Types of Communication
According to the Way of Expression
On the basis of their expression communication may be divided in two categories: Oral and written
• Oral Communication refers to the spoken words and understood in the form of sounds.
• It is the most commonly used method of communication mostly in informal situations inside and outside business entities.
• It is also referred as verbal communication and usage of non-verbal communication deftly makes it more impressive and effective.
• Oral communication takes place in many ways-casual and serious, formal and informal, structured and unstructured.
• Oral communication is instantaneous, two way process in which prompt response is there.
• Oral communication can be readily used, persuasive, cost effective and facilitates effective and fruitful conversation.
• Oral communication works very well in small groups where there is informal and friendly environment.
• Oral communication is not effective in very large groups and rigid and closed environment.
• Oral communication has it own constraints of hesitation, not having full command on the language, accent and vocabulary.
• Oral communication may not be effective in the presence of various physical and psychological barriers. Oral communication does not work in extremely formal conditions where record keeping and documentation is quite important.
Written communication may take the form of letters, memorandum, instruction bulletins, suggestion box etc. No business can exist without writing. Written words become a record of things planned, carried out and acknowledged. Words can be used effectively, if we have good working vocabulary. It has been observed that an individual learns around 12000 words till his high school. He learns an additional 3000-4000 words during till his graduation. He learns an additional 300-400 word during his professional career. Most of these words which can be maximum of 18000-20000 words are hanging in our vocabulary but in no case one has a working vocabulary of 1200 to 1300 words. But above all the ways of expressing thought and putting those on papers have no real substitute.
• Written communication is well structured and quite useful in formal situations.
• Written communication includes good vocabulary and collection of all relevant facts and figures to make the communication effective, concrete and well-structured.
• Written communication helps in maintaining records and documents that can be preserved over a period of time.
• Written communication has the facility of making amendments if any error has occurred.
• The scope of written communication is wide and facilitates repeated reference.
• Written communication does not depends on the memory of the listeners since records can be referred again, whenever required.
• Written communication is more time consuming and requires conscious effort.
• Written communication is left interactive and is constrained by vocabulary, writing skills, handwriting and efficiency of the tools used.
Some characteristics of language are given below:
• Language is purposive. It has a very important social purpose because it is mainly used for communication and makes interaction possible between human beings.
• It can be used in two ways for the purposes of communication. It can be spoken or written.
• Language is creative. It has ability to generate many words in a day.
• Language is not based on any reason or logic. There is no direct link between an object and its meaning. e.g., there is no logic why a woman is English becomes aurat in Hindi.
• Language is abstract. It is a set of certain rules and principals, which relates meaning and sound pattern.
• Language has limitations. Words cannot be able to express the same, which is in your mind.
According to the Direction or Flow of Communication
On the basis of the flow of information, communication may be classified into four types
1. Downward communication
2. Upward communication
3. Horizontal or lateral communication
4. `Diagonal communication
1. Downward Communication
When information passes from the higher level to the lower levels, downward communication takes place. The communication from the manager to the employees shows the downward flow of information. Notices, letters, circulars, memos, emails, face to face conversation, telephonic conversation are the different modes of downward communication. The objectives of downward communication are
• To give instruction, advice, request, ideas to the subordinates.
• To prescribe methods, policies and procedures of the organisation. To facilitate employees with new decisions and guidelines.
Flow chart of Downward Communication
2. Upward Communication
In upward communication the flow of information goes from the lower levels to the higher levels. The communication from the employees to the manager, shows upwards communication reports, proposals, suggestion box grievance committee etc are the different forms of upward communication. The purposes of upward communication are as
• To keep the superiors informed about the progress of the work.
• To suggest measures for improvement
• To communicate grievances
3. Horizontal or Lateral Communication
Horizontal communication shows the transfer of information among persons working at the same level. The forms of horizontal communication may include letters, memos, meetings, telephonic conversations, gossips, conferences, and face-to-face contacts.
The main objectives of horizontal communication are
• To promote teamwork and co-ordination among employees of different departments.
• To exchange information among various employees of different departments.
• To solve problems among various employees of different departments.
4. Diagonal Communication
Diagonal communication is also known as crosswise communication. It flows in all directions and cuts across different levels in an organisation. When a supervisor in the marketing department communicates directly with the managing director of production, who is not only in a different department but also at a higher level in an organisation, diagonal communication takes place. Letters, emails, telephone calls, face-to-face contacts are included in the forms of diagonal communication. Its prime objectives are :
• To promote the feelings of fraternity and equality in the corporate sector.
• To increase the efficiency and speed of organisational activities.
According to Organisational Structure
Formal v/s Informal Communication
• Formal communication generally follows a well-defined structured hierarchical pattern and periodicity.
• Formal communication channels are set up in all the kinds of organisations to ensure communication on an ongoing basis.
• Staff meetings, union-management meetings, memos, circulars, instructions, notices etc. are few of the ways through which formal communication is facilitated.
• It is very easy to identify the source of communication as the channel is predefined and well-structured.
• It is more authentic and expensive as compared to informal communication.
• It is more time consuming and impersonal that is why lack personal touch.
• Since, the communicator can be traced that is why he is answerable and needs to give justification, asked.
Informal Communication : Grapevine
Grapevine is the informal way of communication. In this type of communication the official news is transmitted through informal interactions. It includes tea time gossip, casual gathering, lunch-time meetings and personal parties etc. It has its own benefits and limitations. Top managers rely heavily on informal contact with outsiders to exchange information that might be useful to their company. Channels like grapevine are more active in organisations better that are not transparent. However they not very reliable as they may be just rumor or time pass. But it is not always negative rather can be helpful in team building and proving to be very useful in relieving the pent-up emotion of the grievance holders.
Following are the few benefits which a company can achieve through grapevine.
• Less expensive than formal channels.
• May give some information that one may find otherwise difficult to collect through formal channels.
• An outlet for employees to share their anxieties, worries, and frustrations.
• Used voluntarily by many employees.
• Fastest means of spreading information.
• Fast spreading nature can cause damage to the organisation.
• If unverified, may cause troubles.
• May lead to misunderstanding if incomplete.
• May not be reliable as it is oral only and also nobody owns the responsibility for the information.
• To be used as a supplementary.
• Information to be verified for facts and also the source. Should not be ignored.
• Employees using this channel should not be threatened or encouraged too much.