4 communication types

4 Major Types of Communication: Formal, Informal, Interpersonal, and Non-Verbal

Types of Communication

Communication is the process by which ideas, messages, and views are exchanged between two or more persons and from one place to another. Depending upon the requirement, the different communication channels can be used to transfer information on the basis of their effectiveness. Basically, there are four types of communication and effective use of each type is essential to meet the desired objectives and goals.

4 types of communication

An Easy Guide To 4 Communication Types

#1 Formal Communication

Formal communication is an official form of communication that flows through formally constituted channels of the organization. It has a distinct path that is institutionally determined by the management to communicate information.

Formal communication flows through the hierarchy of the management. It has an official route to flow information. Here is the must to follow the official instructions. It is controlled and regulated by the management. All the members of the organization are bound to follow the defined channel of the organization.

It has also three types of communication:

  • Downward Communication
  • Upward Communication
  • Sideward Communication

In downward communication, the information flows from the top manager to the middle and lower levels. In upward communication, information flows from lower and middle levels to top-level managers. And, in sideward communication, there is an exchange of information between the same levels of managers.

Also see: Downward, Upward, and Sideward Communication

#2 Informal Communication

In informal communication, information flows through any channel which is free from official restriction.

informal communication

It is one of the important types of communication. It is an unofficial type of communication. It is free from all sorts of formalities. In this form of communication, it is not necessary to follow formal channels to exchange messages. Members of an informal group exchange their opinions, views, ideas, and other information to each other and also to informal groups.

In an organization, it is not used to communicate formal messages. However, employees of an organization use this type of communication to develop mutual understanding, social relationships, and friendship with each other. They interfere with each other without any official instruction.

Informal communication is more flexible and faster than formal communication. It is a free form of communication and overcomes the restrictions of formal communication. The common forms of informal communication are:

  • Rumor
  • Grapevine

Rumor refers to an unverified belief that circulates in an organization or into its external environment. It has three components i.e. target, allegation, and source. The target is the object of the rumor. The allegation is the point about the target. And the source is the communicator of rumor.

Grapevine is an informal communication pathway that is recognized as a part of organizational life. It cuts across the formal channels of communication. It is a social network of informal communication.

#3 Interpersonal Communication

Communication between two individuals or groups of individuals face-to-face or through direct contact is known as interpersonal communication. In simple words, interpersonal communication is where two or more individuals communicate face to face. It is also known as two-way communication.

This is the primary means of communication in the workplace. In this type of communication both the parties exchange their views and news in a direct way. For example, a manager provides direction and guidance to subordinates to perform given jobs. Similarly, subordinates communicate the process of works and also suggestions to resolve problems, if any, in performance.

Interpersonal communication also has two types of communication:

  • Oral Communication
  • Written Communication

Oral Communication

Oral communication is the exchange of information through spoken words. It is the exchange of messages through oral means. In oral communication, messages can be exchanged either face to face or on mechanical devices. Face-to-face communication is the most natural way of transmitting messages.

chatting between two people

The benefit of oral communication is that ideas can be interchanged and also it provides immediate feedback and saves time for both the sender and the receiver. It develops friendly expression and a sense of belonging among the personalized contact people. In this communication type, the effectiveness of the message depends upon the personality of the speaker, tone, and way of speaking.

Written Communication

Written communication is the transformation of information in written words. In other words, when information is exchanged through written means, it is known as written communication. It is a formal means of transferring information.

written communication style

It is a common means when information needs accuracy and authenticity. It ensures accuracy and serves as a permanent reference for future performance. It plays the role of evidence when any kind of dispute or misunderstanding arises among the parties. Written communication can be done in the forms of letters, circulars, telegrams, memos, reports, manuals, bulletins, notices, etc. It can be transmitted either through messengers or through mechanical devices.

#4 Non-Verbal Communication

The transmission and receipt of messages by some medium other than oral or written is non-verbal communication. It is just the opposite of interpersonal communication. It often relies on facial expression, body movement, physical contact, gestures, etc.

patting on backs

It is often used to supplement oral communication. It is very useful to express feelings, attitudes, and emotions. In some situations, it carries more meaning than oral and written expression. Especially, when the sender’s voice is not reachable to the receiver, the sender can use his body language.

Handshake by the manager with a subordinate or patting on his back shows is the sign of informal relationships between them. A good and efficient manager should be aware of the importance of non-verbal communication and recognize its potential impacts. Thus, nonverbal communication is also one of the important types of communication.

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