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What Is Communication?

Communication is the sharing of ideas and information. Communication is a process by which

information is exchanged. Communication is an essential and basic skill of life.

Communication is defined as:

1. The act of transmitting

2. A giving or exchanging of information, signals, or messages as by talk, gestures, or
3. The information, signals, or message
4. Close, sympathetic relationship
5. A means of communicating; a system for sending and receiving messages, as by
telephone, telegraph, radio, etc.
6. A system as of routes for moving troops and material
7. A passage or way for getting from one place to another
8. The art of expressing ideas, esp. in speech and writing
9. The science of transmitting information, esp. in symbols

This definition suggests that there can be several different types of communication, falling into
the categories of non-verbal or verbal.

Non-Verbal Communication

Non-verbal communication involves exchanging information or transmitting data without the use
of words. There are many examples of non-verbal communication everywhere in the world.

While you may not stop to think about it, a red light or a stop sign is a clear form of non-verbal
communication. No one is physically telling you to stop, but you see that symbol or signal and
know immediately what is expected of you.

Likewise, body language and facial expressions are also examples of non-verbal communication.
Over the years, numerous research studies have been done to suggest that babies respond to
smiling faces the world over, and that when a person sees someone else smile, he may become a
bit happier as well.

Thus, while understanding non-verbal communication may require some knowledge of the
cultural and social meanings behind the symbols and signs used, some types of non-verbal
communication are instinctual and no teaching is necessary.

Verbal Communication

The system of verbal communication has become quite complex, with unique languages each
having millions of words.
Unlike non-verbal communication, in order for verbal communication to be meaningful, there
must generally be a readily accepted understanding of the meaning of a series of sounds. In other
words, sounds and words alone aren't sufficient to communicate: the person transmitting the
message and the person receiving the message generally must have a cultural background or
shared knowledge that allows them to understand what those sounds have come to mean.

However, even some oral or verbal communication can be intuitive. For example, animals use
verbal communication all the time to transmit messages to each other. Birds sing, some bugs
chirp when mating, hounds bark to alert the pack on a hunt, and even whales sing, although
scientists aren't 100 percent certain what those songs mean.

The fact that language was one of man's earliest developments, and the fact that there are
similarities among languages and that animals also engage in oral communication, all suggest
that although some shared cultural understanding is necessary, the specific act of verbal
communication may be innate.

Modes of Communication

Over time, the methods and means used to communicate have expanded greatly. In early records,
hieroglyphics and primitive cave paintings were used to communicate information and transmit
messages. Oral stories and traditions were also passed down through generations and eventually
many of these stories also came to be written down in some cultures.

The use of carrier pigeons, followed by Morse code and telegraph technology expanded the
reach of communication, making it possible for people to send messages over longer distances.

Today, communication has expanded and is easier than ever before. Television allows messages
to be communicated quickly and instantly to millions of viewers worldwide, and viewers can
watch events such as political elections unfold in real time.

Perhaps nothing has changed communication so much as the Internet. While television and radio
provided one-way communication, the Internet allows for the two-way exchange of information
and lets people throughout the world send data instantly and share ideas immediately. Video
chat, instant messages and even voice-over-IP telephone systems make it possible to connect
with and communicate with more people than ever before.

Importance of Communication
Communication is an integral instinct of all living things. There is more to communication than
just talk and gesture. Listening, understanding and interpreting are as much integral to
communication as words – verbal, written or gestured. Yes, even gestures in communication play
a crucial role in conveying and interpreting the message! Similarly, how we communicate or
express ourselves goes a great way towards determining how our expressions are interpreted. To
quote Karl Popper, "It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood".
Faulty or incomplete communication can completely mar the purpose of communicating and
may result in damaging consequences. This is where understanding the importance of
communication and communicating the right way comes into picture. Not everyone is equally
endowed with the ability to effectively express himself and this is where the importance of
communication skills can be truly fathomed. The importance of communication is equal in every
walk of like, be it in personal, professional or social life.