The Process of Communication


A. Learning Objectives:

1. to know what is communication
to know the various barriers of communication

B. Learning Outcomes:

to be able to explain the process of communication
to be to identify the various barriers of communication

C. Sub Topic
The process of communication is divided into :
1. Sender
2. Encode
3. Message
4. Decode
5. Receiver
6. Feedback

D. Sub Topic
The various barriers of communication

The Process of Communication

Every individual needs to communicate in one or the other way. It takes many forms such as writing, speaking and listening. The hard facts are that a manager, however skilled, needs to learn some basic rules to get the message across, clearly. Communication is the life blood of every organisation and its effective use helps build a proper chain of authority and improve relationships in the organisation. So the importance of developing skills in interpersonal communication is necessary.
While understanding the importance of communication, one needs to be clear regarding the difference between Individual communication and Organizational communication. Communication in the organisation takes place through individuals. However, there is a vast difference in the manner in which personal – communications and organizational – communications are carried out. There is a sequence that needs to be followed in organizational communication. It is skilled, chair bound, predetermined and continuous. To communicate well, one needs to know the frames of reference to be able to assess other people so as to pass information and build relationship.
Communication is a process that involves transfer of information and behavioral inputs. It is the transfer of information from a sender to a receiver with the information being understood by the receiver. It is a function by which organized activity is unified. It is looked upon as a means by which social inputs are fed into social systems, a means by which behavior is modified, change is effected, information is made productive in a manner such as to achieve goals. It is absolutely essential, whether it be in a family, in a temple, in an army cantonment or in a business unit.
Communicating is a two-way process. In organisations, one communicates to get the things done, pass on and obtain information, reach decisions and achieve a joint understanding. The sender needs to formulate a message so that it is understandable to the receiver. This responsibility pertains primarily to written and oral communication and points to the necessity for planning the message, stating the underlying assumptions and applying the generally accepted rules for effective writing and speaking. The greater the integrity and consistency of written, oral and nonverbal messages, as well as of the moral behavior of the sender, the greater is the acceptance of the message by the receiver.

Communication covers a wide topic area. Any definition of a topic as broad as communication would be too general, too complex, or too fragmented to be of much use to a community leader. We can explain various aspects of communication with definitions, but they would not be unified. One way to define communication is to explain the process of communication.
Applying the term process to communication means that it is an ongoing event. In our social interaction with others, we are communicating. Communication, therefore, is the process whereby we attempt to transmit our thoughts, ideas, wishes, or emotions to others.
For our purpose, communication involves only the information, thoughts, ideas, etc. that we want to transmit to a specific audience. The definition of communication does not include observed behavior unless the observed behavior is intended to help transmit the message. For instance, there is no communication between a leader and two group members who are having a conversation on the other side of the room, even if the leader is observing their behavior. The two group members do not intend their conversation to transmit any messages to the leader. Nor is the leader intending to transmit any messages to the two members through his observation. However, the leader can use gestures to help transmit messages to a specific audience as a part of the communication process.
The goal of communication is the acceptance of the sender's message by the receiver. If the receiver understands the meaning of a message which asks for action, but fails to act, the goal of communications is not achieved. But if the receiver does respond to the message by taking the appropriate action, the goal of the communication has been achieved.

How does Communication works?There are many communication models which serve a variety of purposes. They range from single event analyses which can be used to instruct beginners, to complex models which are usually understood only by specialists in the field of communication. We have chosen the SENDER-ENCODE-MESSAGE-CHANNEL-DECODE-RECEIVER (S.M.C.R.) Model for this publication. The S.M.C.R. model is helpful for examining a single communicative event; that is, it can isolate one event out of the ongoing communication process and illustrate the actions which take place.

SenderThe sender (or source in the S.M.C.R. model) is the transmitter of the message. There are five factors which influence the sender in any communication he transmits:
Communications skills
Position in the social system
These five factors also influence the receiver as will only be summarized here.
There are five verbal communication skills which determine our ability to transmit and receive messages. Two are sending skills: speaking and writing. Two are receiving skills: listening and reading. The fifth is important to both sending and receiving: thought or reasoning. The extent of the development of these skills helps determine our ability to communicate verbally.
The effectiveness of our communications is also determined by our ability with nonverbal communications skills. A stern look of disapproval from the group leader readily communicates to the group member receiving the look that something he said or did was not well taken.
Attitudes, the second factor influencing the sender and receiver, are hard to define. For our purpose we will say that an attitude is a generalized tendency to feel one way or another about something. For instance, you may have a favorable or an unfavorable attitude toward voluntary groups working to solve community problems. If your attitude on this matter is favorable, you may, however, feel that certain problems could be better handled by the city council.
Attitudes influence our communication in three ways. Attitudes toward ourselves determine how we conduct ourselves when we transmit messages to others. If we have a favorable self-attitude, the receivers will note our self-confidence. If we have an unfavorable self-attitude, the receivers will note our uneasiness. However, if our favorable self-attitude is too strong, we tend to become brash and overbearing, and our communication loses much of its effect with the receiver.

Attitude toward subject matter affects our communication by predetermining the way we work our messages about certain subjects. An example would be a community leader with a favorable attitude toward bringing industry into the local area. He is likely to talk about only the good that industry could achieve. He may deliberately neglect to mention the difficulties encountered in trying to recruit new industry or any possible undesirable effects that might result.
Attitude toward the receiver or the receiver's attitude toward the sender is the third attitude item which influences our communication. Our messages are likely to be very different when communicating the same content to someone we like and then to someone we dislike. We also structure our messages differently when talking to someone in a higher position than ours, in the same position, or in a lower position, regardless of whether we like them or not.
Knowledge level has a bearing on our ability to communicate effectively about a subject. A businessman might feel ill at ease trying to talk with a farmer about hogs, cattle, corn, or beans. The farmer would probably not feel qualified to talk about city slums, urban traffic problems, or city government. They may both feel quite comfortable discussing politics, however.
The position of the sender and the receiver in their respective social systems also affects the nature of the communicative act. Each one of us occupies a position in one or more social systems, such as our family, work groups, church, community, or the organizations to which we belong. We perceive those with whom we communicate as occupying a similar, higher, or lower position in their respective social systems. (This ties in with the previous sections on attitudes toward the receiver or sender.)
Our culture also influences our communication effectiveness. Communication is more effective between persons with similar cultural backgrounds. Culture is relatively independent of social position in many cases. For instance, a voluntary association leader in Iowa could probably communicate better with the people in his own group, because of their similar cultural background, than he could with a leader in the same organization in the East.
Encoding the Message
Another problem with the message—the meaning—we want to send is that we can't send it directly. We can't plug their mind into our mind. To convey our message, we have to use symbols—written or spoken words, pictures, sounds, physical gestures, and movements. Yet none of these symbols are precise. They never represent a

perfect match with the thought, ideas, information, or message we hold in our mind. Although we may try for the exact word or phrase or illustration, inevitably the symbol we choose to represent our thought is less than perfect. Words are a particular problem. We must use words to communicate, but meanings for the words we use are in the people hearing or seeing them, not in the words themselves. And the same word can have so many possible meanings.

MessageThe message is what the sender attempts to transmit to his specified receivers. Every message has at least two major aspects: content and treatment.
The content of the message includes the assertions, arguments, appeals, and themes which the sender transmits to the receivers. For instance, community leaders may wish to send a message to community organizations appealing for financial support for a new swimming pool. The content of the message may include the results of a survey showing the need for a new swimming pool, the proposed plan for the new pool, the costs involved, and the appeal for financial support.
The treatment of the message is the arrangement or ordering of the content by the sender. In the above example, the community leaders can arrange the content in many ways. The receiver is likely to be more receptive to the message, however, if the sender talks about the survey illustrating the needs prior to talking about the costs and making the appeal for financial support.
The selection of content and the treatment of the message depend upon our communication skills, attitudes, knowledge level, our position in social systems, and our culture. The selection of content and the treatment of the message we use also depends upon our audience and their communication skills, knowledge, attitudes, social position, and culture. A doctor, for example, would probably select different content and treat the message differently when talking about the same subject to two different audiences, i.e., his fellow doctors and a group of community leaders.

ChannelSocial scientists recognize two types of channels: (1) sensory channels based on the five senses of sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste, and (2) institutionalized

means such as face-to-face conversation, printed materials, and the electronic media.
We use the institutionalized means to transmit most of our messages. Each institutionalized medium requires one or more of the sensory channels to carry the message from the sender to the receiver. For instance, when we use face-to-face conversation (an institutionalized medium) we make use of sight (gestures, expressions), sound (voice, other noises), and possibly touch, smell, or taste.
Social Scientists have generally found that the receiver's attention is more likely to be gained if the sender uses a combination of institutionalized means using two or more sensory channels. Suppose, for example, someone tells your group that the quality of education in your community is not as good as the public is led to believe. If your group can discuss the problems face-to-face with school administrators during visits to the school (sight and sound) as well as hear about them through institutionalized means such as television and newspapers, they are more likely to pay attention to the message.
When applying the multi-channel concept to real situations, you need to consider the three basic institutionalized means and a minimum of two of the sensory channels, specifically sight and sound.
Face-to-face conversation has the greatest potential for getting the receiver's attention. It should be the primary institutionalized means used by leaders in sending messages to their group members. However, leaders should supplement face-to-face conversation with other institutionalized means and sensory channels in their continuing effort to gain the attention of their group members.

Before our message can have meaning to the recipient, it must be decoded. Our listener, reader, employee, customer—the person to whom we are trying to convey our meaning must interpret our words, pictures, gestures. To each, he or she adds meaning—and not necessarily the meaning we intended. Perhaps the words we choose don't mean the same to them. Perhaps we have chosen specialized symbols—jargon, pictures, illustrations they don't understand. Perhaps they filter out part of our message so they hear only what they want to hear. Perhaps, due to noise, they miss key words. We choose a formal public medium—the public announcement—for convenience. They interpret our choice as “cold” and

“insensitive.” Worse, most people are poor listeners. They become passive, go into neutral—and truly absorb by some estimates as little as 25 percent of what they hear.

ReceiversThe receiver in the S.M.C.R. model must attend to, interpret, and respond to the transmitted message. The goal of communication is reached when the receiver accepts the sender's message. Attention and comprehension are the means the receiver used to attain the goal of acceptance of the message.
Attention is the process by which the receiver tunes in on a message and listens to it, watches it, or reads it. The sender must consider his receiver and treat the message in such a way that the receiver's attention is more easily gained and retained.
Comprehension implies understanding of the message by the receiver. Here again, the sender must consider his intended receiver and use message content and treatment that will enable the receiver to understand the message.
Once the receiver has attended to the message and comprehended or understood the content, his next task is to accept the message on at least one of three levels: the cognitive, that is, the receiver accepts the message content as true; the affective, the receiver believes that the message is not only true but good; overt action, where the receiver believes the message is true, believes it is good, takes the appropriate action.
The sender can do much in deciding on his content and treatment of the message to gain the receiver's attention and comprehension. However, he has little control over the receiver's acceptance of the message. One consideration required at this point is to note that receivers are more inclined to accept message contents which agree with their previous attitudes. The sender has a less difficult task if his message agrees with the receiver's attitudes. If the receiver disagrees with the sender's message, acceptance is less likely.

FeedbackFeedback is the sender's way of determining the effectiveness of his message. During feedback the direction of the communication process is reversed. When providing feedback, the original receiver goes through the same process as did the original sender and the same factors influence him as they did the sender.
The receiver may use the same channel for feedback as the sender used for the original message; this is usually the case in face-to-face conversation. Or the receiver may take a different channel, as might be the case when you as a leader transmit a message to your group requesting action on a matter and the group acts or does not act in the way you asked. The group's actions have then become the feedback. Another example might be the increased sales of a product due to radio and television advertising. The purchase of the product by the public provides feedback to the manufacturer on the effectiveness of the communicated message.
In face-to-face conversation, feedback is more easily perceived. The sender can tell if the receivers are paying attention when he speaks to them. If a receiver falls asleep or looks at other things in the surrounding environment, the sender realizes that he does not have the receiver's attention.
If the sender sees furrowed brows or questioning facial expressions in his receivers, he knows that they did not comprehend his message. However, the overt action taken by the receiver is the feedback that the sender uses to determine the amount of influence he has had with the receiver.
Feedback measures influence. We know that democratic leadership involves influencing others. When a group has been successful in raising money for a community project, they can rightfully feel that they were influential. If the group had failed in their effort to raise the money, one of the reasons could be that they were not influential in the community. If your group takes the action you want them to take, you have been influential; if it does not, then you were not influential.
Feedback provides a method of eliminating mis-communication. It is most effective in face-to-face conversation where feedback is instantaneous. If a group leader asks one of the members for some ideas on projects for the next year and the member suggests having travel films, the leader knows immediately that mis-communication has occurred. The group member suggested program ideas and not project ideas. The feedback would be effective if the leader were to immediately clarify the difference between programs and projects. Had the situation not been face-to-face, the group member might still be thinking of travel films for next year's project.

Barriers to effective communication
Breakdowns of communication channels, is a frequent challenge that managers face. Communication problems signify more deep-rooted problems than those that appear prima facie. The barriers may exist either at the transmission stage or at the feedback stage. It may so happen that the sender is unable to properly channelise the message, or it may also be wrongly received. The important point is to understand the barriers that a manager faces at various stages so that they can be properly dealt with.
Faulty Planning
The prerequisite of effective communication is accurate planning. The message should be properly planned and then delivered. Which channel links are to be adopted needs to be planned out in advance. The contents of the message should be drawn after considering all the aspects. A poorly designed message looses all its worthiness. Besides, the purpose of the message also needs to be clearly stated. Hence, faulty planning leads to breaking up of communication lines.
Vague Presumptions
The non-communicated assumptions that underline the message are extremely dangerous. The sender presumes a certain part and accordingly forwards the message. It is not necessary that the receiver shall also presume things in the same manner. This may lead to confusion and chaos. Unclarified and vague presumptions lead to greater dangers. For example, a senior officer gives a call to the junior stating that on certain days he will be out of town assuming that the junior shall make necessary staying arrangements for him. The junior receives this message assuming that senior manager is simply informing him of his absence so that he can take over the responsibility and that all staying arrangements were already taken care of by the senior.
Semantic Distortion :
A single word conveys lots of different meanings. Each word is understood in reference to the context of the sentence as well as place and situation it is used at. Semantic Distortion can be deliberate or accidental. When it is deliberate, it is intended so but the one that is accidental hinders the progress of communication. It renders ambiguity to the message and every different individual may come to his own conclusion in the end.

Muddled messages
Effective communication starts with a clear message. Contrast these two messages: "Please be here about 7:00 tomorrow morning." "Please be here at 7:00 tomorrow morning." The one word difference makes the first message muddled and the second message clear. Muddled messages are a barrier to communication because the sender leaves the receiver unclear about the intent of the sender. Muddled messages have many causes. The sender may be confused in his or her thinking. The message may be little more than a vague idea. Feedback from the receiver is the best way for a sender to be sure that the message is clear rather than muddled. Clarifying muddled messages is the responsibility of the sender. The sender hoping the receiver will figure out the message does little to remove this barrier to communication.

Stereotyping causes us to typify a person, a group, an event or a thing on oversimplified conceptions, beliefs, or opinions. Stereotyping can substitute for thinking, analysis and open mindedness to a new situation. Stereotyping is a barrier to communication when it causes people to act as if they already know the message that is coming from the sender or worse, as if no message is necessary because "everybody already knows." Both senders and listeners should continuously look for and address thinking, conclusions and actions based on stereotypes.

Wrong channel
Variation of channels helps the receiver understand the nature and importance of a message. Using a training video on cleaning practices helps new employees grasp the importance placed on herd health. A written disciplinary warning for tardiness emphasizes to the employee that the problem is serious. A birthday card to an employee's spouse is more sincere than a request to the employee to say "Happy Birthday" to the spouse. Simple rules for selection of a channel cause more problems than they solve. In choice of a channel, the sender needs to be sensitive to such things as the complexity of the message.

Words are not reality. Words as the sender understands them are combined with the perceptions of those words by the receiver. Language represents only part of the whole. We fill in the rest with perceptions. Trying to understand a foreign language easily demonstrates words not being reality. Being "foreign" is not limited to the language of another country, it can be as much a barrier to communication as a foreign language.

Lack of feedback
Feedback is the mirror of communication. Feedback mirrors what the sender has sent. Feedback is the receiver sending back to the sender the message as perceived. Without feedback, communication is one-way. Feedback happens in a variety of ways. Asking a person to repeat what has been said, e.g., repeat instructions, is a very direct way of getting feedback. Feedback may be as
subtle as a stare, a puzzled look, a nod, or failure to ask any questions after complicated instructions have been given. Both sender and receiver can play an active role in using feedback to make communication truly two-way. Feedback should be helpful rather than hurtful. Prompt feedback is more effective that feedback saved up until the "right" moment. Feedback should deal in specifics rather than generalities. Approach feedback as a problem in perception rather than a problem of discovering the facts.

Poor listening skills
Listening is difficult. A typical speaker says about 125 words per minute. The typical listener can receive 400-600 words per minute. Thus, about 75 percent of listening time is free time. The free time often sidetracks the listener. The solution is to be an active rather than passive listener. One important listening skill is to be prepared to listen. Tune out thoughts about other people and other problems. Search for meaning in what the person is saying. A mental outline or summary of key thoughts can be very helpful. Avoid interrupting the speaker. Providing feedback is the most important active listening skill. Ask questions. Nod in agreement. Look the person straight in the eye. Lean forward. Be an animated listener. Focus on what the other person is saying. Repeat key points. Active listening is particularly important in dealing with an angry person. Encouraging the person to speak, i.e., to vent feelings,

is essential to establishing communication with an angry person. Repeat what the person has said. Ask questions to encourage the person to say again what he or she seemed most anxious to say in the first place. An angry person will not start listening until they have "cooled" down. Telling an angry person to "cool" down often has the opposite effect. Getting angry with an angry person only assures that there are now two people not listening to what the other is saying.

Physical distractions

Physical distractions are the physical things that get in the way of communication. Examples of such things include the telephone, a pick-up truck door, a desk, an uncomfortable meeting place, and noise. These physical distractions are common on farms. If the phone rings, the tendency is to answer it even if the caller is interrupting a very important or even delicate conversation. A supervisor may give instructions from the driver's seat of a pick-up truck. Talking through an open window and down to an employee makes the truck door a barrier. A person sitting behind a desk, especially if sitting in a large chair, talking across the desk is talking from behind a physical barrier. Two people talking facing each other without a desk or truck-door between them have a much more open and personal sense of communication. Uncomfortable meeting places may include a place on the farm that is too hot or too cold. Another example is a meeting room with uncomfortable chairs that soon cause people to want to stand even if it means cutting short the discussion. Noise is a physical distraction simply because it is hard to concentrate on a conversation if hearing is difficult.



Post a Comment

Click here for Myspace Layouts