Communication always has a specific purpose. Communication is contextual so, the objective of communication varies in any given situation. This requires adaptation to the situation in terms of ways of expression, means and methods of transmission of information. Effective communication not only transfers information but also transfers understanding of the message. In the present globalised world when we come across real face-to-face and virtual communication situations, it becomes even more important to express and transmit the message effectively across geographical, linguistic and cultural boundaries. An understanding of the types of communication helps us to analyze the complexity of communication in various contexts.
We may broadly categorize communication according to the type of context in which it takes place. The two categories are:
- Interpersonal Communication
- Mass Communication
INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION: The communication that occurs between two or more people as unique individuals, where they understand each other on the basis of their uniqueness in behavior is termed as interpersonal communication. Effective interpersonal communication depends on various interpersonal skills including listening, asserting, influencing, persuading, empathizing, negotiating and compassion. Important aspects of communication between individuals include body language and other forms of nonverbal communication. Interpersonal communication can be dyadic or small group communication. The word ‘Dyad’ refers to a unit constituting two parts, so when communication takes between just two people it is called dyadic communication. In our everyday life we are a part of a small group as a member of family, a work unit or a team at workplace. Though individuals, we are a member of a group in a given context participating and coordinating actively to achieve a common goal. This communication is known as small group communication.
The characteristics of interpersonal communication:
Interpersonal communication is inevitable: We are in constant communication with individuals around us not only through words but also by our body language (facial expression, gestures, etc.), paralanguage (tone, pitch, silence, etc.). We communicate in spite of our attempt not to communicate.
Interpersonal communication is irrevocable: A Russian proverb says, “Once a word goes out of your mouth, you can never swallow it again.” One cannot take back the words once uttered, the impact stays.
Interpersonal communication is intricate: Interpersonal communication is complicated in the sense that it involves psychological context- personality, behaviour, needs, desires, values; social context- an interaction in an annual general meeting will be very distinct from a press release on the company’s annual turnover; cultural context- if you come from a culture where it is considered discourteous to make long, direct eye contact, you will out of courtesy evade eye contact. If the other individual comes from a culture where long, direct eye contact indicates credibility then, the cultural differences lead to misunderstanding.
Interpersonal communication is interdependent: Communication between two different and unique individuals is always linked and interdependent as the performance of one member of the team decides the performance fate of the entire team.
MASS COMMUNICATION: Mass communication occurs when a homogeneous message from a person or a group is transmitted to a large anonymous as well as heterogeneous audience through a special medium. Mass communication is very valuable when advertising a brand or a product for sales promotion through electronic or print medium.
Communication, interpersonal or mass communication, both will become non-existent in the absence of forms of communication. The various forms of communication are as follows:
- Verbal communication
- Nonverbal communication
Verbal communication: When exchange of thoughts, ideas, feelings and emotions takes place through words- spoken or written, the communication is known as verbal communication. Communication through spoken words is known as oral communication whereas communication through written words is known as written communication. Thus verbal communication takes two forms:
- Oral communication
- Written communication
Definition and Meaning
Transmission of thoughts and ideas through spoken words is known as oral communication. Oral communication constitutes 65-75% of an executive’s time at the work place. A manager spends about 90% of his working hours in oral communication in various formal and informal situations. Meetings, interviews, group discussions, speech, presentations, instructions, etc. are a few examples of formal oral communication situations. Grapevine is an example of informal oral communication. Oral communication also occurs through specific medium such as a face-to-face interaction through video conferencing, videophone or telephone. The way we communicate orally speaks volume about our personality, attitude, and emotional quotient. So, besides words nonverbal communication plays a vital role effective oral communication. Infact, nonverbal communication complements and completes oral communication.
Merits of oral communication
- Oral communication is swift and speedy. It is faster than written communication as messages can be transmitted as well as received simultaneously.
- Oral communication generates immediate feedback. Direct face-to-face discussion on queries, doubts enhances the efficacy of communication.
- Oral communication is economical when compared to written communication. It saves the expenses on stationary and administrative formalities.
- Oral communication provides opportunities to amend and adapt according to the needs and situation. Reading non verbal clues of the audience during oral communication promotes better understanding. A speaker can always reframe the words and rework the tone, pitch for greater clarity of the receiver. Oral communication serves better in negotiations, arriving at a consensus and resolving conflicts.
- Oral communication is the most appropriate means to healthy interpersonal relations and healthy working environment.
Demerits of oral communication
- Lack of evidence is a major drawback of oral communication. The validity of the message cannot be legally challenged.
- Oral communication cannot be preserved for long for future reference.
- Oral communication is not suitable for long messages such as reports, proposals.
- Human memory is transitory, so it’s difficult to retain and remember long messages.
- Oral communication is not a suitable for communicating across geographical boundaries. Communication through telephones or video-conferencing or even traveling long distances is not cost effective.
- External noise or disturbance in telephone or interference of any kind can reduce the clarity and understanding of the message communicated orally.
- Personal prejudices, biases, attitudinal problems can hamper proper understanding while communicating orally.
- Lack of concentration, inattentiveness and anxiety on the part of the receiver can also adversely affect in understanding the message.
- Sender’s personality, content and delivery can reduce or enhance the effectiveness of the message.
- It is difficult to hold people responsible and accountable for the messages communicated orally. One can easily deny and negate oral information.
Definition and Meaning
“All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary – it’s just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences”.
When transmission of information takes place in writing/written words, the communication is referred to as written communication. Written communication is not merely a bundle of words or sentences. Words and sentences matter only when the receiver receives, decodes and understands the meaning as intended by the sender. Written communication is all pervasive-it pervades the length and breadth of an organization in the form of rules, regulations, instructions, notices, letters, reports, etc. Written communication is an indispensable part of planning, execution, collaboration, coordination in an organization. It also defines the structure, hierarchy, roles and responsibilities in the organization. Written communication also ensures greater clarity, accuracy, validity, reliability, accountability and long life of the information. Written communication can be formal as well as informal.
Examples of written communication in a formal situation:
- Issuing orders, directives, notices and circulars
- Implementing decisions like appointments, transfer
- Making and implementing policy decisions, rules and regulations
- Directing letters, memorandum
Merits of written communication
- A piece of written communication can be kept as record for future reference for longer period of time.
- Written communication is legally valid evidence and so can be challenged before law.
- Written communication avoids ambiguity and maintains uniformity of decisions, policies and procedures.
- One can always refer back to a written piece of information. So it can be retained for a longer period of time and has a long-lasting impact.
- Written communication is suitable for long, complicated messages.
- In today’s globalised world where we have virtual teams and virtual managers working across cultural boundaries written communication is more accurate as it avoids misunderstanding arising due to different accent, tone, pitch and other nonverbal elements.
- One can always be held responsible for the information conveyed in writing for errors, omissions and the consequent misunderstanding.
- A written message carries more credibility than oral message as it can be produced in situations of dispute.
- Written communication facilitates decision making as the past records provide requisite information and necessary guidance.
Demerits of Written Communication
- Written communication is time consuming as the sender needs to plan, organize and transmit the message through proper channel. Some times excessive paper work and the message traveling through various nodes in a communication network leads to the delaying of the message. This delay may also give rise to red-tapism.
- Written communication does not evoke immediate feedback.
- It is difficult to make changes, corrections and improvisations in the message once transmitted. If there arises a need to change the message, the process is again time consuming.
- Written communication is not cost effective. Planning, drafting and circulating of a message in large organizations require proper set up and appropriate infrastructural facilities that add to the expenditure.
- Writing is an art as well a skill; it is inherent and can also be acquired. Lack of clarity, incoherent organization, excessive jargons, and ambiguous language leads to misinterpretation, which in turn hampers the achievement of the desired objective.
Effective written communication
- Clarity, completeness and persuasiveness are the keys to successful written communication. Composing and conveying the ideas to intended audience is a craft. Following are some measures that enhance the effectiveness of written communication:
- Adapt to the audience: One needs to adapt communication to the needs and expectations of the target audience. Audience analysis reduces the chances of misunderstanding.
- Adopt ‘YOU Attitude’ i.e the communication should be audience centered. Replace I, me, mine, our, us by you, your. (examples)
- Use bias free language; avoid jargons, sms lingo and the internet language.
- While communicating to global audience on net take account of the cultural and linguistic differences and follow nettiquetes.
- While communicating unpleasant news always emphasize on the positive aspects of the situation. (examples)
- Make appropriate use of functional and content words.(examples)
Difference between Oral and Written Communication
The above differences between oral and written communication do not establish the superiority of one form of communication over the other. A good communicator always makes an attempt to choose the right form of communication to suit the need, objective, and situation.
NON VERBAL COMMUNICATION
When transmission of ideas, thoughts, feelings, emotions takes place without words, the communication is termed as nonverbal communication. We do not always communicate through words- a smile on the face, broadening of eyes, a frown, sitting posture with legs overlapped, body cross etc. speak volumes about an individual’s state of mind, attitude, intentions and emotional status. Non verbal communication finds its roots in culture, so it vast and varied in different communities and cultures across the globe. The exhibit below suggests the impact and extent of nonverbal communication and advocates greater
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