One of the strengths that has enabled humans to advance and progress as a species is their enhanced ability to communicate. Although most animals have methods of communicating with each other, humans can directly express the specific thoughts and ideas that occur in their minds to other people. There are three types of communication, and all types effectively allow humans to share their thoughts and work together to achieve similar goals.
Communicating With Words
Speech, or the ability to use a variety of words and to attach agreed meanings to the words, is called verbal communication and is one of the most common forms of communication. Speech is a powerful skill that helps humans articulate their ideas to each other. Research indicates that the minds of children are designed and hardwired to successfully absorb language, imitate phrases and comprehend the meaning of words. However, children must hear language at a relatively early age to understand the skill. Listening is essential to the conversation process, for only when the participant listens carefully to the other person's words can he understand that person's thoughts and respond appropriately to contribute to the communication.
Speech is a very immediate and effective way to express thoughts and can be used for a diverse range of purposes. Because of verbal language, friends can efficiently work together to solve problems by trading their ideas with each other, lovers can become more familiar with each other by exchanging personal or intimate thoughts, businessmen can negotiate and make deals, governments can formulate political strategies and citizens can voice their opinions.
Communicating With Body Language
While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about communication channels, body language significantly influences how people understand one another. Body language consists of a human communicating to another person by moving his body or limbs in certain ways that help indicate and express his thoughts. Even when people are conversing face to face, both participants extract significant amounts of information from the other person's body language. Although the meaning of different movements can be different for each culture, a person who shrugs is generally indicating that he has no answer to a question, a roll of the eyes suggests disapproval of a statement and a nodding of the head usually conveys agreement with a statement. Additionally, by assessing body positions and movements, people can assess a person's emotional state to determine if they are happy, sad, uncomfortable, excited or angry.
Communicating With Written Language
A benefit regarding communication that separates humans from other animals is the ability of humans to express and articulate their thoughts by writing the ideas down on paper with a pen. Using codified language, other people can then read and understand the meaning of the words. Writing enables a person to document and share very complicated or lengthy ideas, to relay valuable information, to communicate with friends despite being separated by vast distances, to assert their opinions and to record recipes. Also, writing enhances the ability of scientists to discuss their theories and for artists to express their creative ideas. Furthermore, writing preserves a person's thoughts so the ideas can survive and have a lasting influence on multiple generations that follow. For example, because of writing, the ideas of Shakespeare, Galileo, Newton and Bach are still being appreciated centuries after they have died.
Formal vs. Informal Communication
Many cultures engage in formal and informal methods of communication. Formal refers to situations in which the communication standards are strictly established by cultural rules. For instance, many business and legal documents must be recorded in a specific manner, and people must abide by those guidelines when articulating their information. On the other hand, informal methods involve more relaxed styles in which the people communicating – verbally or nonverbally – are free to write or converse with each other without any strict rules attached to the style. For example, a discourse among close friends or a text message conversation are informal communication methods.