The 28 types of communication and their characteristics

The 28 types of communication and their characteristics

Communication is the action of exchanging information , either between two or more people, with the aim of transmitting and receiving information (written, emotional, etc.). The person (or persons) who sends the information is the sender, and the person who receives it is the receiver. The means by which the message is transmitted is the channel.

But this relatively simple scheme does not cover all the complexity of the process, because in reality there are many types of communication, not just one . In this article we will see their characteristics and what it means to be able to master them well.

The main communication skills

Being a good communicator is key to personal relationships , to the success of your professional career and also to the emotional health of people. In other words, being a competent communicator is necessary to be successful in this life.

If there is something that characterizes people who are happier, it is that they are competent communicators, which helps them to face the situations of their daily lives in the most satisfactory way . For example, when solving an argument with their partner or when applying for a job interview. Fortunately, communication skills can be learned.

But… what are these communication skills? Good communicators are known for mastering these skills:

  • Active listening
  • Empathy
  • Emotional validation
  • Non-verbal language
  • Conflict resolution
  • Negotiation
  • Verbal language
  • Read
  • Writing
  • Respect
  • Persuasiveness
  • Credibility

You can go deeper into these aspects in our article: “The 10 basic communication skills”. However, in order to understand well how to take advantage of the act of communicating, it is necessary to know the types of communication.

Types of communication

As we have seen, beyond the basic scheme of the process of transmitting a message, there are different types of communication, since the transmitters can be different and the information that is sent and the channel through which it circulates can be different. Below you can find the classification of the various forms of communication, according to various criteria:

Verbal and non-verbal communication

Two types of communication that are often talked about a lot are verbal and non-verbal communication . This dichotomous classification refers to whether or not the message is verbalized.

1. Verbal communication

Verbal communication is characterised by the use of words in the interaction between sender and receiver. There are two types, as words or language can be expressed in a spoken or written form:

  • Oral communication : is done through oral signs or spoken words. Shouting, crying or laughing are also oral communication.
  • Written communication : is done through written codes. Hieroglyphics, alphabets or logos also belong to this type of communication.

Although verbal communication is the most explicit and evident, given that it is regulated by a series of rules that take several years to learn and that allow us to transmit relatively clear and often even concise units of meaning, we must bear in mind that behind it there is also another one as or more important than this one that, in addition, can modify the meaning of the first one. This is non-verbal communication, which we will see below.

2. Non-verbal communication

This type of language is carried out without the use of words and, in many cases, unconsciously. Body movements, postures, looking, sitting or walking are some examples.

In most cases, both the issuance of messages and their interpretation are processes that are carried out automatically, even involuntarily. This is because this type of communication has been the most important one throughout our evolutionary history, in stages of evolution in which the use of words did not yet exist.

However, the messages linked to non-verbal communication are relatively ambiguous and difficult to interpret, since unlike the previous type, it is not governed by agreed and explicitly learned rules.

According to the number of participants

The type of communication may vary depending on the people involved in the communicative interaction

3. Individual

In this type of communication only one sender and one receiver interact, i.e. the communication takes place from individual to individual. It is a framework of interactions characterized by privacy and by the impossibility of pretending to impact an audience or a third person who observes.

4. Collective

This type of communication occurs when there are more than two people exchanging messages . In these cases, there may be a situation where, despite the fact that one person addresses the other in his or her speech, the intention is to have an effect not on him or her but on the rest of the people.

5. Intrapersonal

This type of communication occurs when a person communicates with himself. For example, when someone has to make a decision and reasons for the solutions. It is debated whether it can really be considered communication.

6. Interindividual

Inter-individual communication occurs when two people communicate, either verbally or non-verbally, expressing basically feelings .

7. Intragroup

This type of communication occurs when two or more persons belonging to the same group or collective communicate or .

8. Intergroup

Intergroup communication refers to communication that exists between groups. For example, between performers and a group of spectators.

9. Mass communication

Mass communication refers to the interaction between a single transmitter and a mass receiver or audience to . The receiver should be: a large group of people, be heterogeneous and anonymous.


According to the sensory channel

Depending on the sensory channel, it is possible to differentiate between different types of communication:

10. Visual communication

In this type of communication, messages (e.g. ideas) are transmitted through the visual medium and are perceived through sight .

11. Auditory communication

It is a type of communication in which messages and information are perceived through the ear . For example, music. Of course, it is one of the most widely used types of communication, as it can connect two people over a relatively large distance and, moreover, makes it easy to locate the source of the message, something that does not happen with smell, for example.

12. Tactile communication

In tactile communication, information is perceived through touch , usually by skin or by writing in Braille.

13. Olfactory communication

The message received through the olfactory pathway gives form to the olfactory communication. For example, the act of perceiving the information a person gives by his smell.

Like audio communication, the message can travel long distances, but in this case it is not easy to locate the source or establish a sequence of information.However, the message remains in the environment much longer than the sounds do.

14. Taste communication

It is a type of communication in which information is sent through taste . For example, when a “chef” prepares a recipe for a group of diners. Unfortunately, in this type of communication the information is usually limited to the chemical properties of the element being tasted, and there are no precise data or information chains.

According to the technology channel

Depending on the technological channel, the types of communication can be

15. Telephone communication

It is the communication that takes place through the telephone device . Either fixed or mobile. It allows you to interact with people who are far away.

16. Virtual or digital communication

Virtual or digital communication is the communication that takes place thanks to the world connected through the Internet t. It includes both a conversation via Skype and the writing of the sender and reading of the receiver of a blog post.

17. Television communication

The communication that occurs through the television is television communication.

18. Film communication

It is the communication that takes place through the big screen and thanks to feature films or film productions.

Depending on the use or purpose

Depending on the purpose or objective of the communication, this may be

19. Advertising communication

This type of communication occurs when a company sends a message, usually to a group of consumers, to make its brand known or to sell a product . In this case, the main interested party is the sender, who wants to sell something.

20. Journalistic Communication

It is the communication that is made through different media with the purpose of informing the receiver from the journalistic point of view.

21. Educational Communication

The content of this communication class is of an educational nature . For example, when a student attends a class in which his teacher is teaching a subject.

22. Political communication

Information of this type is communication is political and the content usually has a strong ideological charge. For example, when someone attends a debate in which the sender is a politician who is trying to win their vote. Unlike advertising, propaganda does not aim to encourage people to buy, but to change the mentality of the recipients.

Other types of communication

There are also other types of communication:

23. Communication by signs

This type of communication refers to the one used by deaf and deaf-mute people s and the people around them to establish a communication channel with their social circles, whether made up of other deaf or hearing impaired people.

24. Organizational communication

Organizational communication refers to the communication that occurs within companies and from companies to the outside . It is also called corporate communication.

25. Vertical communication

Vertical communication is a type of communication that takes place between different levels or hierarchical positions within an organisation. There are two types:

  • Upstream communication : from employees to top management.
  • Downstream communication : from higher level management to employees.

26. Horizontal communication

Another type of organizational communication that occurs within the same level . For example, between departments with the same hierarchical rank or between workers in the same office.

27. Sexual communication

The content of communication is of a sexual nature . Either through verbal language or by sending photographs through WhatsApp, which is known as “Sexting”.

28. Emotional Communication

Emotional communication refers to the fact that the content is of an emotional nature . It can be verbal, when expressing feelings, or non-verbal, for example when laughing or crying.

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