Communication Process

Fig. 1.1 Communicative world and participants
Figure 1.1 Image depicting a communicative world and participants

Since communication is a central factor and a major consideration for anyone entering today’s workforce, understanding the communication process can help you become a better communicator.

Just what is communication?
For purpose of this study, communication is the transmission of information and meaning from one person or group to another.

Components of the Communication Process

The communication process is the steps we take that we might successfully communicate. A process is a systematic series of actions directed towards a predefined goal. Communication involves a two-way process in which there is an exchange and progression of ideas towards a mutually acceptable goal.

There are five components that describe the essential parts of the communication process. By analyzing them, we are better equipped to understand what happens when we communicate.

Components of Communication Process
Idea/MessageAn idea is a set of signs or symbols, such as wordsOpens in new window or gesturesOpens in new window.
Sender/EncoderA person who initiates and shares a message
Receiver/DecoderA person who receives and interprets a message
ChannelThe medium or vehicle which facilitates the sender to send a message, such as a letter, e-mail or speaking to someone face-to-face
FeedbackThe response of a receiver to a message, such as a comment or a nod of the head; it clarifies the message is understood as intended by the sender

The components occur almost simultaneously as the communication process evolves. This is illustrated in the diagram below.

Figure 1.2
Fig. 1.2 A model showing the Communication process
A model showing the communication process. The sender is the originator of the idea or message that is to be conveyed. The sender must choose the best way to convert the idea(s) or message(s) into words, diagrams, graphs, reports, and so on. This conversion process is known as encoding the message.

Before we delve in-depth into the five components of the communication process, let’s first examine the roles of the sender and receiver in the communication process.

Sender’s and Receiver’s Roles

The sender and the receiver have important responsibilities in the communication process. If both fulfill their roles, the communication will be conveyed successfully.

Sender’s Role

The communication process begins with the sender being the initiator of the message. The sender may be a writer, a speaker, or one who simply gestures. The sender’s role in the communication process includes:

Receiver's Role

The receiver is the listener, reader, or observer in the communication process. The receiver’s role includes:

  • listening or reading carefully,
  • being open to different types of senders and to new ideas,
  • making notes when necessary,
  • providing appropriate feedback to the sender, and
  • asking questions to clarify the message.
Important Hint! 

Remember, the sender has a greater responsibility for the success of communication than does the receiver. How you can successfully fulfil your role as the initiator of the communication processs is discussed in-depth hereOpens in new window.

Now, we shed more light to give us in-depth understanding of the communication process

  1. Sender has Message
    The process of communication begins when the sender or person with whom the communication originates has a message.

    The message is the information that is being passed on during the communication process. It is the knowledge, ideas, feelings or emotions sent from the sender to the receiver to achieve understanding.

    For effective communication to be accomplished, sender should:
    clarify the idea
    contemplate and decide on purpose of message
    analyze the idea and how it can best be presented
    anticipate effect on receiver
  2. Sender Encodes Idea in Message
    The next step in the communication process is encodingOpens in new window, done by the sender—person who creates and shares a message. To encode is to turn a message into a series of meaningful words and codes. Before the message can be sent to the receiver, the sender needs to encode the message. Because it’s the sender who initiates the communication process, he/she is primarily responsible for its success or failure. Thus, choosing the appropriate words or signs is the first step to ensuring effective communication.

    For effective communication to be accomplished, sender should:
    consider receiver’s background, communication skills, experience, culture, as well as context
    choose concrete words and appropriate symbols
    encourage feedback
  3. Message Travels Over Channel
    The medium over which the message is physically transmitted is the channelOpens in new window. To send messages, people speak and write. To receive messages, people listen and read.

    Letters and reports are common channels for written messages. Face-to-face conversations and telephone calls are common channels for spoken messages. E-mail and voice mail are common channels for written and spoken electronic messages. Nowadays messages are increasingly carried over digital networks with huge tendency for distraction and breakdown.

    For effective communication to be accomplished, sender should

    consider importance of message, getting feedback, interactivity
    choose a channel that the receiver prefers
    make effort to reduce channel noise and distractions by thinking possible ways to do so
    be aware of competing messages
  4. Important Hint! 
    Note that a sender may use more than one channel to send a message. For example, a phone call may be followed by an e-mail to provide further details.
  5. Receiver Decodes Message
    The individual to whom the message is intended is the receiver. Translating the message from its sign format into meaning is what is called decodingOpens in new window. Only when the receiver understands the meaning intended by the sender (i.e., successfully decodes the message) does communication take place. Such success is often difficult because factors such as education, opinions, and emotional states shape how a receiver interprets a message.

    For effective communication to be accomplished, receiver should: avoid prejudging message
    strive to understand both verbal and nonverbal cues
    avoid distractions
    create receptive environment
    expect to learn
  6. Feedback Travels to Sender
    Feedbacks, an important component in the communication, is the response of a receiver to a message. Feedback can be nonverbal (a smile or a nod of the head) or it can be verbal (a comment related to the message). Any response—even no response—is feedback.

    Feedback is important because it helps the sender know that the message was received and understood. Senders can encourage feedback by asking questions such as “Am I making myself clear?” and “Is there anything you don’t understand?” Senders can further improve feedback by timing the delivery appropriately and by providing only as much information as the receiver can handle.

    Receivers improve the communication process by providing clear and complete feedback. In the business world, one of the best ways to advance understanding is to paraphrase the sender’s message with comments such as “Let me try to explain that in my own words.”

    For effective communication to be accomplished, receiver should:
    craft clear and complete response that reveals comprehension of message meaning
    begin the cycle again when the receiver becomes the sender with the same concerns