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Communication is basic need of almost every living individual. This word is derived from the Latin word “communis” meaning “common”. We convey our thoughts, ideas and information to people around us through it. There are two main types of communication: verbal and non-verbal communication.
Types of Communication:
Conveying thoughts and ideas through written or spoken words is verbal communication. Sub-categories of verbal communication are:
- Interpersonal Communication: When the communication takes place between two different persons.
- Intrapersonal Communication: When the person communicates with him/herself.
- Small Group Communication: When a person shares thoughts and ideas with limited people. The number of people in these groups can vary but they are not huge. For example: Communication between teacher and students in a classroom.
- Public Communication: When a person communicates with huge audience. You need support of microphones and speakers to make your voice audible for large group of people. For example: Politician addressing audience during election campaign in some area.
When we communicate using means other than written or spoken words, non-verbal communication occurs. Sub-categories of non-verbal communication includes:
- Eye Contact: A person communicates through eyes. For example: If you want to talk to someone, you will develop an eye contact with that person. Likewise, if you don’t want to talk to someone, you will avoid eye contact.
- Gesture: Gestures are the signals you convey through your body movement. For example: If you like somebody you will shake hand while greeting that person. Saying YES or NO through moving your head horizontally and vertically.
- Facial Expressions: Your facial expressions says a lot about whether you like or dislike something. They also convey your mood and state of emotions. This way you can tell people a lot without even uttering a single word.
- Signs and Symbols: Signs and symbols are graphical or visual representation of some message. For example: traffic signals and signs.
- Personal Appearance: They way you look and they way you maintain your physical appearance also coveys a lot about you. For example: You can easily judge someone who is wearing black coat with white dress as lawyer. We can identify different people from different organizations through their uniforms.
- Silence: Silence is also one of the most powerful ways to communicate something without saying it.
Definition of Communication by Different Authors
Different authors define this process in different way. Let’s have a look at some famous definitions:
- It is a process of passing information from one person to another. (Davis)
- It is a special kind of pattern; a pattern which is expressed in symbolic form. Two prerequisites are: people who are sharing those symbols must have common understanding medium such as language. The associated meaning with those symbols must be common among participants who are sharing it. (M. T. Myers and G.E. Myers)
- It is the exchange of information for transmitting a meaning. It is the essence of social system of an organization. (Katz and Kahn)
- It involves a systematic and continuous process of telling, listening and understanding. (Allen Louis)
- It is an exchange of facts, ideas, opinions or emotions by two or more persons. (Newman & Summer)
- The imparting, conveying or exchange of ideas, whether by speech, writing or signs. (Oxford English Dictionary)
- The mechanism through which human relations exist and develop – all the symbols of mind, together with the means of conveying them through space and preserving them in time. (Charles Cooley)
- It includes all the procedures by which one mind may affect another. This, of course, not only written and oral speech, but also music, the pictorial arts, the theater, the ballot, and in fact all human behavior. (Claude Shannon & Warren Weaver)
- In the most general sense, we have it whenever one system, a source, influences another, the destination, by manipulation of alternative signals which can be transmitted over the channel connecting them. (Charles Osgood)
- It is the transfer of thoughts and messages, as contrasted with transportation, the transfer of goods and persons. Its basic forms are signs (sight) and sound (hearing). (Columbia Encyclopedia)
Communication requires at least three elements; source, message and the destination
Source can be an individual, place or anything from which the message originates. It could be a gesture, writing, speech or any organization which on-airs or publish that message. The context of anything you want to convey is message. Destination is your target audience to whom you want that message to reach.
Process of Communication
First of all, there is a source (sender) that develops (encodes) and conveys any message. The source decides what kind of information or feeling it wants to share with people then it designs the message accordingly keeping in view the target audience. Then, the source delivers that information using some mass media such as: picture, written or spoken words, television, radio or social media etc. There are unlimited means to convey your desired message.
On the other end, receiver (target audience) receives that information and the process of understanding (decoding) that message starts. For decoding any information people must share common language and understanding of the transmitted thoughts and ideas. If the target audience will not understand the message sent via sender they won’t be able to give accurate feedback. Sometimes the distortion in the medium which is delivering that message also acts as a barrier in effective communication. The medium through which you are getting that information should be technically perfect for conveying message without any distortion.
When a message reaches its target audience without any hurdle , they will acknowledge it by giving feedback. Feedback could be positive or negative depending on how effectively the message was conveyed to the target audience.
The Importance of Effective Communication
People communicate on daily basis. They need to do it for carrying out their daily activities effectively. Communication is as important as breathing for a person. It is the basic need for survival of every living being. It’s not like that only humans communicate. Animals, birds, insects and every living being is following some pattern to communicate.
There are certain set of principles one can follow to communicate effectively. Few of them are are as follow:
- Message must be well designed and easy to understand.
- The designed message must be captivating enough to drag the attention of target audience.
- Avoid using symbols and jargon which would be difficult for people to understand. If you use any, then make them understand the meaning of what you are trying to deliver.
- Keep in mind educational and social background of your target audience. You need to do proper research on it for communicating a message effectively.
- Don’t force people to go against their norms while delivering a message. If you will ask them to do something that is not inline to their beliefs and practices, they will resist listening to what you are saying. To bring a change in the attitudes of people you need to educate them first by showing association with what is already happening there.
- If you are going to communicate with people on personal level try your best to transform your physical appearance into what is socially acceptable for them.
We don’t share common language with animals. But, we can understand their message also through non-verbal communication. Several researches are being done on plant communication also.
Commuincation is very important to manage our daily activities. But, only effective communication can help us in achieving wonders. They way you say something matters more than what you are saying.
Maida Khan has done Masters in Mass Communication from NUST. She is a part-time lecturer teaching TV Production courses.
Writing is her hobby, and she is a vocal activist.