Definition of terms and concepts used in communication

Communication Skills

Understanding communication is essential in every social setting that requires human interactions. There is apparently no relationship that can survive without communication of some kind. While communication is a necessity, communicating effectively is an art and science that should be learned. Here you will be introduced to some common terms used in communication.

What is Communication?

“Communication is the process of sharing meaning through continuous flow of symbolic messages.” Communication is therefore generally defined as the process of understanding and sharing meaning. Communication is a complicated process. It is variable, active and dynamic. It starts long before the words begin to flow and can last long after the words stop. Communication is a process that requires understanding – perceiving, interpreting, and comprehending the meaning of the verbal and nonverbal behaviour of others. Understanding the meaning of another person’s message does not occur unless the two communicators can elicit common meanings for words, phrases and non-verbal codes.

Definition of terms used in communication

1) Communicators – Participants in the communication process

2) The sender is the person delivering the message

3) The receiver is the person receiving the message – the intended target of the message

4) The source is the origin of the message – the component that initiates the message

Roles can shift between the sender and receiver regularly.

5) The Message: The message is the verbal and non-verbal form of the idea, thought, or feeling that one person (source) wishes to communicate to another person or group of persons (the receiver/s). It is the content of the interaction.

6) Code: the system used to formulate the message, e.g. written or oral language.

7) Channels (verbal or non-verbal) – the specific mechanism, method, mode, pipeline used to transmit the message.

8) Medium: the form technology used to transmit the message e.g. face-to-face, television, web, phone, etc.).

9) Noise: internal, external, and semantic interference of the message. Internal interference includes mental and psychological factors; external include physical interference e.g. loud sound; and mental includes misunderstanding or misinterpretation of information.

10) Environment: the context of the message – aspects surrounding the message and providing the basis for its meaning and understanding, e.g. environment, time period, relationships among communicators, cultural aspects, & behaviors of communicators.

11) Feedback: The response of the receiver or audience to the initial message, checks the effectiveness of the initial information. It includes positive and negative feedback.

There are many other concepts you need to learn, but these are the most common definitions of a few terms used in communication.

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