Communication can be thought of as a process or flow. Communication problems occur when deviations or blockages disrupt that flow. Before communication can take place, a purpose, expressed as a message to be conveyed, is needed. It passes between a source (the sender) and a receiver. The message is encoded (converted to symbolic form) and is passed by way of some medium (channel) to the receiver, who retranslates (decodes) the message initiated by the sender. The result is communication, which is a transfer of understanding and meaning from one person to another depicts the communication process. This model has seven parts: (1) the communication source or sender, (2) encoding, (3) the message, (4) the channel, (5) decoding, (6) the receiver, and (7) feedback.
The source initiates a message by encoding a thought. Four conditions affect the encoded message: skill, attitudes, knowledge, and the social cultural system. Our message in our communication to you in this book depends on our writing skills; if we don’t have the requisite writing skills, our message will not reach you in the form desired. Keep in mind that a person’s total communicative success includes speaking, reading, listening, and reasoning skills as well. Our attitudes influence our behavior.
We hold predisposed ideas on numerous topics, and our communications are affected by these attitudes. Furthermore, we’re restricted in our communicative activity by the extent of our knowledge of the particular topic. We can’t communicate what we don’t know, and should our knowledge be too extensive, it’s possible that our receiver will not understand our message. Clearly, the amount of knowledge the source holds about his or her subject will affect the message he or she seeks to transfer. And, finally, just as attitudes influence our behavior, so does our position in the social cultural system in which we exist. Your beliefs and values, all part of your culture, act to influence you as a communicative source.
The message is the actual physical product from the source that conveys some purpose. When we speak, the words spoken are the message. When we write, the writing is the message. When we paint, the picture is the message. When we gesture, the movements of our arms, the expressions on our faces are the message. Our message is affected by the code or group of symbols we use to transfer meaning, the content of the message itself, and the decisions that we make in selecting and arranging both codes and content.
The channel is the medium through which the message travels. It’s selected by the source, who must determine whether to use a formal or an informal channel. Formal channels are established by the organization and transmit messages that pertain to the job-related activities of members. They traditionally follow the authority network within the organization. Other forms of messages, such as personal or social, follow the informal channels in the organization.
The receiver is the person to whom the message is directed. However, before the message can be received, the symbols in it must be translated into a form that can be understood by the receiver—the decoding of the message. Just as the encoder was limited by his or her skills, attitudes, knowledge, and social cultural system, the receiver is equally restricted. Accordingly, the source must be skillful in writing or speaking; the receiver must be skillful in reading or listening, and both must be able to reason. A person’s knowledge, attitudes, and cultural background influence his or her ability to receive, just as they do the ability to send.
The final link in the communication process is a feedback loop. “If a communication source decodes the message that he encodes, if the message is put back into his system, we have feedback.” Feedback is the check on how successful we have been in transferring our messages as originally intended. It determines whether understanding has been achieved. Given the cultural diversity that exists in our workforce today, the importance of effective feedback to ensure proper communications cannot be overstated. Learn more about effective communication process and other management skills only at LSBF.
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