Communication is a process that involves an exchange of information, thoughts, ideas and emotions. The components of a communication process are: a sender who encodes and sends the message, the channel through which the message is sent, and the receiver who decodes the message, processes the information and sends an appropriate reply via the same channel back to the sender. Communication can occur via various processes and methods, and depending on the channel used and the style, there can be various types.
Based on the channels used for communicating, the process of communication can be broadly classified as verbal and non-verbal communication. Verbal communication includes written and oral communication whereas non-verbal communication includes body language, facial expressions and visuals diagrams or pictures.
Verbal communication is further divided into oral and written communication.
Oral communication refers to the spoken words in the communication process. It can either be face-to-face or a conversation over the phone or on the voice chat over the Internet. Spoken conversations or dialogs are influenced by voice modulation, pitch, volume and even the speed and clarity of speaking.
The other type of verbal communication is written communication. It can be either via snail mail, or email. The effectiveness of written communication depends on the style of writing, vocabulary used, grammar, clarity and precision of language.
Non-verbal communication includes the overall body language of the person who is speaking, which will include the body posture, the hand gestures, and the overall body movements. Facial expressions also play a major role in communication. Even expressions on a person's face say a lot about his/her mood. Also, gestures like a handshake, a smile or a hug can independently convey emotions and do not need to be accompanied by words. Non verbal communication can also be in the form of pictorial representations, signboards, or even photographs, sketches and paintings.
Communication Based on Style and Purpose
Based on the style of communication, there can be two broad categories: formal and informal communication, that have their own set of characteristic features.
It includes all the instances where communication has to occur in a set formal format. The style of communication is very formal and official. This form of communication is used in business, corporate communication, official conferences, meetings, written memos, and corporate letters. It can also occur between two strangers when they meet for the first time. Formal communication is straightforward, official and always precise, and has a stringent and rigid tone to it.
Informal communication includes instances of free and unrestrained conversation between people who share a casual rapport with each other. It requires two people to have a similar wavelength and hence occurs between friends and family. It does not have any rigid rules and guidelines. The conversations need not necessarily have boundaries of time, place or even subjects for that matter since we all know that friendly chats with our loved ones can simply go on and on.
Even though the whole process of communication may seem so simple, the effectiveness of each type depends to a great extent on certain internal and external environmental factors and also the communicator's ability to send, receive, decode and send a response. This is why the field of communication has been and continues to be widely studied and is given a place of importance in any walk of life.