Communication Model

October 3, 2009
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A general communication model representing, verbal, non-verbal or event electronic communication fits into a system that contains components like encoder, source message, a real-life channel that has noise and then a decode subsystem that tries to recreate the original message to pass on to the receiver. There’s a need for a feedback channel so that the sender understands from the feedback message or changed behaviour of the recipient that the message has been received at the distant end. One needs to understand that due to the noise in the channel, it is not possible to recreate the original signal/message. We need to understand that this whole exercise happens within a given context that includes the sender and the receiver’s own version of reality has been shaped by differing life experiences. Yet, there is some common understanding that provides the context.

Different Components

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Sender or the source is a person, a group or an organization giving out information/message. The encoding, in this context, is the process of transforming an idea, a thought, a concept into language that is understood by both sender and receiver. Please see illustration.

The communication medium or the channel is the means used to deliver the message. This can be one of several means available today. It can be spoken words face to face, over the telephone or fax, document based such as letter/memo/ report/ memo and so on. Sound and imagery also can be very effective communication medium. Then there is the whole world of non-verbal communication via body language, colors, smell, touch or even what kind of fonts have been used and so on.

Unless there is some feedback, something as simple as an acknowledgement, the sender will never know if the attempt at communication has worked at all. The receiver, a person, group or an organization receiving the message must provide this feedback to the sender. A definite action or some change in behaviour can act as the feedback.

As the message travels through the medium, which is by nature certain essentially noisy, the message gets modified. Depending on the amount of noise in the medium a amount of corruption of the message will happen. In our context it will change the meaning of the message to the recipient. This barrier to communication or noise can happen due to a range of factors. It can be content related such as inadequate language or the content quality and correctness. Expertise level of sender and receiver also has something to do with this noise. The sender may not have understood exactly what the receiver needed. Trust and level of honesty of the source may be suspect to the receiver, emotional calm of the sender, cultural differences, poor listening effort on the part of the receiver or even his/her status in the hierarchy of the organization can add to the distractions/barriers or the noise.

Care in Communication

The care required becomes essential in this context. You not only have to be accurate & factual you have to ensure that facts are conveyed correctly. They need to be conveyed correctly so as to overcome all the issues associated with communications. Planning the information needs of stakeholders, communicating effectively with them, are thus absolutely vital for you for the success of the project, consequently your success and survival in the organization.

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