Types and Barriers to Effective Communication

Types of Communication

Communication can be classified into the following types:-


Formal communication

When the communication of the organization occurs by following prescribed or predetermined rules, policy and regulation of the organization then the communication are called formal communication. Formal communication is governed by the established chain of command. For example, employees may be given a presentation from the human resources department on new policies and procedures.

These form of communication follow three distinct directions. They are

1. Vertical communication
Formal communication can move vertically in an organization. Any communication that flows downward from the manager to employees and upward from employees to a manager is known as vertical communication. Vertical communication channels are important because they provide employees with opportunities to have a say.For example, employees may be given a presentation from the human resources department on new policies and procedures.

2. Horizontal communication
Formal communication can also flow horizontally across the organization. Horizontal communication occurs between two parts of the organization at the same level. Communication which takes place between or among different line managers. Horizontal communication helps to maintain mutual understanding, co-operation and co-ordination among the same level of employees. For example, communication among finance manager, account manager, production manager and marketing manager is horizontal communication.

3. Diagonal communication
Communication that crosses work areas and organizational level is known as diagonal communication. Under this, communication, any employee can communicate to any other employees without considering the hierarchy or level of employees. This communication crosses the formal network of communication and a chain of command. Diagonal communication is especially used by the expert group to communicate expert ideas to the different level of employees.

Informal communication

Informal communication is about using channels that are in contrast with formal communication channels. It’s just a casual talk. It is established for societal affiliations of members in an organization. It refers face-to-face discussions. It happens among friends and family. The use of slang words, foul language is not restricted to informal communication. Usually, informal communication is done orally and using gestures.

Verbal communication

Verbal communication is a communication by using speech that is understood by all parties to the communication. In other words, it is about talking. We should keep in mind that we are talking about speech, not the written word. Written communication falls under its own category.

When we talk to others, we feel that others understand what we are saying because we only know what we are saying. Usually, people bring their own attitude, perception, emotions, and thoughts about the topic. It creates the barrier in delivering the right meaning.

Verbal Communication is divided into:

1. Oral Communication
Oral communication includes face-to-face conversations, speech, virtual conversation, video, radio, television, voice over the internet. It refers spoken words.

2. Written Communication
Written Communication is one of the most common type of communication being used in business. A message of written communication may be printed or hand written. In written communication message can be transmitted by email, letter, report, memo etc.

Non-verbal communication

Non-verbal communication is complicated communication among other communication. It is the process of sending message without using words to convey its meaning. Different elements are included in the non-verbal communication. This type of communication is the sending or receiving of wordless messages. It includes gesture, body language,posture, a tone of voice or facial expressions. Non-verbal communication is all about the body language. (Notes Desk, Your Academic Encyclopedia)

Barriers to effective communication


The communication is not successful in many cases. There are many obstacles to achieve its effectiveness and efficiency. They are called barriers to effective communication. There are four key barriers that can occur within a company. The major barriers to effective communication are as follows:

  1. Physical Barriers
  2. Psychological Barriers
  3. Organizational Barriers
  4. Semantic Barriers

1. Physical Barriers
A physical barrier in an environment is the natural condition that acts as a barrier in communication in sending a message from sender to receiver. Communication is generally easier over shorter distances because more communication channels are available and less technology is required. The Modern technology often serves to reduce the impact of physical barriers. An appropriate channel can be used to overcome the physical barriers so that the advantages and disadvantages of each communication channel should be understood. Physical barriers like doors, walls, distance, etc.donot let the communication become effective while sending the message by the sender. When the organization's units or branches are physically scattered in various places then the communication made to them will remain ineffective due to physical distance.

2. Psychological Barriers
The psychological barrier of communication is the influence of the psychological state of the communicators. The sender and receiver create an obstacle for effective communication. Psychological distance prevents the communication or filters part of it or causes misinterpretation. Lack of retention ability and inadequate attention to the message make communication less effective. Distrust, threat, fear and lack of ability to communicate also cause obstruction in the free flow of the communication.For example, a receiver with reduced hearing may not grasp to an entirety of a spoken conversation especially if there is significant background noise.

3. Organizational Barriers
Effective organization largely depends upon the sound organizational structure. The classical organizational structure with the scalar chain of command restricts free and frequent communication. Each manager receives information only from one source and transmits the message to another single level. If there are too many levels in an organization then it is difficult to pass the correct information to the right person at the right time through the right medium. Organizational structure greatly affects the capabilities of the employees as far as the communication is concerned.

4. Semantic Barriers
Semantics is the study of meaning, signs and symbols used for communication. The word is derived from “sema”, a Greek word whose meaning is signs. Semantic barriers to communication are the symbolic obstacles that distort to sent a message in some other way than intended, making the message difficult to understand.The words, signs, and figures used in the communication which is explained by the receiver in the light of his experience ,it also creates doubtful situations. This happens because the information is not sent in simple language.The people interpret the same information in different ways depending on their social background, knowledge, education, and experience.


BUSINESSSTOPIA. Copyright 2016. Electronic. 14 06 2016.https://www.businesstopia.net/communication/semantic-barriers-communication

Notes Desk, Your Academic Encyclopedia. 08 03 2009. Electronic. 14 06 2016.http://www.notesdesk.com/notes/business-communications/types-of-communication/

Skills you need, Helping you develop life skills. Electronic. 14 06 2016.http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/barriers-communication.html

  • Formal communication involves utilizing the formal communication channels of an organization. 
  • Formal communication takes place through a chain of command.
  • In Vertical communication, information is collected and flows up to the top levels of management for review and decision making.
  • Horizontal communication occurs between two parts of the organization at the same level.
  • The communication that flows from the top of the organization to the bottom of the organization through the formal lines of authority is known as Diagonal communication. 
  • Informal communication is communication between employees outside the formal communication structure of the company. 
  • There are five key barriers that can occur within a company: language, cultural diversity, gender differences, status differences and physical separation.

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