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What Is the Process of Communication?

By J.M. Densing
Updated May 23, 2024
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The process of communication is a sequence of events in which a sender transmits a message to a recipient. The message can be verbal or nonverbal as long as the recipient is able to understand it. There are several steps in the process: encoding, medium of transmission, decoding, and feedback. The sender selects a format for the message, "encodes" it into that form, and then selects and uses a medium, or method, of transmission. When the recipient receives the message, it is "decoded," and feedback occurs.

The necessary components that need to be present for the process of communication to occur include the sender, the recipient, and the message. The sender is the person or group who needs to communicate information and transmits the message. The message can take many forms such as writing, pictures, gestures, or speech. In order for effective communication to take place, it's vital that the message is able to be easily understood. The recipient is the person or group who gets the message, understands it, and responds if appropriate.

The first step in the process of communication is called encoding. This is when the message is transformed from a thought in someone's mind to a form that can be understood by others. The message can be written down, spoken, or it can even take a nonverbal, or wordless, form such as gestures or a picture. Once the message has been encoded, it should be in a form that is ready to be received and understood.

After the message has been prepared for transmission, it needs to be sent. This part of the process of communication is called the medium of transmission. In this step, the sender selects the best method for sending the message and transmits it. For example, a written message may take the form of e-mail or a business report that is printed out and hand delivered. A verbal message may be telephone conversation or a speech given before an audience, and a nonverbal message such as a picture may be transmitted by posting it on the Internet or hanging it in a museum.

Once the message has been transmitted, the next step in the process of communication requires decoding. This occurs once the recipient gets the message, examines, and interprets it using prior knowledge and experience. In this manner the recipient develops an understanding of the meaning of the message which is partially based his or her own background. Finally, feedback is the last part of the process where the recipient responds to the message, thereby indicating understanding.

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Discussion Comments
By lluviaporos — On Jul 06, 2013

I sometimes wonder if all the social media and different kinds of technology we have to assist and occupy us these days is improving communication or not. I read somewhere that, contrary to popular opinion, kids these days actually write more than their parents, and are more literate as a result, simply because so much of their communication is done through the internet and through texting.

Their traditional communication skills might not be as sharp (although that's debatable) but I have to wonder if they aren't better communicators in general.

By KoiwiGal — On Jul 05, 2013

@browncoat - That's true of even the most basic of communication, which is talking face to face. It's something most of us take for granted, but there are plenty of people who lack the interpersonal skills needed for clarity with this kind of communication.

They say that visual cues can make up almost 80% of the conversation, with facial expressions and hand movements, as well as other body and eye movements. If you don't naturally understand that someone looking into your eyes for 3 seconds longer than usual means something, you can miss out on an entire undercurrent of the conversation.

By browncoat — On Jul 04, 2013

I'm learning to be a teacher at the moment, and it's amazing how much is actually involved in learning how to read. If you want to be a good literacy teacher, you really have to understand the process of this kind of communication and how improving communication skills can improve reading and writing.

Most of us just take the process of reading for granted, but it is actually quite complicated, particularly for people who are just learning. You have to be able to deduce not only the actual meaning, but also the implied meaning, you have to break the code of letters and punctuation and you have to know the conventions of different language techniques.

On top of all that, most children are also expected to eventually memorize hundreds of words so that they can read them more quickly and begin to work on their comprehension.

It amazes me that anyone ever learns how to read and write.

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