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Learning the 4 Basic Types of Communication

Knowledge of the 4 basic types of communication can enable practitioners to effectively plan, develop, monitor and evaluate communication campaigns…

Communication is ever present in our everyday life and when it occurs it is always one or a combination of the four basic types of communication. This is the reality that you, as development communication practitioners, must bear in mind whenever you are writing a verbal report on malnutrition to be disseminated among barangay officials or doing fieldwork among farmers in the rural areas. Knowledge of the types of communication can facilitate you in planning a communication campaign, its implementation and most of all, evaluation of how your  communication efforts are going.

The four basic types of communication are the following:

. Verbal communication - it happens when you talk to another individual or a group of people. With the onset of the information and communication technologies (ICTs) verbal communication denotes a much broader connotation, which means it is not only face to face communication, but also via cell phone, Skype or Messenger. Depending on the context or environment, verbal communication can be formal or informal, but regardless of the type it also involves the tone or pitch used during this direct interaction.

. Nonverbal communication - according to Edward T. Hall, most of what people communicate is done unconsciously. And what individuals do while they interact with other people often tell more than their actual words. Nonverbal communication includes facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, hand movements and proximity. According to Hall, nonverbal communication differs not only from country to country but also regionally. Most often, nonverbal communication’s importance is not given the proper attention because people do not often realize that gestures tell more than their words. For instance, when you are applying for a job or you are being interviewed for a possible employment, it is important not only to communicate verbally but you should also assume the right posture, eye contact and facial expression to show your interest in the job placement.

. Written communication - as development communicators, being able to write effectively is imperative. In this communication era, it is vital to have the capacity to express your ideas in whatever form or channel. Whether you are composing a simple email, a report on air pollution, or doing leaflets or posters to be disseminated in the rural areas, you should be able to disseminate information in a concise and clear manner. It is noteworthy to point out that unclear and flowery writing skills may often cause confusion or misunderstanding, which can impact the results of your communication goals.

. Visual communication - is the use of visual elements to easily convey information. Visual elements may denote drawings, pictures, graphics, animations, and even videos to disseminate ideas and even research results. The digital age has opened the doors to all types of visual communication and for information to be shared in an accessible and easy manner. It is, in fact, easier to grasp information if accompanied by some interesting visuals.

As a conclusion, understanding how to effectively communicate information to your target audience is the first step to achieve your communication goals. We live in a society where we communicate constantly, consciously or unconsciously and we use different types of communication or a combination of these types to interact with another person or group of persons. It is therefore a must to always think how you communicate to become a good development communicator.

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