Whenever you have a face-to-face conversation, make a phone call, send a text message, or like a post on any social media website, you are engaged in communication. The fundamental process of communication is carried out when two or more people purposefully exchange a message in any form.
This process seems to be an easy task but is quite complex with many interconnected components to consider. Besides, effective communication is more than just delivering a message. The idea is to convey all the intentions and emotions behind the message.
However, there are three essential elements i.e. Sending messages (sender), Receiving messages (receiver), and Providing feedback which make the communication process effective. This article is all about the 3 elements of communication and how these elements can add value to your communication skills.
1. The Sender
The first and foremost element of a communication process is sending the information. The person who sends the information is called the sender, source or communicator. The sender can be an individual, group or organization. This piece of information can be of any kind- idea, question or request and in any form- written, spoken or non-verbal.
The scholars, refer to this process as a series of events including encoding the message, constructing it in an understandable way and then transmitting it to the relevant person. In addition, the messages are always in line with one of the two models of communication i.e. Linear and transitional.
Linear communication occurs when a sender sends the message to the receiver but did not get any response or feedback in return. For example public service messages on TV or radio. On the other hand, two-way communication involves a response to the sender’s message. It is further discussed later in this article.
It is also worth mentioning that a message/information is directly influenced by the skills, knowledge, experience, attitudes, perceptions and culture of the sender. However, there are also some factors that the sender must consider to ensure the effectiveness of sending a message. Firstly, the message should be concise yet clear and complete.
The sender can think a bit, draw a picture in his mind about what should be communicated before sending the message. The message should convey all the relevant information, should be focused on a specific purpose and must not have any irrelevant context. Secondly, the message should be well-structured.
As a sender, mutual understanding is the major goal. Besides, the reader’s perspective is also important. The sender has to create messages which the other person (with any level of understanding) can understand instead of those which sound good to himself only.
It further includes the careful selection and use of language, slang, jargon and symbols for the message. Lastly, proofreading can help the sender from embarrassment and confusion. It ensures the spellings, grammar, structure of the sentences are correct.
2. The Receiver
The receiver is the one to whom the message or the information is sent (target of the information). As a sender, it can be an individual, group or organization. Sometimes, a receiver is also referred to as an interpreter, decoder, audience or recipient.
To comprehend the information send by the sender, the receiver firstly decodes (translates the message) and then interprets it with as little distortion as possible.
The extent of decoding and interpreting the information highly depends on the emotional state of the receiver, experience, level of understanding, subject matter, trust and relationship with the sender.
In addition, some external factors can affect the decoding of the message on part of the receiver. For instance, bias against the sender, lack of attention, background noises (in the case of voice message) and illegible handwriting. There are some characteristics associated with a receiver that can help speed up the process.
Firstly, especially in a formal working environment always appreciate the sender sending you all the necessary information. It communicates your willingness to listen.
Secondly, listening to and reading the message/information carefully. Doing so helps to understand easily what the sender wants to convey. It is also helpful to provide appropriate feedback later on.
Thirdly, always being open to all types of senders and messages. Whether the message you receive is accurate or not; you agree with it or not, always keep your mind calm and open. Your positive attitude will help you to grow. Fourthly, make notes of the important points of the message so that nothing is missed out.
Lastly, asking questions to the sender to further clarify the things. Another important thing to mention is, the receiver is not only responsible to decode the message but also responding i.e. feedback which is the third essential element of the communication process.
Providing feedback is the final point of an effective communication process after the message is being transmitted, received and interpreted.
The receiver can respond to the message either through direct or indirect response. The direct responses may include a verbal or written form of communication for example e-mail, memo, and any formal document or zoom meetings.
While any action carried out or a body gesture without using words against the received message will be considered an indirect response to the sender for example facial expression, tone of voice.
To provide effective feedback, firstly the message should be followed by an appreciation. Expressing gratitude towards the sender without being snobby not only helps to grab his attention but also personalizes the relationship. Secondly, the reply should be specific instead of general.
The more specific the feedback will be the more quality it will add to the communication. Thirdly, the reply should be clear and concise. One should directly address the issue and stop beating about the bush.
As consciousness adds professionalism to the communication process. Fourthly, the tone of the message should be positive and constructive even though nothing good is happening.
For instance, in the case of a CEO giving feedback to an employee, the use of demeaning or intimidating language will destroy his morale, productivity and team spirit. Moreover, the personality of the CEO to lead a team.