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Understanding Types of Communication

The importance of communication in the workplace cannot be emphasized enough. It serves as a medium for fostering trust and strengthening relationships between the various stakeholders at the workplace. Vital interpersonal communication skills are considered one of the most desirable soft skills in your resume. This article looks at the different types of communication useful in the workplace and how to sharpen your communication skills for winning at work.

Here's what this article will cover:

  1. Importance of communication
  2. What are the different types of communication styles?
  3. What are formal and informal communication styles in the workplace?
  4. How to use communication skills in the workplace to be successful
  5. Conclusion

Importance of communication

Communication skills in the workplace are essential for effective team management and team building. It also allows the employees to express themselves in a better manner, promoting a culture of innovation. Good communication skills can help stakeholders inefficient conflict management and relationship building. If you want to empower your colleagues, you need to be a strong communicator.

Lastly, stronger communication skills help in creating a clearer and more streamlined workflow. This has a direct impact on the overall environment at work and also enhances employee productivity.

That’s why it is essential to understand the various forms of communication and master your communication skills.

What are the different types of communication styles?

In the workplace, there are four types of communication styles:

1 - Verbal

Out of the different forms of communication styles, verbal communication is the most common one. There are two forms of verbal communication:  written and oral communication. Many consider written communication as a distinct type of communication.  

There are four types of verbal communication:

Intrapersonal: Conversations that we may have with ourselves, where we are both the sender and recipient of a message.

Interpersonal: One-on-one conversation with another person.

Small group communication: Conversations involving more than two people, such as team meetings.

Public communication: This involves an individual addressing a large gathering of people, such as at a press conference or a conference.

There are various channels of relaying verbal communication -- you can do it in person, through a phone call, video conferencing, or even a presentation. Strong verbal communication is the secret to maintaining excellent relationships in the workplace. When employers use effective verbal communication while conversing with the employees, they feel secure and increase job satisfaction.

Employees with strong verbal communication skills are more confident about sharing new ideas and expressing opinions, creating a direct impact in the workplace.

Needless to say, out of the different forms of communication, verbal communication is an essential one. Here’s how you can develop the skill:

  • Keep an open mind: Listening to the speaker without making any judgments will help you to understand what the other person is saying without harboring any preconceived notions.
  • Use concise language: Use crisp and concise language to communicate clearly. Hiding behind jargon or too many technical terms can weaken your argument.
  • Know who your audience is: This can be a total gamechanger as it allows you to tailor the communication and convey your thoughts more effectively. This will ensure that your message has the desired impact.
  • Listen actively: As Richard Branson says, you need to listen more than you talk.  Listening doesn’t always feature on the list of forms of communication. But some experts believe that there are five types of communication: verbal, non-verbal, written, listening, and visual.

Unless we are willing to listen, we cannot really communicate with anyone. Ensure that the speaker has your full attention, maintains eye contact with the speaker, and makes sure not to get distracted by everything else around you. Try not to think of how you will respond to the speaker or interrupt the speaker in the middle.

  • Don’t use fillers: Too much usage of words such as “um” or “like” can be extremely off-putting for the audience. Your audience may also think that you do not have command over the language of a good vocabulary.

2 - Nonverbal

Among the 4 types of communication styles, nonverbal communication accounts for 93 percent of workplace communication. Put merely, nonverbal communication refers to communication using nonverbal cues such as eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, and smiles.

Body language plays a critical role in workplace communication. That’s why strong nonverbal communication is regarded as a desirable skill. Used correctly, nonverbal communication can boost employee morale and create a positive environment at work. Similarly, having a hint of smile, occasionally nodding, and maintaining steady eye contact are other ways of communicating nonverbally.  For instance, you are in a team meeting and notice that a team member is speaking too fast and stammering due to performance anxiety. You can nod gently to can support such a colleague and encourage him or her to speak confidently.

Nonverbal communication is one of the types of communication to make yourself heard. If you want to sharpen your nonverbal communication skill, here is what you should do:

  • Avoid fidgeting: If you are having a serious conversation with your colleague or boss, avoid the temptation to fidget. It can be really distracting for the other person and give the impression that you are nervous or bored.
  • Maintain correct posture: Don’t cross your arms over the body. Keep them down -- an open body position conveys that you are eager to listen and carry on a conversation.
  • Maintain eye contact: maintaining eye contact is an excellent way to show that you are interested in the conversation. However, make sure that you are not staring, which can make the other person uncomfortable.
  • Incorporate positive signals while speaking: Present yourself as a confident person by standing firmly and keeping your shoulders back.
  • Focus on the tone of your voice: The tone of your voice plays an extremely critical role -- it can convey a range of emotions like enthusiasm, happiness, sadness, or anger. To regulate the tone of your voice as per the demands of the situation.

3 - Written

The next one on our list of different forms of communication is written communication. This style uses written words to communicate a message. There are various types of written communication, such as emails, memos, letters, brochures, and blogs.

Regardless of your industry, strong written communication skills are desirable. It helps in building trust and integrity in the workplace. When face to face communication is not possible, written communication is the best way to convey your message. If you want to master this type of communication, here’s what you can consider doing:

  • Review your written communication: Resist the temptation to hit the ‘send’ or ‘publish’ button immediately after you have written something. Set aside time to read and review your writing and make necessary edits carefully. This will refine communication and make it even more effective.
  • Focus on emotions: While you may not be physically present in front of the recipient, your feelings can be conveyed through your writing. Make sure to pay attention to the kind of emotion you are channeling through your writing.  
  • Trim the fat: Why use four words when you can use just one? Get rid of unnecessary words or technical terms. Always remember that every word in your written communication should earn its keep.
  • Be direct: Don’t beat around the bush. Write concise paragraphs that convey the message clearly, without confusing the audience. Bear in mind that our attention span is constantly shrinking -- getting to the point as quickly as possible has become even more important.
  • Follow a structure: Regardless of what you are writing, ensure that you follow a structure -- start with an introduction, cover the main points in the body, and end with a conclusion. This will help you stay on track.

4- Visual

The final one on our list of 4 types of communication style is visual communication. This style utilizes various graphics for effectively relaying the information to the audience. Examples of graphics include photographs, infographics, charts, and social media creatives.

As a form of communication, visual communication is beneficial. Given our shrinking attention span, visual communication provides a distraction-proof medium for the content. It also makes it easier for the audience to retain the content. Using appropriate verbal cues also enhances the comprehension ability of the audience.

Here’s what you can do to master this style of communication:

  • Pick the visual carefully: Choose the visual based on the goal. For instance, if you need to convey a lot of information in a short period, using diagrams to break it down into digestible concepts can be helpful. Steer clear from violent or offensive visuals.
  • Assess your audience: Everyone may not appreciate the inclusion of visuals in your presentation. So take a moment to assess if adding visuals will confuse the audience or help them.

What are formal and informal communication styles in the workplace?

Based on workplace conversations, communication style can be further sub-divided.

The different forms of communication are:

Formal communication: This type of communication is from the top management to various departments and employees within the organization. There is a pre-determined structure or procedure to carry out such communication. Townhall meetings or annual general meetings of your company are good examples of formal communication. The most significant advantage of formal communication is the orderly flow of information. It also provides absolute clarity about the responsibilities of various stakeholders.

Here’s how you can strengthen this type of communication:

  • Create a communication strategy: Start by asking who needs what kind of information, when do they need to know the information, and how you can effectively deliver such information.
  • Get into the details: Given formal communication follows a top-down approach, it is critical to explain to the audience why you want something done.
  • Be open to feedback: Don’t let formal communication remain a one-way street. Create a feedback process to know the shortcomings in your method.

Informal communication: This type of communication doesn’t follow any established structure. It is more focused on interpersonal relationships in the workplace. Catching up on your travel plans or exchanging notes about the latest book you read are all examples of informal communication.

This type of communication skill can help to foster a sense of belongingness for all and boost employee morale. When everyone at a workplace can freely converse with each other, it also improves productivity. Here’s what you can you do to sharpen this form of communication:

  • Remain professional: Don’t forget that you are still in a professional environment. Make sure not to offend anyone.
  • Maintain positivity: It is best to avoid any conversation that can add more stress or negativity to the environment.
  • Use inclusive language: Make sure to avoid using language or euphemisms that highlight any bias.

How to use communication skills in the workplace to be successful

Mastering different forms of communication styles can help you perform better at the workplace. Here’s how you can use them to be successful:

  • Whenever you are communicating with someone, make sure to show your respect. Avoid talking down to another person.
  • Pay attention to your body language. Non-verbal cues can make it easier to break the ice, especially when you are having a difficult conversation.
  • Choose the right medium to communicate. If it is a sticky situation, avoid sending an email if you can -- instead, choose to have the conversation now in person.


The importance of honing your communication skills cannot be stressed enough if you want to be a successful professional. Working on various types of communication skills can help you to maintain relationships in the workplace. How well you communicate also has a direct impact on your performance, efficiency, and overall reputation.

That’s why understanding the forms of communication and taking the necessary steps to develop them is non-negotiable -- especially given that we are living through a pandemic that has made communication with everyone more critical than ever.

Last updated on: 
October 27, 2023

Abhinav Rawat

Product Manager @ Interview Kickstart | Ex-upGrad | BITS Pilani. Working with hiring managers from top companies like Meta, Apple, Google, Amazon etc to build structured interview process BootCamps across domains

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