The Different Elements in The Process of Communication
The very foundation of communication process is laid by the person who transmits or sends the message. He is the sender of the message which may be a thought, idea, a picture, symbol, report or an order and postures and gestures, even a momentary smile. The sender is therefore the initiator of the message that need to be transmitted. After having generated the idea, information etc. the sender encodes it in such a manner that can be well-understood by the receiver.
Message is referred to as the information conveyed by words as in speech and write-ups, signs, pictures or symbols depending upon the situation and the nature and importance of information desired to be sent. Message is the heart of communication. It is the content the sender wants to covey to the receiver. It can be verbal both written and spoken; or non-verbal i.e. pictorial or symbolic, etc.
Encoding is putting the targeted message into appropriate medium which may be verbal or non-verbal depending upon the situation, time, space and nature of the message to be sent. The sender puts the message into a series of symbols, pictures or words which will be communicated to the intended receiver. Encoding is an important step in the communication process as wrong and inappropriate encoding may defeat the true intent of the communication process.
Channel(s) refers to the way or mode the message flows or is transmitted through. The message is transmitted over a channel that links the sender with the receiver. The message may be oral or written and it may be transmitted through a memorandum, a computer, telephone, cell phone, apps or televisions.
Since each channel has its advantages and disadvantages, the choice of proper selection of the channel is paramount for effective communication.
Receiver is the person or group who the message is meant for. He may be a listener, a reader or a viewer. Any negligence on the part of the receiver may make the communication ineffective. The receiver needs to comprehend the message sent in the best possible manner such that the true intent of the communication is attained. The extent to which the receiver decodes the message depends on his/her knowledge of the subject matter of the message, experience, trust and relationship with the sender.
The receiver is as significant a factor in communication process as the sender is. It is the other end of the process. The receiver should be in fit condition to receive the message, that is, he/she should have channel of communication active and should not be preoccupied with other thoughts that might cause him/her to pay insufficient attention to the message.
Decoding refers to interpreting or converting the sent message into intelligible language. It simply means comprehending the message. The receiver after receiving the message interprets it and tries to understand it in the best possible manner.
Feedback is the ultimate aspect of communication process. It refers to the response of the receiver as to the message sent to him/her by the sender. Feedback is necessary to ensure that the message has been effectively encoded, sent, decoded and comprehended.
It is the final step of the communication process and establishes that the receiver has received the message in its letter and spirit. In other words, the receiver has correctly interpreted the message as it was intended by the sender. It is instrumental to make communication effective and purposeful.
Consider the following points related to the feedback involved in the process of communication:
- It enhances the effectiveness of the communication as it permits the sender to know the efficacy of his message.
- It enables the sender to know if his/her message has been properly comprehended.
- The analysis of feedbacks helps improve future messages. Feedback, like the message, can be verbal or nonverbal and transmitted through carefully chosen channel of communication.
- We can represent the above steps in a model as the model of communication process.
Types of Feedback
Kevin Eujeberry, the world famous leadership exponent mentioned the four types of feedback. The types are as follows:
- Negative Feedback or corrective comments about past behavior
- Positive Feedback or affirming comments about future behavior
- Negative feedforward or corrective comments about future behavior
- Positive feedforward or affirming comments about future behavior
The Model of Communication Process
The process of communication, however, is not as smooth or barrier-free as it seems. From its transmission to receipt, the message may get interfered or disturbed with at any stage by many factors which are known as barriers to effective communication. One of the factors is poor choice of communication method. In addition to a poor choice of communication method, other barriers to effective communication include noise and other physical distractions, language problems, and failure to recognize nonverbal signals. We will discuss these barriers of communication in a subsequent chapter.