Such communication types are associated with the formal organization structure. Communication travels through the formal channel—we very often hear the phrase ‘through proper channel’, it explains the essence of the formal channel. This is a deliberate attempt to regulate the flow of organizational communication so as to make it orderly and thereby to ensure that information flows smoothly, accurately and timely. This formal channel is the path of line authority linking the position to its line superior. It is also known as a ‘Channel of Command’. Its implication is that all communication to and from a position should flow through the line superior or subordinate only, i.e., through the scalar chain. This type of formal communication is known as ‘single-path communication’. There may be ‘multiple channel communication’ which improves communication through more than one path at a time.
The following are the advantages of formal communication:
(a) It helps maintain the authority of line officers who control the subordinates and fixes the responsibility for the activities done.
(b) An immediate superior has a direct contact with his subordinates. It helps understand the attitude and behavior of each other well.
(c) Since an officer knows better about the organization and his subordinates, solution of problems become easy.
The formal communication has the following disadvantages too:
(a) It increases the workload of the line superiors because all communications are transmitted through them. It leaves no time to perform other functions well.
(b) It enhances the chances of more transmission errors and reduces the accuracy of the message.
(c) It is not good for upward communication because officers overlook the interest of their subordinates. It implies delay tactics and red-tapism.
(d) It has generally happened that the contact of distant subordinates with the topmost superior are far and remote. They do not even recognize each other. It adversely affects the relationship.
2. Informal Communication:
Such communication types are free from all formalities because they are based on the informal relationship between the parties. Such communication includes comments, suggestions or any other informal reactions. Such communication types are also called ‘grapevine communication’. They may be conveyed by a simple glance, gesture, nod, smile or silence too. It is not the result of any official action but of the operation of personal, social and group relations of the people. Informal communication is unplanned but may follow a predictable pattern.
These are the following advantages of this communication types:
(a) Communication is always transmitted at a greater speed and is more flexible.
(b) It is dynamic and reacts quickly to its changing environment.
(c) It meets the social needs of people which are not met by formal communication.
(d) It provides a means for exchange of mutually beneficial information between people who are not linked through formal channels.
These are the following limitations of this type of communication system:
(a) It is less orderly and less static, any action taken on the basis of such communication may be erratic and may lead the organization in difficulty.
(b) It very often carries half-truth, rumors, and distorted information and it is difficult to fix the responsibility of such erratic information.
According to Direction of Communication
According to a direction of communication, the communication types may be of following three types:
1. Downward communication: Communication which flows from the superiors to subordinates with the help of scalar chain is known as downward communication. They include orders, instruction, rules, policies, programs and directions, etc. Their nature is directive.
2. Upward communication: Upward communications are the just reverse of the downward communications. Feedback to the higher authorities by the lower level is an upward communication. It flows from the subordinates to their superiors through the line. Such communication includes suggestions, opinions, reactions, complaints, and grievance, etc. Generally, this type of communication is ignored by the superior but in modern times it is regarded as the main source of motivation in employees.
3. Horizontal communication: It refers to the transmission of information among positions of the same level, i.e. when communication takes place between two or more persons of the same level under the same superior, it is known as horizontal communication. Such communication is to co-ordinate the efforts of the persons working in various departments. It removes duplication of work and thus minimizes the wastage of time, money and labor.
According to Way of Expression
On the basis of their expression communication types may be divided into two categories—oral and written.
1. Oral communication: Transmission with the help of spoken words is a common system of communication. In oral communication, both parties in the process exchange their ideas through oral words either face-to-face or through any mechanical device such as telephone, etc. Meetings, lectures, conferences are some other media of such communication.
The following are the main advantages of oral communication:
(a) It saves time and money.
(b) It is more effective. Gesture, tones, and facial expression make the communication effective and efficient.
(c) The communicator knows the reaction of the communicate. They may even clear the doubts, if any, in the minds of others party.
(d) It is the only way out during emergencies.
(e) It is more convenient to measure the effect of communication. The communicator can easily guess whether the recipient is following him or not.
Oral or verbal communication is, however, not suitable in the following cases:
(a) If the message to be conveyed is too lengthy to clarify, the oral communication is not suitable.
(b) The impact of verbal communication is temporary. There is no documentary proof of such communication.
(c) An immediate decision is to be taken by the recipient. There is no time for serious thought to be given to communication.
(d) There is a possibility that the spoken words are not clearly heard or understood or taken in some other sense.
(e) If the two persons, communicator, and communicatee, are at places far away from one another, communication becomes difficult. Though telephone conversation may be had but it cannot be considered to be a reliable way.
(f) Verbal communication will not serve the purpose if the message or communication, is required to be kept on record.
2. Written communication:
When communication is reduced into black and white, it is called written communication. This includes written words, graphs, charts, diagrams, pictures, etc. This is the most common form of communication used in the organization.
The following are the advantages of written communication:
(a) Written communication is the only means of communication when both the parties are far off even beyond the telephonic range.
(b) Written communication is the only way out if a message is too lengthy and meant for a large number of persons.
(c) Written communication may be stored and recorded for future references. Suitable actions can be taken on the subordinates for not following the communication.
(d) It gives time to the recipient to think, to analyze and then decide the course of action.
(e) It reduces disputes, jurisdictions, friction and back passing.
The following are the main limitations of written communication:
(a) It is costly and time-consuming both in terms of preparation of drafts and in terms of understanding.
(b) Everything cannot be put in black and white.
(c) It cannot remain confidential.
(d) It is not flexible. It results in red-tapism.