In this article, we are going to be discussing everything about communication. The need for effective communication in official, unofficial and other human relationships cannot be overemphasized. Good communication skills engender productivity and robust working relationships at all levels of an organization. But apart from organizational relationships, engaging effective communication techniques would reduce misunderstandings in your dating or marital relationship as you would be able to convey your feelings and emotions well.
Let’s get into the article by looking at few introductions.
What is Communication?
Communication is simply the process of transferring or exchanging information from one place, person or group to another. This can be done by speaking, writing, or using some other media such as symbols, signs, a system of behaviors, phone lines or computers.
Types of Communication
Communication can be grouped into various types using about three (3) basis or attributes. These three (3) basis for classification of communication include:
- Organizational Structure
- Mode of Expression
Classification of Communication on the Basis of Organizational Structure
When we classify communication on the basis of organizational structure, we have these two types of communication: formal communication and informal communication.
1. Formal Communication
Formal communication is the transfer or exchange of information, data or ideas via formally established channels in an organization. A formal communication in an organization may be oral or written; it may as well be upward, downward and horizontal.
2. Informal Communication
Informal communication is the type of communication that is based on and built around personal or social relationships of members of an organization. This type of communication does not have to be follow formally established channels by the organizational management. Rather, it flows between pals and is almost always related to personal matters as against positional matters.
Classification of Communication on the Basis of Direction
If we consider just the direction of flow of information, data or ideas in an organization, we may classify communication into the following four (4) types:
- Downward Communication
- Upward Communication
- Horizontal Communication
- Diagonal Communication
1. Downward Communication
Just as the name implies, downward communication in an organization involves the passing down of information from superiors to subordinates. These information, which may be written or oral, may come in the form of orders, instructions, guidance, assignments, etc. Such communication help the superior to control the subordinates and to delegate authority when the need arises.
2. Upward Communication
This is the direct opposite of downward communication. Here, the information flow from the bottom to the top of the organizational hierarchy. The primary goal of upward communication is to furnish the top management with information about the happenings or progress of the organization. This gives room for innovative ideas and suggestions to thrive; and arms the management with ample data to plan the future of the organization.
3. Horizontal Communication
Horizontal communication is the type of communication that occurs among people who are on the same organizational hierarchy. This type of communication helps to establish and sustain co-ordination among the various departments in an organization. More so, it engenders social and emotional support among employees.
4. Diagonal Communication
Diagonal communication is said to occur when there is an exchange of information or ideas between people who are neither at the same hierarchical level nor working in the same department. This helps to spread information across different levels of an organization and increases the overall effectiveness of the organization.
Classification of Communication on the Basis of Mode of Expression
If we only concern ourselves with the mode of expression, we can classify communication into the following two types:
- Non-Verbal Communication
- Verbal Communication
1. Non-Verbal Communication
Non-verbal communication is the type of communication that is achieved through any other means apart from the use of words. It might rather involve the use of gesticulations, facial expressions, posture, eye contact, and even silence. Non-verbal communication is a quick and economic way of passing information.
2. Verbal Communication
Verbal communication is the exchange of ideas or transmission of information by means of words. The words can either be oral or written. Verbal communication, consisting of speaking, listening, writing, and reading, is unarguably the most preferred mode of communication.
As already suggested above, verbal communication may be of two types: oral communication and written communication.
Oral communication is the type of communication that occurs when information or ideas are exchanged through spoken words either face to face or by means of telephone calls.
Written communication has to do with exchanging information and ideas in written form instead of by spoken words. This may also involve the use of pictorial diagrams and charts packaged in the form of textbooks, news papers and magazines.
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What is Effective Communication?
We have already established the fact that communication involves exchanging thoughts, knowledge, information or ideas. Communication is said to be effective if and when the intended message (thoughts, knowledge, information or ideas) is successfully delivered, received and understood by the target audience.
Importance of Effective Communication
Yes, effective communication helps to build trust between you and other people. If you can communicate in such a way that your audience always receive and understand the exact message you intend to pass across to them, you will foster trust with them over time. Also, as a leader, if you can always listen attentively and embrace different points of view of your followers, they will trust that you will make the best decisions having everyone’s perspective in mind.
Helps in Conflict Prevention or Resolution
A good number of the conflicts that rock many organizations thrive on poor communication skills leading to misconception of information transmitted. When intended messages are successfully delivered, received and understood by the target audience, there will be no room for misconception or misinterpretation and eventual conflict. Where there is conflict already, the key to its resolution is effective communication. Keep your cool, and ensure that all parties are heard. Then, adopt a solution that is ideal for all the parties involved.
Gives a Sense of Clarity and Direction
If you know how to communicate effectively, you would be able, at all times, to cast clear vision, deliver clear goals and expectations for your team. This will make it possible for your team members to be able to clearly note and understand their specific tasks and those of their teammates. This gives everyone a sense of direction and helps to eliminate conflicts.
Skills Engender Better Relationships
Relationship between people who know how to communicate effectively is always friction-free. This is because each party is always able to pass across their good ideas and intentions without being misunderstood. More so, each party always listens carefully and offers good feedback such that everyone feels heard and understood.
As we have already pointed out, effective communication makes it possible for employees or team members to understand their individual roles, the roles of others and the expectations of the management. When this understanding is in place, the people can minimize distractions, focus on their work and be more productive.
Effective Communication Skills and Techniques
In this section, we shall examine the skills required for effective communication.
Some people will be surprised to see that listening is a skill required for effective communication. Such people think that effective communication only has to do with finding the best ways to convey their thoughts and opinions. But the very first step to gaining effective communication skills is to learning how to listen. You have to understand that it is important to give others a chance to speak, and while they do that, you listen carefully. Giving quality feedback by asking questions without interrupting the speaker shows that you are a good listener.
Since non-verbal communication can be construed to be just as important as verbal communication, body language of both the speaker and the listener is a vital element of effective communication skills. When someone is speaking, it is important to focus on them and let them know that you are not only hearing them but listening attentively and understanding what they are saying. As much as possible, make eye contact with the one you are in communication with to let them know that you are listening to them and really interesting in what they are saying.
Confidence is an essential element of effective communication skills especially when it has to do with speaking to a large group. If you must be heard by a large group, if you must convince them to align with your line of thoughts, you must exude confidence.
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