Encoding

Understanding the Meaning of Encoding

Encoding means converting the idea into words or gestures that will convey meaning. It consists in changing the information into some form of logical and coded message.

The encoding process is based on the purpose of communication and the relation between the sender and the receiver. In a formal situation, encoding involves:

  1. selecting a language;
  2. selecting a medium of communication; and
  3. selecting an appropriate communication form.

We'll spend the remainder of this entry delving deeper into each.

1.  Selecting a language

Selecting the right language is essential for effective encoding. Verbal messages need a common language code, which can be easily decoded by the receiver.

If the receiver is not able to decode or understand the message, communication will fail. For example, a person who does not understand Tamil cannot decode a message encoded in Tamil.

We generally use our first language (L 1) in informal situations while we prefer official language in formal business, academic, or professional situations.

2.  Selecting communication medium

As selecting the right medium of communication involves making the right choice out of many available options, it determines the effectiveness of encoding. This is vital as there are so many options available to a communicator for transmitting interpersonal messages that he or she may get confused.

Making the right choice is the beginning of effective communication. There are basic options for sending interpersonal messages, that is speaking, writing, and non-verbal signs and symbols.

The spoken word involves vocalization Opens in new window while non-verbal message cues are generally visual (auditory and tactile Opens in new window). Non-verbal cues play a significant role in oral communication. These cues include body movements Opens in new window, facial expressions Opens in new window, touching patterns, speech mannerisms.

3.  Selecting the communication form

The selection of the appropriate communication form largely depends on the sender-receiver relationship and the overall goal of the communicative situation.

Oral communication may be face-to-face interpersonal communication, group communication, speaker-audience communication, or telephonic communication. The choice depends on the need and purpose of the communication.

Writing involves the selection of the correct written form, that is, letter, memo, notice, report, proposal, etc. See communication forms below.

Communication FormExamples
    Interpersonal (face-to-face) communication
    casual conversations, formal interactions, student-student negotiations, job interviews
    Group communication
    meetings,conferences, group discussions, panel discussions
    Speaker-audience communication
    speeches,debates, seminars, workshops, oral presentations
    Telephone communication
    personal interactions, business deals, telephone interviews
    Written communication
    reports,proposals, memos, letters, emails

A major problem in communicating any message verbally is that words have different meanings for different people. When misunderstandings result from missed meanings, it’s called bypassingOpens in new window.

Recognizing how easy it is to be misunderstood, skilled communicators choose familiar concrete wordsOpens in new window. In choosing proper words and signs Opens in new window, senders must be alert to the receiver’s communication skills, attitudes, background, experiences, and culture. Including a smiley face in an e-mail announcement to stockholders may turn them off.