Anytime two or more people exchange messages, they are engaging in the basic communication process. Sounds simple, doesn’t it. However, the communication process is really quite complex. Not only does it have several components, but the clarity and context of the message can be influenced either positively or negatively by several factors.
It is important to understand the communication process to be able to effectively communicate and avoid misinterpretation. In this article, we will look at the components of communication and the communication process model. Then we will explore organizational communication approaches and processes. Finally, we will discuss the email communication process.
Components of Communication
Communication is a process of exchanging verbal and non-verbal messages. We can identify communication by defining its components as follows:
Context is the environment in which communication takes place and includes the organization, culture, and community. Additionally, external stimuli, such as meetings, casual conversations, emails, memos, etc. and internal stimuli such as opinions and emotions, influence the context. Only when one considers all the aspects of context can one communicate effectively.
The sender uses a combination of words, symbols, graphs, and pictures to communicate. The speaker is the encoder in oral communication, and the writer is the encoder in written communication.
The information exchanged between the sender and receiver creates a message, either intentional or unintentional. The sender of the message must consider the context in order for the message to be understandable. Additionally, the message must contain clear language, with any necessary definitions, examples, or graphics to insure comprehension.
The medium – the channel through which the message is sent – may be electronic, sound, or print. The choice of a medium is influenced by:
- The relationship between the sender and the receiver
- The nature of the message
Use an oral medium when your message is urgent, personal or when immediate feedback is desired. Use a written medium when is technical, formal, or needs to be documented.
The listener or reader of communication interprets the message. The receiver is influenced by context, as well as external and internal stimuli. If the receiver has biased opinions, or misconceptions, the message may not be received correctly. Attitude and personality also influence the receiver.
Feedback is the response of the receiver – their reaction to the communication. Silence can be a form of feedback, or the receiver may respond orally or in writing. Feedback is used to confirm the message was understood and that any required action was taken.
All the components must work together effectively for the communication process to be complete and convey the intended message.
Communication Process Model
Communication process refers to the exchange of information (a message) between two or more people. For this exchange to be successful, both parties must have the capability to exchange information and understand one another. Communication fails if the flow of information is blocked for some reason or if those attempting to communicate cannot make themselves understood. In order to comprehend just what communication is – its purpose and value – we must understand the communication process model.
Five Basic Steps in the Communication Process Model
Step #1 Set your objectives before engaging in communication or starting to convey a message.
- What is/are the objective(s)?
- What action do you want the person who receives the message to take, once they understand the message?
- Why is the message important?
Step #2 Identify the receivers (the target audience) of your communication.
- Makes it possible to tailor your message for optimal understanding.
- Allows you to target those appropriate for receiving your message.
Step #3 Choose your communication method.
- Base your choice on what you are trying to achieve.
- Consider the skill level of the receiver(s).
- Pick a suitable form, i.e. telephone, email, power point presentation, etc.
Step #4 Consider your receiver(s).
- Your receiver(s) level of competence and understanding.
- How they learn and receive information best, i.e. visually, verbally, etc.
- Combine methods of communication to meet the needs of all receivers, i.e. handouts with verbal explanations.
Step #5 Conform your communication to the feedback received.
- Look for a consensus of understanding
- Change your message, type of communication, style, tone, etc. as feedback is received.
The communication process can be affected by how the information is transmitted, received, and interpreted in two ways:
- Noise. Any sort of interference that affects the message being sent, received, or understood.
- Physiological Noise. Distraction caused by how we think and feel, i.e. fatigue, headaches, hunger, or other factors.
- Physical Noise. Environmental interference, such as noise made by others, crowds, high or low temperatures, and bright or dim lighting.
- Psychological Noise. One’s feeling and personality affects how effective communication and interpretation is, i.e. defensive feelings, preoccupation, or prejudice.
- Semantic Noise. Words must be mutually understood for communication to take place. Technical language or jargon can cause confusion.
- Context. The setting and situation – physical, cultural, or social – in which communication takes place can impact the successful exchange of information.
The communication process model helps us define who is involved in communication and what must take place. It is a framework upon which we can build successful individual and organizational communication.
Organizational Communication Approaches and Processes
Although many definitions of organizational communication exist, for our purposes we will define organizational communication as sending and receiving messages in a particular setting or environment (organization) to achieve common, individual, goals among interrelated people.
The process of organizational communication involves the sending and receiving of messages in writing (non-verbally) or in person (verbally). Much of organizational communication involves transmitting information. However, more complex communication, such as resolving conflicts, requires the ability to process meaning and negotiate using the rules of the organization.
Whether the communication is considered simple or more complex, for understanding to take place, the message must be clear, concise, and avoid politically or culturally marginalization language. Organizations must model effective communication skills in:
- Creating positive work relationships
- Performance evaluations
- Conflict resolution
- Decision making
- Stress management
- Organizational socialization
- Individual and group presentations
- Communicating with external publics
Organizational communication is contextually and culturally dependent as people transmit messages and information in writing, electronically, and face-to-face. The nature and function (context) of the organization effects communication. Additionally, each organization has its own unique culture. For communication to be successful within the organization, both context and culture must coincide and work together.
Organizational communication builds relationships internally with members of the organization and with the external public. The success of an organization is dependent the ability of its members to communicate effectively. Employees need the ability to be skilled in public presentation, listening, and interpersonal communication to successfully communicate in an organization. A successful organization will provide training to insure their employees’ success.
Organizational communication benefits organizations in several ways:
- Acclimating personnel to changes
- Completing tasks of procedures, policy, and regulation supporting continual, daily operations
- Accomplishing tasks related to specific roles and responsibilities of sales, services, and production
- Developing relationships for successful communication considering job satisfaction, morale, and individual attitudes
- Planning, coordinating, and controlling management operations
It is important to understand organizational communication approaches and processes for developing and refining employee communication. Each organization must define its own approach for effective communication, defining the processes they will put in place to enhance both internal and external communication.
Organizations must have competent communicators for successful daily operations. From the company’s website, through the employee handbook, to a termination interview, every aspect of communication in an organization must work together to communicate the organization’s intent, culture, and commitments to both internal and external personnel.
Email Communication Process
Email is the choice many make as the medium through which to deliver a message. Although it is quick and relatively easy to use, one must make sure they understand the process and purpose of email communication in order to use it effectively.
There are five components of email communication:
#1 The Sender
Successful email communication requires the sender (also called the source or communicator) encode the message with a combination of graphs, symbols, words, and pictures to achieve a desired response.
#2 The Receiver
The receiver (interpreter) comprehends the sender’s email message by decoding and interpreting it.
#3 The Message
The message or content of the email is the information the sender wishes to relay to the receiver.
#4 The Medium
The medium, also called the channel, is the means one chooses to transmit the message. With email, the medium is the computer or cell phone.
Once the email has been successfully transmitted, received, and understood, any response indicating comprehension from the receiver – either verbal or written – is considered feedback. Feedback helps us determine if we have accomplished our purpose.
Email makes it easy to communicate with others at any time and place, especially with the advent of the smartphone. Additionally, the receiver has the ability to answer immediately. However, along with the benefits of this method of communication, comes some problems. We must remember that email is a communication tool and not allow it to drive our actions, but rather use it to accomplish our communication goals. To do this:
Keep Your Email Concise
People expect email communication to be direct and to the point. The first few lines should convey the intent of your email and let your recipient know if a response if necessary as many systems allow the recipient to read the beginning of an email before opening it.
- Be Professional. It does not matter to whom your email is addressed – your boss, the hiring manager, or a co-worker – your content should be professional in its content and composition. Do not use texting lingo, smiley faces, confusing fonts, or graphics not part of the conversation. Doing so makes your content less likely to be read and taken seriously.
- Be Polite. Never begin your email with a command, but rather use a greeting, such as “Hello” and the name of the recipient. Avoid using all capital letters or exclamation points, as it conveys shouting. Close your email with a “Thank you,” followed by your name.
- Do Not Let Email Replace Face-to-Face Communication. Some conversations work better in person. Do not use email to avoid face-to-face communication. If the email is not the best choice for communication, choose an alternative method. To be effective, email communication must be clear, concise, and understandable. The following email communication process helps guarantee your email is an effective communication tool.
- Define the Purpose of Your Email. Doing so helps you decide if you should even bother to send the message. Make sure your purpose is clearly stated in the first paragraph.
- Determine What Action You Want to Receiver of the Email to Take
- Complete a task, i.e. call someone or order something.
- Respond with the information requested.
- Read the email, with no response required.
- Decide If You Need Supporting Information. Identify and attach any and all supportive documentation or information.
- Use the Subject Line to Summarize Your Message’s Intent. Complete the subject line after composing the email. Make sure your message content is summarized as this encourages the receiver to open and respond to your message.
E-mail communication plays a significant role in one’s daily work life, enriching and facilitating business with the ability to exchange information regardless of location and time. However, employees frequently complain about the large volume of emails they receive and on which they must take action. Additionally, the ability to use email at any time means employees frequently have time away from work interrupted with organizational emails. Employees need a sense of personal control to avoid work related stress and this extends to one’s ability to receive and respond to emails if and when appropriate.
Communication is a process of transmitting and receiving messages, both verbal and non-verbal. Since effective communication is a dialogue not a monologue, it is only effective if it brings the desired response from the receiver. To be a successful communicator, one must adequately convey information, thoughts, and feelings in a way to motivate, teach, and inform others. One must choose the best medium, know one’s recipient, and use feedback to monitor the effectiveness of communication and modify it accordingly. Using the information and tools in this article can help one understand and use the communication process to be an effective communicator.