20 Different Types of Communication

There are many ways to communicate with every person. From a simple gesture to a web page ad, we communicate our thoughts to others, consciously or not.

Let’s learn about the different types of communication from the experts, and maybe some bits of common sense. Because sometimes, or most of the time, depending on your point of view, the experts don’t have common sense.

Types of Communication

1. Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal communication is an important part of our daily lives. This is how you communicate with every person and every animal you encounter all day, every day. Now, according to experts, this has to be studied carefully, which doesn’t really say anything.

There are many methods and ways to communicate. There are many environments that affect how we communicate. If you look at these different factors, then you may begin to theorize the why’s and how’s of communication, and implement rules to go along with it.

In an office environment, everyone is responsible for doing something. In broad terms, and using common sense, we can say respect the rules of your office first. Every person, including yourself, expects everyone else to respect the rules. You should do this too.

When someone asks for help, try to help. You may need to ask for their help in the future. Respect personal boundaries. If you are especially new in the office, and you want to be friends with certain people, talk about yourself first. If they reciprocate with their personal information, then you’re on the way to solving one of your goals.

Most important of all, be courteous and polite. This goes with respecting personal boundaries. Try not to be brash and be willing to listen, and listen until he, she, or they, are finished speaking.

Most of this, you instinctively know already. You also know that you can apply these rules of communication for class rooms, group meetings, and just about anyone you interact with on a daily basis. Like I said, common sense. You don’t have to look up the experts for this.

2. Non-Verbal Communication

This type of communication is a subtler way to express your thoughts and feelings. While non-verbal communication is used consciously, it is more often used unconsciously, or without our notice. Consciously, we use gestures to indicate an object.

We wave our hand as a greeting or farewell. We hug people to express affection and sympathy. We stick out our tongues to express certain different feelings. Unconsciously, our body automatically changes posture depending on our thoughts.

Should the body feel uncomfortable, it automatically shifts itself to a better position. In practical use, sign language for people with or without the ability to hear is another form of non-verbal communication.

We use non-verbal communication more than we do verbal communication. Body language, gestures, eye contact, eye movements, facial expressions, and touch – all these types of non-verbal communication will be explained in their own sections.

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3. Written Communication

This is a method of communication that imparts information in written form.  A simple arrow shaped mark scratched into the ground indicates direction. A business proposal for a bank loan shows the bank how savvy you are with planning, decision making, and budgeting.

The advantage of written communication is that it is changeable. You can edit and proofread what you have written until you are satisfied that what you have composed is up to standard. Through written communication, your thoughts and emotions are expressed as much as you want them to be.

4. Verbal Communication

Verbal sound is used to express thoughts and emotions. The problem is misinterpretation by the listener. This misinterpretation leads to miscommunication. The miscommunication may be the fault of the speaker, for not properly expressing and emphasizing the important points of the speech.

Sometimes, a listener just interprets the verbal sound in the wrong way. Paying complete attention to the speaker will help alleviate misinterpretations.

In formal public speaking, the rules say that a speaker needs to avoid making gestures while delivering the speech. In getting your point across, gestures are sometimes necessary. I’d rather understand what you are saying, as opposed to focusing on how you’ve been standing still for so many minutes.

The best verbal sound, of course, is your baby calling you mommy or daddy for the first time.

See Also: 13 Types of Speeches

5. Body Language Communication

Communication through body language is a non-verbal type of communication. As we have already defined, body language is both conscious and unconscious communication.

We hug, bat our eyelashes, shiver, cringe, and shy away from external stimuli. Most of the time, all these things are done automatically or involuntarily.

6. Eye Contact Communication

This is another type of non-verbal communication, and can be likened to body language communication. Our eyes are very expressive, whether we want them to be, or not. In eye-contact communication, both parties must have eye contact, or at least, focused on the communicator’s eyes.

This type of communication is difficult to comprehend, unless there is a formal list on what certain eye movements mean. The members of a military team, for example, will understand commands from the team leader, be it a single blink or three.

Were the team leader to blink at civilians or strangers, especially the same sex, the recipients of the blink would think that this crazy person was batting eyelashes and looking to be cute. People should really be familiar with each other’s attitudes and habits, to be able to comprehend eye movements.

In formal studies, eye movements have been mapped out, well some. Eyes move depending upon the stimuli presented to it. Those who undergo formal study where behavior patterns are part of the curriculum, will have an easier time understanding involuntary eye movements.

7. Facial Expression Communication

More often than not, I am frowning. Does that mean I am dissatisfied with what I see, or am I dissatisfied with me? The face is the most expressive communicator. It does so consciously and unconsciously.

Frowns, scowls, and grimaces exhibit themselves on the face every time negative stimuli is encountered; smelly dog poop. Did that make you cringe? Your facial expressions are mostly involuntary.

8. Posture Communication

Another type of body language communication, exhibited postures usually communicate moods, current thought patterns, and foremost emotions. Cringing is a body language that relates to distaste, fear, and sheepish behavior like, ‘oops, I did something wrong.’

The distaste usually stems from direct stimulation. Fear may be instinctive, a phobia, or a fear of the unknown. In any case, these conditions will cause the body to react; thus changing your posture to reflect your current emotions.

People doing some tedious typing over a keyboard would most likely have their shoulders slumped because of dislike for the activity, boredom from the activity, or the simple unwillingness to perform the activity. At any rate, posture reflects our state of being.

9. Touch Communication

The most important use of touch communication is for people who lack the sense of sight. Braille is a form of touch communication which affords blind people the ability to read with their fingertips. For deaf and blind people, touch communication is the only form of communication available to them.

On a lighter side, touch communication happens when the child holds on tightly to the parent. Hugging for joy, sympathy, and affection are also forms of touch communication.


10. Space Communication

This does not refer to aerospace communication technology. This is all about communicating thoughts, moods, and preferences through the spaces around us. Here are some examples.

  • I have my own personal space. If you get too close to me, I will become uncomfortable.
  • That particular space beside the table is where mom sits to eat.
  • Get out of my room.

The point of this example is to show how people relate with the space around them. Depending on where they are, they have different behavior patterns, and depending on the catalyst, will respond accordingly.

11. Communication Channels

Communication channels are a formalized system, or set of rules that define routes of communication, behavior, methods, and communication tools. These channels are electronic mail, written, media, intercom, desk phone, mobile phone, and personal, or face to face communication.

These channels are often designed with the input of supervisors and section managers. The main goal of establishing communication channels is to have an efficient system for information exchange and dissemination.

12. Career Advice

By sending your CV, through electronic mail to your prospective employer, you may have inadvertently sent them more information than you wanted them to have.

First, did the email address you use for sending your CV have a decent nomenclature? Was that email address the same one you use for your social networking?

By knowing about your email address alone, a determined employer can trace other facts about you. Your name alone, is an easy give away for a face book search.

By sending your CV, you didn’t really tell them anything, except for what they wanted to know. It’s your fault if they don’t hire you when the email address you used was ‘[email protected]

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13. External Communication

This is the term used for any communication that is coming in or going out of the organization. The communication can occur through postal mail, electronic mail, desk phones, and personal visits.

14. Press Releases

A press release is material specifically submitted to media offices, in the hopes that they will choose to print or show your material. The press release material itself is created to communicate or report about an event, with the intention of garnering attention from your targeted audience.

Press releases are either for immediate dissemination, periodic dissemination, or exclusivity with conditions.

15. Advertising

Advertisements use different methods of communication to get their points across. Let’s assume we see 5,000 random ads a day, most of those will be ignored. So ad companies have to use methods that will grab a person’s attention.

Branding is one of those methods. Alone, the brand name itself will communicate to people. This is the reason why food franchises and other franchise shops have big signage. Franchise brands are very well known. All one needs to see is the sign, and a person may decide to actually buy from you.

Of course, you can’t win everyone. As much as a lot people like hamburgers, a lot of people dislike them too.

16. Web Pages

Web pages are powerful communication tools. They can disseminate information. They can display the written word. They can show you videos. They can let you hear music. They are very interesting to all types of people; AND, they are very good platforms for advertising.

The internet has seen the growth of niche marketing skyrocket. Advertisers have the option to show ads only to those websites that have a relation to their product. This way, they have a captive audience.

They also have the chance of showing you something that may well interest you, because you are already browsing a website related to their product. For example, you are browsing for movies. The most likely ads to pop up will be from websites that provide online video streaming. For the advertisers, this is money well spent.

17. Costumer Communications

Reaching out to customers is a very critical skill in customer acquisition, relations, and retention. The target of every company is to get customers to patronize their products. Once those customers are there, companies make some effort to keep them interested in their products.

Now, if these people are patronizing these products, then maybe these same people can lead to more people who like the same products. This is something like niche marketing and acquiring leads for new customers.

So, to attract a customer’s attention, you need to figure out how to communicate with certain customer demographics. You need to figure out how you can make people cough up private information that can lead you to the next customer.

In marketing, there is a method for profiling. Each type of customer profile is labeled as a demographic. Standardized methods of communication are already in place. The experts, marketing companies, have much experience in dealing with, and communicating with each customer demographic.

18. Story Telling

We tell stories about our experiences every day. People of ancient times were very good story tellers. Story telling has been a major method of communication for eons now, and was only recently replaced by print and audio & video broadcasting.

Story telling is very powerful because it allows people to imagine themselves in a story; to try to visualize themselves as part of a story. It allows people to identify themselves in certain events or personalities within the story. Stories give us a, ‘connection’.

If you haven’t noticed, some franchises and brand are using story telling as part of their ad campaigns. It is their hope that people can identify with their brands, to become their loyal customers.

Story telling is a very powerful tool, especially for marketing.

19. Crucial Conversations

In circumstances where the results of a conversation will deeply affect an organization, a certain part of the populace, or a single person’s life, planning and strategizing prior to the conversation is a good thing to do.

Decisions affect people in many different ways, and have far-reaching consequences. A decision to deny you a raise not only affects you, but your partner, your spouse, and your children. Crucial and life-changing conversations must be approached with careful thought and planning in order to achieve your desired result.

20. Visual Communication

This type of visual communication is all about presentations. Where, the presentation is narrated by the facilitator and/or guests facilitators, who use images such as still pictures, bullet points, signs, and animation to act as aids in the presentation of ideas and information.

Nowadays, visual communication is accomplished by using a laptop computer with Power Point, a mini projector that is connectible to a laptop, a venue, and the facilitators. The facilitators may be working pro-bono or are paid a certain fee.

Well, that’s quite a number of ways to communicate. My favorite type of communication is keeping silent, which is a form of communication in itself.

Now, we’ve only looked at some of the methods for communication available to the world. We didn’t even bother looking at the animal kingdom to examine bio-luminescence, scent trails, marks, physical nudges, growls, hisses, and many more. Let’s have the animal behavior biologists do that.

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