Communication: Concept & Theories


Communication plays key role in smooth functioning of organisation. Success of Direction‘ depends on the effectiveness of communication. Proper communications in organisations at all levels and between all levels can improve both the quantity and quality of output.


The word communi’cation has been derived from the Latin word ‘communis’ which means ‘common’ which consequently implies common understanding. Generally, Communication is understood as a process of exchange of ideas, views, facts, feelings etc., between two or more individuals to reach common understanding.

Elements of Communication

  • Sender: Communicator/Transmitter
    • The person who intends to convey the message with the intention of passing information and ideas to others is known as sender or communicator
  • Message
    • It is the content of ideas, feelings, suggestions, order etc., intended to be communicated
  • Encoding:
    • It is the process of converting the message into symbols such as words, pictures, gestures etc.
  • Medium/Channel
    • It is the path through which encoded message is transmitted to receiver. Example – Written – in a letter or verbal in form of speech
  • Decoding
    • It is the process of converting encoded symbols of the sender
  • Receiver
    • Receiver is the person who receives the message or for whom the message is meant for.
  • Reaction/Feedback
    • Feedback is the process of ensuring that the receiver has received the message and understood in the same sense as sender meant it.
  • Noise/Interference:
    • It includes any factor that inhibits the conveyance of a message.
    • This hindrance may be caused to sender, message or receiver.

Importance of Communication

Communication is one of the most central aspects of managerial activities. Effectiveness of a manager depends significantly on his ability to communicate effectively with his superiors, subordinates and external agencies etc. Its importance in management can be judged from the following:

  • Helps in smooth working of an enterprise: It helps employees to understand their role clearly and perform effectively.
  • Boosts morale and provides motivation: An efficient system ofcommunication enables management to motivate, influence and satisfy the subordinates.
  • Increases managerial efficiency: It is the means through which delegation and decentralisation of authority is successfully accomplished in an organisation.
  • Promotes cooperation and industrial peace: It helps in achieving co-ordination and mutual understanding which in turn, leads to industrial harmony and increased productivity.
  • Establishes effective leadership:
  • Acts as basis of decision making:

Types of Communication

In an organisation communication can be made from supervisor to subordinate, from subordinate to supervisor and also between two supervisors at the same level. It can be done orally or in writing or even through gestures. It may be made through formal or informal channels. Thus, the various types are as follows:

Basis of Channel Used Basis of Direction Basis of Mode Used
  • Formal
  • Informal
  • Upward
  • Downward
  • Horizontal
  • Diagonal
  • Verbal
    • Oral
    • Written
  • Non-Verbal
    • Gestures

Formal and Informal Communication

In every organisation we have both formal and informal channels.
Formal Communication

  • Paths ofcommunication are based on relationship which is established formally i.e. it flows through official channels designed in the organisation chart.
  • It may take place between a superior and subordinate, a subordinate and superior or among same cadre employees or managers.
  • It may be oral or written but generally recorded and filed in the office.

Informal Communication

  • It takes place on the basis of informal or social relations among staff.
  • The informal communication arises out of needs of employees to exchange their views, which cannot be done through formal channels.

Upward, Downward, Horizontal and Diagonal Communication

Upward Communication

  • It refer to flow of communication from subordinate to superior.
  • It is generally in form of  request, appeal, report, suggestion or ideas.
  • This encourages employees to participate actively in the operations of their department.

Downward Communication

  • Indicates communication from a superior to subordinate.
  • Examples include: sending notices, assigning work etc.

Verbal and Non-verbal Communication


  • Verbal communication is the use of words to share information with other people.
  • It can therefore include both spoken (Oral) and written form.


  • Sometimes verbal communication is supported by non-verbal communication such as facial expressions and body gestures.
  • For example – wave of hand, a smile or a frown etc

Barriers to effective Communication

It is generally observed that managers face several problems due to communication breakdowns or barriers. These include:
Semantic Barriers

Semantic barriers are concerned with problems in encoding and decoding of message. These result on account of use of wrong words, faulty translations, different interpretations etc.

  • Badly expressed message
  • Symbols with different meanings
  • Faulty translations
  • Unclarified assumptions
  • Technical jargon
  • Body language and gesture decoding

Psychological barriers

  • Premature evaluation
  • Lack of attention
  • Loss by transmission and poor retention
  • Distrust

Organisational barriers

  • Organisational policy
  • Rules and regulations
  • Status
  • Complexity in organisation structure
  • Organisational facilities

Personal barriers

  • Fear of challenge to authority
  • Lack of confidence of superior on his subordinates
  • Unwillingness to communicate
  • Lack of proper incentives

Improving Communication Effectiveness

  • Clarify the ideas before communicating
  • Communicate according to the needs of receiver
  • Consult others before communicating
  • Be aware of languages, tone and content of message
  • Convey things of help and value to listeners
  • Ensure proper feedback
  • Communicate for present as well as future
  • Follow up communications
  • Be a good listener
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