Communication (from Latin commūnicāre, meaning “to share”) is the activity of conveying information through the exchange of ideas, feelings, intentions, attitudes, expectations, perceptions or commands, as by speech, non-verbal gestures, writings, behavior and possibly by other means such as electromagnetic, chemical or physical phenomena and smell. It is the meaningful exchange of information between two or more participants (machines, organisms or their parts).

Communication requires a sender, a message, a medium and a recipient, although the receiver does not have to be present or aware of the sender’s intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast distances in time and space. Communication requires that the communicating parties share an area of communicative commonality. The communication process is complete once the receiver understands the sender’s message.

Communicating with others involves three primary steps:

  • Thought: First, information exists in the mind of the sender. This can be a concept, idea, information, or feeling.
  • Encoding: Next, a message is sent to a receiver in words or other symbols.
  • Decoding: Lastly, the receiver translates the words or symbols into a concept or information that a person can understand.

There are a variety of verbal and non-verbal forms of communication. These include body language, eye contact, sign language, haptic communication, and chronemics. Other examples are media content such as pictures, graphics, sound, and writing. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities also defines the communication to include the display of text, Braille, tactile communication, large print, accessible multimedia, as well as written and plain language, human-reader, augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, including accessible information and communication technology. Feedback is a critical component of effective communication.


Verbal communication

Effective verbal or spoken communication is dependent on a number of factors and cannot be fully isolated from other important interpersonal skills such as non-verbal communication, listening skills and clarification. Human spoken and pictorial languages can be described as a system of symbols (sometimes known as lexemes) and the grammars (rules) by which the symbols are manipulated. The word “language” also refers to common properties of languages. Language learning normally occurs most intensively during human childhood. Most of the thousands of human languages use patterns of sound or gesture for symbols which enable communication with others around them. Languages seem to share certain properties although many of these include exceptions. There is no defined line between a language and a dialect. Constructed languages such as Esperanto, programming languages, and various mathematical formalisms are not necessarily restricted to the properties shared by human languages. Communication is the flow or exchange of information from one person to another or a group of people.

Nonverbal communication

Nonverbal communication describes the process of conveying meaning in the form of non-word messages. Some forms of non verbal communication include chronemics, haptics, gesture, body language or posture, facial expression and eye contact, object communication such as clothing, hairstyles, architecture, symbols, infographics, and tone of voice, as well as through an aggregate of the above. Speech also contains nonverbal elements known as paralanguage. This form of communication is the most known for interacting with people. These include voice lesson quality, emotion and speaking style as well as prosodic features such as rhythm, intonation and stress. Research has shown that up to 55% of human communication may occur through non verbal facial expressions, and a further 38% through paralanguage. Likewise, written texts include nonverbal elements such as handwriting style, spatial arrangement of words and the use of emoticons to convey emotional expressions in pictorial form.

Oral communication

Oral communication, while primarily referring to spoken verbal communication, can also employ visual aids and non-verbal elements to support the conveyance of meaning. Oral communication includes speeches, presentations, discussions, and aspects of interpersonal communication. As a type of face-to-face communication, body language and choice tonality play a significant role, and may have a greater impact upon the listener than informational content. This type of communication also garners immediate feedback, and generally involves the cooperative principle.

Effective communication

Effective communication occurs when a desired effect is the result of intentional or unintentional information sharing, which is interpreted between multiple entities and acted on in a desired way. This effect also ensures that messages are not distorted during the communication process. Effective communication should generate the desired effect and maintain the effect, with the potential to increase the effect of the message. Therefore, effective communication serves the purpose for which it was planned or designed. Possible purposes might be to elicit change, generate action, create understanding, inform or communicate a certain idea or point of view. When the desired effect is not achieved, factors such as barriers to communication are explored, with the intention being to discover how the communication has been ineffective.

Nonverbal communication is the process of communication through sending and receiving wordless (mostly visual) cues between people. It is sometimes mistakenly referred to as body language (kinesics), but nonverbal communication encompasses much more, such as use of voice (paralanguage), touch (haptics), distance (proxemics), and physical environments/appearance. Typically overlooked in nonverbal communication is proxemics, or the informal space around the body and chronemics: the use of time. Not only considered eye contact, oculesics comprises the actions of looking while talking and listening, frequency of glances, patterns of fixation, pupil dilation, and blink rate. This subject is diverse in meaning, relative to culture and not limited to these definitions specifically.

Even speech contains nonverbal elements known as paralanguage, including voice quality, rate, pitch, volume, and speaking style, as well as prosodic features such as rhythm, intonation, and stress. Likewise, written texts have nonverbal elements such as handwriting style, spatial arrangement of words, or the physical layout of a page. However, much of the study of nonverbal communication has focused on interaction between individuals, where it can be classified into three principal areas: environmental conditions where communication takes place, physical characteristics of the communicators, and behaviors of communicators during interaction.

Nonverbal communication involves the processes of encoding and decoding. Encoding is the act of generating the information such as facial expressions, gestures, and postures. Decoding is the interpretation of information from received sensations from previous experiences.

Only a small percentage of the brain processes verbal communication. As infants, nonverbal communication is learned from social-emotional communication, making the face rather than words the major organ of communication. As children become verbal communicators, they begin to look at facial expressions, vocal tones, and other nonverbal elements more subconsciously.

Culture plays an important role in nonverbal communication, and it is one aspect that helps to influence how learning activities are organized. In many Indigenous American Communities, for example, there is often an emphasis on nonverbal communication, which acts as a valued means by which children learn. In this sense, learning is not dependent on verbal communication; rather, it is nonverbal communication which serves as a primary means of not only organizing interpersonal interactions, but conveying cultural values, and children learn how to participate in this system from a young age.




onverbal communication represents two-thirds of all communication. Nonverbal communication can portray a message both verbally and with the correct body signals. Body signals comprise physical features, conscious and unconscious gestures and signals, and the mediation of personal space. The wrong message can be established if the body language conveyed does not match a verbal message. Nonverbal communication strengthens a first impression in common situations like attracting a partner or in a business interview: impressions are on average formed within the first four seconds of contact. First encounters or interactions with another person strongly affect a person’s perception.  When the other person or group is absorbing the message, they are focused on the entire environment around them, meaning the other person uses all five senses in the interaction: 83% sight, 11% hearing, 3% smell, 2% touch and 1% taste


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