Communication Process: Meaning, Elements, Types and Barriers 



Communication is the process of exchange of ideas among two or more people to develop a common level of understanding between each other.

It involves transferring facts, figures, or information via a medium to another person or group. Every person has a different ability to perceive information. 

Communication can be broadly categorized into three types : 

i) Verbal Communication: It involves face-to-face communication or interaction through calls, radio, media, or video calls – something that involves the exchange of words verbally. 

ii) Written Communication: It involves communication through a letter, emails, or social media platforms. 

iii) Non-Verbal Communication: It involves the communication of ideas through gestures, facial expressions, emotions, body language, etc.


Communication seems to be a simple process but in reality, it is a complex phenomenon inclusive of various elements. 

The elements involved in effective communication are: 

i) Sender/Source: As the name suggests, the sender is the source that initiates the communication. The sender forms the backdrop of the entire communication as the entire information is based on how the sender conveys the message. 

ii) Message: Message is called the heart of communication. It is the content that the sender is delivering to the receiver. The right interpretation of the message succeeds the motive of the entire communication. However, its wrong understanding can distort the whole communication process. 

iii) Encoding: The message so delivered is conveyed in the form of email, text, or gesture. Thus, Encoding refers to the sign and symbol via which the message is being passed. 

iv) Media: Media is the route through which a message is passed. For example: Radio, transmitter, Television, mobile phone, etc. 

v) Decoding: Decoding refers to the process of unfolding the message of the sender. 

vi) Receiver: The receiver is the person(or group of persons) who is meant for collecting the message from the sender. 

vii) Feedback: Once the message is delivered to the receiver and he has effectively decoded it, he gestures to it with certain actions of “thank you!”, “received”, etc to confirm the delivery and understanding of the message. 

viii) Noise: All the verbal or non-verbal obstructions caused during the transmission of a message to the other party are called noise. Noise can be in the form of poor connection in backdrop, unavoidable gestures of speaker, misinterpreted decoding of Receiver, etc.


There are two types of communication:

i) Formal

ii) Informal 

Formal Communication

Formal communication is a form of communication followed by corporates and firms to maintain organizational discipline. It flows from superior to subordinate in a hierarchical form. It may be in the form of a Formal letter, notice, meeting, or seminar-driven interaction. 

Furthermore, there are various formal networks of communication like single chain, wheel, circular, etc. 

In all these types of communication channels, the source is superior whereas other parallel networks are subordinates. 

Informal Communication

A form of communication followed among friends, relatives, and acquaintances is called Informal communication. Informal communication may also entail in corporations during tea breaks, lunchtime, etc where employees meet, chit-chat, and talk on matters outside the organization. 

The Informal networks of communication are gossip networks, probability network, cluster network, etc, where one employee randomly speaks to other employees.

BasisFormal CommunicationInformal Communication
MeaningCommunication between superior and subordinatesCommunication among friends and relatives.
ObjectiveTo achieve organizational discipline and decency.To meet personal interests
Speed Slow, steady and accurateFast and mostly, inaccurate
Direction Hierarchical Scattered


Many times, there are communication breakdowns, distortions, or faulty delivery of messages which convey wrong information to the receiver. All these clubbed together are called communication barriers. 

Mainly, there are three types of barriers to communication: 

i) Semantic Barriers: The term semantic means language-related. 

When the sender is unable to encode the message properly or the receiver fails to decode it correctly, there occur semantic barriers.

Improper usage of words or vocabulary can make sentences intend differently, and thus, it leaves a bad impression on the receiver. 

Semantic barriers can also occur due to indecent body language, technical jargon, or unwanted gestures by the sender of the message.

ii) Psychological Barriers: These kinds of communication barriers occur when there is distrust between sender and receiver or when the receiver makes predetermined assumptions about the message. 

iii) Organizational Barriers: Sometimes employees fail to understand the firm’s policy, payroll, or rules & regulations and end up making mistakes. Complexity in organizational structure and multiple sources for the flow of information may also confuse the employees and hamper effective communication processes.