There are three types of communication – oral, written, and nonverbal. Oral conversation includes direct conversation between two individuals or among several people, such as face-to-face discussion, meetings, telephone conversations, presentations, lectures, and symposium. Oral communication, unless in the form of a lecture or a presentation, is typically informal, with a high degree of interpersonal involvement, and is best for establishing relationships, building trust, motivating, solving problems, and addressing complicated issues. Oral communication is not as structured as written communication and misunderstandings can occur if the listener takes things out of context or is inattentive, which is why active listening is so important.
Written communication is any medium that uses the written word. Letters, proposals, contracts, and e-mails are example of written communication and are most prevalent in business. It should be noted that that any information posted on websites and social media is also considered written communication, so be careful what you post and what you send since this is your electronic or digital footprint. The majority of written communication today is through electronic means. The advantages are speed, reduced cost, and the ability to reach a broad audience. The disadvantages include lack of confidentiality, improperly using electronic means to address sensitive issues, and irrecoverable immediacy, so think things through before you hit the send button.
The third type of communication which is often overlooked is the predominant means of communication, encompassing more than 50 per cent of your total communication – nonverbal communication. It is an important part of the communication process, yet many fail to understand the importance or are unaware of their nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication includes body language, facial expressions, eye contact, voice inflection, mannerisms, and dress. Much of your success will depend on nonverbal communication as people size you up and continually assess you.