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We shall study the process and elements of communication. This will:
- Describe the process of communication
- Explain the elements of communication
- Describe the importance of communication process in our everyday life
Communication is a process of sharing of ideas, facts, opinions and the manner by which receiver of the message shares meanings and understanding with another. The objective of any communication process is to send a set of knowledge, in the form of signs, words or visuals, to a specific destination. However, there are certain parameters which are responsible for this entire process. This lesson will focus on those essential factors which make communication process successful.
Process of Communication
Communication is a process that uses a set of media to transmit ideas, facts, and feelings from one person to another. For thousands of years messages were communicated through spoken voice, when the sender and the receiver were in face-to-face situation. Even today in India, oral communication seems to be a part of majority population. In face-to-face communication sender gets an immediate feedback. He then easily knows about the impact, further needs or demands of the receiver immediately. In this type of communication, the process remains limited to the sender and the receiver, where in, the channel is the spoken language.
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Let us take another example of a teacher teaching in a class. The teacher is using various combinations of basic forms of communication- spoken, written and visual. In the lecture, the teacher uses a black board or shows the chart. He also combines written words with spoken words. In this process, the sender becomes the teacher, the receiver becomes the students, and the channel becomes the audio-visual mode of teaching.
The sender of the message selects when and what to communicate and also decides an appropriate medium for its transmission. The receiver takes the message, interprets, perceives and responds to it. The entire chain here becomes the communication process. As a process, it is routine and continues forever. Every time a person transmits the facts, ideas, opinions or feelings, another person responds in turn communicating facts, ideas, feelings or attitudes. It is a never ending process which is cyclic in nature.
- According to Wilbur Schramm, communication requires three things:
- The source
- The message
- The destination
The source may be an individual speaking, nodding, gesturing or writing. The message may be in the form of sound-waves in the air, or a wave of the hand or a written letter etc. The important thing is that it should be conveyed clearly so that the receiver can interpret it easily. The destination may be an individual who is listening, watching or reading the message or it may be a group of people listening to a lecture or watching a film.
- Harold Lasswell suggested a convenient method of describing the process of communication. Answering the following questions holds the key to understand the act of communication. The questions are-
In which channel?
With what effect?
Suppose two persons A and B are talking on telephone.
Person A: Hello, how are you?
Person B: I am fine, thank you. How are you? When are you visiting us?
Person A: I am fine too. I am coming tomorrow at 6 p.m. to your place.
Person B: Shall I pick you up from the airport? Person A:No thanks dear, I will reach myself.
Person B: All right, I will wait for you.
In the above conversation, ‘Person A’ initiates the discussion then he is the source. ‘Who’ therefore means communicator or the source. ‘Person A’ is communicating to ‘Person B’. ‘Person B’ is the destination or ‘whom’. If the discussion is on phone then telephone is the channel used. Whatever ‘Person A’ is conveying to ‘Person B’ becomes the message. When ‘Person B’ responds to the message it is the feedback. Let’s see the Lasswell model once again:
In which channel?
With what effect?
- According to David K. Berlo, the whole sequence of communicating or the communication process involves six steps.
The source or the initiator of the message encodes his thoughts, ideas, desires, objectives, and a purpose for communication, which is translated into a signs, symbols or code or a language. This is performed by the encoder who is responsible of taking the ideas of the source and putting them in a code, expressing the source’s purpose in a form of a message. The receiver is the target of any communication. The receiver decodes what is being communicated to him by the sender. He interprets the message and reacts accordingly.
Thus, there are a few imperative components of communication which are the unchanging and dynamic essentials. Communication bridges the gap between two or more persons (sender and receiver) through producing and receiving messages which have meaning for both.
How does communication take place?
- Sender2. Message 3. Channel4. Receiver
- Sender of the message, first of all conceives the message in his mind and he encodes it in symbol, painting, music etc.
- The message thus encoded is transmitted to the receiver through a channel. The channel can be direct face-to-face-talk, telephonic conversation or through letters etc.
- The receiver of the message decodes it and after understanding it gives a proper response to it.
- If the response goes back to the sender then it is called feedback. Because of the feedback, the sender modifies his message or mode of communication to make it more effective.
For Instance, if we talk about a famous film ‘Rang De Basanti’. Here, the sender is the director of the film Rakesh Om Prakash Mehra. The message is the film itself, the channel is cinema, receiver is the audience and the feedback of the film is that it was a hit.
Elements of communication
The elements involved in communication process are:
The sender is the communicator of the message. He is the one who transmits the message. He conceives and initiates the message. He is the one who thinks of an idea that he wants to communicate and accordingly fixes on a specific channel, to the capacity of the receiver. He transmits the message in such manner that it is easily understandable to the receiver.
Message can be defined as a data, idea or information, spoken or written, to be passed from one person to another. It is the subject matter of communication. It may involve any fact, idea, opinion, figure, attitude or course of action, including information. Message is constructed by a set of codes that has an interpretation and an individual understanding to both sender and the receiver. The code could be verbal, non-verbal or written. A code can be defined as group of symbols that can be structured in a meaningful way. Languages are codes, which contain elements like sounds, letters, words, etc. For instance, a song is a code, which has notes, syntax, tune, rhythm etc. Any form of communication thus requires code. Thus, message exists in the mind of the sender, who selects a set of codes to encode the message according to the needs of receiver.
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The process of converting the subject matter into a set of codes or symbols is called encoding. The transmission of a message from sender to the receiver requires the use of codes. Therefore, the sender plans to encode the message in a particular way, depending upon the receptive power of the receiver. The sender or the communicator constructs the message using a set of codes. These codes encode the ideas for the receiver in a specific format and thereafter are delivered to its destination in the form of a message.
After message is encoded in a format, sender decides a channel to transmit the message. Communication channel refers to medium or media through which the message is disseminated. The channel or mode of communication should be selected by the sender in such a way that it is fully understood by the receiver. For example, if the message is a song, the channel becomes the audio medium of communication. If the message is in written forms, the channel can be in the form of letters, reports, manuals, circulars, notes, books etc. Television and films use audio-visual channels of communication.
Receiver refers to the person to whom the message is intended. Sender of the message constructs a particular message for the receiver. The receiver decodes the message and understands it. He should be mentally and emotionally prepared to receive the message. Message should be conveyed in such a manner that the receiver is able to comprehend it fully. An effective communication can not take place without the presence of receiver. He receives, interprets, perceives, understands and acts upon the message. For example if the message is a film, the receiver is the audience.
When encoded message is translated and understood by the receiver, it is called decoding. The receiver converts the symbols, words or signs received from the sender to know the meaning of the message. Decoding of the message depends on the perception and the interpretation of the receiver alone. Decoding makes the message clearer and it is converted into ordinary understandable language by the receiver.
On receiving the message, the reactions given by the receiver is called his feedback. Feedback is very essential in the process of communication. The continuity in communication is established only when feedback is generated. Communication is a process of action and reaction. Exchange of responses is an imperative thing in this process. Unless the sender is not aware of the response or feedback of the receiver, he cannot communicate further to make the communication effective. The sending back of knowledge about the message to the transmitter is known as feedback. For example, if the film is a message, the receiver is the audience, the feedback becomes the responses of the audience i.e. if they liked the film or not.
- Whispering Gallery
Play the game ‘Whispering Gallery’. The game can be played with a group of 10-15 students. A class can be divided into three or four such groups. The game begins with a group leader whispering a message to the first member of the group, who then whispers it to the second and so on, till the message reaches the last member of the group. The leader checks to see how much the message has been changed. All groups may discuss the reasons for the transformation of the messages while they were playing the game. Write down what the game tells about the communication process.
- Draw the process of communication.
- Fill the following table:
Communication is often considered as an activity only. In reality, it is actually a process. The process of communication includes transmission of information, ideas, emotions, skills, and knowledge. This is done with the help of symbols, words, pictures, figures, graphs, drawings, and illustrations, etc.
Again, “communication” is the process by which we understand and in turn try to be understood by others. It is dynamic, constantly changing and shifting in response to the overall situation. Therefore, “communication” can be described as “the interchange of thoughts or ideas”. This is also referred as sharing of meaning.
The thought is conceived by the sender and reaches the receiver after going through all the steps in the ‘information transfer’ or communication process. The sender first process the thought he has received for clarity as to what exactly he wants to convey to his receiver. Once there is clarity in the message to be transmitted sender decides channel through which he wants to convey the message. When the message reaches the receiver he interprets the message and follows the same steps that were followed by the sender.
Possible answers to Self-Check questions
- (c) We cannot communicate through gestures.
- Sender-Message-Channel-Receiver-Response of the receiver
- Sender, Message, Encoding, Channel, Decoding, Receiver, Feedback
- (a) Converting message in an understandable language.
- Explain the components of the communication process
- Explain Harold Lasswell’s process of communication in detail.
- According to Wilbur Schramm, what are the three essential things to the process of communication? Explain in detail.
Suggested Further Readings
1. Communication- C.S Rayudu (Himalaya Publishing House)
2. Mass Communication in India- Kewal J. Kumar (Jaico Publications)
3. Mass Communication Theory- Denis McQuail (Sage)
4. Understanding Mass Communication- Defleur Dennis (Hougptons Mifflin Company)
- Source: A place from which something comes, arises, or is obtained; origin.
- Transmission: To send or forward something to a recipient or destination.
- Response: An answer or reply, as in words or in some action.
- Destination: The place to which a person, thing or a message travels or is sent.
- Feedback: A reaction or response to a particular process or activity.
- Receiver: A person or audience that is being informed.
- Channel: A medium, carrier or a method through which something is directed.
- Encoding: To convert a message into a form that can be received by the receiver.
- Decoding: To convert a message from code into ordinary language.
- Interpretation: An explanation of the meaning of another’s artistic or creative work; an elucidation.
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