Communication has been defined as the exchange of ideas, thoughts and feelings, that result in an understanding response. What this means is that communication is a two-way process that requires a message to be sent from one party and requires the other party to respond or act in an appropriate way, based on the communication. The response given by the receiver as a result of the communication determines whether the communication process was successful or not, and this response is termed as “feedback”.
Since communication is a two-way process, it goes without saying that feedback becomes an integral part of the communication process. No communication is complete without feedback.
Feedback can be provided by the receiver in a number of ways:
- Verbal Feedback – Verbal feedback in the form of phrases like “yes” or “I understand what you are saying” show that the message has been transmitted clearly and the process of communication is complete.
- Non-verbal Feedback – Feedback can also be non-verbal. Just a nod or an expression on the face of the receiver is sometimes enough to indicate whether the communication has been successful or not.
- Action – Another way of giving feedback is taking action in accordance with the message sent by the sender. Once the appropriate action is taken based on the message, it automatically indicates that the process of communication was successful.
Feedback completes the process of communication and ensures that there has been no miscommunication. If appropriate feedback is not given or if the feedback clearly indicates that the message has not been understood, then the process of communication has failed. In this scenario, the entire process of communication will have to be repeated, eliminating all barriers, to ensure effective communication.
Thus we see that feedback plays a critical role in the process of communication.
However, there are times when the recipient of a message does not voluntarily provide feedback. In such a situation, it becomes imperative to elicit the feedback. Asking questions or asking the receiver directly to provide are effective strategies of eliciting a response or feedback. Without feedback we will not know whether the communication was successful or not. Leaving the success of communication to chance is never a prudent idea. Also the cost of miscommunication may be too high.
Hence, it is safe to say that communication process cannot and should not be complete without feedback.
To learn more about effective communication techniques, see the BizComm Model of Strengthscape.