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Types Of Communication

Updated on October 22, 2011

Communication is a natural process which takes place between all the living organisms on this planet. Every living being on this planet, whether it’s a human or an animal, cannot survive without communicating with its fellow beings.

A simple process in animals, communication is a far more complex phenomenon in human beings. Communication in humans can be defined as the action of sharing ideas, thoughts, emotions and the exchange of knowledge and information with others.

There are numerous ways by which people can communicate with each other, out of which speaking or exchanging of words in the most common way of communication.

If we classify communication in humans we can broadly classify it into four types:

  • Verbal communication
  • Non verbal communication
  • Formal communication
  • Non formal communication

Let’s discuss each of the type individually:

Verbal Communication

The verbal communication is the communication that takes place through words.

These words can be spoken or written depending on the media used for the verbal communication.

The media used commonly used for the written verbal communication can be books, articles or even a single piece of paper.

The verbal communication takes place in a particular language the words of which are exchanged amongst people via various means.

If we further classify verbal communications it can be divided into two sub categories:

  • Interpersonal verbal communication, which is the communication that takes place between two people or amongst a group of people through words, written or mostly spoken. This type of communication includes our daily man to man conversations, group discussions, letter writing etc. the interpersonal communication is perhaps the most important form of communication as this is the basic form which we use everyday.
  • Intrapersonal verbal communication, which is the communication which takes place amongst the masses. In simple words, the intrapersonal communication is the public or group speaking. This includes class lectures, conferences, books, newspapers and even songs and movies. The common media used for intrapersonal communication are: Television, radio, speakers etc.

Painting and photographs are excellent form of Non verbal Communication mechanism. Here is this photo, the man's uniform tells us about him.
Painting and photographs are excellent form of Non verbal Communication mechanism. Here is this photo, the man's uniform tells us about him.

Non verbal Communication

The non verbal communication is the conveying of emotions, feelings, and messages through actions and expressions rather than words. In our daily life the non verbal communication and the verbal communication go hand in hand.

In fact sometimes it’s our expressions and body language that expresses our emotions better than words. Facial expressions are the most common way of non verbal communication. For example if a person is smiling he doesn’t have to say out loud that he is happy, it is obvious through his expression that he is happy.

Our body language and hand gestures are another way of non verbal communication. Hand gestures, especially are a very important tool for communication. It is believed that our hands are the second tongue of the body. A lot of important messages can be given through the movements of our hands. For example if you stick out a hand flat in front of a person, that person would immediately understand that you are asking the person to stop from doing whatever he/she is doing.

A simple nod and shaking of a head are also included in the non verbal communication. In short any action or expression that conveys our emotions and clearly indicates what we are thinking, without the use of words or symbols is called non verbal communication.

Formal Communication

Formal communication is rule bounded communication in which the person cannot freely express what he is thinking instead he is bounded by certain norms, rules and regulations.

The formal communication mostly takes place in a class room, conference rooms and it can be both intrapersonal and interpersonal.

The formal communication can not be, however, restricted to any particular situation rather it’s a norm bounded, variable form of communication that depends on the people communicating. So, basically any rule bounded conversation, whether intra or interpersonal is called a formal communication.

Non formal Communication

The non formal communication is the opposite of the formal communication in which the person can freely express his true emotions, ideas and opinions.

However, just like the formal communication, non formal communication can also be both intrapersonal and interpersonal.

The non formal communication is mostly the communication that takes place amongst peers, family and an audience of trusted individuals.


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