Different Types of Human Communication Most animals communicate with each other in some way. Dogs bark at those they perceive as a threat in order to communicate their hostility and in some cases the threat that they will attack if provoked; bees have a pouch in which they carry the scent of their hive so as to identify themselves as members of the community. However, it is only in humans that communication breaks off into different types of communication: verbal and non-verbal, and formal and informal. Verbal communication is just what one would expect from the name: communication using words, and in some cases written characters.
There are subcategories for verbal communication, depending on who is at the receiving end of the communication. The main division is between interpersonal communication, in which one person speaks directly to another person, and public or group speaking, in which one person speaks to a large group. From here, the intention of the person speaking breaks it down into still further categories depending on whether they are trying to persuade the listener or listeners to think or act in a certain way, to convey information in the clearest manner possible, or even to entertain.
However, in many cases, the intentions of the speaker will overlap: speakers may want to persuade, inform, and entertain their audiences all at the same time. Sometimes, they may even be unaware of what their true intentions are themselves. Non-verbal communication is the type that is more similar to what the dogs and bees mentioned above do. Non-verbal communication includes all the information we convey to others, whether consciously or subconsciously, without actually using any words.
Probably the most ubiquitous example of non verbal communication is that of facial expressions. For example, when a person rolls their eyes at someone, they are expressing skepticism about what the speaker said. They are not using any words to convey this message, but using their understanding of the non-verbal cues they can send that message without having to explicitly say, “I really find what you are saying unbelievable”. Not all facial expressions are so calculated though: there are those like smiles that come naturally when someone is happy, and indicate this to others.
Beyond these more explicit examples, there are more subtle instances of non-verbal communication. For example, clothing: just as the male peacock uses a vibrant display of his colorful feathers to signal to a potential mate that he is a desirable choice, people use clothing in order to send messages about themselves (whether they are true or not). In this vein, a man going to a job interview will usually wear a suit and tie in order to convey the idea that he is a very professional person.
Unlike facial expressions, this kind of non-verbal communication is more like verbal communication because it is arbitrary – there is no intrinsic reason why a suit and tie should convey the idea of professionalism any more than a Japanese kimono would. It is simply that it has become a cultural norm that a suit and tie is what a professional person wears, and as such it becomes a symbol and a means of non-verbal communication. Formal communication is more strongly associated with large and small group speaking. It is more rule bound, and is more centered on the speaker getting some kind of result.
For example, speaking to a board room full of business executives in order to convince them to accept a marketing strategy is an example of formal communication: what is said and how it is said is rule-bound to what is considered appropriate for the setting, and it is directed toward the specific end of getting the executives to accept the ad campaign. Furthermore, their are instances of symbolic non-verbal communication, such as the wearing of business attire in order to appear professional. Informal communication is associated with interpersonal communication.
While it is still rule bound by the social norms of the those communicating, there is much more room for the speaker to be free in what he or she says. Informal communication is also much less tied to specific ends: in many cases, it takes place simply for the speaker to express what they think and feel about anything in particular, and the speaking is undertaken as an end it itself. It is a much more emotionally involved form of communication, in large part because there is less emphasis on symbolic non-verbal communication and more emphasis on saying what one really feels.
Although these various types of communication are very different, they are all indispensable tools for communicating with and understanding others. In order to be able to look at others and truly appreciate what they are trying to convey and whether what they are saying has any value, one needs to have a thorough understanding of all types. Informal Communication If formal communication is viewed like dressing for a black tie affair, informal communication is like dressing casually and wearing slippers around the house. Much informal communication occurs on a person-to-person basis, in a face-to-face manner, without ceremony or fanfare.
Other ways to communicate in an informal manner may include texting, post-it notes, an informal drop in visit to another person, or a quick and spontaneous meeting. Informal communication includes all the various methods of relaying information or messages between people. It often is called “the grapevine” as messages weave back and forth and around people. There are none of the trappings of formal messages, such as company letterhead, planned meetings or specific introductions of guests. Everyone is relaxed and casual, eager to chat about many things, as there is no specific agenda to follow.
This type of communication frequently is oral, and works easily for small groups. The scope of the conversation may be broader than a formal presentation, and include topics that are diverse in nature, free flowing and loose rather than scripted carefully. Unfortunately, informal communication is subject to creating rumors and misinformation due to its loose nature and lack of substantiating evidence. This is the type of interaction that occurs in the workplace as banter between employees, or idle chatting. It is seen as blog entries on the Internet.
At colleges, students are encouraged to drop by their professors’ offices as needed, informally. Other informal web communication is seen in diaries, personal email letters, instant messaging, emoticons, online chat rooms and cyberspace bulletin boards. Informal communication also may take a non-verbal form as facial expressions, sign language, or manner of dress. In spoken language, the informal communicative style incorporates the use of the second and first voices. This is in contrast to the use of the third person voice in formal communications.
One of the visible signs of informal communication is its natural and easy style, as opposed to being formally regimented. There may be the use of colloquialisms and local slang in the course of speech. It is unconventional and without rules, which is just the opposite of formal. Informal communication is used to help put people at ease. This can be seen in an interview situation where an interviewer such as a paralegal needs to make a little small talk to help get clients to relax, feel welcome and open up verbally.
The use of informal language is far more prevalent in society than the use of formal language. Formal Communication Formal communication can be considered as communication efforts that are “dressed up” to fit customary rules and ceremony For example, in a written letter, the formal communication style will demand that the layout of the piece of written communication follow a specific format that includes the date, header, salutation, body of the letter, close, signature lines and any indicators of enclosures all placed neatly upon company letterhead or personal stationery.
By contrast, an informal piece of written communication can be as simple as a jotted note to a friend on a torn slip of paper Formal communications are mostly written, although they may now also include formal presentations that are on computer disk, video tape or DVDs, MP3 presentations and other similar electronic reproductions of written communications. Other forms of formal communications include newsletters, legal advisories, invitations, awards, and letters of congratulations.
Non-written formal communication devices are in-person communications in the forms of departmental meetings, telephone calls, conferences and special interviews. Some publications that are devoted to a special purpose, such as a company’s annual report, are formal communications. There is a non-verbal component to formal communication as well. The style and manners of the presenter dictate the formalness of a meeting, and this can be immediately seen at the time of introduction of a speaker.
Some elements of non-verbal formal communication include maintaining a certain distance from others, standing above the crowd, speaking in formal tones and using formal means of address to others, such as “Mister” or “Doctor” when calling upon others. Colloquialisms, which are freely used in informal communication, are not present in formal communications. Proper English or another language is spoken. Formal communications will follow a chain of command in the flow of the communication, either upwards to or down from managers.
The use of formal communication is more prevalent in highly technical areas where a message must be exact and specific, leaving no room for misinterpretation. The written communication is carefully thought out, and planned for a certain effect or result. It often is written in a third person non-personal voice of “he, she, it, and they” rather than “I” or “you” voices. Grammar, spelling and layout are important for written communications, and for spoken communications there is an emphasis placed on the quality of the speech voice and pronunciation.
Some formal communications are congratulatory, others can be advisory or informational. Legal papers follow a tightly formatted layout that is customary within the professional and widely used by others. Likewise, scientific research papers have a customary format to follow. Any written communication that is expected to adhere to particular rules can be considered to be formal communication, and the actual tone of the piece may range from friendly to threatening. It can be more demanding and imply expectations to the receiver that should create desired results.
Communication through Body Language Communication is how human beings interact with the world that surrounds them. There are many forms of communication, some being more effective at conveying the intent or feelings of the individual expressing than others. Many people have a hard time with communication, and can find it difficult to tell others what they think or to give them bad news. Sometimes, they can’t find the right words to express the things they want to say. There are also those people who are not to be believed due to a history of dishonesty or embellishing the truth.
One form of communication, however, is always honest and can always be counted on. Body language is a form of communication that is performed subconsciously. It occurs almost constantly, and will almost always give the correct impression that a person has of someone else, the environment, or the situation at hand. Body language makes it easy to know if someone is nervous, scared, interested, or focused, among many other feelings that could be happening. Learning to read body language can be as simple as paying attention to your own body when feeling specific emotions.
For example, if you are able to notice the unconscious things that your body does when you are nervous, then it should be simple for you to be able to see when another person is nervous in a certain situation. Often, reading the body language of another person will tell you more than having an actual conversation would, especially if the conversation has the potential to be uncomfortable or is something that no one wants to acknowledge. On the lighter side of body language communication, it can be a very helpful tool in determining how interested another person is in you.
When single people meet for the first time, reading the signs of body language can help you to determine if this person has any interest in you beyond friendship. If on a date, the person leans towards you when you are speaking or has their arms at their sides with the front of their body facing towards you, that is a sign that signifies a true interest in the things you are saying. If, on the other hand, they have their arms crossed, are leaning back in their chair with their back turned towards you, and are avoiding contact, they probably are not interested.
These are some good physical indicators that you could be wasting your time. Nonverbal Communication Nonverbal communication is any kind of communication not involving words. When the term is used, most people think of facial expressions and gestures, but while these are important elements of nonverbal communication, they are not the only ones. Nonverbal communication can include vocal sounds that are not words such as grunts, sighs, and whimpers. Even when actual words are being used, there are nonverbal sound elements such as voice tone, pacing of speech and so forth.
Nonverbal communication can be incorporated in a person’s dress. In our society, a person wearing a police uniform is already communicating an important message before they say a word. Another example is a man’s business suit, which is perceived by some as communicating an air of efficiency and professionalism. While each of these cues conveys a message, so does its absence. In some settings, failing to express a nonverbal cue also communicates meaning. A policeman out of uniform is called “plainclothes” and is seen as deliberately trying to conceal his role.
To some, this may make him seem smart or efficient, while others may consider him sneaky or untrustworthy. In the same way, a businessman who does not wear a suit is conveying an air of casualness which some would consider slightly less professional. In the modern world, “dressing down” implies a relaxation of professional standards that is much more than just a change of clothes. Many cues are based on learned cultural standards, but there are some elements of nonverbal communication that are universal.
Paul Eckman’s landmark research on facial expressions in the 1960? s found that the expressions for emotions such as anger, fear, sadness and surprise are the same across all cultural barriers. The setting where communication takes place also lends a meaning to words apart from their literal definition, and constitutes nonverbal communication. For instance, the word “tradition” means one thing when it is spoken in City Hall, and quite another when it is spoken in a church.
The sign of a cross takes on great cultural meaning when used in a religious context, but on a road sign it just means that an intersection is coming up. Some nonverbal communication accompanies words and modifies their meanings. For instance, our speed of speaking and the pauses we place between our words form a nonverbal element to our speech. A slight pause before a word can imply uncertainty or be interpreted as a request for confirmation from the listener, whereas a lack of pauses can be taken as a sign of confidence or the encouragement of a fast reply from the listener.
If someone asks you a question in a hurried manner, you will probably get the feeling that they want a similarly quick reply. The use of personal space constitutes a form of nonverbal communication. If someone leans toward their listener as they speak, it implies that they are communicating something personal or secret. Depending on the social nuances of the situation, this may be taken as a sign of friendship or an unwanted invasion of space. The use of touching as an element of communication is called haptic communication, and its meanings are very culture-dependent.
In American society, a handshake, a pat on the shoulder or a “high five” have certain definite meanings understood by practically everybody. In other societies, these might be enigmatic acts or an embarrassing invasion of personal space. The use of the eyes as an element of nonverbal communication is an area of study in itself, and is called “oculesics. ” Researchers have divided eye movements into separate elements such as the number and length of eye contacts, blink rate, dilation of the pupils and so forth.
Here again, the interpretation of these cues is highly dependent on the culture of the participants. A prolonged stare may establish a bond of trust, or destroy it. It may elicit a reply from the person being stared at, or it may make them become uncommunicative from embarrassment. This is how most of our communication takes place. When we consider the amount of nonverbal communication that passes between us and compare it with the mere words we say, it is obvious that the nonverbal part is by far the largest.
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