Communication is nothing but the transmission of messages from a sender to a receiver in an understandable manner. The communication process is the guide towards realising effective communication. It is through the communication process that the sharing of a common meaning between the sender and the receiver takes place.
The communication process is made up of four key components. Those components include encoding, medium of transmission, decoding, and feedback.
In this article you will learn all about –
Seven elements of the communication process – 1. Sender 2. Encoding 3. Message 4. Channel 5. Receiver 6. Decoding 7. Feedback
Communication process models – 1. One-way communication model 2. Two-way communication model 3. Role of noise and communication model 4. Lesikar and Pettit’s model 5. the linear model 6. Shannon-weaver model 7. Jakobson’s communication model
Communication is nothing but the transmission of messages from a sender to a receiver in an understandable manner.
The communication process is the guide toward realizing effective communication. It is through the communication process that the sharing of a common meaning between the sender and the receiver takes place.
The communication process is made up of four key components. Those components include encoding, medium of transmission, decoding, and feedback. There are also two other factors in the process, and those two factors are present in the form of the sender and the receiver. The communication process begins with the sender and ends with the receiver.
Seven Elements of Speech Communication Process
The seven elements of speech of communication process are as follows:
1. Sender (source)
Sender of the message is the starting point of the communication system who initiates the communication. Sender is a person who is willing to communicate, has a need to do so or is under obligation to pass information to others. For example, the Deputy Production manager wants to inform the production manager regarding the progress of work.
The purpose of encoding is to translate the internal thought of the sender into a language or code that the receiver of the message will probably understand. Through the process of encoding the sender attempts to establish mutuality of meaning of the message with the receiver by choosing symbols, usually in the form of words and gestures that the sender believes to have that same meaning for the receiver.
It is a physical form into which the sender encodes information. It can be in any form which may be understood by the receiver, for example speech may be written, words may be read and gesture may be seen. Message may be regarded as a subject matter of communication. It is made usually in the form of verbal or non-verbal language.
4. Channel (medium)
The channel is the method or path in which a message is transmitted from one person to another. The sender may have a variety of channels available to him such as face to face conservation, telephone calls, letters, bulletins and other publications of organization. Each channel has its own advantages and disadvantages. It should however be noted that efficiency and effectiveness of communication to the large extent depends on appropriateness of channel for message.
Medium is a means used to exchange / transmit the message. The sender must choose an appropriate medium for transmitting the message else the message might not be conveyed to the desired recipients. The choice of appropriate medium of communication is essential for making the message effective and correctly interpreted by the recipient.
This choice of communication medium varies depending upon the features of communication. For instance – Written medium is chosen when a message has to be conveyed to a small group of people, while an oral medium is chosen when spontaneous feedback is required from the recipient as misunderstandings are cleared then and there.
The receiver is a person who receives or perceives the message of the sender. The communication does not serve any purpose unless it is understood. Therefore after physically receiving the message, the receiver must comprehend it. Brief Communication does not take place if it is not received by the receiver and it does not serve any purpose if it has reached the receiver but he does not understand it.
It is a process whereby the receiver interprets a Communication message into meaningful information. This process has two steps, first receive the message, then to interpret it. The effectiveness of communication depends on how much the receiver’s decoding matches the sender’s message. The receiver’s willingness to receive the message is a basic prerequisite for successful decoding.
To complete the communication process some verbal or non-verbal feedback from receiver to the sender is required. Feedback is a reversal of the communication process in which the receiver expresses his reaction to the sender message. The feedback may be in a variety of forms such as direct or indirect.
In organizational communication the greater the feedback, the more effective communication process is likely to be. Feedback is the main component of the communication process. It helps the sender in confirming the correct interpretation of the message by the decoder. Feedback may be verbal (through words) or nonverbal (in the form of smiles, signs etc.). It may be in written form (memos, reports, etc.).
Communication as Process
The process of communication involves decisions and activities by the two persons involved, the sender and the receiver.
The sender begins the process of communication. The sender has to be clear about the purpose (or goal or objective) of the communication and about the target audience (or receiver) of the communication; that is, the sender decides why and to whom to send a message.
Conscious or intended communication has a purpose. We communicate because we want to make someone do something or think or feel in a certain way, that is, to influence the person.
The source has to decide what information to convey, and create the message (or content) to be conveyed by using words or other symbols which can be understood by the intended receiver. The process of putting the idea into symbols is called encoding; in order to encode, the sender has to select suitable symbols which can represent the idea, and can be understood by the receiver.
The sender also chooses a suitable channel or medium (mail, e-mail, telephone, face-to-face talk) by which to send the message. The choice of the medium depends on several factors such as urgency of the message, availability and effectiveness of a medium, and the relationship between the two communicants. Note that the choice of the medium/channel also influences the shape of the message.
Finally, the sender tries to note the effect of the message on the receiver; he checks whether the receiver has got the message, how the receiver has responded to the message and whether he has taken the required action; this information about the receiver’s response is called feedback.
Sender’s functions make up half the process of communication.
The functions of the sender are:
- Being clear about the goal/purpose of the communication.
- Finding out about the understanding and needs of the target audience.
- Encoding the required information and ideas with symbols to create the message to suit the receiver/audience.
- Selecting the medium to send the message.
- Making efforts to get feedback.
The receiver becomes aware that a message has arrived when he perceives it with his senses (he may see, hear, feel, etc.). The receiver attends to the message and interprets it. The process of translating the symbols into ideas and interpreting the message is called decoding. Interpreting is a complex activity; it involves using knowledge of the symbols and drawing upon previous knowledge of the subject matter.
The receiver’s ability to understand, level of intelligence, values and attitudes, and relation with the sender, all influence his creation of meaning.
If the sender and the receiver have a common field of experience, the receiver’s understanding of the message will be closer to what the sender intended.
The receiver also feels a reaction to the message; this reaction may be conscious or unconscious; it may cause some change in the receiver’s facial expression. The message definitely leads the receiver to think. The receiver may take some action, if required. He may also reply to the message. The reaction, the response and the reply together form the feedback.
Receiver’s functions complete one cycle of the process of communication.
The functions of the receiver are:
- 1. Attending to the received message, that is, listening, reading or observing.
- 2. Decoding the received message.
- 3. Interpreting and understanding the meaning of the message.
- 4. Responding to the message.
- 5. Giving feedback to the sender of the message.
This is a simplified description of a single cycle in the process of communication. Communication really takes place in several cycles and the two persons take turns and alternately carry out functions of sender and receiver.
Both, the sender and the receiver have important functions in the communication process; it can be successful only if both are efficient and attentive.
Context and Environment
Context is the set of circumstances that surround an event and influence its significance. It is the background of events which lead to the message being sent. A message may acquire a different meaning in a changed context. If both have the same amount of background information about the situation and the issue, it is easier to communicate on the topic. The context influences the sender’s encoding and the receiver’s decoding, and also each one’s interpretation.
The meaning of a sentence depends strongly on the circumstances in which it is said. For example, “How much have you had to drink?” asked by a patient by a nurse could mean “Do you have enough liquids?” The question would have a completely different meaning if asked by a policeman or a driver who had got on to the footpath.
The circumstances of each communicant, each one’s position in the organisation, the usual work that each one does, and the present state of mind of each one, can all influence the communication process. The present relationship between the two is a part of the context; the receiver tends to interpret messages in the context of the relationship.
Communication takes place in an environment. Environment includes several things. The most obvious is the place in which the communication takes place; if it is pleasant and comfortable, the communication is better. Noise or disturbance in the environment usually hinders the flow of communication.
The political, cultural, legal, technological environment influences communication as these factors may affect each one’s situation and attitude to the content of a message.
Time is also an element of the environment; it has three aspects:
- The time of the communication (first thing in the morning, just before or just after lunch, when it is almost closing time) affects the communication.
- The length of time taken by a communication event (how long the presentation or the meeting or the conversation goes on) influences the quality of the communication. Too long can be tiring and boring; too short may be inadequate and one of them may feel that insufficient attention was given by the other.
- There is a right time for giving some information. If it is given too late, it may be useless; if it is too early, receivers may not be ready for it and may not understand it.
Communication Process Models
1. One-Way Communication Model
In one-way communication, there is no feedback from the receiver to the sender. Here the sender is not sure of the receipt of information as well as its understanding by the recipient.
2. Two-Way Communication Model
Two-way communication is depicted through following diagram:
Unlike one-way communication, in two-way communication there is active feedback from the receiver to the sender to ensure that the receiver has understood the same meaning which the sender intended to convey.
3. Role of Noise and Communication Model
If the message received by the receiver is identical to the message sent by the sender, the communication is perfect. The above two models are models of perfect communication between two parties. But usually it happens that perfect communication does not take place because of Physical as well as Psychological factors, which are termed as noise by scholars.
Noise is any unpleasant sound or undesirable distraction that prevents easy and effective transmission of communication. Physical noise is because of external sounds and an uncongenial communication environment. Psychological noise consists of forces within the sender or receiver that interfere with understanding i.e. egotism, hostility, prejudices, etc.
4. Lesikar And Pettit’s Model
Raymond V. Lesikar and John D. Pettit, present the communication model with stress on the role of perceiving reality. His analysis is based upon the practical psychological process explained briefly as under:
(a) The real world we observe or notice, is full of signs and senses but we notice a few. The reason for this is that our five sensory receptors (used for hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and touching) have their own limitations and consequently they detect selective and small parts of the real world.
There are various noises around us, like two people talking in a room, ticking of a clock, the sound of the song either at T.V. or radio, playing at a distance etc. But our ears pick up the sound that appeals to the heart and ignore the other. Similarly our eyes detect only a small part of the total spectrum that can be seen and our nostrils can smell only the strong smell around us.
(b) Our ability to detect these signs or senses depends on our receptiveness to them. We experience more when we are alert and attentive but miss much, when we doze or daydream.
(c) As these signs reach the nervous system, meanings are attached to them. This process of perceiving reality is different from individual to individual, depending upon his knowledge, emotions and experience.
(d) Whatsoever we perceive, we describe them either through words, symbols, gestures, or other expressions.
1. This area represents our communication environment. It is all the signs that exist in the real world surrounding us.
2. Our sensory receptors pick up some (but far from all) of the signs and symbols.
3. Signs that are picked up go through our nervous system and into our mental filters.
4. Our mental filters give signs of meaning. The meanings received add to the filter’s content.
5. Sometimes the meanings we form trigger communication responses.
6. We form these responses through our mental filters.
7. We send our responses as verbal symbols (speaking, writing) and non-verbal symbols (gestures, facial expressions, etc.).
8. These symbols become part of others’ communication environments. Here they may be picked up by others’ sensory receptors, and another cycle begins.
5. The Linear Model
The earliest conceptualisation of communication involved the following five basic questions –
(ii) Say what?
(iii) On which channel?
(iv) To whom?
(v) With what effect?
Communication was considered a one-way process marked by the flow of information from a sender to a receiver.
According to the linear view, a receiver passively receives the message and acts as directed or desired by the sender. Communication is intended to control\ manipulate the receiver. It is assumed that the message, while passing through the medium chosen by the senders, reaches the receiver without any distortion or change.
6. Shannon-Weaver Model
Claude E. Shannon and Warren Weaver were the first to point out that in actual practice; messages can be changed or blocked. Shannon’s model of communication was first published in the Bell System Technical journal. It was based on the mathematical or mechanistic view of the communication process in which the basic problem is that the message received is not equal to the message sent.
He attributed the loss to noise. The Shannon model was, later in 1949, brought out in the mathematical theory of communication, coauthored with Weaver. Weaver introduced feedback as a corrective to noise.
However, in the Shannon-Weaver model, feedback was not considered to be an integral component because the model conceived the communication process as a linear act and feedback as another new act of communication.
The model is based on the idea that communication occurs only when the message has been received and that it should be received, as far as possible, unchanged. This is, of course, a theoretical concept of perfect communication.
In real life, filters in the minds of both sender and receiver affect the content of the message. To an extent, feedback corrects the distortions, if any, and tends to complete the cycle of communication.
(i) Information Source (Ideation): The communication process begins with the information source. The sender has some raw information. His intention changes that information into a message to be communicated. The source of a message therefore, is the information source of the communication process.
(ii) Encoding: Having thought over the message, the sender puts it into words (verbal symbols or any other symbolic form of expression). This process is called encoding.
(iii) Channel (Transmission): An appropriate medium-oral, written, electronic, in code, or signaling system — chosen to send the message is known as channel.
(iv) Decoding: The receiver gets the message through decoding – by receiving, understanding, and interpreting the message.
(v) Acting: The communication process ends with the receiver putting the interpreted message into action, as intended by the sender.
Thus, we see that communication completes a full circle, bringing together the sender and the receiver to become two aspects of a single purpose. It is this unifying process and role of communication that has made modern management organisations and systems consider communication as an essential skill for successful managers.
According to Davis, “The only way that management can be achieved in an organisation is through the process of communication.”
(vi) Noise: This process is open to “noise” which prevents or distorts communication. Noise may be described as any distortion or hindrance, preventing transmission of the message from the (mind of) sender to the (mind of) receiver.
For some communication theorists, noise basically stands for external disturbance in the physical environment surrounding the act of communication, or noise in the machine used for communicating the message, such as telephone, or poor print out, or bad handwriting. Communication distortion caused by subjective factors such as mind sets of the sender and receiver are attributed to what is called filters.
(vii) Filters: These are mental in nature. They include attitudes, beliefs, experiences, consciousness of personal status, and the ability to think clearly. Misunderstandings and different problems may arise as the sender’s message passes through the filters of the receiver, which comprise the sender filters plus others such as low interest or involvement in the message or distraction and fatigue causing loss of concentration.
7. Jakobson’s Communication Model
A fuller treatment of the communication process is offered by the Jakobson Model. The context or referential function is what is being spoken of, what is being referred to, in so far as semiotic or linguistic formulations refer to elements in the outside world. ‘Don’t smoke inside the classroom.’
The poetic function is the focus on the message (the use of the medium) for its own sake. The associations (equivalence, similarity and dissimilarity, synonymity and antonymity); the repetitions of sound values, stresses, accents; the word and phrase boundaries and relationships as these are combined in sequence. ‘My words echo/ Thus in your mind/ But to what purpose/ Disturbing the dust/ on an owl of rose leaves/ I do not know.’
The emotive or expressive function of language refers to the attitude of the addresser towards that of which (or to whom) she/he speaks: through emphasis, intonation, loudness, pace, etc. ‘This is a really important point.’
The phatic function is the use of language to keep people in contact with each other, the maintenance of social relationships – including ‘idle chat’. ‘Just nod if you can hear me.’
The metalingual function is the use of language by which people check out with each other whether they are ‘on the same page’, using the same codes in the same contexts. ‘You see what I mean?’
The connotative function refers to those aspects of language which aim to create a certain response in the addressee. ‘Get thee behind me Satan!’
The limitation of such models seems to be that any of the various parts of the model may become the focus of study, and cultural factors do not seem to be addressed adequately.
- A focus on the transmitter, for example, might produce questions such as: where do messages come from? And how are they prepared for transmission?
- A focus on the signal might suggest questions such as: what is a signal, exactly? How do signals move from place to place?
- Or, a focus on the receiver might suggest questions such as: does the receiver receive precisely the same signal that the transmitter transmitted? How does the reception of a message affect the receiver? Must the receiver be affected at all?
The search for other explanatory models begins with the receiver. Human beings become informed as they perceive data by means of their senses, and as they organise this information and give it meaning.
The development of the semiotic model explains this process in terms of signs, or perceptions that bring to mind concepts about the world. Signs can be arranged in an elaborate system of codes, including the very complicated codes that are called languages, and used as a means of communication.
Communication is carried on by individuals within the context of groups and with the use of signs whose meanings are established in part by negotiation among the members of the groups. Thus, human beings:
- Continually create their own signs, and
- Continually encounter and make use of signs created by others.
Because of this the members of a society are constantly immersed in a “communication environment” that is rich in potential information.
While much communication takes place in one-on-one, or face-to-face, situations among individual human beings, communication can also take place in groups, including the very large groups that compose the audiences of the mass communication media through which governments and corporate interests speak. Thus, no communication is independent of the social environment within which it occurs. In fact, in social situations it can be said that one cannot not communicate.
The Social Construction of Reality
We know the world only as we perceive it. These perceptions are based on learned interpretations. This learning is social: we learn from and among persons in social interaction. The main vehicles which convey this meaning are: symbols, including language; cultural myths — larger social meanings of objects, actions signs, episodes; the structure and practice of our institutions; and our rules for congruent action.
These vehicles of meaning together construct our world-view — our sense of how the world works, what is valuable, why things are the way they are; our sense of ourselves, our identity, purpose; and our ideologies — our sense of the appropriateness of, the structure of, and the exercise of, power, action and roles in society.
Our selves, our societies, our institutions change continually, through interaction.
The “real conditions” of our existence are not subjective, however – they only have meaning through social interaction; and their perceived value, causes, and significance are socially produced.
Reality, insofar as we know it, is situational or pragmatic: the context governs our interpretation.
Summary of the Berger-Luckmann Model
As we live our lives, we tend to develop repetitive patterns of behaviour. These habits, as they are called, are useful to us because they allow us to handle recurring situations automatically.
Our habits are also useful to other people. In face-to face communication the participants observe and respond to each other’s habits, and in this way all of us come to anticipate and depend upon the habits of others.
As time goes by, some habits become shared among all of the members of the society. An institution is a collection of shared expectations about such long term public habits. Institutions encourage the development of roles, or collections of habitual behaviours that are associated with and expected of individuals who are acting in an institutional capacity.
When a person assumes a role, he or she adopts these habitual behaviours, and we interact with him or her as part of the institution rather than as a unique individual. As an example of this, consider our society’s collection of habits that have to do with right and wrong-that we should not injure other people, that we should not steal, that we should stop at red lights, and so on.
This group of publicly shared habits makes up the institution that we call the Law. As an institution, the Law incorporates many roles including, for example, police officer, judge, lawyer, victim, prisoner, guard, and so on. When we interact with people in any of these institutional roles, we treat them according to our shared expectations of the role.
Thus, if a police officer pulls you over on the highway, you behave towards each other as your two roles require. If instead you had met “unofficially” at a party or while shopping at the mall, your relationship would be very different.
Because they establish behavioural rules, institutions provide societal control. However, if this control is to persist over time, then each new generation of children must be trained to participate in the institutions of their parents.
Thus, institutions are legitimised and maintained by means of tradition and education. Eventually, some institutions become reified – that is, the members of the society forget that the institutions are human constructions, and they begin to relate to them as if they are natural objects. In this way, we create social structures that seem as real to us as the reality of the “natural” world.
Communication Process Example
Example 1- Communication Process:
Robbie and Jenny are playing in the living room while their mother is at work. Robbie breaks the flower vase. Jenny decides to tell her mother.
She calls her mother on her cell phone:
Jenny- “Mom, Robbie broke the flower vase kept on the side table”
Mom- “Did Robbie get hurt?”
Mom- “Be careful, and both of you go and play outside.”
In the above case:
Stimulus – Breaking of the flower vase
Sender – Jenny
Medium – Phone
Message – Robbie broke the flower vase
Receiver – Mom
Feedback – To be careful and to play outside
Example 2 – Elements of Communication Process:
Rahul is a student who has given his CAT examination after completing his graduation. According to him, he had done his paper really well and was expecting to get into one of the premiere management colleges of India. He had an elder brother, Vishal, who was currently working in a multinational company in Mumbai.
Vishal had done his engineering from IIT, Powai, Mumbai. On a glorious Monday morning, Rahul receives two letters—one from a leading MBA college in Mumbai and the other from Kolkata. Both invited Rahul to join but, now, he is confused and can’t make up his mind as to which college to join.
As we learn what happened to Rahul after receiving both the call letters, we’ll examine the components of communication one at a time.
- Rahul receives both the letters.
- He interprets the letters and realizes that he has been accepted in two colleges.
- He decides to relay this information to his brother, Vishal.
- He telephones Vishal.
- Vishal receives his call.
- Vishal listens and gives Rahul his reaction
- Rahul receives a stimulus.
- He filters the stimulus.
- He forms a message.
- He selects a medium.
- The message reaches its destination.
- Vishal provides feedback.