Let’s go back to the basics and talk about the communication process. We know that communication is the exchange of ideas, thoughts and feelings and forms the basis of all human relationships. Communication becomes critical on business organizations since organizational goals can only be achieved through effective communication.
Since communication involves an exchange, it goes to show that communication is a two-way process and involves at least two people. It is important to understand the process of communication to better analyze the challenges in communication. So how does communication take place?
We will discuss the not only the process of communication but the challenges in each stage.
- The first step in the communication process is encoding the message. This is the stage in which the sender thinks about what he wants to communicate and converts his ideas into words. Articulation is critical, since a poorly worded message can result in miscommunication. While encoding the sender should consider his audience and the medium of communication available.
- After encoding the message is transmitted through the appropriate medium. Choosing the right medium is important, else the message may not get transmitted properly or there may be distortion in the message. For example, giving a set of complicated and important instructions verbally, may not be a good idea, since the audience may not be able to retain the message. At this stage the sender should also consider the availability of technology with the receiver and various other aspects about his like his educational background.
- Once the message is transmitted through an appropriate medium, the receiver comes into the picture. The receiver decodes the message to try and understand the meaning of the message. This is again a vital stage, since mistakes here will mean breakdown of the communication process. In verbal communication, both verbal and non-verbal cues will have to be decoded for complete comprehension. Educational background, cultural differences and the context of communication play a significant role in decoding the message. While decoding the receiver must let go his or her prejudices otherwise the message will be distorted.
- Most people assume that the process of communication gets over with decoding. However, there is a last and again a very important step in communication, and that is providing feedback. The receiver, after decoding the message, must provide feedback to the sender. This ensure that the communication was successful. At this stage if the sender feels that the message was not decoded properly they can clarify the message or if the receiver feels the need for additional information, he can ask for it. Without feedback it may be difficult to gauge the success of the communication process.
The communication process will be incomplete even if one of these steps is missing and it is important to ensure clarity in each stage for the success of the communication process.
To learn more about enhancing effectiveness at each stage of the communication process look at the BizComm Program of Strengthscape.