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Communication

What is communication? Importance, Types and Process

Published by: Hitesh Bhasin

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Communication is the act of sharing or exchanging information with an individual or a group of people. The word information in communication refers to an idea, facts, concepts, statistics, news, letter, message, speech and even feelings, imaginations, behaviours and thoughts.

In communication, the message is often transferred from one place to another or even in the same workplace environment. The process of communication needs a message that has to be sent and at least one sender and one receiver to transmit the information from one person and place to another.

Several factors have a direct impact on communication like the cultural situation of a place, emotions of the people involved, the location and the medium used to communicate hence it becomes necessary to pay heed to them during the exchange of information

Communication is a desired soft skill that is in huge demand in the current scenario. More and more industries especially business organizations are looking at it for effectual communiqué as strong communication can open numerous doors for business activities.

Communication is considered a highly complex topic as it requires an in-depth study. Besides the three main components message, sender and recipient the process also includes two vital elements feedback and channels for conducting an effective and accurate communication process.

Define Communication

Definition: Communication is defined as a technique for expressing ideas, information, views or thoughts in an effective manner.

What is the definition of Communication is one of the most commonly asked questions in the world. In simple terms, it is often referred to as an exchange of information between two or more people

Merriam Webster defines communication as “A process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs or behaviour”.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines communication as “The imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing or using some other medium”

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries defines communication as “The activity or process of expressing ideas and feelings or of giving people information”

As per Pearson & Nelson 2000, “Communication is defined as the process of understanding and sharing meaning”

Importance of Communication

1. Connect with people

Communication is a tool that helps to connect with people in both the personal and professional arenas. It makes it possible to share thoughts, reach out to others and interact with clarity. Without adequate communication skills, it becomes impossible to let others know what you are seeking or meet the expectation of other people.

2. Build relationships

It does not matter whether you are studying or working or what your age is the process of communication acts as a powerful medium to communicate effectively, create a friendly environment, share your thoughts and feelings, encourage better understanding and build strong relationships.

3. Find the right solution

Communication is one of the best ways to find a solution to almost all the problems you are facing. Communicating and interacting with different people generate ideas that help to solve even the most critical issues

4. Act as a bridge

The importance of communication is that it acts as a viable bridge between nations, societies and people and helps to bring them closer

5. Improve the workplace environment

There are bound to be several issues at your workplace and it is important to solve them cordially. Strong communication skills help employees to communicate effectively, bridge communication gaps, ensure smooth running and improve the workplace environment

6. Foster powerful teams

A team is as good as its members. Every team needs to have open communication so that they can sort issues, minimize their weakness, encourage strengths and have a clear idea about the things that need to be accomplished. When the communication channel is open and sorted it fosters powerful teams where members can move together in the right direction

7. Problem-solvers

Communication skill is one of the most preferred soft skills in almost every sector. The importance of communication in life is that people with such skills are in high demand as they are the ones a company turns to in case of crisis.

8. Earn respect

Communication is a soft skill that helps to climb the ladder of success more easily and earn respect from their subordinates, superiors, colleagues and peers compared to the ones who are unable to put across their thoughts and communicate with others effectively

9. Instils confidence

An effective communicator has the right words for every scenario. He uses clear and precise language and words that are understood and appreciated by one and all. This instils confidence and he comes across as a force to reckon with during personal and professional interactions

Types of Communication

Types of Communication

There are numerous ways in which people can communicate effectively at any point in time. Some of them are described below

1. Verbal Communication

Verbal Communication, also referred to as Spoken Communication refers to the communication that occurs face-to-face, through a device like television, radio or telephone or any other media. Besides the spoken word, it also includes the rhythm, tone of voice, speed and clarity of the communicator’s speech along with the listening skills and perception of the recipient

2. Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal Communication refers to the subtle ways one communicates with someone else both unintentionally and intentionally. In this type of communication, the word is not spoken instead the onus is on gestures, eye contact, body language, posture, behaviour and facial expressions of a human being. The official ASL or American Sign Language also falls under the category of nonverbal communication.

3. Written Communication

Written Communication refers to the use of the written word and even machine codes and different symbols for exchanging information. It includes books, texts, magazines, social media, e-mails, letters, the internet and other media.

4. Visualizations

Visualization communication includes the use of graphs, symbols, logos, maps, charts and pictures to represent any information and communicate the encoding and decoding of messages. Social media is also an example of visual communication that helps people to connect across the world through its platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Zoom

The Components of Communication

A basic communication model has 5 components: Sender, Message, Channel, Receiver and Feedback. Let’s take a stab at each one of the components of the communication process

1. Sender

The Sender is the source or the speaker who creates and sends the message to the recipient.

In public speaking, the source is the person who gives the speech and conveys the information to the audience through words, body language, tone of voice, gestures and even choice of clothing.

He first imagines the message – what and how to say it, then encodes it by choosing the perfect word and right order to convey the intended meaning and then presents the information to the audience.

The Source of communication see the reaction of the audience to perceive how well the message was received and to offer any supporting information or clarification if required

2. Message

The message is the information that the sender sends to the receiver. It is the meaning that is decoded by the recipient and the target audience

When a person is writing a report or planning to deliver a speech the message represents the words that will convey the intended meaning to the recipient and the target audience. It is important to choose the right words, use proper grammar and organize them in perfect order.

Some people save the most important words for the last part of the communication to make maximum and lasting impact whereas some prefer to use them at the beginning to create an instant awareness.

Effective communication needs a shared language and an in-depth understanding of common concepts so that the message can be interpreted as intended

In a report, the onus is on the writing style, formatting, heading and punctuation.

In public speaking, the onus is on the message along with how the words are spoken, the tone of the voice, the appearance of the speaker and his body language along with the environment in which the message is delivered.

3. Channel

The channel refers to the medium which is used to transfer the message from the Source to the Recipient.

The source can either speak or write the message but he will need a channel to convey the information to the target audience or the recipient.

Some of the important spoken channels of communications are public address systems, telephone devices, face-to-face conversations, voice mail messages, VoIP, radio and speeches.

Written channels of communications include tweets, e-mails, blogs, text messages, newspapers, invoices, magazine articles, purchase orders and letters

4. Receiver

The Receiver refers to the person who receives the message from the Source and decodes it as per his understanding of the situation

It is the receiver who receives the message, analyzes and then interprets it. He takes the help of both verbal and nonverbal clues to understand both the intended and unintended meaning of the message.

If it is a one-way communication then the receiver accepts the message and does not reply back but in the case of a two-way communication process he will respond with a feedback

5. Feedback

Feedback is the message that the Receiver sends back to the Source

Feedback can be both intentional or unintentional and verbal or nonverbal depending on the circumstances. It helps the source to understand whether the message was received and decoded by the receiver as intended or inaccurately.

Feedback is an opportunity for the receiver to ask for clarification and the source to offer supporting information, remove any misconceptions, interference and misunderstandings and make the message clearer.

Communication Process

Communication Process

SENDER >> MESSAGE >> ENCODING >>

DECODING << RECEIVER << MEDIUM <<

>> FEEDBACK

In the communication process, the message is sent by the sender to single or multiple receivers through a communication channel.

It is the responsibility of the sender to encode the message in such a way that its meaning and significance can be easily understood by the recipient. He should also choose the appropriate communication channel to transmit the message

The recipient receives the message

The recipient decodes the received message. He can use techniques like Reflection and Clarification to understand the meaning and significance of the message

Misunderstanding can happen at any point of time during the exchange of information

Encoding and decoding messages effectively are important for a good communication process. It is important to overcome any interference and barriers to the study of communication at every stage of communication theory so that the exchange of information can happen smoothly. The sender must encode his message to minimize confusion and misunderstandings by the receiver

Understanding the audience is important for effective communication

The communicator needs to understand the audience to whom the message is to be sent. It will help him to encode the message in a manner that is easy for the recipient to understand and choose the most appropriate channel for communication

Seek feedback

An effective communicator must seek feedback from the recipient to know whether the message has been decoded and understood as intended and to clear any confusion as soon as possible

Two Models of Communication

There are several models of communication but the ones that are considered most important for business communicators are

1. Transactional Model of Communication

The Transactional Model of Communication is a two-way communication process where both the Source and the Receiver are actively involved in the interaction in real-time and take turns to transfer messages continuously.

The communicators can be human beings or machines and are actively involved at the same time in the process. It includes both verbal and non-verbal communication and is mostly used for interpersonal communication

It is a circular procedure and hence is also referred to as the Circular Model of Communication

Primary examples of this model of communication are face-to-face conversations and interactions through telephone devices and conversations on Skype, Zoom Call etc.

2. Linear Model of Communication

The Linear Model of Communication is a one-way interaction process where the source sends a message to the recipient without expecting a reply

The linear model is a primary model which does not allow continuous interchange of information or feedback. The messages travel only in one direction from the source to the recipient and once the message is sent and is accepted and absorbed by the receiver then the process ends.

This type of model is very straightforward and is mostly used for activities like PR, sales and marketing. Online communicators also use linear communication for interpersonal communication as well as for sending e-mail and sharing messages on social media platforms

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Article by:

Hitesh Bhasin

Hitesh Bhasin is the CEO of Digiaide and his vision is to make business knowledge accessible to everyone.