Creating Shared Meaning: The Communication Process

GIF of a drawbridge opening and closing.

Have you ever thought about the way we speak to one another, or how we communicate as a society?

If we break it down to its simplest form, communication is simply a process where a message is transmitted or ideas are exchanged between the communicator and the recipient. The communication process uses a medium to transfer information, facts, opinions and ideas from the originator — or communicator — to the recipient.

For business owners, managers or individuals who have to relay information to other people, it’s important to understand the communication process and what it entails.

Elements of the Communication Process

If we examine the communication process closely, we find there are seven elements that transpire in a split second of a conversation, advertisement or any flow of information between a sender and receiver.

Source/Sender

The source, or sender, is the origin of information. The sender must know the most effective medium to transmit the information so it is best understood by the receiver. That could involve speaking in person or over the phone, communicating via email or even interacting through a video chat.

Encoding

This is the process of transferring the information into the precise medium that can be accurately understood by the intended recipient. The message can be shown by way of symbols or logos, language, pictures or actions. It’s important for the communicator to view the message from the recipient’s point of view.

Message

The message is the subject, theme or topic related to the communication process. The message includes any and all information provided from the sender to the recipient and can be delivered via any type of medium. It can also be verbal or nonverbal.

Channel

The channel is the appropriate medium used to transmit the message from the sender to the recipient. This often includes what we think of when we hear the word “channel” — via television or radio — as well as face-to-face verbal or nonverbal communication, email or text messages. The success or failure of the message can hinge on using the appropriate channel.

Decoding

Once the message is received, the recipient begins to translate the message in a way he or she can understand. During person-to-person conversations, we do this in a split second, but when it’s broken down as part of the communication process, it’s a crucial step to understanding the message.

Receiver

The receiver is the person who receives the communicated message from the sender. This can include a single person or a group in an audience. Effective communication can take place only when the receiver’s reaction and response is what the communicator expected it to be when the message was initially sent.

Feedback

Feedback is the reaction or response the receiver gives to the sender. It allows the communicator to assess the effectiveness of the message and whether it was well-received. The communication process ends with the feedback stage.

The communication process is dynamic, continuous, irreversible and contextual. It’s impossible to complete one step in the communication process without understanding and acknowledging the presence and function of the other elements both before and after.

Noise

The communication process can be impeded by noise. It hinders progress and can happen at any step in the process. This may include a phone call dropping during a conversation or technical difficulties during a television program. It could also be a receiver who doesn’t give attention to delivering the message, causing them to not fully understand the message.

Your Career in Communication

Understanding the fundamentals of communication can help you craft the perfect message that resonates best with the recipient. You can learn about this process and much more with Point Park University’s online bachelor’s degree in mass communication. The fully online program equips you with the necessary skills to succeed in the ever-changing media field. You can complete your studies in as few as two years, and we offer competitive tuition and financial aid packages. Using the convenient online format, you can balance your coursework with your daily life.

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