Today’s post is the first of a series dedicated to communication as an art form.  No – not written communication, though some of what I will say may apply, but oral communication. 

Communication is one of the cornerstones of relationships.  The way in which we talk to one another often determines how successful our relationships will be.  This can be especially true with regards to the communication that occurs between parent and child.

This post will examine the most common types of communication.  Future posts will address the roadblocks we often encounter when trying to communicate with one another and ways to improve our communication skills.

So, what is communication – really?  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines communication as “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs or behavior (”  In other words, the way we exchange information with one another.   

Communication can be broken into 2 main types:

·         Verbal

·         Nonverbal

Verbal communication requires the spoken word (obviously) whereas nonverbal communication involves gestures, facial expressions and pictures.  Most communication is accomplished nonverbally and yet we tend to ignore that aspect of communication.

The subtypes of communication include the following:    

·         Open and closed

·         Positive and negative

·         Effective and ineffective

Open communication occurs when all parties are able to express ideas to one another, such as in a conversation or debate.  Many relationships utilize open communication.  Closed communication occurs when only one party is actively communicating, such as when we lecture or present rules to our children.

All communication can also be positive or negative.  Positive communication happens when all parties involved in the exchange feel heard and emotional intact.  Some examples would include active listening, reflective listening, and the use of “I” statements (i.e. – “I feel really frustrated when…” vs. “You are so frustrating because…”).  Negative communication leaves people feeling belittled and attacked in some way.  Yelling, name calling and arguing are all examples of negative forms of communication.

Communication can also be effective or ineffective with regards to outcome.  When we teach our children (or critique each others’ work when writing) we are typically demonstrating effective communication – all parties walk away from the exchange having received a desired outcome – hopefully.  Arguing is an ineffective method of communication, as are most forms of closed communication.

Ideally, we want to strive for open communication (2-way exchange) that is positive (leaves everyone feeling emotionally OK) and effective (results in the desired outcome).  Relationships grow and blossom when we master our communication techniques. 

Next post will focus on the typical things that prevent use from achieving strong communication in our lives.

On an aside…I want to personally thank those people in my life – my family, my friends and my critique groups (you guys know who you are) for the wonderful examples of GREAT communication they provide on a daily basis.  You make my life much more fulfilling.


Please leave a comment – I love to hear from people J



5 thoughts on “The Art of Communication, Part I: A Definition

  1. Enjoyed reading your comments on communication! This is a passion of my husband and mine. In fact, he recently wrote a book that teaches the reader how to listen reflectively. Check out “Please Listen to Me!” by author Dick Fetzer. Available at many online stores or by contacting the publisher at

  2. First of all I would like to say fantastic blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your head prior to writing. I’ve had difficulty clearing my thoughts in
    getting my ideas out there. I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10
    to 15 minutes tend to be wasted just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any recommendations or hints? Cheers!

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