Communication as the way of conveying and exchanging one’s ideas, opinions and emotions, can take countless types. These types will differ depending upon the availability of feedback, use of verbal or non-verbal signs, etc

Formal communication are those which carry the official messages in the organisation. The efficiency of an organization depends on a regular flow of messages. 

Informal communication takes place outside the formally prescribed and planned network or channel. Unlike formal communication which is deliberately created or documented; it is spontaneous and off the record and beyond organizational hierarchy. It has no set rules and regulations and no particular direction. 

Upward communication is a network of communication where flow of information is from bottom to top. In this communication network, information is sought by top management from lower levels of management.


Downward communication is a network of communication where flow of information is from top to bottom within its authentical structure.

Communication that takes place at the same levels of hierarchy in an organisation is called lateral communication or horizontal communication.

Vertical communication is communication between different levels of authority within an organisation. It may be upward or downward. Diagonal communication is quite uncommon and involves interdepartmental communication by people at different levels and different hierarchies.

Oral communication implies communication through the mouth. It includes individuals conversing with each other, be it direct conversation or telephonic conversation.


Written communication has great significance in today’s business world. It is an innovative activity of the mind.

Internal communication is the written, spoken and non-verbal communication between employees and employer and among the employees.

Read this article to learn about different types of communication:-

I. On the basis of direction/flow – 1. upward communication 2. downward communication 3. horizontal communication 4. vertical communication 5. diagonal communication 


II . On the basis of media – 1. oral communication 2. written communication  3. gestural communication 4. visual aids communication

III. On the basis of nature  – 1. Informative communication 2. interpersonal communication 3. organizational communication 

IV . On the basis of organisational status – 1. indidviaual based 2. group based

4 types of communication channels- 1. formal communication channels 2. informal  communication channels 3. internal communication channels 4. external communication channels

Types of Communication

On the basis of Direction/Flow

A. Upward Communication

Upward communication is a network of communication where flow of information is from bottom to top. In this communication network, information is sought by top management from lower levels of management.

From the organisation’s standpoint, upward communication is just as vital as downward communication. To solve problems and make rational decisions, management must learn what is going on in the organisation. 

Because they cannot be everywhere at once, executives depend on lower-level employees to furnish them with accurate and timely reports.The upward communication may be in the form of progress reports, problems, suggestions, grievances, complaints, appeals and opinions etc.

Upward communication is flowing from subordinates to superiors. It is just the reverse of downward communication.

Usually it is of two types: 


(a) Feedback of the information asked for by the boss to subordinate. 

(b) Voluntary communication from subordinates conveying his suggestions, complaints, opinions, innovative ideas, etc. 

Advantages of Upward Communication:

1.  It provides feedback on how well the organisation is functioning. 


2. The subordinates use upward communication to convey their problems and performances to their superiors. 

3. It helps the top management in knowing about the attitudes, behaviour, opinions, activities and feelings of the employees. 

4. The management may improve its behaviour, introduce motivational plans and improve its controlling function. 

5. It can be used by the employees to share their views and ideas and to participate in the decision-making process. 


6. Upward communication leads to a more committed and loyal workforce in an organisation because the employees are given a chance to speak about dissatisfaction issues to the higher levels. 

7. Subordinates get an outlet for their grievances, suggestions and opinions, etc. They may feel that they are contributing towards the goals of the organisation. 

Methods of Upward Communication 

1. Periodical meetings: Periodical staff or group meetings are conducted to invite suggestions, opinions or other ideas from subordinates. The higher level authorities listen to the subordinate’s problems, procedures and policies. 

2. Open-door policy: In open-door policy, employees are allowed to visit the superior’s office at their ease and talk with him without any hesitation. This policy is good if executives and employees work by considering the other party’s needs and convenience. 

3. Suggestion boxes: In this scheme, suggestion boxes are placed in the office or factory and employees are encouraged to drop their suggestions, complaints or opinions in the box. After a periodical interval, these suggestion boxes are opened and letters from employees are reviewed. 


4. Interviews: If the problem is not regular and its immediate solution is imperative, an interview is conducted with employees or concerned members. Concerned employees are encouraged to talk freely and frankly so that the real problems can be diagnosed. 

B. Downward Communication

Downward communication is a network of communication where flow of information is from top to bottom within its authentical structure. When the top or higher level of managerial cadres are transmitted the messages or any information with the chain of command, it is said to be the downward communication.  It may be in the form of orders, instructions, policies, programmes, directives and praises etc.

For Example, when a manager transmits information to a subordinate, communication is flowing downward. The message might take the form of a casual conversation or a formal interview between a supervisor and an individual employee, or it might be discussed with a group through a meeting, workshop, or video tape. On other occasions, the message might be a written memo, a training manual, newsletter or bulletin board.

Purpose of Downward communication includes:

(i) Instructions about a specific task

(ii) Information about the practices and procedures followed by the organisation


(iii) Feedback about performance

(iv) Information about the ideology and the goals of the organisation which would help them to develop a sense of belonging to the organisation.

The objectives or aims of this communication are: 

There are several types of objectives achieved through downward communication: 

1. To give directions about what to do and how to do it. 

2. To explain organizational policies, programmes and procedures. 


3. To know how effectively a person is performing his job. 

4. To motivate employees to improve their performance. 

5. To educate subordinates for performing a particular job. 

Merits of Downward Communication 

Persons downward in the line in an organisation need communication because: 

(i) Employees also Need Feedback about Their Performance: They want to know what others think about them; it enhances their self-image and feeling of success. It improves performance and attitude. 


(ii) There is Need for an Increased Information Flow in Order to Maintain a Comparable Level of Performance: An engineer working on an experimental project requires substantial and frequent communication input in order to perform successfully rather than a person engaged in repetitive and standardised mechanised work. 

So, the managers should adjust their communication activity to the task needs of their subordinates and others whose work they co-ordinate. 

(iii) They Need Instructions Regarding their Work: The manager should ensure that their instructions are in terms of the objective requirements of the job; they should not appear as the personal whims of the manager. 

When a manager gives instructions commensurate with his status in the organisation, he acts as a problem solver or co-ordinator and not as a leader. 

 Advantages of Downward Communication

The advantages of downward communication are as follows: 

(i) It is helpful to express and shows the policies, plans, programmes of the concern organisation; 

(ii) It provides different needful information, guidelines and directions for performing the job; 

(iii) It provides some ideological or value based information to facilitate or encourage indoctrination of goals; 

(iv) It helps an executive to apply his authority and powers more effectively; 

(v) It helps to coordinate the role and status of hierarchy together; 

(vi) It helps in preparing the people to introduce and adopt the change; 

(vii) It removes misunderstanding and suspicion. 

Disadvantages of Downward Communication

The disadvantages of downward communication are as follows: 

1. Improper filtration of messages. 

2. Lack of face to face interaction. 

3. Under communication or over communication of the message

4. Loss of information

5. Organisational complexity. 

6. Misunderstanding and Confusion of message. 

7. Unreliability of source. 

8. Inappropriate timing. 

9. Lack of trust and confidence. 

Limitations of Downward Communication

i. Loss of Information – The information in downward communication passes through various levels. It is interpreted and reinterpreted at each level. In the process, the message does not reach the bottom level in its proper way and there is loss of information.

ii. Delay – The lines of communication are very long in downward communication. Thus transmitting messages to the workers at the bottom of the hierarchical level is a time consuming process.

iii. Lack of Participation – Downward communication means lack of participation. It does not allow subordinates to contribute to the communication. They are required to follow what they have been told by their superiors.

iv. Distortion – Under downward communication, there are many channels of communication. At every level, it is considered. Consequently, it is distorted and by the time it reaches the receiver, it undergoes considerable change.

v. Lack of Feedback – It lacks feedback. Senior officers never come to know of the reaction of the subordinate employees.

C. Horizontal Communication

Communication that takes place at the same levels of hierarchy in an organisation is called lateral communication or horizontal communication. It is communication between peers, between managers at same levels or between any horizontally equivalent organisation member. 

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This is communication between persons of the same hierarchical level. The main objective of this communication is to coordinate the efforts of different but related activities. 

The most obvious type of horizontal communication goes on between members of the same division of an organisation; office workers in the same department, co-workers on a construction project, For example – accounts department calls maintenance to get a machine repaired. 

Characteristics of Horizontal or Lateral Communication: 

The characteristics of horizontal or lateral communication are as follows: 

1. Departmental coordination is possible. 

2. It helps to solve interdepartmental problems. 

3. It enables sharing of information among different departments in an effective manner. 

4. Departmental disputes can be solved easily. 

5. It takes place within the organisation. 

Advantages of Horizontal or Lateral Communication: 

1. Horizontal communication helps in coordinating the activities of different departments at the same level. 

2. It helps in solving problems. 

3. It helps in accomplishing tasks. 

4. It improves teamwork. 

5. It Builds goodwill. 

6. It Boosts efficiency. 

7. It is time saving. 

8. It facilitates coordination of the task. 

9. It facilitates cooperation among team members. 

10. It provides emotional and social assistance to the organisational members. 

11. It facilitates sharing of information. 

12. It helps in resolving interdepartmental and inter departmental conflicts. 

Disadvantages of Horizontal or Lateral Communication: 

The main problem is the difference in approach and vision of different functionaries, who look at the things from their own angles. 

1. Horizontal communication may lead to confusion. 

2. It may give scope for conflict. 


i. Coordination – Horizontal communication helps in coordinating business activities in an organisation. Two managers at the same level may communicate with each other to ensure the success of business activities.

ii. Faster Communication – Due to the absence of superior-subordinate relationship, communication flows faster in horizontal communication networks. The existence of an equal level of hierarchy makes the whole communication process smoother and faster.


i. Difference in Approach – In horizontal communication, every member involved may have different approaches. They advocate things on the basis of their own thinking. This affects the productivity and efficiency of the organisation adversely.

ii. Lack of Motivation – Due to the absence of superior-subordinate relationship, there is no authoritative figure to control and operate the communication system. This causes lack of motivation among employees and they communicate only when they wish to.

iii. Presence of Physical Barriers – In horizontal communication, physical barriers like noise are always present. Communications being at the same level, these barriers are very difficult to remove and thus distortion of the message is possible.

Purposes Served:

Lateral communication usually serves the following purposes: 

(a) Coordinating among various individuals or departments. 

(b) Solving problems which involve the efforts of various specialists. 

(c) Resolving conflict among various persons. 

(d) Exchanging information among various employees of the department. 

(e) Promoting social relations among employees of the organization. 


Usually the following medias are used in this communication 

(a) Telephones 

(b) Face to face conversation. 

(c) Meetings. 

(d) Written messages like letters, etc. 


The various problems encountered in lateral communication are as follows: 

(a) Rivalry among employees: Sometimes employees at the same level feel threatened and insecure in the environment of competition among themselves. As a result, they do not communicate with an open heart and broad mind. 

(b) Specialization: The various specialists employed in the organization have their own language related with their field which is incommunicable to non-specialists. This naturally creates problems in the free flow of lateral communication. 

(c) Physical barriers: Physical barriers like noise in the channels and distance among employees or departments are obvious barriers in lateral communication. 

(d) Lack of motivation: Lack of motivation among employees to work and cooperate with other employees may be one of the major problems of communication. 

Pre-requisites of Horizontal Communication: 

Horizontal communication helps to coordinate the activities of different departments and strengthens the relationship among employees. It is essential that it should be made effective by coordinating the following points: 

1. Meetings of different departmental heads and employees should be convened from time-to-time. 

2. The various employees and heads of departments should be linked on intercom or telephones so that they can talk and discuss the business matters, when they feel necessary. 

3. If possible employees working at different locations should be linked with E-Mail facilities as it is more cost effective. 

D. Vertical Communication

Vertical Communication is communication between different levels of authority within an organisation. It may be upward or downward. Vertical Communication is critical to the growth and development of an organisation. The vision and energy of the leadership team flows through vertical communication channels. 

It is on the basis of the attributes prioritised through these channels, which other people in the team plan and execute in order to deliver goals to ensure that the goals of the organisation are met. 

E. Diagonal Communication

Diagonal communication is quite uncommon and involves interdepartmental communication by people at different levels and different hierarchies. This kind of communication involves people who have no direct reporting relationships with one another and therefore information can be exchanged speedily for the sake of efficiency.

The ‘criss-cross’ of information that takes place through the formal channels depends on the interdependence among various departments. If the business requires coordinated action, then the communication is frequent and intense. 

However, if each department acts independently, official horizontal communication becomes minimal. A good example would be a project team drawn from different grades and departments.

However, there are potential drawbacks in this system. Since such communication involves communicating outside of the department, it can cause internal friction or misunderstanding. Secondly, it undermines the authority of a boss or a manager by making promises or commitments that involve the entire department or unit.

If one has to indulge in diagonal communication, then permission must be obtained from the supervisor to refrain from making any commitments beyond one’s authority; and inform the direct supervisor of any significant result and about important developments in interdepartmental activities.

Merits of Diagonal Communication:

1. Commitment towards Organisation: 

Diagonal communication provides opportunities to the employees to interact with the managers of the other organisation, which in turn increases the confidence of the employees and ultimately enhances the commitment of the employees towards the organisation. 

2. Improves Coordination: 

Diagonal communication improves coordination through information meetings, formal conferences, lunch hour meetings, etc. 

Limitations of Diagonal Communication: 

1. Encroachment: 

As diagonal communication promotes interaction of employees of different organisations, it brings about a feeling of encroachment in the minds of the Superior and they feel as if they are avoided and overthrown by the subordinate, which becomes a serious limitation of the diagonal communication. 

2. Reluctant for Executing Suggestions: 

As the superiors feel that they are avoided and not solicited by the subordinate, they may be reluctant to execute the suggestions and recommendations given by the subordinates. 

3. Chaos: 

The non-acceptance and non-execution of suggestions and recommendations of the subordinates leads to chaos and disorder in the organisation. 

On the Basis of Media

F. Oral Communication

Oral communication implies communication through the mouth. It includes individuals conversing with each other, be it direct conversation or telephonic conversation. Speeches, presentations, and discussions are all forms of oral communication. Oral communication is generally recommended when the communication matter is of temporary kind or where a direct interaction is required. Face to face communication (meetings, lectures, conferences, interviews, etc.) is significant so as to build a rapport and trust.


(i) It is more natural and informal; 

(ii) It is a source to make direct relations; 

(iii) It is required of the persons as individuals and as a group to develop their vocabulary constantly involved in it. 

Channels of Oral Communication: 

Following are the various channels of Oral Communication:

1. Meetings, Seminars and Conferences 

2. Interviews 

3. Speeches 

4. Presentations

5. Telephonic Conversation 

6. Face to face conversation 

7. Dialogues 

8. Group Discussion 

Advantages of Oral Communication:

Oral communication has many advantages like quickness, economical, flexibility, etc., which are described as follows:

(i) Quickness in Exchange of Ideas – Ideas can be conveyed to distant places quickly because this medium does not require messages to be written.

(ii) Quick Feedback – Oral communication helps in understanding the extent to which the receiver has understood the message through his feelings during the course of conversation.

(iii) Flexibility – Oral communication has an element of flexibility inherent in it. Flexibility means changing ideas according to the situation. It means changing ideas according to the interest of the receiver.

(iv) Economic Source – It is an economic source of communication because the message is communicated only orally.

(v) Personal Touch – Oral communication has a personal touch. Both sides can understand each other’s feelings, being face to face. The conversation takes place in a clean environment which increases mutual confidence.

(vi) Effective Source – Oral communication leaves much impression on the receiver. It is said that sometimes a thing can be communicated more effectively with the help of some signs. The use of signs or gesticulation can only be made in an oral communication.

(vii) Removal of Misunderstanding – In this sort of communication doubts can be removed then and there.

(viii) Motivation Possible – The direct contact among the superiors and the subordinates creates an idea in them about their increased importance which acts as a sort of motivation.

(ix) Increase in Efficiency – This communication consumes less time and the superiors can utilise the time saved in some other more important work.

Disadvantages of Oral Communication:

i. Relying only on oral communication may not be sufficient as business communication is formal and very organised.

ii. Oral communication is less authentic than written communication as they are informal and not as organised as written communication.

iii. Oral communication is time-saving as far as daily interactions are concerned, but in case of meetings, long speeches consume a lot of time and are unproductive at times.

iv. Oral communications are not easy to maintain and thus they are unsteady.

v. There may be misunderstandings as the information is not complete and may lack essentials.

vi. It requires attentiveness and great receptivity on part of the receivers/ audience.

vii. Oral communication (such as speeches) is not frequently used as legal records except in investigation work.

G. Written Communication

Written communication has great significance in today’s business world. It is an innovative activity of the mind. Effective written communication is essential for preparing worthy promotional materials for business development. Speech came before writing. But writing is more unique and formal than speech.

Effective writing involves careful choice of words, their organisation in correct order in sentence formation as well as cohesive composition of sentences. Also, writing is more valid and reliable than speech. But while speech is spontaneous, writing causes delay and takes time as feedback is not immediate.

Universal Features of Written Communication:

(i) Creative Activity: Written communication is essentially a creative activity. It is an activity that requires conscious and creative effort. The creativity of this effort comes from the stimuli produced by the mind. The stimuli or oral communication is picked up from outside by the sensory receptors. 

In other words, written communication is more specifically, more carefully thought out than oral communication that is based on spontaneous reaction to signs picked up from outside. 

(ii) Time Factor: The second salient feature of written communication is the time factor it involves. While in a face-to-face communication situation, the sender’s encoded messages are instantaneously decoded by the receiver; in written communication some delay necessarily takes place. 

And there is no fixed time limit to this delay. The sender or encoder takes his own time in formulating the message. Then it takes quite some time for the message to reach the receiver or decoder. The receiver will take his own time in filtering it through his mind and responding to it. 

A priority announcement or telegram may get immediate response. Research reports, not to be other extreme, will take weeks or months to prepare and will continue to communicate indefinitely through the file to which repeated references will be made. 

(iii) Lack of Face-to-Face Communication: The third salient feature of written communication is that it has fewer cycles than face-to-face oral communication. In oral communication there is multiple exchange of symbols, leading to multiple cycles. Most written communication is a one-cycle event. 

Usually a message is sent and received, and that is the end of the event. Of course, letters do lead to repeated cycles or communication exchanges. But they cannot compare with the quick succession of cycles involved in a dialogue or informal meeting. 

Characteristics of Written Communication:

The characteristics of written communication are as follows: 

1. It should be accurate and precise. 

2. It is a permanent record of facts. 

3. It is considered as a legal Document.

4. It can be reached to a large number of people simultaneously. 

5. It helps to fix responsibility. 

Principles of Effective Writing:

1. The message to be conveyed should be written in such a way that it is easily understandable by the reader. 

2. The message should be short and complete, Irrelevant and unnecessary words should not be used as they deviate the reader. 

3. The message must be grammatically correct. Grammatical errors demean an individual. 

4. The message must be authentic. Incorrect/invalid information affects the goodwill of the firm.

5. Courteous tone in the writing not only serves the specific purpose but also boosts up the image of the organisation. 

6. Approaching the writing process systematically. 

The purpose of written communication can be:

a. to provide a permanent record (archival), 

b. to notify someone (informative) or

c. to get someone to do something (persuasive). 

Channels of Written Communication:

Following are the various channels of Written Communication

1. Business & Employment Letters 

2. Circulars 

3. Memos

4. Fax 

5. Notice 

6. Agenda 

7. Minutes of the Meetings 

8. Complaints & Claims 

9. Quotations & Tenders 

10. House Journals 

11. Reports 

12. Resume 

Though used less frequently than oral communication some of its advantages are:  

1. Although it takes more time than oral communication, it is a planned and organised means of communication. 

2. Written communication is usually formulated with great care. Therefore, in written communication, there is an insistence on greater accuracy and precision. 

3. It can be referred to repeatedly. The receiver of a written communication can go over the message at any time again in the future. He can re-read till he thinks he has properly understood it. 

4. Written communication becomes a permanent record of the organisation and can prove very useful for future reference. 

5. Written communication is acceptable as a legal document. 

6. Written documents are confidential. 

7. The person who signs the written communication is answerable to any doubts regarding the document. It facilitates the process of assigning responsibilities. If communications are preserved in writing, it is much easier to assign responsibilities. 

In case a mistake is committed as a result of oral communication, it is very difficult to ascertain whether the mistake has been committed at the communicator’s or at the receiver’s end. 

8. Many copies of the written matter can be photocopied or reprinted and distributed to a large number of people. In this way dissemination of information becomes easy. 

9. Detailed documents which carry facts and statistics have to be maintained in a written format or else there is the possibility of deletion or skipping some important matter.

Disadvantages of Written Communication:

1. Written communication does not save upon the costs. It costs huge in terms of stationery and the manpower employed in writing/typing and delivering letters.

2. Written communication is time-consuming as the feedback is not immediate. The encoding and sending of messages takes time. 

3. Too much paperwork and e-mails burden is involved. 

4. It becomes difficult to maintain privacy about written communication. 

5. It is rigid and doesn’t provide any scope for making changes for inaccuracies that might have crept in. 

6. It is very formal and lacks personal touch. 

7. It boosts red-tapism and involves so many formalities. 

8. It may be represented in a different way by different people. 

Limitations of Written Communication :

  1. Written messages often take more time to compose, both because of their information-packed nature and the difficulty that many individuals have in composing such correspondence.
  2. As there is a lack of personal touch in written communication, it takes more time to see clarification and explanation
  3. In case of written communication, feedback to the sender is not immediate. This can be a source of frustration and uncertainty in business situations in which a swift response is desired.
  4. In written communication chances of misunderstanding are more as communication may happen between people of different perceptions, backgrounds, etc. and instant clarification is not possible.
  5. Incompleteness in written message leads to chain of clarifications which delays action and further may delay decision making process.

H. Gesture Communication

Gestures belong among the most commonly used non-verbal symbols in oral communication. Gestures are what we do with our hands in order to communicate. Some are consciously used, some are involuntary. Verbal symbols may or may not accompany them. 

Many unconscious gestures that accompany speech may have no special connotations at all when they are separated from the rest of the constellation of symbols. They may acquire meanings in a communication context. 

If, for example, a person addressing a gathering wrings his bands, or ties and unties knots on her saree’s pallu, the audience might conclude that they are nervous. 

Successful communicators make a very effective use of facial expressions and gestures. A good boss, while scolding a subordinate for some serious mistake, will not show anger on his face; instead his face will register a feeling of concern for the employee so that the latter goes with the impression that the scolding was directed at improving him and making him more efficient in his work. 

The foreman’s rebuke to a worker delivered in a sarcastic tone is sure to demoralise him and he is certain to repeat the mistake that earlier earned him the rebuke. 

But a rebuke accompanied with a pat on the back assumes an altogether different meaning and the worker goes back to his job determined not to provide the foreman with another opportunity for admonishing him. 

Some gestures such as beckoning someone are interpreted fairly uniformly all over the world. Some other gestures stand for vastly different messages in different communities. 

The circle formed with the help of the thumb and the index finger, for example, suggests ‘OK’ in the US; ‘nothing’ in parts of France. This variation further complicates the already messy act of communication. 

Here also the audience’s expectations are critical. They reconstruct your message depending on whether or not your gestures tally with their expectations and with the other symbols — verbal and non-verbal — that you display simultaneously. 

Some communicatees might consider the absence of gestures to indicate nervousness or rigidity. The same communicates might take your free-flowing gestures to indicate confidence bordering on arrogance. 

The mudras within the framework of a dance form like Kathakali or Bharatnatyam are stylised gestures. They have relatively specific meanings attached to them. We need to learn to interpret them. 

Stylised gestures are also found in the sign language of speech-challenged people. These gestures are like words with dictionary meanings but are still capable of portraying a multitude of meanings. 

I.  Visual Aids Communication

Visuals can be a great way to attract attention through clear messages, reinforce the message’s impact and raise the dynamic role of the speaker. Visual aids can be helpful in supporting text description, explanation of trends, displaying locations and description of relationships among the people. The visual media can be applicable on the basis of its proper and appropriate presentation. 

The visual media can be stating here: 

(i) Pictograms 

(ii) Line graphs 

(iii) Bar graphs 

(iv) Pie charts 

(v) Flow charts 

(vi) Photographs 

(vii) Maps 

(viii) Diagrams  

Types of Communication Channels

A. Formal Communication 

Formal channels are those which carry the official messages in the organization. The efficiency of an organization depends on a regular flow of messages. The flow of messages needs to be organized into a well-ordered network, to ensure that communication flows easily and reaches the persons who need the information. 

If communication by-passes the channels, someone who needs the information may not get it; the managers may not get information about what is going on in other parts of the organization. 

This can lead to gaps in information, and failure to take the required action. If the channels are not well organized there can be a communication gap which causes confusion and failure to take action. 

Information has to go through proper channels. Clerks from one department are not supposed to exchange official papers directly with clerks from another department; the papers must move through the supervisors or section heads. 

A clerk can approach the manager only through his own supervisor or officer. Messages are made to move through fixed channels so that the executives concerned are kept informed of what is going on. 

Messages within an organization, between managers, supervisors and workers, are varied and numerous. They move up and down the chain of authority as well as sideways between persons at the same level of authority, and among teams. 

Messages that move up and down the authority line are called vertical communication and those which move among persons of the same level are called horizontal or lateral communication. 

Characteristics of Formal Communication

Characteristics of formal communication are as follows: 

1. Formal structure has a fixed channel path. 

2. The goal of formal organisation is to achieve the objectives of organisation. 

3. Formal structure is systematically defined and controlled. 

4. The structure describes authority, power and responsibility. 

5. There is a delay in transmitting information due to different levels. 

6. In formal structure the job specification is clearly defined. 

7. Formal structure is rigid, inflexible and controlled at different stages. 

Advantages of Formal Communication

The advantages of formal communication are: 

1. It helps in the fixation of responsibility. 

2. It helps in maintaining the authority relationship in an organisation. 

3. The flow of information is systematic

4. The source of information can be easily located

5. It helps to acquire timely information

Disadvantages of Formal Communication 

1. More time is taken to pass the information from different levels. 

2. It is not suitable for external communication

3. There is a lack of quick response from different levels. 

4. Public relation is negligible

5. There is a lack of appropriate feedback from different levels.

B. Informal Communication

Informal communication takes place outside the formally prescribed and planned network or channel. Unlike formal communication which is deliberately created or documented; it is spontaneous and off the record and beyond organizational hierarchy. It has no set rules and regulations and no particular direction. 

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Usually formal and informal communication goes side by side in the organization. Certain organizations encourage informal communication along with formal communication so that effective communication may take place. 

David Krackhardt and Jeffery Hanson profoundly remark, “If the formal organization [Communication] is the skeleton of a company the informal is the central nervous system”. 

These informal networks have two basic purposes:

(a) They compensate for inadequacies in the formal network by establishing new links which bypass obstacles that come up in the formal structure. 

In many groups there is someone who can expedite the matter at hand; often, the expeditor is not the person holding official responsibility. By locating the right person (who may be anyone in the organization), the informal network can be used to serve organizational goals. 

(b) They serve the needs of the individuals involved; these needs may or may not be the same as the goals of the organization. These informal networks link persons with similar interests and experiences and those who simply like one other. 

Advantages of Informal Network

Informal communication network provides the following advantages: 

1. Speedy and Spontaneous: Compared with formal communication network information communication flows at faster speed in a spontaneous way. Through this, certain formal messages can be confirmed, expanded and expedited. 

2. Multidirectional: Informal communication is multidirectional. As a result, it can flow to any direction and degree, with no constraint whereas hierarchical constraints are imposed on the formal network. Because of these advantages, there is easy and economical access to communication to a large number of employees in an organization. 

3. Social Relations: Informal communication strengthens the social dimensions of the organization as it provides a platform for employees’ social gatherings not only in organisation but outside the organisation also. 

4. Catharsis: Informal communication is cathartic as it enables the employees to discharge their negative emotions and feel relieved through talking and meeting each other. 

5. Circumventing: Informal communication can sometimes help to bypass official channels which are unnecessarily cumbersome and time consuming. 

6. Supplementing: Informal communication supplements the formal communication. There are certain matters which are difficult to communicate through formal channels, like feelings of employees towards executives either general or particular with regard to certain decisions. 

Cutting feedback through informal channels management can think over their policies and procedures. 


The main disadvantages of informal communication are as given here: 

(i) It is difficult to assign the responsibility for handling the information’s; 

(ii) It may create mislead or misconduct among people; 

(iii) It is difficult to believe and trust on information’s; 

(iv) It leads to leakage of secret information; 

(v) It spreads unnecessary rumours and promotes gossip. 

C. Internal Communication

Internal Communication is the written, spoken and non-verbal communication between employees and employer and among the employees. 

Internal communication is focused on specific strategic business issues, written in language the receiver is able to comprehend, has an outcome that is specific and measurable and is delivered in a timely manner and in a medium that the receiver is willing and happy to receive it in. 

Types of Internal Communication 

  1. One-on-one meetings 
  2. Staff/team meetings
  3. Email 
  4. Voice mails 
  5. Video broadcasts 
  6. Intranet 
  7. Staff-to-staff newsletters 
  8. Corporate newsletters 
  9. Annual Reports 
  10. Quarterly Reports 

Advantages of Internal Communication: 

1. Effective internal communication helps the organisation to meet its objectives. It is the link that encourages everyone to deliver on their responsibilities. 

2. It can be used to create transparency within the organisation and through this help in raising the morale and motivation of employees which tends to increase productivity. 

3. It stimulates much needed feedback from employees to top management. 

4. It provides information and encourages sharing by driving and supporting the organisation’s short term and long term goals and objectives. 

5. It ensures that these initiatives are implemented and followed at a local level. 

6. It ensures that knowledge sharing and communication processes are part of the daily workflow across all functions of the business. 

D. External Communication

Messages that go out of the organization are outward communication; messages that are received from outside are inward communication. Organizations have office procedures and systems for handling external communication; both the incoming and the outgoing messages are recorded and filed. 

a. Outward: 

Messages go out of an organization to customers, suppliers, banks, insurance companies, government departments, the mass media and the general public. They may be in the form of letters, faxes, telephone calls, telegrams, reports, advertisements, press handouts, speeches, visits and so on. 

The style, format and tone of the company’s outgoing communication affect its public image and public relations. Therefore, most organizations have a policy about the style and appearance of the company’s messages that go out. 

Copies of outgoing written documents are filed for reference. A written note or summary of oral communications is also filed by many companies. 

b. Inward: 

An organization receives letters, telegrams, fax messages, telex messages, reports, brochures, circulars, journals and magazines, telephone calls, and personal visits. 

These may be from customers, suppliers, other organizations, government departments and so on. These inward communication messages are filed for record and reference. A written note or summary of visits, meetings, telephone talks may also be filed. 

What are the Types of Communication

A. Informative Communication

It basically performs the communication task just on;y to transmit the messages between sender and recipient. There are three main components in it as sender, sendee and media only. In this media, the formal process has not been adopted and any available media can be adopted.

B. Interpersonal Communication

All aspects of personal interaction, contact, and communication between individuals or members of a group. 

Effective interpersonal communication depends on a variety of interpersonal skills including listening, asserting, influencing, persuading, empathizing, sensitivity, and diplomacy. Important aspects of communication between people include body language and other forms of nonverbal communication. 

Although interpersonal communication can encompass oral, written, and nonverbal forms of communication, the term is usually applied to spoken communication that takes place between two or more individuals on a personal, face-to-face level. 

Some of the types of interpersonal communication that are commonly used within a business organization include staff meetings, formal project discussions, employee performance reviews, and informal chats. 

Interpersonal communication with those outside of the business organization can take a variety of forms as well, including client meetings, employment interviews, or sales visits. 

In general terms, interpersonal communication can be classified as either one-way or two-way. One way communication occurs when the sender transmits information in the form of direction, without any expectation of discussion or feedback. For example, a manager may stop by an employee’s desk to inform him that a certain project will be due the following day. 

One-way communication is faster and easier for the sender—because he or she does not have to deal with potential questions or disagreement from the receiver—but tends to be overused in business situations. 

In contrast, two-way communication involves the sharing of information between two or more parties in a constructive exchange. For example, a manager may hold a staff meeting in order to establish the due dates for a number of projects. 

Engaging in two-way communication indicates that the sender is receptive to feedback and willing to provide a response. Although it is more difficult and time-consuming for the sender than one-way communication, it also ensures a more accurate understanding of the message. 

C. Organizational Communication

The Communication process has been adopted on the basis of organisational structure. In this media the orders and directions, policies, letters , manuals,complaints books, job description and progress report are being included.All the information as included in it are more related to the organisational situation, working environment and inter relationship among people etc.

D. Individual Based

The communication occurs from one person to the other and that is based on the positions, status,rights and duties.


The advantages of individual based communication are as given here:

1. The individual communication express the role of a person in organisation

2. It can develop the functional relations among different persons


The disadvantages of individual communication are given here:

1. The problem may be arised due to different individual differences

2. Individual emotions and feelings may adversely affect the communication process.

E. Group Based

The communication occurs from one person to the group or from one group to the other i.e shows their status specifically of their group status. In other words, when the transmitting of information is performed on the basis of group level due to its role,position and status etc.


1.It develops the interaction between individuals and groups.

2.It can develop the integrated and coordinated relations in an organisation.


The main disadvantages of group communication are as given here:

1. With the differences of attitude and vested interests, the communication can not get its proper way.

2. When the groups cannot adopt or implement a proper technique or media then it will become very difficult to get proper results.

Different Types of Communication

A.  Mass Communication

Mass Communication is a means of communication by which individuals and entities relay information to large segments of the population all at once through mass media. And mass media is that particular medium through which the information is communicated to a large section of the audience. 

Examples of mass media include newspapers, magazines, cinema films, radio, television, etc. 

1. Print Media: 

The industry associated with the printing and sharing of information through newspapers and magazines is the Print Media. The print media include all newspapers, newsletters, booklets, pamphlets, magazines, and other printed publications, especially those that sell advertising space as a means of raising revenue. 

Most print media, with the exception of magazines, are local, although there are some national newspapers and trade publications that have become quite successful. Magazines, on the other hand, have always been national, although there is a trend today toward localization and specialisation. 

Also included in the print media category are directories, church and school newspapers and yearbooks, and programs at theatre presentations and sporting events, brochures, pamphlets (for advertising purpose), etc. 

Though with technology faster mediums of mass communication have emerged in today’s world but print media still holds strong due to various reasons. 

Some advantages of print media are listed below: 

i. Different types of print media (newspapers and magazines) have a loyal readership. This can be very useful for advertisers as compared to advertising on the Internet. 

ii. A particular geographical area can be targeted with ease through print media. For example, a local newspaper would be the best medium to advertise about a new shopping complex. 

iii. One can choose the size of the advertisement space. This helps to plan the budget of the expenses to be incurred while advertising. 

iv. Magazines and newspapers are always in the eye of the public. Magazines are read for a period of a month, hence they have a better shelf life. 

v. Information can be shared or advertised through brochures or leaflets depending upon your target audience. If the information is in detail, a brochure can prove to be an apt option. A leaflet in that case, would be useful for a brief message. 

Of course, there are certain limitations of print media: 

i. It can be considerably expensive 

ii. Depending on the type of media shelf life will vary. Newspapers for example, have a shelf life of maximum one day. 

iii. This medium may not always give you a wide reach. The Internet, on the other hand, can target a global audience. 

iv. There is a limitation in terms of the kind of people who may actually read your message. The particular newspaper may not actually be accessible every time to your target group, which means, your message may be missed! 

v. One has to plan months in advance to advertise in print media. It does not offer flexibility when faced with a deadline. 

vi. Advertisements may get lost in all the clutter of editorial and ads by competitors. 

Types of Print Media: 

i. Newspapers: 

Newspapers are the most popular forms of print media. The advertiser in this case can choose from a daily newspaper to a weekly tabloid. Different types of newspaper cater to various audiences and one can select the particular category accordingly. Advertisers then design press advertisements where the size is decided as per the budget of the client. 

ii. Magazines: 

Magazines also offer advertisers an opportunity to incorporate various new techniques and ideas. Magazines are one such form of print media that give a more specific target group to the client. The client can make a choice of the particular magazine as per the product. 

iii. Newsletters: 

Newsletters also form an important part of print media. These target a specific group of audience and give information on the product. 

iv. Brochures: 

Brochures give detailed information about the product. These are mainly distributed at events or even at the main outlet when a consumer needs to read in detail about the product. 

v. Posters: 

Posters are forms of outdoor advertising. The message in a poster has to be brief and eye-catching as it targets a person on the move. 

vi. Others: 

Apart from these media, direct mail marketing, flyers, handbills/leaflets, banner advertising, billboard advertising, press releases, etc. are all the various types of print media. 

2. Broadcast Media: 

Electronic instrumentation of radio and television, including cable and satellite television systems is Broadcast Media. Because of their ability to reach vast numbers of people, broadcast media play a very important role in any advertising campaign that needs to reach a broad market base. The broadcast media wields a very pervasive influence in people’s lives. 

i. Radio: 

This second-oldest form of media is often overlapped by television’s capabilities. However, radio offers features television does not. It is a very interactive medium where listeners can call and comment on a program while it is still in progress. 

Radio hosts, or personalities, also achieve a higher level of audience loyalty than most television reporters and are considered by many to be more credible. 

The audio capabilities of radio, which are also shared by television, can add sound clips to a converged news story and help bring it to life. Radio sound clips are also useful because they have a smaller file size than video clips with sound, which allows for the web page to load faster. 

ii. Television: 

In today’s media, television is the most dominant form. It combines aspects of print and radio with the clarity of video. Instead of just reading or listening to what happened in a story, television viewers can see it as well. With proper editing, television is the most compelling and attention-grabbing medium.

 It is designed to hold the viewer’s attention for short periods of time and seems a perfect fit for today’s fast-paced world. In a converged website, television can offer video clips of events that show the audience what happened in the accompanying story. 

The 24-hour television news cycle is also well suited for covering events at all times of the day, which is a challenge for radio and print. Finally, television, the most popular medium, has the greatest visibility and can be a powerful tool in promoting the converged website. 

3. Internet: 

The Internet, while not as established as other mediums, is the most important piece of the convergence puzzle. It is the vehicle that can incorporate all other forms of media. Just one page on a website can contain stories, sound bytes, video clips and graphical data.

 The Internet is also the most interactive medium. Users can interact with the different news organisations or each other immediately via message boards, polls and charts. 

There are too many possible Internet applications to name, with new ones being created every day. However, the Internet has always faced credibility issues because of its easy accessibility. 

By trading on the names of established newspapers, television stations and radio broadcasters, websites can gain the trust of the public as a legitimate news source. The Internet is the present and future of media convergence. As its technology improves, media convergence will only become better and more prevalent. 

4. Cinema: 

Film is considered by many to be an important art form; films entertain, educate, enlighten and inspire audiences. Any film can become a worldwide attraction, especially with the addition of dubbing or subtitles that translate the film message. The ability of films to reach a very large audience makes it a good vehicle for mass communication. 

B.  Consensus

Another channel which is neither vertical nor lateral is sometimes set up for special purposes. When policy changes are to be made, meetings are held with representatives of all levels of staff for a full discussion of the proposed policies, and their implications for all concerned.

A general common understanding and agreement of opinion is achieved by open discussion; this is known as consensus. 

Different groups of people and different categories of employees in an organisation have different interests and each group tries to influence policies and decisions for the benefit of its members. An organisation has to function as a unit, with all the groups pooling their efforts towards the goal.

Consensus is necessary for this. Clashes, conflicts, disputes, disagreements, are avoided by settling differences through peaceful negotiation and understanding. Consensus on important matters and major changes is necessary for creating a sense of participation and commitment.

C. Corporate Communication

Corporate Communications is essentially a management function that is used by companies in a strategic and instrumental manner. Companies need to be favourably judged by most of its stakeholders in order to survive and prosper, and corporate communications is the management function that works the hardest to achieve that. 


Corporate Communication can be “defined as a management function that offers a framework and vocabulary for the effective coordination of all means of communications with the overall purpose of establishing and maintaining favourable reputations with stakeholder groups upon which the organization is dependent.” Corporate communication is the total of a corporation’s efforts to communicate effectively and profitably. It is a strategic tool for the organization to gain competitive advantage over its competitors. 

Corporate communications encodes and promotes: 

  1. Strong corporate culture 
  2. Coherent corporate identity 
  3. Reasonable corporate philosophy 
  4. Genuine sense of corporate citizenship 
  5. An appropriate and professional relationship with the press 
  6. Quick responsible ways of communicating in a crisis 
  7. Understanding of communication tools and technologies 
  8. Sophisticated approaches to global communications 

Manager’s use it to load, motivate, persuade and inform employees and as well as the public. 

Importance of Corporate Communications:

1. Centralised Communication: 

To respond to stakeholders quickly and to have a common mouthpiece, many organizations consolidate their communication. A central group is responsible for communications which develops, projects and maintains the company’s image and culture. 

This central group is trained and skilled at written and oral communication. They consistently send out messages through various media and strategically build up the company’s image and culture. 

2. Management of Tools of Internal Communication: 

Corporate communication helps to manage the complex tools and media for communication within the corporation itself such as computer networks, interactive video on computers, corporate television, company journal, etc. 

3. Management of Mass Media: 

Corporate communication department also handles the media on a routine basis, as well as in emergencies and crises. 

4. International Communication: 

Communication with various publics, both local and global is more consistent and effective when the organization delivers messages with one clear voice. A central communication helps to translate a corporate message into another language and culture to effectively conduct any transnational activity. 

5. Builds Corporate Culture and Identity: 

A clear vision and mission statement builds the organizational culture among employees. A strong culture is built by shared values and beliefs which also often become the theme of advertising campaigns and motivational programmes for employees. An effective corporate communication department ensures a good corporate culture. 

A strong corporate culture creates a recognizable and positive perception of the company among its suppliers, vendors, and customers which in turn creates a strong corporate identity. 

The company image and culture plays an important role in the equity of the organization. This strong image is nurtured and demonstrated through various communication tools to ultimately impact the minds of all the stakeholders. 

D. Grapevine

When interaction takes place among a small social group emerges spontaneously, and members of the group develop their own communication system known as informal communication channel. Informal communication, also known as the grapevine, is not a planned or deliberately created channel of communication. It is free from all formalities. No formal organisational chart is followed to convey messages. It is based on the informal relations of the two persons, the sender and the receiver of communication.

It is an example of informal communication. It is the result of the natural desire of people to communicate with each other when they come into contact on a regular basis.

Importance of the Grapevine:

1. A Safety Valve – Apprehensions experienced by workers on matters like promotions and retrenchments are frequently discussed by the workers. Talking about them may not eliminate their fears, but it certainly provides them with some relief. Thus, grapevine acts as a safety valve for supporting the emotions of the subordinates.

2. Organisational Solidarity and Cohesion – The existence of the grapevine proves that the workers are interested in their associates. The very fact that they communicate with each other helps to promote organisational solidarity and cohesion. The morale of employees can also be raised if the grapevine is used appropriately.

3. Quick transmission – The information flows in a grapevine with remarkable speed. Organisations normally use a grapevine if they have to spread a message instantly.

4. Supplement to other Channels – Grapevine channel serves as supplement to formal communication. Formal communication takes a lot of time to pass through different levels. The same communication through grapevine spreads rapidly in the organisation.

5. Feedback Value – It is primarily through the grapevine that the managers of an organisation get the feedback regarding their policies, decisions, etc. The feedback reaches them much faster through the informal channel then the formal channel.

Advantages of Grapevine :

1. Grapevine channels carry information rapidly. As soon as an employee gets to know some confidential information, he becomes inquisitive and passes the details then to his closest friend who in turn passes it to others. Thus, it spreads hastily. 

2. The managers get to know the reactions of their subordinates on their policies. Thus, the feedback obtained is quick compared to formal channels of communication. 

3. The grapevine creates a sense of unity among the employees who share and discuss their views with each other. Thus, grapevine helps in developing group cohesiveness. 

4. The grapevine serves as an emotional supportive value. 

5. The grapevine is a supplement in those cases where formal communication does not work. 

Disadvantages of Grapevine:

i. The grapevine carries partial information at times as it is more based on rumours. Thus, it does not clearly depict the complete state of affairs.

ii. The grapevine is not always trustworthy as it does not follow the official path of communication and is spread more by gossip and unconfirmed reports.

iii. The productivity of employees may be hampered as they spend more time talking rather than working.

iv. The grapevine leads to hostility against the executives.

v. The grapevine may hamper the goodwill of the organization as it may carry false negative information about the high level people of the organization.

vi. A smart manager should take care of all the disadvantages of the grapevine and try to minimize them. At the same time, he should make the best possible use of the advantages of grapevine. 

Type of Communication – according to the number of persons (receivers) 

We classify communication according to the number of persons (receivers) to whom the message is addressed. 

(1) Intrapersonal Communication: It is talking to oneself in one’s own mind. Examples are soliloquies or asides in dramatic works. 

(2) Interpersonal Communication: It is the exchange of messages between two persons. For example, a conversation, dialogue, or an interview in which two persons interact (others may also be present as audience). 

An author communicates interpersonally with his reader, who is always present as a silent audience in the author’s mind while he writes. A letter too is an example of interpersonal communication between the writer and the person to whom it is written. 

(3) Group Communication: It can be among small or large groups, like an organisation, club or classroom, in which all individuals retain their individual identity. 

(4) Mass Communication: It occurs when the message is sent to large groups of people, for example, by newspaper, radio, or television. In this process, each person becomes a faceless individual with almost no opportunity for personal response or feedback. 

Communication can also be classified on the basis of the medium employed. 

(5) Verbal Communication: It means communicating with words, written or spoken. Verbal communication consists of speaking, listening, writing, reading, and thinking. 

(6) Non-Verbal Communication: It includes the use of pictures, signs, gestures, and facial expressions for exchanging information between persons. It is done through sign language, action language, or object language. 

Non-verbal communication flows through all acts of speaking or writing. It is a wordless message conveyed through gestures (sign), movements (action language), object language (pictures/clothes) and so on. 

Further non-verbal communication can be identified by personal space (proxemics, body language, and kinesics), touch (haptics), eyes (oculesics), sense of smell (olfactics), and time (chronemics). 

All these forms of non-verbal communication need to be understood as they affect and at times contradict the meaning of verbal communication.

(7) Metacommunication: Here the speaker’s choice of words unintentionally communicates something more than what the actual words state. For example, a flattering remark like ‘I’ve never seen you so smartly dressed’ could also mean that the regular attire of the listener needed improvement.