What is Communication? Definition, Process, Objectives, Types

  • Post last modified:20 March 2022
  • Reading time:31 mins read

What is Communication?

Communication is an exchange of information, ideas and emotions with the help of words, letters, symbols or messages which bring about common understanding and response.

Table of Content

Definition of Communication

Communication is the process by which information is transmitted between the individuals and/or organizations so that an understanding response results.Peter Little
Communication is the process of passing information and understanding from one person to another.Keith Devis
Communication is any means by which thought is transferred from one person to another person.Chappel and Read

Process of Communication

The process of communication comprises transmission of sender’s ideas to the receiver and the receiver’s reaction to the sender in the form of feedback.

The main stages involved in the communication process are:

Generation of an Idea or Thought

The process of communication begins when an idea, thought, feeling or a piece of information arises in the mind of the communicator and he wants to transfer it to someone.

Encoding

When an idea is generated in the mind of a communicator they put that idea in suitable symbols or signs, such as words, letters, signals, sounds, gestures, pictures, etc., representing the idea for its transmission. Such a process is called encoding.

Channel and Media

The communicator conveys the message originated by encoding to the receiver through suitable media and channel. The words ‘channel’ and ‘medium’ are often used interchangeably. However, in some cases, they are different. For example, a letter is a medium and the mail service is the channel, telephonic talk is a medium and telecommunication system is the channel, speech is the medium and air carrying sound waves is the channel.

Receiver

This stage is where the receiver receives the encoded thought or message.

Decoding

On receiving the message the receiver interprets it by translating the signs and symbols into thoughts or ideas. The process of understanding the message by the receiver through the translation of symbols or signals into ideas is called decoding.

Thought or idea

The decoding of the message by the receiver will generate thought in his/her mind and initiate feedback or a response.

Feedback

The receiver decodes, interprets and understands the message fully or partially and conveys the response to the communicator through some channel of communication. This process is called feedback.


Objectives of communication

The primary objective of communication in management is to convey information—instructions, policies, procedures, decisions, etc., so the listener will hear, read, understand what is said, agree and accept the message, and react as intended by the manager or sender of communication.

Knowledge

All over the world, communication is the only means through which literacy is imparted. Knowledge, whether it is in terms of science, religions, history, geography, languages, etc. can be given through communication only.

Advice

Advice refers to the opinion offered to change the approach of behaviours of another person. It may be related to work or personal matter. Modern business activities have become complex necessitating expert advice in matters relating to taxation, technology, finance, marketing, public relations etc. Even superiors have to advise their subordinates.

Motivation

Motivation provides the people with the inner urge to make sincere efforts and canalize their activities towards organizational goals. In a business organization, the seniors try to direct the efforts of the subordinates towards the set goals. Allowing participation in the decision-making process of an organization can motivate the subordinates.

Information

To transmit or to receive information about a fact is one of the important objectives of business communication. The management needs accurate and precise information about the various aspects to perform its functions in an efficient manner.

Raising Morale

Morale refers to the mental health of an individual arising out of courage, confidence and a positive attitude. It is the individual and collective spirit. High morale enhances the level of efficiency of employees. People who feel good about themselves and their organisation are highly motivated.

Order

An order is a directive to a subordinate to do something in a particular manner. It is an authoritative communication. It is a downward communication from superiors to subordinates. It may be written or oral, general or specific. It must be clear and complete, capable of being executed and generally in a friendly tone.

Counselling

Counselling is another important objective of business communication. Counselling is organized and specialised form of advice. It is objective and impersonal and generally sought from a person of greater skill and knowledge.

Counselling differs from advice in the following respects

  • Advice has a personal touch while counselling is impersonal

  • Advice is generally un-sought and unwelcome while counselling is eagerly sought for.

Persuasion

Persuasion is an effort to influence views, opinions and attitudes of others and thereby mould their actions. Persuasion is an important objective of business communication. For instance, the management of a business has to persuade the employees to put in their best effort.

Suggestion

In business, the best ideas need not necessarily come only from top executives and advisors. The workers and lower order staff involved in the actual implementation of work are also capable of giving some creative suggestions on matters related to the working of the organization.

Hence modern business communication welcomes such constructive suggestions from employees. Suggestions can be downward, upward and horizontal.

Request

Request are generally made by sub-ordinates to the higher authorities for getting some favour like a request for leave, for an increase in salary or for special training, for a festival advance etc. A request may also be made by superiors to subordinates for doing some extra work. These requests may be oral or in writing, formal or informal.

Appeal

Appeals are special requests for favour made to the higher authorities with proper reasoning. They may be made by individual or in-group or oral or written. They are in a persuasive language. An appeal is one of the important objectives of internal and external communication.

Complaint

Complaints are made when there are defects in the working system or the products obtained. They are made to set right those defects from the parties concerned. They may be oral or written. In commercial dealings, they should be written.

Warning

The warning is an advance intimation of unpleasant results, consequences and possible dangers. Warning becomes necessary when the employees don’t abide by the norms or violate the rules and regulations of the organizations. Lack of regularity and punctuality, gossiping, negligence in duty, pilferage of stationery and goods are some of the instances for warning and reprimand.

Report

In big organizations,factual information is kept flowing upwards to the top management to enable them to evaluate and control the performance through proper decisions. Some reports are routine and sent in special formats at regular intervals such as a report of defective production, capacity utilization, idle labour hours, wastages of material, sales targets achieved, etc.

Instruction

One of the important objectives of downward business communication is instruction. Superiors instruct their subordinates from time to time about the tasks to be performed in the regular conduct of activities. These instructions are given individually or in groups. Simple instructions are given orally and if they are elaborate they are in writing.

Types of Communication

Communication are two types:

Verbal Communication


Non-Verbal Communication

Verbal Communication

One of the basic forms of communication is verbal communication. Communication by the use of words and language is called verbal communication. If you want to describe some abstract concept or some past events or some complex matters you need words and language. To express your thoughts through the language you have to arrange the words into various parts of speech in proper sequences according to the rules of grammar.

The basic forms of verbal communication are

  1. Speaking 30%
  2. Listening 45%
  3. Writing 9%
  4. Reading 16%

Of these speaking and writing are used to send the message to the audience while listening and reading are used to receive the message.

Types of verbal communication are

Oral Communication

Human is the only species gifted with speech. Human acquired oral communication skills earlier. Writing came afterwards. In our day-to-day life, we communicate orally more than in writing. Oral communication skill helps us to build and develop human relationships. Even in business houses, oral communication is used more for sending messages than written communication.

Executives spend 30% of their time in speaking. Giving instructions, conducting interviews and business talks, attending a meeting, making speeches are important activities involving oral communication in business.

Advantages of Oral Communication

It is time-saving

Dictating the message, getting it typed and mailing it to the receiver takes more time. Instead, oral communication is immediate. Hence many business executives prefer to save paperwork by communicating orally.

It saves money

Oral communication proves economical compared to written communication in many situations. A lot of stationery and executive time is wasted when they increase the correspondence and insist on every instruction in writing.

It is a more effective tool of persuasion and control

It lends a personal touch to communication and helps in resolving conflicts, and developing personal and friendly relations. Oral persuasion solves many of our problems.

It provides immediate feedback

The audience acknowledges the receipt of the message and provides a positive or a negative reaction to our message and seeks the clarification. In written communication such feedback is delayed hence transactions are prolonged.

It increases the efficiency of communication

Using body language and voice modulations the speaker can convey different shades of meaning to the audience through an oral presentation and convey the message more effectively.

It is flexible

In oral communication, there is a scope for the speaker to modify his message accordingly to the feedback of the audience. If the audience is not giving a response, the speaker can motivate them. If the audience is found in a confused state, the speaker can give clarification and explanation. These things are not possible in written communication.

It is suitable for group communication

Oral communication is the most suitable mode of communication while communicating with a group at meetings, conferences, assemblies etc.

It promotes goodwill

Informal oral communication with friends, colleagues, customers, suppliers, staff, and top executives promotes friendly relations and helps to create image and goodwill.

Limitations of Oral Communication

Sometimes where communicate is at afar-off place arranging a personal meeting and discussing the matter may consume more time and money. Instead, the same matters can be settled economically through written communication.-

Oral messages cannot be retained for a long time

Hence when the messages are lengthy and complex it is better to put them in writing rather than setting orally.

It has no legal validity

Oral messages do not have any legal validity unless they are taped and recorded in proper form.

It has greater chances of misunderstanding

In oral communication,the speaker transmits the message without proper planning and organization of thoughts. Sometimes listener may be inattentive and may not receive the message properly. Hence there are chances of misunderstanding and confusion.

Not easy to fix responsibility for mistakes

Oral commitments are not reliable because the people may disown the responsibility in case of problems arising out of it. People may not remain firm with their words. Hence, it becomes difficult to fix responsibility for mistakes in communication for problems arising therefrom.

It cannot be referred in future

Generally, oral communication is not recorded in any form hence it cannot be referred in future for any purpose.

Written Communication

In written communication, the transmitter of an idea encodes it in the form of a written message and send it to the audience through a proper channel. Written communication includes letters, circulars, memos, telegrams, reports, fax, books, e-mail and so on. Everything that is transmitted in written form falls in this category of communication.

The writing skills have been evolved through a long history of man’s attempt to communicate and to keep a record of communication. For this purpose, every language has evolved its own rules of grammar. In writing these rules have to be strictly followed.

Advantages of Written Communication

It is accurate and precise

Generally, the communicator takes great care in preparing a written message,While oral communication is personal the written communication rises above the personal level, especially in business organizations where precision is the law. Hence it is more accurate and precise.

It creates a permanent record

Written communication results in a permanent record of the organization, which is useful for future reference. Past records prove beneficial in formulating new policies and solving future problems. In the absence of such past records (like accounting information, legal agreements, etc.) a great confusion and chaos will be created in the working of business organizations.

It creates legal evidence

Written records are acceptable as legal evidence in case of any disputes in the court of law. Hence business executives insist that even if some deals are settled orally, they should be confirmed in writing.

It has wide access

Written communication has wide access. It helps to communicate a large and scattered audience through mass mailing or e-mail at a reasonable cost and with great speed. Thus the new schemes or changes in prices of products can be informed to thousands of customers simultaneously through circular letters and e-mail.

It promotes the goodwill of the organization

Prompt and efficient written communication with the various parties concerned with the business promotes the goodwill of the organization.

It helps to fix responsibilities

The communication in writing is preserved hence it helps to assign responsibilities. The people may go back on words spoken but not on their words in writing, Hence in case of future complication, you can detect the person responsible based on written records.

Limitations of Written Communication

It is expensive

Written communication consumes the valuable time of business executives and it also involves the stationery, postage, typing etc. hence it proves expensive.

It is time consuming

Written communication consumes a lot of time in preparations of the message, typing it, then mailing it through proper channel. Instead, oral communication either face-to-face or through telephone gives fast results.

It is inflexible

If the audience has doubts in the written message the immediate clarification cannot be had. Even the communicator cannot mould his message according to need, of the situation as in case of oral communication. Hence it is rigid compared to oral communication.

No immediate feedback

The response of the audience to the written communication is received very late compared to oral communication. It is, therefore, time-consuming.

It creates huge paperwork and files

Emphasis on written communication creates mountains of papers and file, which require large space and custody houses. Electronic modes of written communication, however, solved this problem to some extent. Electronic preservation of records through floppies and discs has reduced the paperwork to a great extent.

Communication through Listening and Reading

Effective communication is a two-way process. For effectively imparting our ideas, we should possess speaking or writing skills. But for receiving the message properly we should also possess listening and reading skills. Business executives spend 45% of their working time in listening and 16% on reading.

The most critical aspect of listening and reading process is interpretation and evaluation of ideas received. While absorbing the message you must decide what is important and remember the main idea, which is most important.


Non Verbal Communication

Non verbal communication is the most basic form of communication. Our ancestors communicated with one another by using their bodies. They gritted their teeth to show anger, they smiled and touched one another to indicate affection, we still use nonverbal cues to express superiority, dependence, dislike, respect, love and other feelings.

Importance of Non-Verbal Communication

Though the nonverbal communication is unstructured and spontaneous it creates more impact than verbal communication. The research has shown that nonverbal communication accounts for 93% of our total communication. The importance of nonverbal communication is for 2 reasons.

  1. Reliability
  2. Efficiency

Types of Non-Verbal Communication

Body Language

Body language is a very important factor in oral communication. Facial expressions, postures, gestures, hand movements all supplement the speech of the speaker. Most of our body language is involuntary or unconscious, yet it makes a powerful impact on the listener.

Facial Expressions

Facial expression is an obvious communicative factor. The feeling or the thought in our mind influences most of us, by the action or the reaction whether it is anger or happiness, sadness or frown and all these feelings are depicted by facial expressions.

Posture

It is not easy to define posture but putting it in general words posture means how we carry ourselves. The way we stand, the way we sit, the way we lean, the way we hold our body are the deciding factors for body language.

Gestures

The way we move our hands, head and our body in general in support of the words that we speak are called gestures. Gestures are closely related to the person’s behavior and personality and are different with every human being.

The way we move our hands, head and our body in general in support of the words that we speak are called gestures. Gestures are closely related to the person’s behavior and personality and are different with every human being.

The way we move our hands, head and our body in general in support of the words that we speak are called gestures. Gestures are closely related to the person’s behavior and personality and are different with every human being.

Eye Contact

The most important aspect of body language is eye contact. It is almost impossible to define eye behavior but even though it is very explicit to understand. Eye contact is important during conversations too.

Overall Appearance

Overall appearance comprises clothing, sense of environment and energy level with which the conversation is executed. A confident and sensible person takes care of all these and uses all the accessories to emphasis the body language.

Para language

The word para language is related to oral communication and the word paragraph is related to written communication. Actually, if we try to find out the etymology of these two words para language would find itself farther in the past than the word paragraph, logically keeping in mind that the oral communication developed far earlier than written communication we will not be able to differentiate the topic and idea changes in the entire passage and we will have difficulty in comprehending it at a stretch.

In the same fashion if oral verbal delivery is without breaks, pauses, influences, and gestures we will find the entire delivery difficult to comprehend and there may be a communication gap because of the lack of para-language.

Voice

Voice is the first signal that we use or receive. It tells us so much about the speaker’s gender, background, education, training and temperament. If you are more observant, you will find different types of voices like, clear, musical, cultivated, pleasant, and unpleasant and so on.

Pitch Variation

Most of us introduce wide variations in pitch while speaking. These variations are necessary to catch the listener’s attention and to keep the listener interested in us.

Speaking Speed

Many people wrongly believe that speaking at high speed proves fluency. But observations prove that communicating at high speed is less effective. Generally, we have different speed in our delivery on different occasions and as far as our teaching profession is concerned, we must speedup at easier topics and must slow down at difficult messages.

Pause

We cannot and should not keep on speaking without pausing. Pauses allow the audience to comprehend the idea or the message you have delivered before it and make them ready to accept a concurrent idea, which follows the pause. But pauses must be at the right place and of limited duration. Incorrect use of pauses may create problems and may result in the loss of attention and polarization.

Volume Variation

Our speech should be loud enough to be audible to the audience, not too loud to put them away. Monitoring our speech volume in context to the different messages during our speech enlivens our idea and the idea is put through the audience’s psyche.

Non-fluencies

This is one of the most important parts of para language concept. Consciously or per-conscious in nature we all adhere to this, in some fashion or the other, during our speech delivery. Utterances like ‘oh’, ‘um’, ‘you know’, ‘ok’, ‘look at it’, ‘think’, etc. are known as non-influence .

They give the speaker breathing time and the audience time to think over what has been said and after comprehending that they become ready for the next to follow.Are you satisfied with this orientation?

Word Stress

I would like to start this topic by giving an example.

Are you satisfied with this orientation?

Are you satisfied with this orientation?

Are you satisfied with this orientation?

Proper word stress stands crucial importance and enables the speaker to change the meaning of the sentence every time they use it.

Time and Space Language

Our use of times is a very subtle non-verbal communication. The time given to listen and speak to people creates a sense of self-esteem in them. Time is such an important factor that if a communicator misses the appropriate time for conversation it becomes very difficult to get another opportunity for the same conversation which makes the conversation and communication effective.

If the communicator is communicating with 1 person and if and if the same communicator at some other time is communicating with 15 people his/her sense of space he at some other time is communicating with 15 people his sense of space management in communicating must be subtle enough to understand the volume variation, body language, etc.

Sign Language

From time immemorial man has been using sign language for communication. Sign language has two forms

Visual Signs Colour

Colour is an important effective sign of communication. Colours are silent communicators of different ideas. We use colours to enliven a dull environment. Traffic signals are based on colour. Colours also symbolize moods; they are also used for identification.

Pictures

Pictorial presentation is the most suitable mode for mass communication. Paintings and engravings found on the walls of ancient races and temples convey us a lot of information about the tribes, races, rules of the past. Hence pictures are an effective form of non-verbal communication.

Graphics

Graphs and charts are the efficient means of conveying statistical information to a layman. Even a common man can judge the overall situation and understand the relationship between charts. However, such charts and graphs should be prepared skillfully and properly labelled.

Posters

A poster is a combination of pictures and words. The use of words is minimum. They help in public education. They effectively persuade matters like AIDS awareness and many other such concepts.

Signs and Signals

A sign is a mark used to represent mathematical calculations. Several other signs are used worldwide, eg: the danger sign by the skull and bones.

Audio Signs

Audio Signs They are symbols perceived by ears. Mankind has used sound signals since the beginning of civilization. Ancient people to convey the information using different drum bits. Even today we use different alarm signals such as fire alarm, casualty alarm.


Advantages and Limitations of Non-verbal Communication

Non-verbal methods have an almost instant effect because of quicker grasp by the receiver. It takes less time to see a colour or picture and to hear a horn or bell than to read and understand words and sentences. This quality of speed is convenient and response makes nonverbal methods extremely useful in many situations.

For illiterate people, the best possible mode of communication is nonverbal communication. As nonverbal communication has advantages, it has limitations also. Complex communications cannot be described in nonverbal communication. It cannot be used as constitutional proofs.


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