Process and Elements of Communication Unit Structure
view to achieving a goal. How does it work? Think that you are in conversation with your friend. You, as a sender or communicator, formulate (encode) an idea or message as best as you can and pass on the message to your friend, who to the best of his ability receives or acts on the message (decodes). He responds by formulating his own message and communicates to you (feedback). If you think your message is understood or well received by your friend, then you go ahead with the next idea that you have in mind and the conversation goes on and on. Communication is therefore, a two way process: the ability to receive is as important as the ability to send.
Elements of communication refer to the basic components involved in an act of communication. These elements are also called the universals of communication because they are present in every communication act. These elements are briefly mentioned below:
- Source: A person who sends a message or a signal is the source in communication. Communication by definition demands that someone send signals and someone receive them.
- Receiver: A person who receives the message or signal is the receiver in a communication process.
- Context: Communication always takes place within a context. It can either restrict or stimulate the communication process. Communication in a funeral home, a public park, a cricket stadium and in a church will be entirely different.
- Message: Message is anything that is sent and received. Generally we think of communication messages as being verbal (oral or written). We can also communicate nonverbally.
- Channel: It is the route or vehicle along which the message is transmitted from a sender to receiver. When you talk to a friend, the sound waves that carry your words constitute the channel. When you write something, the piece of paper becomes the channel. Newspapers, magazines, radio, television and internet become the channels in mass communication.
- Noise: Noise in communication refers to anything that distorts or interferes with the message. The screeching of a passing car, sun-glasses a person wears, prejudices, bias, poor grammar etc. interfere with the effective and efficient transmission of messages from the sender to the receiver.
- Encoding: Two important elements in communication are ‘encoding’ (at the sender end of the model) and ‘decoding’ (at the receiver end). Encoding means that the message is translated into a language or code suitable for transmission to the intended receivers.
- Decoding: The act of understanding or comprehending a message is referred to as decoding. When we speak we are putting our ideas into sound waves (encoding). By translating sound waves into ideas we are taking them out of the code they are in and hence decoding. Similarly, when we read a text, we are decoding the written symbols of a language.
- Feedback: The information that is fed back to the source is known as feedback. Feedback, in general, refers to any process by which the communicator obtains information as to whether and how his/her intended receiver has received the message.
- Effect: The consequences of communication are referred to as effect. Communication has always some effect on one or more persons. The effect could be on the source or on the receiver or on both of them.