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Written communication includes traditional pen and paper letters and documents, typed electronic documents, e-mails, text chats, SMS and anything else conveyed through written symbols such as language. This type of communication is indispensable for formal business communications and issuing legal instructions.
Communication forms that predominantly use written communication include handbooks, brochures, contracts, memos, press releases, formal business proposals, and the like. The effectiveness of written communication depends on the writing style, grammar, vocabulary, and clarity
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The other form of verbal communication is the spoken word, either face-to-face or through phone, voice chat, video conferencing or any other medium. Various forms of informal communications such as the grapevine or informal rumor mill, and formal communications such as lectures, conferences are forms of oral communication. Oral communication finds use in discussions and causal and informal conversations. The effectiveness of oral conversations depends on the clarity of speech, voice modulation, pitch, volume, speed, and even non-verbal communications such as body language and visual cues.
Verbal communication makes the process of conveying thoughts easier and faster, and it remains the most successful form of communication. Yet, this makes up only seven percent of all human communication!
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Nonverbal communication entails communicating by sending and receiving wordless messages. These messages usually reinforce verbal communication, but they can also convey thoughts and feelings on their own.
Physical nonverbal communication, or body language, includes facial expressions, eye contact, body posture, gestures such as a wave, pointed finger and the like, overall body movements, tone of voice, touch, and others.
Facial expressions are the most common among all nonverbal communication. For instance, a smile or a frown conveys distinct emotions hard to express through verbal communication. Research estimates that body language, including facial expressions, account for 55 percent of all communication.
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The way something is said, rather than what is actually said, is an important component of nonverbal communication. This includes voice quality, intonation, pitch, stress, emotion, tone, and style of speaking, and communicates approval, interest or the lack of it. Research estimates that tone of the voice accounts for 38 percent of all communications.
Other forms of nonverbal communication usually communicate one’s personality. These include:
- Aesthetic communication or creative expressions such as dancing, painting, and the like.
- Appearance or the style of dressing and grooming, which communicates one’s personality.
- Space language such as paintings and landscapes communicate social status and taste.
- Symbols such as religious, status, or ego-building symbols.
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A third type of communication is visual communication through visual aids such as signs, typography, drawing, graphic design, illustration, color and other electronic resources.
Visual communication with graphs and charts usually reinforces written communication, and can in many case replace written communication altogether. As the adage goes “a picture is worth a thousand words,” such visual communication is more powerful than verbal and nonverbal communication on many occasions. Technological developments have made expressing visual communications much easier than before.
A good understanding of the different types of communication and communication styles can help you know and deal with people better, clear up misunderstandings and misconceptions, and contribute to the success of the enterprise.