24 April 2018
Theories in Effective Communication
Communication is the transfer of thoughts, information, ideas and emotions through gesture, symbols, signs, voice as well as expressions from one person to another (Schement). There exist two types of communication that include verbal and non-verbal communication. The verbal communication refers to the oral communication while the non-verbal communication. In the case of the verbal communication, the communication happens verbally, orally or through written words to pass the message to the opponent.
Verbal communication has two types that include the oral communication and the written communication. Oral communication usually happens through the word of mouth, conversations, and spoken words, and also any messages get shared or exchanged between one another through speech or the word of mouth such public speech, television, radio, news reading, telephone conversations. For the written communication, the conveyance of message is done through any written words or signs that refer to the language used in any medium such as handwritten, newspaper, typed, documents, books and letters.
Communication skills is one of the basic fields to which every individual should possess in order to communicate effectively, efficiently and ethically. Communication skills are required for every human being to obtain something from others. Individuals have been communicating for the last thousands of years, but the mode of communication, as well as the theories, have not changed much as compared to that time. Communication theory is a part of information theory which studies how information is conveyed between two groups of individuals (Woodward). Just like any other scientific study, the process of communication is simplified to include only two actors that are the sender and receiver. The actors transfer a single message between themselves and it travels through a medium. The communication process is more complex in practice but the basics are simplified in to make it simpler. Proper communication is necessary to attain a successful career and relationships.
The communication theory studies the verbal which is formal and verbal the informal types of communication. Most of the communication theories try to explain communication, but all are similar in that they contain similar elements. The communication elements include source or sender, message, signal, medium, context or noise, a received signal, receiver, received message and destination to which the message is intended (McQuail & Windahl). The sender needs to communicate the message to the receiver. After encoding the source to a signal, the sender sends it over the medium. During the time it takes the message to reach its destination, the signal is potentially distorted by the noise. The receiver picks up the received signal and decodes it and then gets the received message and passes it to the destination.
The source or the sender is one of the basic concepts of communication and information processing. The sources of the information are the objects to which encodes the message data and then transmit the information through the channels to one or more observers and thus the sender is defined as the person who provides the information to other people. The sender provides the information related to a particular subject or about a condition to which someone wants to be changed according to his specifications. In order to have a better communication, the sender must provide a relevant message that is simple and easy to understand. The sender should compose a message that is relevant to the topic under discussion so that he does not get out of the topic of communication. In an illustration, during the sending of a mail, the sender composes the message to be mailed making it simple and clear and using less complex wording to avoid confusing the receiver.
The message is the body or the content to which the sender composes and sends it to the receiver. The message can be formally written or informal, as well in the oral perspective the message is passed through the word of mouth according to the topic under discussion. The message in the mail example of a written form of communication according to the intention of the message. For formal delivery, the message should be short and brief and communicates the direct intention without any hidden intentions. Friendly messages are not made formal and one is not supposed to follow a certain format in addressing the receiver.
The communication theorists examine messages from a semiotic perspective that is the study of signs and symbols and how the meaning is achieved through them. For example, a speaker produces the meaning of the message through various criteria. In the first criteria, the object to which in this case the speaker has an inherent meaning. The second criterion would be his or her image, acting as a representation of the meaning of the object, this can be a well-dressed, professional and a successful person. The third criteria is the interpretation or derive meaning. If the object and image for this case the speech, are successful then the audience will leave having the full understanding of what the speaker meant.
Encoding refers to the process of assembling the message that is the information, ideas as well as the thoughts into a representative design with the objective of ensuring that the receiver can understand the message. Communication can only be established when it results in both the sender and the receiver getting to comprehend similar information. Individuals who are great communicators happen to be great encoders as they know how to present their messages in a way that their audience, the receivers can easily understand. They are as well able to identify the information that is superfluous, irrelevant or even accidentally offensive and are capable of eliminating them in advance through anticipation.
The channel is the fourth element of the communication process. An encoded message is conveyed through the source through a channel. There are numerous channel categories such as the verbal, non-verbal, personal and non-personal. A channel could be the paper on which the message could be written or the internet acting in the client-server model that is granting one to read the words. A good communicator is the one to whom understands the kind of channel to use under the different circumstances of delivering the message. It is unfortunate that there are no perfect channels as all the channels have both strengths and weaknesses and the suitability depend on the number of strengths and advantages that it possesses. For example, the smartphones are great and can be used to propose to someone, but then the marriage proposals are best done in person.
Decoding is the process of interpreting information in order to understand the message. It involves listening and reading directions carefully. Just like in encoding, the communication can only be successful when it results to both the sender and the receiver grasping and understanding the same message and information, and for this to happen, there should be no errors during the processing of the message. One of the best examples of decoding would be a student sitting in on a lecture on the differential equations, decoding is made possible if the student is capable of understanding the context of the message and therefore capable of solving the equations.
After a sender has composed a message and traced the best channel to which he can use to pass the message, the information finally reaches to its destination which is the receiver. A good communicator takes the receivers preconceptions and frames of reference into considerations in the form of how they will react to the message, where there is sharing of common ground, their sense of humor and their moral conduct and all these things will have an effect of how the receivers decodes the messages. The receiver as the intended destination of the message has to read and comprehend fully, digesting the information and relating it with the subject under discussion. Just like in decoding, the receiver must understand the message and be in the same context as the sender of the message. The reason as to why the receiver should understand the message is so that he can be able to plan for the feedback.
The feedback is the final element in the communication process and it is the response of the message to which is sent back to the sender via the same process, where in this case, the receiver becomes the sender. The source of the message is able to judge its success based on the kind of feedback that is received. Feedback is the most reckoning moment to which the sender of the message may receive any kind of response from their respondents.
The context to which the message is composed and sent refers to the environment in which the message is delivered. The context can easily make or break the effectiveness of the communication, this is simply because the environment dictates the formality of the message, and for example, an official communication cannot be carried out in a pub as the environment is completely out of context making it not acceptable.
The elements of communications can never work effectively if the sender and the receiver don’t possess the necessary communication skills. The communication skills are necessary in driving the message home as well as ensuring attention and appropriate feedback. There are three communication skills that are essential in the communication process and they include proper and active listening, body language and confidence during the reply of the feedback (Trenholm).
Active listening involves being keen and paying attention to the speaker in order to grasp whatever is being said. Lack of proper listening would have the implication of poor understanding and as well inadequate decision making leading to wrong feedback that is out of context. It is therefore advisable for a person to maintain an active listening session paying attention to every detail to ensure accuracy during feedback, and also recommendable that the receiver maintains an eye contact to infer what the sender is about to say.
Body language and confidence are also essential in the communication process. The sender have to maintain a specific code of seriousness depending on the message and the context of the message. Being shy or having the inability to maintain eye contact imply that there is no proper communication and that the intended message will not be delivered as intended. Confidence is also required when replying to a message, this is to show the sender that the recipient is conversant with the answer being provided and thus there are minimal chances of errors.
Communication is, therefore, an important aspect in the passing of messages from the sender to the receiver and for an effective communication to take place both the sender and the receiver should have the same understanding of the message in order to have a proper response. Both the sender and the receiver need to make sure they get to understand the environment, maintain the codes of communications in the specific field as well as demonstrate the skills of active listening in terms of verbal communication to facilitate persuasion and proper feedback.
McQuail, Denis, and Sven Windahl. Communication models for the study of mass communications. Routledge, 2015.
Schement, Jorge Reina. “Communication and Information.” Between Communication and Information (2017).
Trenholm, Sarah. Thinking through communication: An introduction to the study of human communication. Routledge, 2017.
Woodward, Philip M. Probability and Information Theory, with Applications to Radar: International Series of Monographs on Electronics and Instrumentation. Vol. 3. Elsevier, 2014.
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