Sender's Role

Sender-Based Approaches to Eliminate Communication Barriers

SenderOpens in new window and receiverOpens in new window both share an equal responsibility in attaining perfect communication. However, a sender, being the initiator of the communication, plays a more active role. The sender may be a writer, a speaker, or one who simply gesturesOpens in new window.

Some measures that a sender should ensure at his or her end in this regard are:

  • selecting the type of message,
  • selecting the appropriate channel
  • analyzing the receiver,
  • using the you-viewpointOpens in new window,
  • facilitating feedback, and
  • Maintaining verbal and non-verbal congruence

We examine each of these as the discussion progresses.

Selecting the Type of Message

To be able to select the appropriate type of message, sender must know the prevailing communication types and channels.

Communication Types
Communication can occur verbally and nonverbally. Verbal communication consists in the use of words and includes both written and oral messages; nonverbal communication makes no use of words but includes the use signs or cues such as body movementOpens in new window, eye contactOpens in new window, facial expressionOpens in new window, to name but a few. You can learn more about nonverbal communication hereOpens in new window.

Senders must consider several things as they prepare to select the type of message they will send and the channel through which they will send it. Answering the questions listed in the Important Hints feature will help you make those choices.

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Important Hint! 

Selecting Message Type

When you want to select the type of message and the channel with which to send the message through, you might ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I need or want a permanent record of this communication?
    If your answer is yes, you might choose a letter, a memo, an e-mail, or a report. Written messages often wield historic and legal value. Put into writing only those messages you would be comfortable having read by others inside your organization or in a public forum—such as a courtroom.
  • Will my receiver(s) readily accept the message?
    If yes, a written message is fine to go with. If no, choose an oral message. The ability to convey emotion and to react to feedback make face-to-face oral message the right option for persuading receivers or conveying bad news. The size of and proximity of the audience should also be a considering factor.
  • Where and how large is the audience for the message?
    Face-to-face oral communication can be effective if the sender and receiver(s) are in the same location. A telephone call may work if the number of receivers is small. Written communication works best when it is impractical to bring receivers together or when the message doesn’t warrant the personal touch of face-to-face communication.
  • Is the message long or complex?
    If yes, select written communication. You should draft and revise the message before it is sent, so the receiver can refer to it as often as necessary to understand the message.
  • Do I need immediate feedback?
    Use face-to-face or telephone communication for urgent messages or when immediate feedback is important. In some cases, e-mail and fax may be viable alternatives. Letters or memos are often used to confirm messages conveyed orally.
  • Is credibility a concern?
    Written messages are perceived as being more credible than oral messages. E-mails have less credibility than documents displayed on an organization’s letterhead or presented as a report.
Selection of appropriate channel

Communications generally travel from the sender to the receiver(s) through channels. It is important to select the correct channel to suit the message type. A message possessing valid content but delivered through a wrong channel may not get the result it would have otherwise got.

Written message channels include memos, letters, e-mail, web pages, notes, reports, telegrams, newsletters, and news releases. Oral message channels can occur in many forms, including face-to-face conversations, telephone conversations, voice mail, in-person conferences, video conferences, and speeches.

Nonverbal messages can be conveyed by both humans and objects. The human channels through which these messages pass include gestures and facial expressions. Object-based nonverbal message channels include the appearance and layout of a document and the audio and visual clarity of a videotaped presentation. Nonverbal communication is a compelling complement to verbal communication. When there is a conflict between a speaker’s words and actions or between a document’s contents and appearance, the receiver will most likely believe the nonverbal message.

Analyzing the Receiver

Analyzing the receivers involves finding out why they are receiving the message and how you can best satisfy their needs and requirements. People are different based on their educational background, culture, experience, to name but a few. There can be no two receivers alike.

You must learn as much as possible about how a particular receiver or group of receivers thinks and feels, in general and with respect to the situation about which the communication is based.

Specifically, you must analyze the receiver(s) in four concrete areas: knowledge, interests, attitudes, and emotional reaction. Each of these is discussed hereOpens in new window

Using the You-viewpoint

The You-Viewpoint simply means that the sender (the initiator of communication) gives primary consideration to receiver’s point of view when composing and sending messages.

The You-viewpoint will make you—sender of the message—better informed to use your understanding of the receiver’s knowledge to influence the ideas you include and the amount of explanation you give. Moreover, you will be able to use words the receiver will understand and accept. Learn all about the You-viewpoint hereOpens in new window

Facilitating Feedback

Feedback is the culmination of any communication process. It confirms that the receiver has correctly understood the message. You would recall that appropriate receiver response is one of the goals of business communicationOpens in new window. To achieve this goal, you can:

  • Ask directly or indirectly for the response.
  • Assist the receiver in giving the response.

When a job applicant submits a letter and a résumé to a company, he or she wants the receiver to respond by extending an invitation to interview for a job.

To make it easier for the receiver to respond, the sender should be sure the message clearly asks for an interview and includes a telephone number and address where the sender can be reached easily.

If the communication is about a written sales message, the sender should ask for the order and provide a toll-free telephone number, an e-mail address, or an easy-to-use order form. If the communication is oral, the sender can ask tactfully whether the receiver understands the message or has questions.

In critical situations, the sender might ask the receiver to repeat the message and explain his or her understanding of it. When speaking to a group, a sender can gain feedback by observing the audience, asking questions, or administering an evaluation. Because the most important goal of business communication is that the receiver understands the message, feedback from the receiver to the sender is essential to confirm that understanding.

Maintaining verbal and non-verbal congruence

Our wordsOpens in new window and gesturesOpens in new window simultaneously send out signals. The sender should make sure that non-verbal cues, including the body languageOpens in new window, are concordant with the verbal message. For example, a message of welcome is generally uttered with a smile; angry words are spoken with a frown; a guest is welcomed with open arms; a boring lecture is received with drooping shoulders and the face held between both palms; etc.

To say it in other words, our words and facial expressionsOpens in new window must send out the same message. For example, a reprimand administered with a smile would send out wrong and conflicting signals. It will leave the receiver guessing whether the sender is actually annoyed or is just.