the sender who will decode it and comprehend it.
Here, feedback of the receiver while going through a communication channel may face some barriers. For proper communication, these barriers should be understood properly by all the associated parties, so the information, ideas, or viewpoints can be conveyed without any misunderstanding or misinterpretation.
The use of techniques like reflection or clarification by the receiver can also be quite useful in ensuring that message is accurately conveyed.
Let us now have a look upon some of the barriers of effective communication-
What is the Communication Barrier?
Such barriers can distort the significance and importance of your message, and that is why, for effective communication, you should know about below give barriers to communication-
- The use of jargon, unfamiliar and complicated terms
- Emotional barriers and taboos
- Lack of interest and attention
- Distractions and irrelevant to receiver
- The difference in the perceptions
- Not understanding the nonverbal signal used with verbal communication
- Language difference
- Preconceived notions, prejudices, and expectations
- Cultural differences
To learn and master the concepts of what is communication, it is inevitable to be aware of the aforementioned communication barriers.
By surpassing these barriers, you will pave your path towards being a skilled communicator.
What aspects of communication do you want to improve?
Pinky is an MBA in Marketing from the University of Mumbai. She loves helping people out in learning Marketing and sharing latest ideas and tactics for growing businesses.