Types of Communication

Types of Communication

Communication is an exchange of mutually understood meanings of a message. It occurs between persons, within organizations, or within an individual. Communication can be classified based on various contexts.

The direction or path through which communication moves is known as communication flow.

The pattern of organizational communication flow is sometimes referred to as communication channels because they represent conduits through which managers and other organizational members can send and receive information.

Types of Business Communication

Based on communication flow, business communication falls into two categories: Vertical communication and Horizontal communication. Vertical communication involves message exchanges between two or more levels of the organizational hierarchy

Vertical Communication

Vertical communication is further divided into two patterns: Upward communication and Downward communication.

Written Communication

Written communication is a form of verbal communication. It involves conveying messages through written code or words. Gregory Moorhead and Ricky W. Griffin define written communication as “the message that is encoded and transmitted in written form.”

Written communication occurs through various means, such as business letters, office memoranda, reports, resumes, written telephone messages, newsletters, policy manuals, etc. It is the most widely used communication method in the world, especially in the realm of business. Therefore, we can say that communication codified in written form is written communication.

Oral Communication

Oral communication is a form of verbal communication that involves speaking words. Ricky W. Griffin (2000:484) states, “Oral communication involves face-to-face conversation, group discussions, telephone calls, and other situations in which the sender uses spoken words to communicate.”

It is the most widely used communication method worldwide. In organizations, managers extensively use oral communication. Mintzberg (1973) found that most managers spend between 50-90% of their time talking to people.

Downward Communication

Downward Communication flows from the top of the organizational structure to the bottom.

Bartol and Martin state, “Downward communication is vertical communication that flows from a higher level to one or more lower levels in the organization.”

Whether a managing director communicates with departmental heads, a manager gives a directive to an assistant manager, or a supervisor instructs a worker, they are all engaged in downward communication.

Orders, individual instructions, policy statements, job sheets, circulars, etc., fall under downward communication. This type of communication can take various forms, such as staff meetings, company policy statements, company newsletters, information memos, and face-to-face contact.

Upward Communication

Managers in business organizations continually receive information from levels below them to understand the progress of work.

This understanding enables them to design strategic actions to address situations obstructing the organization’s planned operations. The communication channel pushing information upward is known as the upward channel of communication.

Horizontal Communication

Horizontal communication occurs between people at parallel levels and statuses. It facilitates coordination and inter-departmental relationships.

Bartol and Martin (1994, 457) define it as “Horizontal communication is lateral or diagonal message exchange either within work-unit boundaries, involving peers who report to the same supervisor, or across work-unit boundaries, involving individuals who report to different supervisors.”

Bateman and Zeithaml (1992,457) state, “Communication that occurs between people at the same hierarchical level for sharing information is called horizontal communication.”

William A. Conboy (1976:29) defines it as “Horizontal communication is the exchanges between and among agencies and personnel on the same level of the organization chart.”

Thus, communication between departments or people at the same level in an organization’s managerial hierarchy, or between similar levels of different organizations, is termed horizontal or lateral communication.

Mass Communication

Mass communication is an everyday experience. Watching television, listening to the radio, or reading a magazine or newspaper are various types of mass communication we encounter daily.

Charles R. Wright (1986:7) defines mass communication as “a special kind of social communication involving distinctive characteristics of the audience, the communication experience, and the communicator.”

According to Wright, in mass communication, the audience is relatively large, heterogeneous, and anonymous to the source.

The experience is public, rapid, and fleeting. The source works through a complex organization rather than in isolation, and the message may represent the efforts of many different people (Wright, 1986:5-8).

Judy C. Pearson and Paul E. Nelson (1997:345) define it as “Mass communication is the process of understanding and sharing meaning through mediated messages to a broad audience.”

Thus, mass communication is unique due to its complexity: the rules and conventions involved in understanding the communication product, the way shared experiences are created for a mass audience, and the interpretation of meanings in a system virtually devoid of feedback.