Communication Skills Definition: Glossary of Terms

MBM Glossaries: Communication Skills Definition

This glossary contains our Communication Skills definition and a list of terms frequently used when discussing the field of Communication Skills. Meanwhile, for an in-depth guide to how your business can benefit from better communication, visit our Ultimate Guide to Communication Skills.

Active Listening

Being fully engaged and participating in the listening process to understand the message. In particular, the listener will often ask open-ended questions to show interest, comprehension and to clarify any details.


A philosopher and scientist from ancient Greece, Aristotle is, usually, considered the father of Western Philosophy.  

Aristotle Model of Communication

This model of communication is linear and focuses on the speaker and his/her speech. In particular, it is divided into five elements: speaker, speech, occasion, audience, and effect.


The thinking that people already know certain things. In truth, assuming an audience or subordinates understand exactly what you mean can lead to miscommunication and undesired results.


The intended listeners of a piece of communication.

Body Language

Nonverbal communication that sends messages through haptics or touch, gestures, and facial expressions.

Business Communication

A type of communication in an organisation that is intended to convey information through a variety of channels. Usually, these carefully crafted pieces of communication can cover topics relevant to the business’ interests and are sent to media channels for their intended audience.


Industry-specific words and jargon. Usually, excessive use of these can be ostracising or, also, can appear false to an audience.


Mediums or places where communication can flow.


An overused storyline, thought or stereotype that has begun to lose its meaning, in particular, because it has been used too much.


Informal words, expressions, or phrases that are typically used in familiar and less professional settings.

Communication Barriers

Things that inhibit the full understanding of a message. In particular, these barriers can be environmental, cultural, semantic, or psychological.

Communication Skills

The ability to successfully get a message across and have it understood by the intended audience. Indeed, the history of Communication Skills came even before proper language was developed. To illustrate, some of the first evidence of humans communicating was through cave paintings that have been dated as far back as 40,800 years ago. Of course, since the creation of language, progress has been significant due to effective communication and the ability to document history in more detail whether through oral traditions or written mediums.

Corporate Communication

Internal and external communications that are aimed at improving and strengthening, in particular, a corporation’s image.

Corporate Image

Usually, the reputation of an organisation upholds.

Cultural Barriers

Barriers in communication brought about by cultural differences.

Culture of Listening

A team-wide or company-wide culture that, usually, promotes active listening to complaints, feedback, and criticism. In particular, this is important when dealing with disgruntled clients and in creating client loyalty.


Understanding and interpreting a message including implied thoughts or emotions.

Diffusion of Innovation Theory

First appeared in Dr Everett Roger’s book “Diffusion of Innovation” in 1962. In particular, the theory explores how ideas and innovations are spread across an audience.

Downward Communication

Communication from an organisation’s leaders sent, usually, to their subordinates.


A person (or group of people) that proofreads organisational communications, in particular, to find and correct errors.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand and respond to another person’s emotions, motivations, and needs.

Environmental Barrier

Physical barriers that may hinder a listener’s understanding of a message. Specifically, this could be the time it takes to convey the message, the time and place it of delivery, space, and the medium used.

Facial Expression

The emotions an individual’s face conveys based on their facial contortions. In particular, a facial expression is a form of nonverbal communication.


Flawed arguments that are not based on the rules of logic.


An evaluation of how effective a piece of communication is. Specifically, it will consider issues of comprehension, the attitudes of the listener, and suggested improvements. For this purpose, feedback is often collected via surveys, performance appraisals, or from clients or vendors.

Good Eye Contact

The gentle meeting of eyes that help hold an audience’s attention and gauge their comprehension.


Communication through touch. Indeed, this is communication in its most basic form where a touch can convey feelings such as encouragement, hostility, or attraction.

Harold Lasswell

A communication theorist and political theorist famous for his model of communication. In particular, Lasswell is well-known for his studies in political campaigns and translating those findings into the Lasswell’s Model of Communication.

Interpersonal Communication

Face-to-face communication. It can be between two or more people

Lasswell’s Model of Communication

A model of communication that aims to understand the effect of the speaker to his/her audience. In particular, it focuses on the Who, the message, the channel, the audience, and the effect it has.

Mental Model of Communication

First explored by Kenneth Craik in his book published in 1943. In particular, the mental model represents the thought process of the human mind. Furthermore, these act as an internal scale on how an individual will evaluate and decide on what they see.


When communication uses different channels including verbal, nonverbal, written, or electronic. Usually, this allows the communicator to reach a wider audience.


External, psychological, and physiological factors that can disrupt the delivery and understanding of a message.

Non-Verbal Communication

Facial expressions and body language that communicates how a person feels about a situation or an idea presented to them.

Open Door Policy

The encouragement of communication from different levels of an organisation regardless of the department, position, or hierarchy.


One of the most important traits in communication skills is the patience to help your audience listen, build trust and, of course, understand your message.


A personified representative that uses data from a set of target demographics to help communicators understand their needs and from there, tweak their approach and their message.

Plain Language

Short and simplified use of language to better reach out to an audience. In particular, the plain language uses the active voice, bullet points, lists, and avoids complex words.

Psychological Barriers

Barriers or blockages created by the receiver’s current mental state and attitudes.


Ordinary people; or the wider community.


How easy or difficult it is to read a piece of written content. Specifically, this depends on the size of the content, choice of words, images, and its arrangement.

Red Herring

The use of irrelevant information specifically to divert the attention of the public from a pressing issue.

Semantic Barriers

Barriers in communication that is, specifically, dependent on an individual’s mastery of the language and the type of connotations and context depending on their level of understanding.

Success Model of Communication

Developed and popularised by brothers Chip Heath and Dan Heath in their book ‘Made to Stick’. In particular, this model uses six principles to improve communication: Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotion, and Stories.

Target Audience

The group of people that your message intends to reach.

Team Building

Activities meant to strengthen ties, encourage rapport and collaboration within teams.


The emotion or expressions implied when communicating both on written and verbal. In particular, tone represents how a message is communicated. For example, it can be friendly, humorous, authoritative, or insincere.

Trust Model of Communication

Building rapport and trust with your audience, specifically, to foster a more effective means of communication.

Two-Way Communication

When both message sender and receiver listens and responds to each other.

Upward Communication

Messages sent, in particular, from subordinates to higher-level management in the organisation.

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