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Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication


Communication is a sum of all the things a person does while interacting with others and it is a bridge of meaning. Communication involves continuous process of telling, listening and understanding.

Fisher stated that a person can influence others by the means of behaviour and through communication only this influence can be created upon other employees.

Communication is a process by which individuals share and exchange their feelings, ideas, thoughts and cooperate with others in an organization.


Verbal communication refers to the use of words for communication purposes. It comprises both oral and written communication. Written communication channel includes executive memos, letters, company newsletters, e-mails, Web pages, bulletin board postings, manuals, and reports. Oral communication channel refers to telephonic conversations, face-to-face meetings, speeches and presentations, videoconferences, etc.

Nonverbal communication typically refers to hand and body movements, gestures, facial expressions, physical appearance, artifacts, space, etc. In other words, nonverbal communication refers to the behavioral aspect of communication, both intentional and unintentional. Hence, nonverbal communication is also regarded as “communication devoid of words.”

Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication

Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication – With Examples

Communication can be broadly classified into two categories:

1. Verbal communication


2. Nonverbal communication.

1. Verbal Communication:

Verbal communication refers to the use of words for communication purposes. It comprises both oral and written communication. Written communication channel includes executive memos, letters, company newsletters, e-mails, Web pages, bulletin board postings, manuals, and reports. Oral communication channel refers to telephonic conversations, face-to-face meetings, speeches and presentations, videoconferences, etc.

A common misconception held by many is that verbal communication is less ambiguous than nonverbal communication. This, however, is not the case. Words often have more than one meaning ascribed to them. Hence, they have different meanings in different context.

Verbal communication basically centers around the following:


i. Familiar versus unfamiliar words

ii. Long versus short words

iii. Connotative versus denotative words

iv. Abstract versus concrete words

v. Politically incorrect language

vi. Profanity in language

vii. The lexiconic life cycle

viii. Word whiskers.

i. Familiar versus Unfamiliar Words:


The cardinal rule of effective communication states – communicate to express, not to impress. The best way to achieve this is through the use of everyday words for constructing the message. Familiar words have clear meanings and are used in day-to-day conversations. However, we need to remember that the words that seem familiar to the sender need not be familiar to the receiver; hence, the choice of words is highly subjective.

Choosing words from everyday conversation ensures that the message reaches the receiver correctly and quickly. Hence, instead of using exultant, use happy. Similarly, prefer angry to livid Joy to euphoria, try to endeavor, do to perform, find out to ascertain, and gives to generates. This, however, is a general guideline and not a hard-and-fast rule. You are free to use unfamiliar and difficult words if they are more appropriate to the context of the message. It is important to remember not to overwork the more difficult words.

An interesting case in point is a letter sent to US President Franklin Roosevelt by the director of civil defense, which was to be forwarded to the Federal Works Agency.

The letter read-


Such preparation shall be made as will completely obscure all Federal buildings and non-Federal buildings occupied by the Federal Government during an air raid for any period of time from visibility by reason of internal or external illumination. Such obscuration may be obtained either by blackout construction or by terminating the illumination.

Roosevelt, however, rewrote the text and sent the following memorandum:

Tell them that in buildings where they have to keep the work going to put something over the windows; and in buildings where they can let the work stop for a while, turn out the lights.

ii. Long versus Short Words:


Another important rule of effective communication is to keep it short and simple. This can be achieved through the use of short words. Short words are under two syllables and are easier to understand than their longer counterparts. Hence, instead of using enormous, use huge. Similarly, prefer opening to inauguration, end to terminate, use to utilize, help to assistance, rush to expedite, and salary to remuneration.

However, not all short words are easier to understand. For instance, words such as mulish and onus, though short, are more difficult to comprehend vis­-a-vis their respective longer substitutes – stubborn and responsibility. Hence, short words should also be “familiar words.” In case that is not so, we should choose the more familiar (longer) version. The key is NOT to use a string of long words, for that will hamper the decoding process.

Below is an excerpt from an actual end-term question paper administered to a batch of MBA students.

It clearly illustrates how long and unfamiliar words make for difficult comprehension:


The Managing Director’s composure and complexion has raced and radiated over several shades and shards of red and radioactivity. This combustible critically has been precipitated and prompted by the instances and involvements, of the group’s subsidiaries and global support systems, in invidious and inveighing actions and activities. Particulars and pieces of the provocation and pulmonary tumult and their thought-outs are set out in Schedule A.

As a salve and safety value of the MD’s outbursts and outpourings, and validator and votary of the grid and guide that contribute and create Managerial improvements, it has been your assigned role and resolve to ameliorate and advise on the latest cribs and cries. Thereafter following from your survey and study, ensuing and unfolding is entailed a critique and contribution, patterned and programmed to provide –

a. Keys

b. Keynote

c. Keep Safe

d. Key Stone…

iii. Connotative versus Denotative Words:

As illustrated in Exhibit 1.5, denotative meaning refers to the explicit or the literal meaning of the word. Connotative meaning refers to the nuances of a particular word in addition to its literal meaning. As a result, the connotation of a word varies from one person to the other.

Exhibit 1.5 clearly states that a connotative word can be either positive or negative. Hence, connotative words are more susceptible to be misunderstood as compared to denotative words. For example –

Positive Connotation – Sameera loves to discuss.

Neutral Connotation – Sameera loves to talk.

Negative Connotation – Sameera loves to gossip.

Additionally, a word has several meanings associated to it, which form a network of associations in the mind. Exhibit 1.6 lists different associations that can exist for the term “crow” in the mind of the sender/receiver.

The expressiveness of language does not come from denotative words. It comes from the connotation, nuances, and associations of the word. Hence, when we think of home, it makes us think of safety, security, warmth, and comfort. These connotations evoke “emotions,” which are absent from the neutral denotation of a term.

For instance, a hut, a shack, a cabin, a villa, a mansion, a manor, and a palace are all places of residence, but each evokes a different association in the mind. It is also useful to remember these networks of associations while encoding the message. So if your receiver is a fisherman, encode the message using words and metaphors related to fish, net, boats, sea, wind, etc., which would make the message easier for him to decode.

Similarly, when talking to a finance manager, use words such as investment, ROI, assets, liabilities, capital, budget, dividend, depreciation, etc.

iv. Abstract versus Concrete Words:

Concrete words are used for specific objects, which can be perceived by one of our five senses. These objects are tangible and can be measured; for example, a desk, a chair, a computer, a vase, 102 degrees, and German Spitz pup. Abstract words, on the other hand, are used for emotions, concepts, feelings, events, and intangible elements; for example, love, justice, moral, freedom, symphony, and irony.

Certain words move within the gamut of concrete and abstract, with varying degrees of abstraction. A hierarchical arrangement of words, on the basis of their level of abstraction, is referred to as a ladder of abstraction.

Abstract words are vague and bring ambiguity to the communication process. For effective communication, therefore, it is necessary to use concrete words.

For instance, consider the following sentences, with their abstract and concrete variations:

Abstract – I will give you the report as soon as possible.

Concrete – I will e-mail you the report by tomorrow 5:00 p.m.

Abstract – Our revenues have improved.

Concrete – Our revenues have increased by 30% for the fourth quarter.

Abstract – To excel in college, you will have to work hard.

Concrete – To excel in college, you will have to attend all lectures, prepare notes, prepare for the lectures in advance, and complete several practice tests.

Some messages, however, deal with abstract topics such as justice and democracy, which do not have an equivalent concrete substitute.

However, it is possible to reduce the level of abstraction by employing any of the following five techniques:

a. Abstract plus Abstract:

For instance, we can combine the word democracy with consensus, justice with fairness, and success with wealth to express our message more clearly.

For instance, Brad Sugars, noted author, remarks, “Generating leads is a crucial element of professional success.” In this case, he combines two abstract words, leads and success, to concretize his point.

b. Metaphors:

A metaphor makes an implicit comparison between two ideas or objects, technically known as the tenor and the vehicle. For instance, the metaphor all the world is a stage compares the world to a stage. Consequently, the world (which is the tenor) takes on the characteristics of the stage (which is the vehicle).

Metaphors not only are used in verbal communication but find a whole lot of application in HR, finance, and marketing. For instance, the BCG matrix uses four metaphors—Cash Cows, Dogs, Stars, and Question Marks—to illustrate the four strategies. Similarly, Pac Man Defense (a name based on a famous video game) is a strategy used in mergers and acquisitions, in which a target company “turns the table” in a hostile takeover in an attempt to take over the acquiring company

c. Similes:

Similes, too, compare two ideas or objects using the word “as” or “like,” but unlike metaphors, they just suggest that one is like the other. For example, love is as blind as a bat. While love in itself is an abstract topic, the simile “as blind as a bat” evokes more concrete images in the mind.

Take another example – The new VP (Finance) is as cunning as a fox. Here, the VP (Finance) takes on the attribute of cunningness from the fox. If, however, we were to use a metaphor and remark that the new VP (Finance) is a fox, it would carry a completely different connotation.

d. Personification:

Personification takes inanimate objects or abstractions and bestows them with human or animal characteristics. For example, “The hour hand on my watch told me it was time for the meeting.” While it is obvious a watch cannot talk, the object (hour hand) takes on a human characteristic (talking).

Personifications are used to make sentences more dramatic. Hence, you must watch against its overuse while encoding messages.

e. Allusion:

An allusion makes an indirect reference to a historical event, person, myth, incident, etc.

Examples – “The boss’ love for superfluous risks is his Achilles heel.”

“The boss is a rock.”

In the latter, the boss is being compared to the Rock of Gibraltar.

When using allusions, it is important to remember that the indirect reference should be familiar to the receiver. For instance, if the receiver does not comprehend the meaning of Achilles heel or Rock of Gibraltar, the communicated message will undergo distortion, which will render the communication ineffective.

v. Politically Incorrect Language:

Language is a powerful weapon! On the one hand, the words you use can build rapport, forge relationships, and establish credibility. On the other hand, the words can destroy old relationships, shred egos, and even drive people to mischief.

The language, in fact, has received a lot of heat for promoting a sexist and racist vocabulary. Moreover, we are exposed to politically incorrect language as children and continue to use the terms even as adults. Our nursery rhymes and bedtime stories, in fact, are laden with politically incorrect terminology. For instance Ba Ba Black Sheep, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Ugly Duckling, etc. Therefore, we pick up terms such as dwarfs and midgets from the bedtime stories, and they, in turn, become familiar words for us, which increases their use in everyday conversations.

So the next time we see a vertically challenged or a specially-abled person, we automatically use the politically incorrect version while referring to them. Similarly, in literature (both fiction and nonfiction), words such as mankind are used synonymously for Homo sapiens. He, for instance, is still used at large to refer to both men and women.

Language, lately, has been undergoing a phenomenal transformation. What was acceptable yesterday has become impermissible today. For instance, we have witnessed a transition from colored to Negro to black to African-American. Another elaborate example is the shift from lame to crippled to handicapped to disabled to physically challenged to differently-abled.

The term Political Correctness gained popularity in the 1970s, and it promotes “inclusiveness.” The term refers to the use of a language that is free from bias and is devoid of racial, national, ethnic, gender, religious, physicality, and sexual- orientation slurs. In the corporate world, being politically correct is no longer a courtesy; it is a mandate—both ethically and legally. Therefore, remember that politically incorrect language is demeaning and that even an innocuous comment can offend the listener.

Moreover, as is rightly said, words are close-fitted garments of our thoughts. So when we use racist and sexist words in our conversations, we are branded as bigots. Hence, great care must be taken to select appropriate words to encode a message. For instance, instead of chairman, use chairperson.

vi. Profanity in Language:

Originally profanity was limited to sacrilege, blasphemy, and using God’s name in vain. Today, profanity includes swear/curse/irreverent words and the use of abusive, vulgar, and derogatory language.

Steven Pinker (2007) divides profanity into five categories:

a. Dysphemistic profanity – When profane language is used to make the receiver think about negative and/or provocative matter; for instance, “I will go and take a piss.”

b. Abusive profanity – When profane language is used to insult the receiver; for instance, “Bloody Negro!”

c. Idiomatic profanity – When profane language is used to arouse interest or to show off, or, in other words, profanity is used as a figure of speech; for instance, “Shit! I got screwed last night.”

d. Emphatic profanity – When profane language is used to emphasize a point by swearing; for instance, “I do not give a damn to what you think you are entitled to.” Or the more popular version, “Frankly my dear, I do not give a damn!” from Gone With the Wind.

e. Cathartic profanity – When profane language is used in reaction to some unfortunate incident; for instance, “Shit, I spilled my coffee!”

What once had been “prison-talk” is slowly and surely finding its way into our workplaces. It is alarming that most not only deem it okay to use profane words in everyday parlance but also consider it “cool.” They do so without realizing that using profanity in civil conversation is simply a way of branding oneself as uncouth, uncivilized, and insensitive.

vii. The Lexiconic Life Cycle:

In linguistics, a lexicon is a collection of words, phrases, and expressions that make up a language, while etymology deals with the study of words—their origin, form, historical development, growth, and decline.

Language evolves over time. New words come into existence; their regular use renders them familiar, and these words become a part of our lexicon. However, like with other life cycles, words too have a life cycle of their own and often fall out of use and are replaced by other words. Exhibit 1.9 illustrates the lexiconic life cycle.

Take, for example, the aviation industry—The term “aerodrome,” which was normally used at the beginning of the 20th century, has now become obsolete and has been replaced with the term “airport.”

Some words also get added owing to their frequency of use and familiarity. For example, search engine Google was so frequently used for Web searches that in 2006, the word “Google” was added to the Oxford and Cambridge English dictionaries.

viii. Word Whiskers:

Word whiskers are meaningless sounds, words, or phrases injected into a speech when a speaker has run out of words and or is searching for words. Word whiskers comprise an array of fillers ranging from “umm,” “eh,” “uh,” and “err” to “okay,” “like,” and “anyway.” These fillers obstruct the fluency of speech, which distracts and annoys the listener. This hampers comprehension, making it difficult for the receiver to accurately decode the message. The people who use fillers are viewed as indecisive, unsure, and uncertain.

Using fillers is an annoying habit, and it can catch you unaware. Almost unconsciously, we add these fillers at the end of each utterance, which obstructs the communication process. The first step in the elimination process is the diagnosis. This can be done by recording yourself while you deliver a speech.

Next, analyze the recording to identify (a) which word whiskers are being used and (b) the frequency with which they are being used. However, even after you become aware, these fillers cannot be eliminated overnight. It will take conscious effort and consistent practice to eliminate these fillers in their entirety. This can be achieved by practicing what to say and by inserting pauses at appropriate places.

2. Nonverbal Communication:

Everything communicates! Even when we are not communicating, we are still communicating.

Nonverbal communication typically refers to hand and body movements, gestures, facial expressions, physical appearance, artifacts, space, etc. In other words, nonverbal communication refers to the behavioral aspect of communication, both intentional and unintentional. Hence, nonverbal communication is also regarded as “communication devoid of words.”

We know that communication is a sum total of both verbal and nonverbal elements. But the obvious question is, How much is communicated, verbally and nonverbally?

According to Albert Mehrabian (1971), this ratio is as follows:

7% (verbal) + 38% (vocal tone/volume/speed) + 55% (facial expression)

Even the legal system acknowledges the importance of nonverbal communication. The jurors in US courts, for instance, are instructed to pay close attention to not only what the witness says on the stand but also how the witness looks, acts, sounds, and behaves.

Nonverbal communication broadly comprises the following six components:

i. Kinesics (bodily activity)

ii. Proxemics (space)

iii. Paralanguage (voice)

iv. Haptics (touch)

v. Chronemics (time)

vi. Artifacts (objects)

vii. Physical Appearance

i. Kinesics:

Kinesics is the study of body movements. It includes eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, posture, and other bodily actions. Kinesics is popularly referred to as body language.

ii. Proxemics:

The term “proxemics” was coined by noted anthropologist Edward T. Hall (1963) and has its root in the Latin term “prox” (as in the word proximity). Proxemics is defined as the study of space and spatial distance. Hall’s research mainly focuses on how individuals use the concept of spatial distance to communicate nonverbally. These space areas vary from culture to culture and from individual to individual. Their contraction or expansion depends on the individual’s culture, gender, personality, social situation, perception, etc.

According to Hall, there are four space areas for any individual, as illustrated in Exhibit 1.10:

a. Intimate space

b. Personal space

c. Social space

d. Public space.

a. Intimate Space:

Intimate space comprises the area from the body to an outstretched hand/wrist. This space is usually reserved for intimate friends and close family. When the intimate space is violated, one feels threatened. However, when people are forced to surrender their intimate space, they respond by pretending that the trespassers do not exist. For example, when you are squashed in an elevator with other people, you tend to avoid eye contact. There is also a tendency to become rigid and to tense your muscles if someone accidentally brushes against you. These examples illustrate how we deal with intimate-space violation.

b. Personal Space:

Personal space is the area reserved for close friends and acquaintances and can also be thought of as a close conversational zone. The seating arrangement in a room, for instance, is often arranged in accordance with an individual’s personal space.

c. Social Space:

Social space is the area where an individual feels comfortable interacting with acquaintances and strangers. For instance, in everyday workplace, we interact with each other through our social spaces.

d. Public Space:

Public space is the area which is not under our control. Interactions happening in the public space are perceived as anonymous and impersonal. Public speaking, for instance, takes place in the public space bubble.

iii. Paralanguage:

Paralanguage refers to the voice effects that accompany speech and can convey emotions, feelings, and attitudes.

iv. Haptics:

Haptics is the study of human touch and its implication in communication. Research has emphasized the importance and impact of touch in communication. For instance, a famous quote from the movie Crash says, “It is the sense of touch”.

In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We are always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.”

Haptics is not an exact science. It has different connotations in different settings. For instance, friends hugging each other, a mother touching her child’s forehead, acquaintance shaking hands, and a teacher’s hand on the pupil’s shoulder convey different meanings. Therefore, it is important to approach the “touch communication” with caution. To remember, think of the Mimosa pudica (popularly known as “Touch Me Not”). When touched, the compound leaves fold inward or droop. In a similar manner, when we touch someone who does not wish to be touched by us, he/she recoils or retracts from our touch.

According to Heslin (1974), there are five categories of haptic communication:

a. Functional/professional

b. Social/polite

c. Friendship/warmth

d. Love/intimacy

e. Sexual/arousal

a. Functional/Professional Touch:

Functional/professional touch refers to touch behavior within an organizational context and the workplace; for example, a physical examination by a physician, a massage by a masseuse, and measurements taken by a tailor. Touch behavior also depends on the power equation between the individuals. It has been observed that superiors are more likely to touch a subordinate, whereas the subordinate is not free to return the gesture.

It is also important to remember that we need to be careful with touch behavior in the professional context. A simple gesture such as the boss’ hand on an employee’s shoulder could mean support and encouragement to one employee, while it could suggest sexual overture to another.

b. Social/Polite Touch:

Social/polite touch is touch behavior, which occurs in a social situation; for example, a hug or handshake, a pat on the back, and touching a person’s forearm.

c. Friendship/Warmth Touch:

Friendship/warmth touch is usually more common and acceptable for women compared to men in social or friendship settings. According to Anderson (1998), “Too much touch or touch that is too intimate conveys love or sexual interest, whereas too little touch may suggest coldness and unfriendliness and arrest the chance for relational escalation.”

d. Love/Intimacy Touch:

Love/intimacy touch is the most important factor in building and maintaining interpersonal relationships. The nature and amount of touching undergoes a change as the relationship progresses from the impersonal to the personal stage. For instance, it has been noticed that men are more likely to initiate touch at the start of a relationship, whereas women are more likely to initiate touch once the relationship solidifies.

e. Sexual/Arousal Touch:

Sexual/arousal touch is the most intimate form of touching between humans. It is the most anxiety-producing of all the touch behaviors. Hence, it requires “mutual consent, a high level of attraction and a desire to stimulate and be stimulated by one’s partner”.

Meanings of Touches:

According to Jones and Yarbrough (1985), 18 different meanings of touch exist, which can be broadly categorized into the following seven functions:

a. Positive affect touches

b. Playful touches

c. Control touches

d. Ritualistic touches

e. Task touches

f. Hybrid touches

g. Accidental touches.

a. Positive Affect Touches:

Positive affect touches communicate positive emotions and usually occur within close or intimate relationships. These touches are further subdivided into support, appreciation, inclusion, sexual interest or intent, and affection. Some examples of positive affect touches are hugging a friend who is distressed, hugging a child who is hurt, etc. In the business context, for instance, bosses often use positive affect touches (such as patting a subordinate’s back) to build rapport.

b. Playful Touches:

Playful touches lighten an interaction. Both playful affection and playful aggression form an integral part of nonverbal communication; for example, friends wrestling each other and men playfully pinning their girlfriends.

c. Control Touches:

Control touches aim to direct behavior. They are further used to affect the attitude and ‘feeling’ state of the individual. They can be further classified as compliance, attention getting, and announcing a response. For instance, touching a person while saying “please get away” is an example of how touch is used as a mechanism for control.

d. Ritualistic Touches:

Ritualistic touches are used in everyday interactions while greeting and departing. This form of touching has no other purpose. For instance, use of handshakes to say hello and goodbye.

e. Task Touches:

Task touches are used for professional or functional reason; for example, a barber giving a haircut or a tailor taking measurements.

f. Hybrid Touches:

Hybrid touches combine two or more meanings from the meanings described above. For instance, kissing your wife goodbye in the morning combines both a ritualistic touch (departing) and a positive affect touch (affection).

g. Accidental Touches:

Accidental touches occur unintentionally and as such have no meaning. For instance, someone accidentally brushing past you to get into an elevator.

v. Chronemics:

Chronemics refers to the study of time and its implication in the communication process. Time is often viewed as a commodity, which can be earned, saved, spent, or wasted. How people use their time can speak volumes about their attitude, character, and culture. For instance, being punctual, meeting deadlines, promptly replying to mails, etc., communicate discipline, sincerity, and reliability.

The concept of time also varies from culture to culture. For instance, it is not only acceptable but normal for Indians to be late at a party or a wedding. In fact, many playfully emphasize the term Standard in the acronym Indian “Standard” Time as the Indian standard is fairly different from other standards.

Time can be viewed from two perspectives – monochronic time systems and polychronic time systems. A monochronic perspective views time very seriously and focuses on one job at a time. Deadlines and promptness are important constituents in a monochronic time system.

A polychronic perspective, on the other hand, views time as a fluid concept and emphasizes multitasking. A polychronic time system lays a greater emphasis on building relationships than on meeting deadlines. Germany and the United States follow a monochronic time system, whereas Arabic cultures follow a polychronic time system.

In the organizational context, time takes on additional connotation. For instance, making a subordinate wait is a sign of dominance. Superiors also tend to monopolize time by talking more often and for a greater duration.

vi. Artifacts:

Artifacts are the material objects used as a form of nonverbal communication to express an individual’s identity. We select artifacts on the basis of (1) how we see ourselves and (2) how we would like others to see us. For example, popular Indian cinema projected spies with long black overcoats, hats, and dark glasses. Senior politicians, for instance, continue to wear khadi kurta-pajamas.

Similarly, we see executives clad in business suits, carrying a briefcase, laptop, BlackBerry phone, etc. This is why globe-trotters often adorn their offices and homes with memorabilia from their travel because these artifacts hold great importance in their lives.

Artifacts are also used to convey status and power. For instance, a Rolls-Royce conveys a lot more than merely being a mode of transportation. A CEO’s desk, for instance, will be made up of the most expensive wood and will be the shiniest of all. Artifacts can also convey emotions and attitudes.

For example, when the boss peers at you over his glasses, he is being critical and judgmental. Artifacts are also used as tools to flout convention and tradition. For example, men who sport tattoos, piercings, long hair, and earrings are actually making a statement against conformism.

Artifacts can help reveal a lot about an individual. For instance, a car enthusiast may adorn his office space with miniature car models. Similarly, a working mother will put up photographs of her child at the workplace to feel close to the child. These nonverbal cues serve as important tools, for they help us know who the person really is.This, in turn, can help us strike conversations, build rapport, and establish long-term relationships.

Since much can be determined and communicated with the use of artifacts, one needs to be conscious of the unconscious messages that may be sent out. As a simple case in point, women who wish to be perceived as capable and serious at the workplace should stick to sensible jewelry. Dangling earrings, jingling bangles, rattling ankle-bells, and tinkling toe-rings do not really scream CEO material.

vii. Physical Appearance:

Physical appearance refers to the physical characteristics or physical features of an individual. It includes body type (height, weight, muscle tone, etc.); hair type (hair color, hair texture, hair length, hair style, etc.); face (facial features, facial hair, skin tone, skin color, etc.), and so on.

Physical appearance is an important component of nonverbal communication, for it too sends out a message to the receiver. First impressions are often based only on physical appearance. A person who is well-groomed is seen as meticulous, orderly, responsible, and detail oriented. Similarly, a woman sporting a bald head is viewed as nonconformist and will not fit in a conservative workplace.

Research shows that physical appearance goes a long-way in ensuring success at the workplace. Attractive individuals earn 10-15% more than their unattractive counterparts.

While one cannot do much about their skin color, height, and facial features, there are other aspects that can be improved. The hair style, for example, should complement your face type. Men and women should diligently shave and wax, respectively. Men (and some women) should clip and trim their nose and ear hair. Nails should be clean and properly trimmed. Whether or not the situation is stressful, biting fingernails is not acceptable. Women should abstain from keeping extremely long fingernails. Needless to say, one must also refrain from skin-biting and skin-picking.

The norms of a suitable physical appearance vary with time, occasion, culture, and profession. While it is preferred that men and women wear gender-neutral attires at the workplace, no one expects to see them wearing gender- defying clothes in the social setting. It is quite possible that a woman who wears a business suit to office turns up clad in a Banarasi silk saree for a wedding.

Time here has two connotations – (1) time or period and (2) time of the day. In the first instance, while curvaceous or hourglass bodies were in style once upon a time, the popular body type today is the famous “size zero.” As for the second instance, a case in point is the contrast between “the lighter” day makeup versus “the darker” night makeup.

The difference in the prescribed norms of physical appearance with regard to an individual’s profession can be illustrated with a simple example. We expect models and actresses to be “decked up,” and seeing them wear skimpy clothes does not make us frown. However, it will be a different matter if a college professor or a school principal were to turn up wearing inappropriate clothing. Even more so, if we saw a catholic priest sporting a tattoo or a nun dressed in gothic fashion. In other words, remember to dress for the job!

Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication

Medium is the mutually understood set of symbols through which sender and receiver develop common understanding of the subject matter.

Formal and informal communication can take place through various media.

These are as follows:

1. Verbal Communication

2. Non-Verbal Communication

1. Verbal Communication:

Verbal communication means communication through words. We use words to share our thoughts, feelings and ideas with others. Words are meaningless unless the receiver understands them in the same meaning as intended by the sender. Words can be oral or written. When messages are sent through oral words, it is known as oral communication and when they are sent through written words, it is known as written communication.

Verbal communication can, thus, take two forms:

I. Oral communication

II. Written communication

I. Oral Communication:

Oral communication means transmission of messages through spoken words. Most of the communication in business and non-business world takes place orally. Whenever people meet each other, they interact face-to-face and share their thoughts.

The way we talk reflects our personality, educational background, emotional state and relationship with the listener.

Oral communication is used:

i. By choice – Managers transmit messages orally when they want speedy transmission of ideas.

ii. Nature of information – Highly confidential information where evidence in writing is not wished to be retained is generally transmitted orally.

iii. Situation – When receiver of information does not want to read long notices, managers transmit information orally.

Oral communication can be formal and informal. Formal oral communication takes place through formal presentations, group discussions, meetings, interviews etc. Informal oral communication takes place through face-to-face conversation or telephone. Informal communication helps to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships.

Merits of Oral Communication:

Oral communication has the following merits:

i. Speed – It is a fast medium of communication. It takes long to write, dispatch and receive a letter while orally, message can be transmitted and received simultaneously.

ii. Feedback – The sender can receive immediate feedback from the receiver. Doubts and clarifications can be sought at the point of discussion, thus, enhancing efficiency of the message.

iii. Synergy – Two brains can think faster and better than one. ‘One plus one makes eleven’. When people discuss matters orally, they arrive at better proposals and solutions than can be thought of by one man alone.

iv. Economical – It is an economical means of communication. It saves time and money on stationery and administrative staff.

v. Flexible – If the message is not clear to receivers, sender can change his voice, words or tone to make himself clear to the audience. Written words cannot be easily changed.

vi. Personal touch – It adds personal touch to the process of communication. When managers personally talk to subordinates, it carries more meaning than sending the same message in writing.

vii. Secrecy – Secrecy can be maintained in oral communication. Confidential information is transmitted orally so that no evidence is maintained in writing.

viii. Non-verbal clues – Actions speak louder than words. The speaker can make out through actions of the receiver whether or not he has understood the message.

ix. Inter-personal relations – It is an effective medium of communication for developing healthy relationships amongst superiors and subordinates. Personal meetings and discussions create healthy climate in business organisations.

Limitations of Oral Communication:

Oral communication suffers from the following limitations:

i. Lack of evidence – Oral communication has no proof as nothing is evidenced in writing. Matters discussed cannot be used for future reference.

ii. Limited time – Though immediate feedback is a positive feature of oral communication, receiver has very little time to think on the proposal. He may immediately say ‘yes’ to the proposal while actually it may not be possible for him to act upon it.

iii. Costly – Sometimes, meetings run for hours and end up without conclusions. This results in waste of time, money and energy.

iv. Lengthy messages – When messages are lengthy, it is not a suitable medium of communication. Human memory cannot retain things for long. Both the sender and receiver may not be able to recall the message. It is always better to write lengthy messages.

v. Geographical locations – It is not a suitable form of communication where sender and receiver of information are separated by geographical distances. Talking on phone is costly and also noisy. Travelling long distances for personal meetings may be costlier.

vi. Attitudinal problems – If sender and receiver have personal biases and prejudices against each other, oral communication becomes ineffective. They tend to find faults with other’s suggestions rather than arrive at consensus.

vii. Misunderstanding – Fraction of inattentiveness can result in loss of receiving important information. This results in misunderstanding and varying perception about the message conveyed.

viii. Noise – Oral communication is prone to noise. Disturbance in telephone lines, mike connections, faxes, interference by a third person etc. can reduce the effectiveness of oral communication.

ix. Assigning responsibility – It is difficult to assign responsibility and hold people accountable for mistakes and inaccuracies in carrying out the messages as they are not recorded for reference.

II. Written Communication:

The limitations of oral communication explain the need for written communication. Written communication refers to transmission of messages, ideas and thoughts in writing with documentary proof in the form of notices, letters, circulars, hand-outs, manuals etc. In a large organisation, managers interact with various stakeholders, like consumers, suppliers, Government, labour unions, shareholders etc. These stakeholders are separated by wide geographical distances and, therefore, managers cannot communicate with them orally.

They adopt written means of communication for smooth conduct of the organisation. It needs lot of deliberation, effort and thinking to put a message in writing. Similar to oral communication, written communication can be used in formal and informal channels. Fax, letters, reports, notices, etc. are the usual means for transmitting messages in writing.

Merits of Written Communication:

Written communication has the following merits:

i. Documentary evidence – Written communication is a record on paper. It, therefore, has evidence for future reference. Reference to any point can be made at any point of time if matters are put in writing.

ii. Legal evidence – If disputes arise that require judicial interpretations, written information helps organisations in maintaining legal defence.

iii. Better understanding – Messages in writing can be read as many times as the reader wants. This develops better understanding of the message.

iv. Well stated message – The sender can think, analyse and take time to put the message in writing. The message is more balanced than oral communication.

v. Wider access – It can reach a much larger audience and geographical coverage than oral communication. In case of mass communication, letters and newspapers can be read by a large number of people.

vi. Fixation of responsibility – Responsibility can be fixed in written communication as against oral communication. People can be held liable for mistakes, errors and omissions.

vii. Uniformity – It maintains uniformity of policies and procedures. Oral communication is liable to different interpretations but written facts clearly specify what is expected of whom.

viii. Lasting impact – What one reads is more lasting than what one hears. Reading messages has a lasting impact on readers.

ix. Noise free – It is free from noise. One can write and read at his convenience. Internal (fans, people talking to each other) and external (loudspeakers, telephone disconnection) disturbances do not affect efficiency of written communication.

x. Suitable for lengthy message – Lengthy and complex messages can be better encoded and decoded when put in writing.

Limitations of Written Communication:

Written communication suffers from the following limitations:

i. Writing skills – Writing is an art. Everybody cannot put messages in writing. If the sender does not have writing skills, written communication will be of little value.

ii. Paperwork – Putting messages in writing requires huge amount of paper-work. In many departments, the files get misplaced which delays the processing of information.

iii. Time – It is a time-consuming means of communication. It is not suitable where immediate feedback is required.

iv. Different interpretations – Choice of words should be carefully made when messages are put in writing. Receiver’s understanding of the words and language should be same as that of the sender.

v. Costly – It is a costly means of communication. Lot of time and money are spent on drafting and sending the message. In big organisations, separate mailing departments are maintained. Stationery and administrative costs are huge. The message must be drafted properly so that benefits outweigh the costs.

vi. Lack of personal touch – It lacks personal touch between the sender and the receiver.

vii. Lack of secrecy – Written message cannot remain secret as they pass through a number of levels and departments.

viii. Non-verbal clues – Sender cannot read facial expressions and gestures of the receiver. He cannot understand how well the receiver appreciates what he wants to convey.

ix. Lack of flexibility – Written messages lack flexibility as they cannot be easily changed. Lot of time and money have to be spent on changing the message.

Using oral or written medium of communication depends upon the situation. If information is formal that does not require personal link of sender with the receiver, if it is lengthy and needs to be preserved for future reference, if it is required for legal interpretations, written communication is more appropriate than oral.

If, on the other hand, information has to be given to a small number of people who are centrally located, it is confidential and does not need to be stored for future or legal reference, oral communication is more appropriate than written. Daily, routine and informal matters are generally communicated orally while important, formal and non-routine matters are communicated in writing.

Form # 2. Non-Verbal Communication:

‘Actions speak louder than words.’ Our gestures and facial expressions express what words cannot. We do not communicate through words alone. A pat on the back or a word of praise can motivate workers to do things that oral or written instructions cannot. In fact, body movements, gestures, voice, tones etc. account for about ninety three per cent of our communication. Only about seven per cent of communication is done through words. Non-verbal communication takes place without use of words.

It conveys messages through body movements and audio-visual signals. It helps to understand the mental and emotional state of the sender and receiver, form impressions about other persons’ attitudes and behaviour and, thus, helps to improve the communication. It is a less deliberate and conscious form of communication. Gestures and expressions come on their own and reflect the effectiveness of communication.

Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication – With Conclusion

Verbal Communication:

The meaning of the word ‘verbal’ is “of or consisting of words”. In the very beginning of the book it has been pointed out that man has a unique gift – that is the gift of language. No other living being has that gift. That makes man superior to all other species or animals. In order to communicate effectively we learn to use language.

In that process we choose suitable words. The words are combined into utterances or sentences. Combinations of utterances or sentences make meaningful stretches of spoken or written communication. So, verbal communication literally means the communication in which we use words. It is of two types: oral and written.

1. Oral Communication:

Oral or spoken communication comes much before written communication. The simple reason is that man learns to speak long before writing. Speech comes to us very naturally, without making any effort. In the beginning we mimic or copy the sounds we hear. Then, as we grow, we start combining those sounds.

We pick up, and we are taught how to correct our sounds. That leads to the correction of our pronunciation. This process is applied in our mother tongue and also when we learn a second or third language.

In a business organization there are many occasions for formal as well as informal oral communication. Examples of formal oral communication are speeches and presentations, face to face conversation, issuing instructions on telephone, interviews, dictating letters and reports, group discussions and so on.

Informal oral communication invariably takes place whenever people meet in corridors or lunch rooms. They like to talk with or without any purpose. The grapevine’s is a result of the people’s desire to come nearer to each other and talk about anything. Some people are by nature talkative. Whether we like it or not there is a lot more oral communication than written.

Advantages of Oral Communication:

(a) The greatest advantage of oral communication is that it provides immediate feedback and clarification.

(b) Oral communication builds-up a healthy climate in the organization by bringing the superiors and subordinates together.

(c) Oral communication is time saving.

(d) Oral communication is very economical in terms of money and time.

(e) Oral communication is more persuasive than written communication.

(f) Oral communication provides scope to the speaker to correct himself.

Limitations/Disadvantages of Oral Communication:

(a) Oral messages cannot be retained or remembered for a long time.

(b) In the absence of written record, oral messages do not have legal validity.

(c) In oral communication it is difficult to assign responsibility.

(d) Oral communication does not always save time. Sometimes the meetings go on and on for a long time.

2. Written Communication:

Written communication comes much after oral communication. It is a result of conscious effort on our part. It is essentially a creative activity. That is why it is time consuming. Important examples of written communication are letters of various types, memoranda, notices of meetings, agenda, reports and proposals, handbooks, instruction manuals etc.

Advantages of Written Communication:

(a) In the first place, written communication provides records for ready reference.

(b) Written communication builds-up legal defences of the organization.

(c) Written communication helps the organization in laying down policies and guidelines.

(d) Good written communication builds-up the image of the organization.

(e) Written communication has the advantage of accuracy and clarity.

(f) Written communication is permanent.

(g) Written communication helps in fixing responsibility.

Limitations/Disadvantages of Written Communication:

(a) Written communication, by its very nature, is time-consuming.

(b) In written communication we don’t get immediate feedback as in oral communication.

(c) Sometimes it becomes difficult to get clarification.

(d) Written communication is also costly in terms of time and money.

(e) Written communication is authoritative and dependable.

II. Non-Verbal Communication:

There is a lot more non-verbal communication than verbal. Verbal communication requires conscious effort. But most of non-verbal communication is sponta­neous or without much effort.

Let us now discuss the various types of non-verbal communi­cation:

1. Kinesics or Body Language:

Kinesics or Body Language is the first and foremost type of non-verbal communication without any effort or taking notice our body gives out meaningful signals. Any careful observer can read those signals and understand or interpret the intention behind them.

This observation helps the management in taking timely action. Otherwise problems may arise. Today’s executives are highly intelligent people who can understand what lies at the back of one’s mind.

Regarding the face it has been said that it is “the index of the heart”. By looking at somebody’s face we can say whether he is happy or pleased, angry or tense, relaxed or anxious. His forehead, eyebrows, eyes, lips, the colour of his cheeks, chin etc. All these give us some idea of the state of his mind.

If a man is angry or tense his eyebrows are knit. If he is filled with pleasure his lips show a smile. We are generally advised to wear a smile on our face. A dentist says, “God loves you; so smile”. When we are afraid or tense, colour disappears from our cheeks.

Eyes play a very important role in communication. If we are confident we look straight into the eyes of our audience or our interviewers. If we are nervous or diffident our eyes become evasive. While talking to somebody we are advised to maintain eye-contact with him. If we look sideways it will show that we are not interested in him.

The position of the head also tell us a lot about a person. When we are confident we hold our head high. If our head is bent and shoulders droop it shows lack of confidence or lack of interest.

In the same way when we are healthy, cheerful and confident we stand erect. We are also advised to sit comfortably in a proper position. Nobody likes to look at a slouching posture.

2. Sign Language:

Sign Language has been a very important part of communication since the very beginning of civilization. There are two kinds of signs audio signs and visual signs.

Audio signs are those that are concerned with our sense of hearing. We know very well how drum-beating was used in the jungles to communicate about some danger or to call others to gather at some place.

The practice of drum-beating is still going on in villages or suburban areas to make announcements. There are many other audio aids like ringing of the bell, hooting of sirens in factories, the alarm clock, office buzzers, the doorbell, fire-tender alarms etc.

All these audio signs regulate our life in educational institutions to mark class-room periods, start or finish of shifts in factories, calling attendants in offices, loudly announcing that a patient is being rushed to a hospital, or that a police-van is chasing a criminal. It seems as if we cannot do without these audio signs.

Visual Signs are those that we can see and easily understand the message conveyed through them. Drawings or scrawling’s on the walls of ancient caves are the earliest examples of visual signs.

Other widely used visual signs are the red, orange and green traffic lights, the red or green bulb outside an operation theatre, arrows drawn on a wall to show direction, maps, charts, posters, pictures, machine drawings, tables and diagrams, road signs showing a crossing, parking or no parking or other symbolical representations for a factory, hospital or toilets.

All these visual signs tell us a lot without using words. According to a Chinese proverb a picture is worth a thousand words.

3. Proxemies or Space Language:

The space around us also communicates.

For this purpose it has been divided into four segments as shown in the following diagram:

Intimate Space:

This is the area into which we normally allow only very intimate people, the people who are really close to us. Here we can discuss highly confidential matters and talk in whispers.

Personal Space:

Personal space is usually reserved for our close friends, colleagues, associates and visitors. In this space we can talk in a relaxed manner and take important decisions.

Social Space:

We use this space for formal purposes. The relationships within this space are more official. Most of the business dealings take place within this area of 4 to 12 feet.

Public Space:

As the word ‘public’ shows, the nature of our communication becomes very different here. We may have to raise our voice so that the people sitting beyond 12 feet may hear us. This space is especially suitable for making announcements.

4. Paralanguage or Para linguistics:

Paralanguage or para linguistics is that part of non-verbal communication in which we see how we convey our oral messages. Hence it is concerned with speech, not writing.

Following are the main points of paralanguage:

(a) Voice Quality:

The clearer the voice the clearer will be the message. That is why we are advised to improve our voice quality. Some people naturally have a clear voice. We can, however, make efforts to make our voice pleasant and sweet.

(b) Pitch Variation:

The pitch of our voice does not always remain the same. It keeps rising and falling according to need. If the pitch remains the same the speech becomes dull or monotonous.

(c) Speaking Speed:

It must be made clear that fluency in speech does not mean speaking fast. When we are confident we speak at our normal speed and speak slowly when we stress an important point. Speaking very fast normally gives the impression of nervousness or mental tension.

(d) Pauses:

Just as in writing there are commas (which are also called ‘pauses’), so in speaking also we give pauses or stops for a little while. It gives us time to relax and breathe. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was hailed as a wonderful orator. His speeches have always been full of pauses.

(e) Non-Fluencies:

Very often we utter ‘Oh’, ‘Ah’, ‘Um’, ‘you see’, ‘Ok’ etc. during our speech. They are very natural and add to the quality of our speech. But, if we use them too often we lose our fluency or quality of speech.

(f) Syllable and Word Stress:

English is a highly accented and musical language Laying stress or accent on a syllable (part of a word) or on a word in a sentence changes meaning as we can see in the following examples-

Conduct (Noun)

Conduct (Verb)

Have you seen him?

Have you seen him?

(g) Chronemics or Time Language:

Chronemics or time language is concerned with our approach or attitude to time. Timing is very important for communication. A very important saying is, “Time is money”. No sensible person likes to waste time.

Keeping up appointments, ending speeches or meetings on time are very important. It has been observed that people in the west are very particular about time. People in the East have a more relaxed attitude to time.

(h) Haptics or Language of Touch:

A very important part of non-verbal communication is haptics or the language of touch. Patting somebody on the back, touching him on the shoulder, shaking hands convey very positive meanings.

No introduction is complete without shaking hands. People in Afghanistan, Iran and the Arab world also kiss others of the same gender on the cheek. Haptics is very much related to culture. So, cultural awareness is very important.

(i) Colour Language:

Imaginative use of colours is an integral part of non-verbal communi­cation. Every successful organization pays attention to the arrangement of furniture having grey or sober colours. The boards and counters of Citibank are decked in shades of blue. Standard Chattered makes deft use of blue, green and white. It is all a question of our imagination and attitude.


The two principal types of communication are verbal and non-verbal. In verbal communica­tion we use words. A much greater amount of communication is without words. There are many facts or aspects of non-verbal communication. The most important of them are body language, sign language, paralanguage, and space language.

Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication – With their Types

Communication is the act of conveying or sending desired information from one person/entity to other person/entity through the use of a specific mode, which is accepted and understood by both sender and receiver.

Communication plays an important role in human life cycle as a person can’t convey information, impart knowledge and information, without communication.

Communication can be divided into two major parts:

1. Verbal Communication- This type of communication occurs when the sender and receiver are using sounds and words to exchange information.

2. Non-verbal Communication- This type of communication occurs when the sender and receiver are using gestures or mannerisms to exchange info.

Types of Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication:

1. Letters:

Letter is the most popular form of communication. We write letters to our friends and relatives to know about them and to communicate about ourselves. In the same way, every business whether big or small, has to maintain contacts with its suppliers, customers, government departments and the like. In his regular work, a businessman has to exchange information of varied types with different parties.

It is difficult to maintain personal contact with different parties, particularly if the geographical distance widens between the firm and their contacts. The best method for all these persons/institutions to contact each other is through correspondence—the written communication. Of course, other means of communication, as telephone, telex, telegraph, etc., also exist, but they can make only a temporary impression on the mind of the receiver.

The message communicated through these media is less likely to be kept in memory for a long time. Hence, it necessitates confirmation in writing. Besides, these medias are quite expensive.

Kinds of a Letter:

Broadly speaking letters can be classified as personal and non-personal. Personal letters are informal and are written to exchange news or to seek favours. Letters to relatives and friends are personal letters. Personal letters are written in a friendly and informal style. Business letters are non-personal letters.

Essentials of an Effective Business Letter:

A business letter is an important form of written communication. The essentials of a business letter are as follows:

i. Promptness- As a rule, response to a letter should be made on the same day, it is received. If you need time, acknowledge the receipt of the letter and indicate how soon you will be sending a specific reply.

ii. Knowledge of the Subject- This includes the knowledge of the past corres­pondence, if any, besides the requirements of the sender of the letter and the knowledge of the firm’s policies.

iii. Appropriateness- Vary the tone and language of your letter according to the need of the occasion, as well as the psychology of the receiver.

iv. Accuracy, Completeness and Clarity- All facts, figures, statements, quotations, etc., must be accurately mentioned. It is a good practice to verify them before including them in your letter. If you are replying to an enquiry, make sure that you have touched all the points. If it is a message, it should be absolutely clear and unambiguous so that it accomplishes the purpose for which it is being sent.

Since ambiguity may arise due to omission of a word, faulty punctuation or faulty arrangement of words, make sure to avoid such pitfalls.

v. Courtesy- Courtesy demands that we should seek favour in a polite way and express our gratitude for the favours done to us.

vi. Tact- It is a quality that goes hand-in-hand with courtesy and is very important in handling complaints and adjustments along with letters seeking credit. The essence of tactfulness lies in retaining the goodwill of someone, even though his request has been turned down.

vii. Persuasion- It means winning people to your point of view not by forcing them but by making positive suggestions and explaining that what you say is to their advantage. (Your stand should be genuine. Hypocrisy does not pay).

viii. Conciseness- Don’t load your letters with irrelevant details and unnecessary if’s and but’s. The more concise your letter is the more effective it will be, but a letter should not be made into a telegraphic message.

ix. Salesmanship- Every letter going from your desk should be the Ambassador of your firm. It must carry a message. It must enhance your reputation.

x. The ‘YOU’ Attitude- Write your letter constantly by keeping the reader’s point of view before you. Avoid I’s and we’s and include as many you’s as possible.

xi. The Positive and Pleasant Approach- Avoid no’s and sorry’s. They are unwelcome words. Instead, emphasize pleasant and positive things. Even ‘no’ can be written as ‘another time’, and ‘sorry’ as ‘I’ll try’.

2. Telephonic Conversation:

In today’s fast moving, competitive business world, the telephone is one of the most commonly used means of oral communication. It is used to place and take orders, to exchange urgently needed information, to make appointments, to establish valuable business contacts and numerous other things. Modern business houses spend thousands of rupees per month to avail themselves of telephone services.

But this money is considered as well spent. Speed is the hallmark of the modern world. Speed in supplying information to a customer can result in a quick order. A prompt telephone call to a customer can reveal your interest in him and create goodwill. But the telephone service can also prove a nuisance at times. It is very important to use it with discretion.

i. Intelligent Network (IN):

Intelligent Network provides a framework to create new subscriber facilities in a centralized place, independent of the switching exchange capability.

ii. Virtual Card Calling (VCC):

VCC service is also known as ‘Prepaid Card Calling Service’. This is a hard paper card containing a secret card number printed on it. Unlike a magnetic card, it is not used physically in connecting a call.

This service allows a user to make a call from any telephone to any destination by using this card number and charges are debited to his VCC card account without charging on the telephone number, used for making such a call by VCC card holder.

iii. Account Card Calling (ACC):

This service allows a user to make a call from any telephone to any destination by using a virtual credit card number and charges are debited to his ACC card without any kind of charging on telephone number that is used to make such a call.

iv. Free Phone Service (FPS):

This service is commonly known as “Toll Free Service” and is widely used by business houses around the world for providing free product information and help-lines. Any user in the telephone network can call the FPS subscriber free of charge. All the charges are levied on the service subscriber (one who subscribes to the service and receives the calls). For the user who is calling, the calls are free of charge.

v. Premium Rate Service (PRS):

This service facilitates information providers to offer services like forecast, fortune telling, share market information, job consultation, etc. For the service, the call charges will be at a higher rate, i.e., premium rate which will be borne by calling party.

vi. Virtual Private Network (VPN):

VPN Service enables subscribers to establish a private network using public network resources. The subscriber’s lines, connected to different exchanges across the country, constitute a virtual PABX.

A VPN Subscriber can select various destinations located in different parts of the country which act together to function like a virtual PABX. VPN numbers can originate calls to their own group or outside.

External numbers can also dial VPN numbers, after authentication. A number of PABX capabilities such as Private Numbering Plan (PNP), Call Transfer, Call Hold, Closed User Group (CUG) can also be provided.

vii. Universal Access Number (UAN):

This service allows the user to opt for a ‘Universal Access number’. The service subscriber can be reached nationwide under a unique IN Number. The calling user will pay the charges up to Mumbai as per Local/STD rates and the called subscriber will pay from Agra up to destination. A number of destination numbers can be designated to a UN number. Features like Time Dependent Routing and Origin Dependent Routing can be provided. The subscriber can retain the UN number even after the location of office gets changed.

viii. Tele-Voting (Vot):

Tele-voting is a service by which a telephone subscriber can indicate his or her opinion on any matter by dialing an IN number of the service subscriber followed by a single digit for the opinion. This service is very useful for public opinion polls and surveys. After the poll, the Tele-voting customer will be immediately supplied the results of the polls/survey.

ix. Pager:

Pager is a one way communication device which receives and records messages in written form. Anyone who knows the pager number of the receiver can send a message through telephone. Alpha-numeric message is displayed on the pager device and recorded in its memory. A pager is small in size and quite handy. The receiver can read the message at his convenience. But a pager cannot transmit messages. It can only receive incoming messages.

x. Cellular Phone:

A cellular phone is a cordless mobile device which can transmit a message to the receiver irrespective of the location of the receiver. The caller can reach the receiver anywhere at any time. It is operated with the help of a battery. It can display short messages on the screen. The message is transmitted through trans-receiver stations via hyper link.

Advantages of the Telephonic Conversation:

(i) One of the most obvious advantage of the telephonic conversation is that it saves time. If telephone service is efficient, it enables a person to have instantaneous communication.

(ii) It is possible to get an immediate feedback. The communicator can make it sure that his communication has been well understood. The communicatee can have his doubts clarified.

(iii) Although telephone communication is not as good as face-to-face communica­tion, yet it is possible to make it more effective through subtle modulations of voice.

(iv) In certain cases, a telephone call can be more effective than a personal visit. The telephone acts as a kind of ‘equalizer’ by minimizing such influences that stem from personal appearance or the appearance of the office. The caller and the person called are put on some kind of equal footing regardless of their relative position or rank.

Disadvantages of the Telephonic Conversation:

(i) In telephonic conversation, the communicants have to depend entirely on their voice to convey the message because they cannot see each other. They cannot use facial expressions and gestures to establish rapport, to achieve emphasis and to create mutual understanding.

(ii) Telephone services, especially in India, are still far from satisfaction, as a result of which a lot of time is wasted when wrong numbers are contacted. Wrong numbers also involve wastage of money, but above everything else, they put the caller in bad humour.

(iii) The receiver of the telephone message has only one chance to receive and study the message. He cannot go over it again and again as he could do with a letter. Similarly, the caller also has only one chance to give the message. Since, while talking on a telephone, there is hardly any time to think, there is every likelihood of being miscommunicated or missing something vital from among the facts to be communicated.

(iv) It is not possible to ascertain the appropriateness of the time of making a call. A visitor can always see the mood of the person where he goes to meet and make suitable adjustments in the message itself or in the delivery of the message. But the telephone caller does not enjoy this advantage. His telephone call may catch a person when he is in a bad mood or is busy and cannot attend properly.

(v) A telephone message does not provide a permanent record for legal purposes. In order to overcome this disadvantage, it is now becoming a usual practice to tape the important messages.

How to Use Telephone Effectively:

i. Speak politely, confidently and in a positive and friendly tone. Make frequent use of courteous phrases like ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘You’re welcome’. Make your voice pleasant.

ii. Have a message pad, pen, telephone directory and an appointment book near your hand.

iii. While talking, hold the mouthpiece one inch away from the lips and the ear piece close to the ears.

iv. Avoid mumbling, running words together or talking through the nose or teeth.

v. Avoid cliches like ‘yep’, ‘yeah’, ‘ah!’, ‘I see’, etc.

vi. Don’t shout into the telephone. Don’t speak too low. Try to be as natural as possible, Try to speak as if the person you are calling is sitting next to you,

vii. In long distance calls, it is good to be loud, but shouting should be avoided at all costs.

viii. In telephonic communication, time is a vital factor. So do not waste time in idle personal talks. But at the same time, do not sound abrupt also.

ix. Treat every call as an important call because it is important for the person who is calling you. Let the caller feel that he is being given your personal attention and he is not being treated in just a routine manner.

x. Handle incoming calls with care as cordial relations within the organisation are as important as relations with the outsiders.

3. Internet:

Internet is a collection of thousands of smaller networks into a larger global network. It is also known by names of ‘Cyberspace’ or the ‘Information Super Highway’. It has an estimated population of 20 million users and has presence in more than 70 countries around the world.


E-MAIL (popular name for electronic mail) involves sending messages via tele-communication links. If two computer terminals, however distant from each other, are connected on network, it is possible to send messages from one to the other. The message is typed on a computer screen at one end, and is conveyed to the other end through electric impulses.

The person operating the computer terminal at the receiving end is alerted by a signal that a message, or mail, meant for him is in the electronic mailbox. Or he can occasionally check his mailbox for any incoming mail. Then, he can either get it flashed on to a screen immediately or keep it stored and attend to it at leisure.

If the computers have fax, telephone or telex facilities attached to them, E-MAIL can be used to transmit telephonic messages or to fax important documents.

To be able to use E-mail, all that one needs is an access to a network area, a PC, a telephone, a modem with the software and the basic knowledge of using software which is easy to acquire. One doesn’t have to be a computer expert to be able to use E-mail nor does one need a separate telephone line for it. Modems are not very expensive either. It has also been discovered that sending messages by E-mail is quite cost-efficient.

E-mail is the lifeblood of the Internet. Daily, millions of written messages course through the wires, enabling people all over the planet to communicate in seconds. One reason for the widespread use of the Internet as the international computer network is that it is flexible enough to allow just about any type of computer network to participate.

The other good side of this is that whether you have a Mac, PC, or more exotic type of computer; whether you connect by modem or from a smaller network; and no matter what E-mail program you have, you can still send and receive mail over the Internet.

Advantages of E-Mail:

(i) It is the quickest means of transmitting messages. Sending messages through ordinary post is just out of reckoning now. Courier services can rarely do better than overnight delivery. Telephone has its other limitations. Other telematics services like telex, fax, communicating word processors, etc., are not options to E- MAIL but complementary services. Most modern E-MAIL systems allow messages to be delivered through these telecom channels and at significantly cheaper rates for long distance communication.

(ii) E-MAIL does not thrust itself upon the receiver. A phone call when you are in the midst of a serious discussion can be highly disruptive. But an E-MAIL message does not disturb you. You can check your mailbox and receive your messages at your leisure.

(iii) E-MAIL saves you from telephone tags. Since E-mail is asynchronous, it does not depend upon the availability of the recipient. As long as people keep checking their mail boxes regularly, the communication cycle continues to work efficiently.

(iv) If a communication is to be sent to someone on the other side of the world, time zone differences can make personal communication on the telephone extremely inconvenient. But you can send an E-MAIL message whenever you like and the person at the other end can receive it the next morning when he comes to work.

(v) E-MAIL messages can be sent to a large number of people simultaneously or to only a selected few, depending upon the requirement.

(vi) If both the persons are simultaneously sitting at the terminals, clarifications can be sought and offered and additional information conveyed immediately.

(vii) E-MAIL messages are supposed to be highly confidential and secure. The chances of tampering with the messages are much fewer than in the case of other modes.

(viii) E-MAIL messages can be easily stored for future reference.

4. Video Conferencing:

Video conferencing (or tele-conferencing) allows people to meet and work collaboratively without being together in one room. They could be separated by an office way or by thousands of kilometers.

They can hear and see each other, and share information with one another, as if they are all present together in one room. Tele­conferencing can lead to substantial saving both in terms of money and execution time.

In these times of globalisation with multinationals companies operating simultaneously in several countries, separated from one another by thousands of kilometers, tele­conferencing can prove to be a very effective means of mutual consultation.

5. Audio Conferencing:

An audio conference, or teleconference, is a kind of conference wherein several people are connected via an audio-medium and unlike a telephone it is not a one-to-one conversation between two people. The person who initiates the audio-conference is known as the calling party and the people who are joining the calls are called participants.

So in other words Audio Conferencing can be defined as a form of telephone meeting, which is conducted between multiple separate callers (minimum three callers define a “conference”).

The nature of telephone used for the audio-conference can vary but under normal circumstances an audio conference includes attendees that use handheld wired telephones (such as those at a person’s business office or home), conference room speakerphones that can be shared by several people, or individual cellular or mobile telephones.

Audio conferencing is also called “teleconferencing” and traditionally means using a telephone instrument to conduct a business meeting.

Advantages of Audio Conferencing:

The major advantage of audio conferencing over video conferring is that telephones are more widely available and for that reason the meetings are less complicated. Participants can join in the conference from any corner of the world.

Disadvantages of Audio Conferencing:

The varying degree of audio quality received by the participants from different locations can cause miscommunication. There are also limitations in the nature of topics that can be discussed via audio conferencing.


To ‘confer’ is to converse, to consult, or to discuss. So a ‘conference’ is a kind of meeting in which people exchange views and talk together. A conference may be held to exchange views on some problems being faced by an organisation or some other issue related to it, and it may even suggest a solution, but the suggestions from a conference are not binding. They are more in the nature of recommendations.

Within the organisation, the sales manager may hold a weekly conference of the salesmen to review sales during the week and to plan the next week’s strategy on the basis of the views expressed by them. Exchanging views in this way is also an educative process for the salesmen as they pick quite a few valuable tips from each other’s experience and improve their performance.

In the same way, the advertising, research and other departments can hold weekly conferences. The views expressed at these conferences are communicated to the management for consideration and decision-making.

Conferences may sometimes be held to give training to new employees. There, the employees may be exposed to a conference where necessary information about the organisation is imparted to them in an informal atmosphere through discussion so that they learn all about the organisation, its objectives, policies, etc. This kind of conference may be described as a conference for training.

6. Social Media Communication:

Social Media Communications, for organizations, is referred to as the practice of creating, sharing and exchanging information in the virtual communities available on the internet. The leading social media channels used by the companies, for communi­cation are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Vimeo accounts.


(i) Companies can broadcast their views on the various social trends via the social media platforms.

(ii) Companies can provide and share information about their new product or service launch or news about new branch opening.

(iii) Companies can receive instant feedback from their existing and potential customers, more easily, via social media channels.

(iv) Most big companies keep dedicated social media managers who manage all the social media channels on behalf of the company.

(v) Companies can maintain a Blog describing their products and services to trigger interest among the customers.

(vi) Companies can use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for uploading pictures and short descriptions of their upcoming products and services.

(vii) Companies can use YouTube channels to display the details of product usage or any other promotional campaigns.

Popular Social Media Tools and Platforms:

i. Blogs- A platform for casual dialogue and discussions on a specific topic or opinion.

ii. Facebook- The world’s largest social network, with more than 1-55 billion monthly active users (as of the third quarter of 2015). Users create a personal profile, add other users as friends and exchange messages, including status updates. Brands create pages and Facebook users can ‘like’ their pages.

iii. Twitter- A social networking/micro-blogging platform that allows groups and individuals to stay connected through the exchange of short status messages (140 character limit).

iv. YouTube and Vimeo- Video hosting and watching websites.

v. Flickr- An image and video hosting website and online community, Photos can be shared on Facebook and Twitter and other social networking sites.

vi. Instagram- A free photo and video sharing app that allows users to apply digital filters, frames and special effects to their photos and then share them on a variety of social networking sites.

vii. Snapchat- A mobile app that lets users send photos and videos to friends or to their ‘story’. Snaps disappear after viewing or after 24 hours. Currently, we are not allowing individual departments to have Snapchat accounts, but asking that they contribute to the Tufts University account.

viii. Linkedln Group- A place where groups of professionals with similar areas of interest can share information and participate in a conversation.

There are many ways in which an organisation communicates with its stakeholders and public. People add up all these features to form their judgements.

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