The communication process facilitates the sharing of meaning between the sender and receiver of the message. It is through the communication process that an effective communication and understanding of meaning takes place. Effective communication occurs when communicators keep their messages concise, clear and accurate through all stages of the communication process. Thus, it is ultimately necessary for anyone aspiring to become a good communicator to learn the key elements of each stage of the communication process.
A complete communication process undergoes eight key stages as detailed below:
- Source (Sender)
The communication process begins with the source if the message, who is the sender in the communication process. A sender creates a message which consists of information and ideas that he or she wishes to disseminate. Effectiveness of the communication process is largely influenced by the sender’s choice of words and channel of communication. The sender should make the message clear so that it becomes easy to understand and to achieve its purpose.
The message is a stage in the communication process – the second stage that comes to the sender, and goes to the next stage as a raw material. It is necessary to ensure that the message is accurate and useful in order to go into the next stage without a hitch or distortion.
This stage is the third step where the message is encoded by the sender. Encoding entails transforming the message from an idea in the mind of the sender into symbolic forms such as pictures, words, gestures, or any other valuable means. It is a process of putting the message into a format that can be sent, and that is easily understandable by the receiver. The message should be encoded clearly and in a simple way for it to be understood clearly. For example, the sender should use a language that the receiver can understand.
The stage of transmission involves the use of appropriate channel or medium of communication to send the message. The channels of communication may be written, verbal, or use of gestures. Verbal channels include face-to-face, telephone and videoconferencing. On the other hand, written channels of communication include emails, reports, letters, and social media posts. The choice of medium or channel determines the effectiveness of the message transmission. The channel chosen should be appropriate so that the message reaches the right receiver(s) in the right form.
- Decoding and Understanding
The fifth stage is the process in which the receiver interprets the message in order to understanding the meaning. It is not always the case that the receiver understands the meaning the way it was intended by the sender. This could be due to the wrong choice of communication channel or inappropriate encoding and decoding. It is also possible that the receiver may lack sufficient background knowledge to understand the message, or he might not understand the specific jargon or technical language that you are using.
- Receiver and Reception
In the sixth stage, the receiver tries to make sense of the message. The receiver is the person for whom the message is directed to. In any communication, the sender intends to make the receiver take a specific action or respond to the message in a certain way. However, the receiver may interpret the message subjectively. The receiver often bring in their ideas and beliefs which may affect how they understand the message and respond to it. Misunderstanding between sender and receiver occurs when the receiver interprets the message in a different way as intended by the sender. Therefore, the sender should put the ideas and feelings of the receiver into consideration before sending the message.
The seventh stage of the communication process is the response from the receiver. After decoding and understanding the message, the receiver provides feedback. The importance of this stage of the communication process is that it shows whether the message was encoded and decoded accurately, and that the receiver has understood its meaning. Without feedback, the communication process is not complete. The message has to be received and acted on for it to be considered a complete process.
The final stage of the communication process is interference or context that may affect the dissemination of information. Context may include political, economic, social or cultural. Effective communication occurs when the communicators choose the right context and environment without nose or any other communication barrier.