Communication process and its stages

Lecture 2. Basic provisions of the theory of communication.

The term “communications” is derived from the Latin communico, meaning “to make common, to connect.” The concept of communication has long become interdisciplinary. The theory of communication is also called communication science, it is a branch of sociology. And the general set of ideas about communication took shape in an independent discipline – the theory of communication.

The theory of communication involves two approaches to the interpretation of the concept of communication – mechanistic and activity. According to the mechanistic approach, communication is the transfer of information, a unidirectional process that involves some kind of informational impact of the subject on the object, followed by possible feedback. According to the activity approach, communication is the exchange of information, interaction, during which participants act as subjects and objects alternately.

The purpose of such an exchange of information is to develop some kind of joint knowledge, approach, view – just what is described by the Latin word communico.

Communication is an activity aimed at regulating joint activities, in other words, meta-activity (super-, over-activity). In this sense, communication directly correlates with management, which is also a meta-activity, that is, it serves to organize other activities.

Here is how the famous American researcher of politics and propaganda Harold D. Lasswell defines communication: Who says what to whom in which channel with what effect? (“Who said what, to whom, through what channel, with what effect”). The Lasswell formula is considered a classic; it can be found in all textbooks on communication theory, mass communication, social psychology, sociology and political science.

Communication process and its stages

There are four basic elements in the communication process.

1. Sender , a person who generates ideas or collects information and transmits it.

2. Message , the actual information encoded using symbols.

3. Channel , a means of transmitting information.

4. Recipient , the person to whom the information is intended and who interprets it.

When exchanging information, the sender and recipient go through several interrelated stages. Their task is to compose a message and use a channel to convey it in such a way that both parties understand the original idea.

Stages of the communication process:

 Generating an idea.

 Encoding and channel selection.

 Transfer.

 Decoding.

1. The birth of an idea . The exchange of information begins with the formulation of an idea or the selection of information. The sender decides which idea or message should be exchanged. The idea, at this stage, has not yet been translated into words and has not acquired another form in which it will serve the exchange of information. The sender has only decided which concept he wants to make the subject of the exchange of information.

At this stage, it is necessary to realize exactly what ideas are intended to be transmitted.

2. Encoding and channel selection . Before conveying an idea, the sender must encode it using symbols, using words, intonations and gestures (body language) or other signs understandable to the addressee. This coding turns an idea into a message.

The sender must also select a channel that is compatible with the character type used for encoding. Some well-known channels include the transmission of speech and written materials, as well as electronic means of communication, including computer networks, e-mail, videoconferencing. If the channel is not suitable for the physical embodiment of the symbols, transmission is not possible. If the channel is not very relevant to the idea, the exchange of information will be less effective.

3. Transfer . At this stage, the sender uses the channel to deliver the message to the recipient. This is the physical transmission of a message, which many people mistake for the process of communication itself.

4. Decoding is the translation of the sender’s characters into the thoughts of the recipient. If the characters chosen by the sender have exactly the same meaning for the recipient, the latter will know what the sender had in mind when he formulated his idea. However, for a number of reasons, the recipient may give a slightly different meaning to the message than in the sender’s head. From the manager’s point of view, communication should be considered effective if the recipient has demonstrated understanding of the idea by performing the actions that the sender expected from him.

In the communication process, feedback and interference in the exchange of information are important.

Feedback is the recipient’s reaction to the received message. It is carried out with the help of different signals: a detailed verbal message, a clarifying question, a nod, a surprised look, a quick response by e-mail, etc. Feedback enables the sender to ascertain whether the message was received, how it was understood, and whether it produced the expected response. In the presence of feedback, the sender and receiver change communicative roles. That is, the recipient is trying to convey what he understood from the message sent to him, going through all the same stages discussed above.

The two-way communication process, although slower, is more accurate and increases confidence in the correct interpretation of messages.

The concept of feedback came to the theory of communications from cybernetics, where it denotes, in a simplified form, the reaction of systems to an impact. In particular, a distinction is made between positive feedback and negative feedback.

Adequate feedback is the key to mutual understanding, establishing trusting relationships. Effective feedback should have the following characteristics:

targeting : feedback should be given taking into account the individual characteristics and interests of the interlocutor, it should increase its value and significance, and not humiliate self-esteem;

constructiveness : with feedback, one should not give assessments of the personality of the interlocutor, but express one’s position on the information heard;

usefulness : information provided in the form of feedback should help the interlocutor in solving his problems;

timeliness : the faster the feedback, the better;

clarity : it should be carried out with the help of clear, unambiguously understood phrases;

Reliability : the information conveyed by the feedback must be reliable and reflect the real state of affairs.

Interference or noise . In the theory of information transfer, noise is called that which distorts the meaning. This may be physical noise, inattention of the interlocutor, misunderstanding of information as a result of insufficient knowledge in this area, differences in worldviews and perceptions, inconsistency of information with specific conditions, etc. Certain noises are always present, so at each stage of the information exchange process there is some distortion of meaning. We usually manage to overcome the noise and get our message across. However, a high level of noise will definitely lead to a noticeable loss of meaning and may completely block the attempt to establish information exchange.

The degree of distortion of information is the greater, the greater the number of people through whom this information passes.

In his book “Sociodynamics of Culture”, the French scientist A. Mol illustrates this in the following way.

To overcome noise and improve the quality of communication, for example, in radio communication, repetition of words or even a message is often used. Similarly, repetition applies if unfamiliar code is used. It is clear that if the message is repeated several times, then the probability that the noise will spoil the message or part of it is reduced. So, the probability of its correct perception increases. In terms of communication theory, this phenomenon is called code redundancy.

Our natural communication (speech) is so redundant that it allows us to understand each other even with some loss of information due to noise. Linguists claim that the language is about half redundant.

It remains to add a few more essential concepts that describe the circumstances of a communicative act. These are the concepts of communicative error and communicative failure.

A communication error is an incorrect, erroneous interpretation of the message by the recipient. An error may occur due to strong noise or due to poor knowledge of the code by the recipient, etc. At the same time, the act of communication itself still took place.

A communicative failure is a complete failure of communication, when a communicative act was implied but did not take place. Such embarrassment occurs most often for technical reasons: the message was incorrectly encoded, did not reach due to a failure in the communication channel, the decoder did not work correctly, the code was incorrect, the noise was critically high, the recipient’s receiver was configured incorrectly, etc.

And, finally, the implementation of communication, its success, is also influenced by factors that lie outside the communicative act itself. These are context and consituation (situational factors).

Context is the dependence of the text of communication on the subject of the previous communication, the inclusion of this text in a certain thematic system of meaning. Context is the circumstances preceding or accompanying the communicative act.

Consituation , or situational factors, are non-verbal circumstances that accompany communication. These include the actions of communicants, the conditions of communication, the atmosphere of speech, etc.

The transmitted meaning of the message can be determined not only by the circumstances formed by the sender or the communication environment, but even by the circumstances related to the recipient. In general, although words (code) form the basis of communication, other circumstances – context, consituation – play a significant, and sometimes decisive role in the transmission or perception of a message.

In addition, context and context are important factors that help save communicators’ efforts.

The rule of successful communication is as follows: if the communicative act is abstracted from the specific situation of interaction, then the message should contain as much information as possible. For example, a written text, as a rule, is not supported by consituation, context. Therefore, it should contain more information than a similar verbal communication made in an interaction situation.

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