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What is the communication process?
Two primary models exist to explain the communication process.
One model, known as the Transactional Model, explains communication as a transactional process with actions often happening at the same time.
This model breaks down the communication process into series of eight essential components:
- Source of a Message – The source is the creator or genesis of the communication. She imagines, creates, and sends the message.
- The Message – “ is the stimulus or meaning produced by the source for the receiver or audience.” The message may include verbal and non-verbal elements, such as gestures, tone, movements, expressions, etc. The Sender encodes the message by selecting the appropriate verbal and non-verbal elements based upon how she believe the receiver will receive the message. The receiver’s educational level, experience, viewpoints, etc., will affect how she receives the message.
- The Channel of Communication – The Sender selects appropriate channel for message. “The channel is the way in which a message or messages travel between source and receiver.” Verbal and nonverbal messages may be face-to-face, remote, synchronous or asynchronous.
- The Receiver or Recipient of the Message – “The receiver receives the message from the source, analyzing and interpreting the message in ways both intended and unintended by the source.” This process is known as “decoding” the message.
- Feedback from the Receiver – Feedback is composed of messages the receiver (intentionally or inadvertently) sends back to the source. It is the Receiver’s response and it may demonstrate how well the message was received and the need for clarification.
- The Environment – “The environment is the atmosphere, physical and psychological, where you send and receive messages.” Things like the location, medium, atmosphere, clothing of speakers, etc., all make up the environment in which the communication takes place.
- The Context – “The context of the communication interaction involves the setting, scene, and expectations of the individuals involved.” Context is all about what people expect from each other. We often create those expectations out of environmental cues.
- Interference – “Interference is anything that blocks or changes the source’s intended meaning of the message.” It may include anything that occupies your attention while you are hearing, or reading, a message. Examples might include nice, level of education or knowledge, culture, language, diversion, environment, etc.
A second model, known as the Constructivist Model, takes a slightly less procedural approach. While similar to the Transactional Model, it envisions the process as the fluid (often simultaneous) interchange of information. It also focuses on the individual’s unique construction of meaning or interpretation of the information received. Two people will perceive the information differently; thus, the communicators must arrive at a common understanding.