What is communication? Definition and examples

Communication involves conveying, imparting, or exchanging information and meanings by uttering sounds (speaking), writing, or another medium. One entity or group conveys information to another using signs, symbols, and sounds that they understand.

Bees communication image 4444
Bees do a waggle dance to communicate the location of rewarding flowers.

Put simply; is the act of sending information from one individual, group, or place to another. The term individual, in this case, may mean a human being, animal, or smart device, i.e., a computer or robot with artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence or AI refers to software that makes smart machines think and behave like humans.

All acts of communication must have these three components:

  • Typically one sender.
  • A message.
  • At least one receiver or recipient.

It is a two-way process of reaching mutual understanding, in which participants not only exchange (encode-decode) information, news, ideas and feelings but also create and share meaning.

In business, it is a key function of management–an organization cannot operate without communication between levels, departments and employees.

Telecommunication(s) means communicating over long distances, such as by phone, email, fax, or texting.

Three steps of communication

There are three basic steps when one person communicates with another:

1. The thought

This is the theme or subject of the data in the sender’s mind. Before we communicate an idea, emotion, etc., we think about it.

2. Encoding

This involves transforming the thought into spoken or written words, Morse code, the Semaphore flag signaling system, sign language, or some other type of code. We need a code because we are unable to transmit our thoughts telepathically.

3. Decoding

When the recipient receives the encoded message, they listen to or read it. They decode the uttered sounds or written words, i.e., they interpret or process the information. Decoding is necessary for the recipient to understand the message. If I don’t speak the language of the sender, unless I have a translator I won’t be able to decode the message, i.e., I won’t be able to understand it.

One-way and two-way communication

One way and two way image 49392939495


When I am reading an article in a printed newspaper, the writer is the sender, the article is the message, and I am the recipient. This is an example of one-way communication. I do not respond to the writer’s message (some parts of a newspaper, such as the ‘write to the editor section,’ are two-way).


When receiving a spoken message face-to-face with someone or on the telephone, I (recipient) respond. In this case, the communication moves in two directions. This is an example of two-way communication.

People can communicate with more than just one sender and receiver. If we are talking in a group, there are several senders and recipients. A group chat on, for example, Skype has several participants. However, when one person in that group is speaking, during that exact moment there is just one message and several recipients.

One of the few ways we can have several individuals sending one message is, for example, if they chant it. When the congregation in a temple is praying out loud, there is one message and several senders. A letter signed by a group of people also has several senders.

Verbal and non-verbal communication


When communication is verbal, it involves speech, i.e., we utter sounds as we express our thoughts. When I’m listening to the news on the radio, this is an example of one-way verbal communication. The radio station is the sender, the news items are the messages, and I am the recipient.

People with good verbal communication skills can become good public speakers, presenters, salespeople, news announcers, and actors.

When a bird sees a cat, it may utter a distress signal, which other birds understand means danger or hide. This is also an example of verbal communication.


There are many types of non-verbal communication, including writing, Morse code, communicating with flags, and smoke. Our facial expressions, body position, and hand and arm movements convey information to the listener. The technical term for body language is kinesic communication.

In a previous Market Business News article, I wrote:

“Kinesics or kinesic communication is all about communication through body movements, such as gestures and facial expressions. It is all about non-verbal behavior using any part of the body. It also includes communicating using the body as a whole.”

Business success

Communication 11121000For business success, good internal and external communication is crucial. It allows a commercial enterprise to foster productive working relationships, a good brand image, and a growing base of loyal customers. Unfortunately, many business leaders assume that communicating effectively happens naturally. This is not always the case.

In a Market Business News article about communicating for business success, Joseph Nordqvist wrote:

“Managers with strong communication skills can guide and develop their team to achieve personal and business goals. They can provide feedback and support regarding specific tasks and quickly identify any issues or training needs.”

If the workplace has an open and positive culture, employees are more likely to report problems or ask for help. Communicating effectively helps cultivate a knowledgeable and skilled workforce.