Overview of Communication

Jennifer Lapum; Oona St-Amant; Michelle Hughes; and Joy Garmaise-Yee

When you think of communication, talking to another person or texting them might come to mind first. However, while talking and texting are methods of communication delivery, they are not representative of a comprehensive definition of communication.

A more comprehensive understanding of communication refers to the sharing of information, ideas, and feelings, typically aimed at mutual understanding. In this way, you must consider the sender, the recipient, and the transaction. Simply put, the sender is the person sharing the message, the recipient is the person receiving and interpreting the message, and the transaction is the way that the message is delivered and the factors that influence the context and environment of the communication. As you can see, communication is a complex process. It involves more than just what you say and takes many forms as reflected in Figure 1.1.


Figure 1.1: Forms of communication.


There are three types of communication:

  • Verbal communication
    • Verbal communication is oral communication that happens through spoken words, sounds, vocal intonation, and pace. It can occur face-to-face, one-on-one, or in groups, over the telephone, or video conferencing. As a nurse, you will engage in verbal communication with clients, families, colleagues, and interprofessional teams.
  • Non-verbal communication
    • Non-verbal communication is a type of communication that occurs through facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, and body positions and movements. As a nurse, you will learn that your non-verbal communication is important because it can both reinforce or contradict what you say verbally. Additionally, non-verbal communication is used more often than verbal communication. Thus, you must become aware of your non-verbal communication.
  • Written communication
    • Written communication is a type of communication that occurs through written words, symbols, pictures, and diagrams. You are probably familiar with some informal, written types of communication, such as texting or emailing someone, posting a picture on Instagram, or using an emoji in Twitter. You may also have engaged in more scholarly forms of written communication such as letters and papers. As a nurse, written communication also involves documentation notes and scholarly writing like essays, peer-reviewed publications, protocols, practice standards, and best practice guidelines. You may not be familiar with some of these types of written communication yet, but you will become more acquainted with them over the course of your nursing program.



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Overview of Communication Copyright © 2021 by Jennifer Lapum; Oona St-Amant; Michelle Hughes; and Joy Garmaise-Yee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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