There are 5 types of communication needed to start and continue a relationship: optical, auditory, emotional, nonverbal, and verbal. From the time you see someone to the time you speak to someone, seconds of communication have already happened.

Communication, in the simplest form, is sending out a message and receiving it. Messages sent out take place in several different ways. Once you understand and learn to apply all 5 of these types of communication, you will be a master at getting and keeping solid personal and professional relationships.

1. Optical

Optical communication is “seeing” someone, having your sights set on someone, and noticing the existence of someone. The moment your peepers see another person and their peepers see you, the optical type of communication begins.

You see what they look like, what they are wearing, the hairdo, the facial expression, their body position, their body type, and instantly have thoughts like, “I like what I see,” or “I will look elsewhere.” If you like what you see and the other person likes what they see, then another decision as to “the next step” takes place. You or the other person will find a way to get closer and begin the second type of communication.

2. Auditory

Auditory communication is (in my opinion) the most important of all 5 types. This is the listening communication.

Wait, you mean to say that listening is communicating? I thought speaking is communicating?

Well, let me answer this question with asking you this: have you ever said something like “my dog just died,” and the other person replied with “that’s nice”? Why would anyone say it is nice that your dog died? Because they were not listening, they were not tuned in, and they were not interested. How did that make you feel? Do you think you would have gotten a better response had the person been “tuned in” and listened to what you said? You bet the response would have been more appropriate—this emphasizes the need for listening. When you are tuned in and listen to the other person, you are more likely to pick up on another type of communication: emotional.

3. Emotional

Emotional communication is so important to all aspects of beginning and moving forward in a relationship, so much so that Facebook finally caught up with the 5 additional reaction emojis to its “Like” button. These buttons allow a person to “react with emotion” to a post with more than just “like.” They can now express love, laughter, anger, sadness, and amazement.

Why is it so important for Facebook to make this change to their “Like” button? For the same reason that I mentioned before with the example of the dog. The person in that example said “that’s nice,” and you were no doubt hurt that they reacted in a way that demonstrated inattentiveness and not listening. With these 5 emojis, people can react emotionally and more appropriately to messages that are posted. Now, when you post that your dog died, rather than receiving “likes,” you’ll get the “sad emoji,” letting you know that others care.

Can you see that emotional communication really matters in a relationship? Whether it be a personal or professional relationship, an appropriate response will more likely keep that relationship moving forward.

4. Non-Verbal

Non-verbal communication includes tone of voice, pauses, rate of speech, facial expressions, body positions (i.e. crossed arms)—even walking away is a type of non-verbal communication. If you are speaking to someone and they smile, you will likely feel affirmed and that things are going well. If someone frowns in reaction to what you said, you get the message that someone disagrees with what you said. Non-verbal cues impact the understanding of what spoken and unspoken communication is taking place between people in a relationship.

5. Verbal

Verbal communication is using language in the form of sentences, phrases, and dialogue—but everyone already knows this, right?

In reality, it is much more than that. The words spoken can be misunderstood. However, there is a way to keep your words from being misunderstood. Speak and watch for clues of acceptance. If you are really attentive, you can use words in your sentences, phrases, and dialogues that resonate more positively with the other person and will lead to a positive communication experience. A positive communication experience will lead to more positive experiences. This means more enjoyable interactions that will help to maintain the relationship and keep it moving forward.

By now, you have a more holistic approach to communicating in a relationship. Here is a hint: speak to the other person with expressions and be watchful for clues in the way the other person looks, listens, and reacts to you. Also, after reading this article, you have a better understanding of what to do to start and stay in a relationship—and so will your partner after you share this article with them!

Featured photo credit: Angelo González via

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