Business Communication: Types and Characteristics

February 17, 2020
Learn the different types of business communication that today's organizations are using in this article.

The professional world is made up of companies and business people, of course. But it also includes freelancers, small businesses, retailers, multinationals, and family businesses, among others. All of them are part of a group that uses the same basic and fundamental tool. We’re talking about business communication. Today, we’ll be talking about the different types and characteristics of this type of communication.

For businesses, aside from an appropriate organization, good internal communication will help all the parties involved work together. Only then can they most effectively reach their common goals. Outside of the company, it’s absolutely necessary (aside from being convenient) to have appropriate business communication. That’s because this is what the business is going to use to link up with government bodies, clients, suppliers, and others. In fact, a business’ success or failure is going to depend on their ability to communicate.

The importance of business communication

Since this is so incredibly important, let’s look at exactly what business communication is. In short, it’s a group of procedures that a company has for receiving and transmitting information that’s necessary for its smooth operation.

Companies transmit information on two levels. Firstly, there’s the internal level. That’s communication between people within the company. Specifically, these could be managers, departments, and employees, among others. The second level is the external level. This includes all of the external actors the company needs to interact with.

When there’s good business communication at all levels, organizations work excellently. That’s because all the people involved know what to do at any given moment. That has a lot of benefits. It tends to eliminate confusion, increase security, reduce errors, and encourage motivation and teamwork, among other benefits. As such, it improves productivity and helps resolve problems satisfactorily for everyone.

Types of business communication

“Having knowledge but lacking the power to express it clearly is no better than never having any ideas at all.”


Of course, not all businesses are the same. This means they have different needs. As such, they don’t use the same communication methods or channels. There are various types, just as there are various types of business people or businesses.

Internal and external

This is the foundation for everything. That’s why we mentioned it before. Internal communication occurs within the company and its various departments.

On the other hand, the external type occurs with all agents that are external to the company. These could be financial entities, clients, suppliers, and government organizations, among others.

Team members engaging in business communication with each other.

You have to take into account the hierarchical position of the sender and the receiver for this. In the case of ascending order, the sender is an employee. The receiver, in this case, is a superior. That’s because the message rises vertically from the bottom to the top. You take the hierarchical order into account.

Descending communication is when the superior speaks to the employee. That’s because it goes vertically from the top to the bottom. The latter is different because it involves communication between two people of the same rank in the organization. That’s why experts call it “horizontal communication”.

Unidirectional and bidirectional

Bidirectional communication is the most common and the one people use the most. Here, a minimum of two individuals are involved. There’s a sender and a receiver. Both of them exchange information.

On the other hand, when a superior gives an order, only the sender is taking an active role. That’s because there’s no interaction between the two of them. That’s why experts call it unidirectional communication.

Formal and informal

This last distinction depends on who the interacting parties are. Communication is formal when people within the company are communicating with those on the outside. This is especially true when they’re communicating with government organizations, financial entities, or external service providers. People tend to use a style of communication that’s more legal, serious, technical, and respectful in these cases.

Figures representing workers connected by lines.

On the other hand, when communication takes place between coworkers in the same company, it tends to be more colloquial and direct. That’s because it’s a more familiar environment. In that way, internally, the rules and protocols are more relaxed.

The characteristics of business communication

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”

-Peter Drucker-

The characteristics that define business communication are perfectly definable. They’re based on their correct usage as well as the goals you’re trying to reach. As such, you’ll establish them according to what you’re trying to achieve in your organization.

Nevertheless, there has to be communication in a business. As such, it needs to be sufficiently clear for the receiver to understand it. In fact, if it isn’t, communication loses all of its worth. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that properly sending and receiving a message is crucial. If you do this, you’ll minimize misunderstandings that can create a truly negative environment in a company.

Andrade, Horacio. (2005). Comunicación organizacional interna: proceso, disciplina y técnica. España: Gesbiblo, S. L.