The communication process is the exchange of information between two or more people. The main goal of the communication process is to ensure the understanding of the information being exchanged, i.e. messages.
In the process of information exchange, four basic elements can be distinguished:
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.
Four stages of communication
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 and share the original idea. This is difficult, because each stage is at the same time a point at which the meaning can be distorted or completely lost. These interrelated steps are:
The birth of an idea
The exchange of information begins with the formulation of an idea or the selection of information. The sender decides what meaningful idea or message should be exchanged. Many communication attempts fail at this first stage because the sender does not spend enough time thinking about the idea. At this stage, you need to understand what ideas are intended to be conveyed before you send a message , as well as assess the adequacy and appropriateness of your ideas, taking into account the specific situation and the purpose of communications.
Encoding and channel selection
Before conveying an idea, the sender must use symbols to encode it using words, intonations and gestures (body language). 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 communications, including computer networks, e-mail, videotapes and videoconferencing. If the channel is not suitable for the physical embodiment of the symbols, transmission is not possible. A picture is sometimes worth a thousand words, but not when conveying a message over the phone. Similarly, it may not be feasible to talk to all employees at the same time. Aide-mémoires can be sent out in advance of small group meetings to ensure the message is understood and the issue is shared. If the channel is not very consistent with the idea that was born in the first stage, the exchange of information will be less effective. The choice of means of communication should not be limited to a single channel. It is often desirable to use two or more communication media in combination. The process becomes more complicated because the sender has to establish the sequence of use of these means and determine the time intervals in the sequence of information transmission. However, studies show that the simultaneous use of oral and written information exchange is usually more effective than, say, only the exchange of written information.
In the third step, the sender uses a channel to deliver a message (an encoded idea or collection of ideas) to the recipient. It is about the physical transmission of a message, which many people mistakenly take for the process of communication itself. At the same time, as we have seen, communication is only one of the stages that must be passed through in order to convey an idea to another person.
After the message is transmitted by the sender, the receiver decodes it. 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 exactly what the sender had in mind when the idea was formed. If no reaction to the idea is required, the information exchange process should end there.
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.
relationship between perception and information exchange
People do not react to what is actually happening in their environment, but to what is perceived to be happening. Taking into account some of the factors that affect perception in the process of information exchange makes it possible to prevent a decrease in the effectiveness of communications by timely removing barriers caused by perception. The frequency of contacts between two people and the style of communication that each will choose in relation to the other in the future will depend on the positive or negative coloring of the sensations arising from this. A leader who does not create a positively colored climate in relations with others will receive a curtailed exchange of information with employees in the future. The higher the openness of one or both people involved in the exchange of information, the greater the satisfaction from the contact.
The discrepancy between the foundations of judgments can become the reason for the selective perception of information depending on the range of interests, needs, emotional state and the external environment of people. This characteristic is extremely important for the exchange of information. It follows from this that in many cases people perceive only a part of the message received by them in the physical sense. Difficulties of organizations in exchanging information are attributed to the difference of people on the basis of the interpretation of the messages they receive. As a consequence, the ideas encoded by the sender may be distorted and not fully understood.
Information that conflicts with our experience or previously learned concepts is often either completely rejected or distorted in accordance with these experiences or concepts. Research has confirmed that there is a tendency for people to perceive the problems of the organization within the framework of judgments formed on the basis of their specific functions.