Whether you are writing an email, making a sales call or working on your marketing materials, communication plays an integral role in day-to-day business activities. In this article, we will explore the communication process and what makes communication effective.
According to Boddy (2014: p 502-504), we communicate whenever we send a message to someone and consider their response. This process requires at least two people – a sender and a receiver. The sender initiates the communication when transferring ideas, facts or feelings to the receiver – the recipient of the message.
Sending Your Message (encoding)
The communication process starts with the sender, who encodes their ideas into message format using symbols, words, actions or expressions. Whether writing an email, letter or advertisement, to communicate your message effectively, you need to start with your why – What is the purpose of your message?
For example, do you want to:
- Deliver specific information?
- Raise an open and unfamiliar problem, and make a request for creative ideas?
- Pass on dates for an event or routine task?
- Or to inspire people to take action?
A clearly defined purpose will help you to decide how best to present (encode) your message for the target audience. According to Boddy (2014), five principles help to encode a message accurately:
- Relevancy: make the message meaningful by carefully selecting the words, symbols, or gestures to be used.
- Simplicity: make the message accessible with simple language, and as fewer words, symbols and gestures as possible.
- Organisation: arrange your message into a clear set of points and complete each point before starting the next.
- Repetition: repeat the key points at least twice, especially when speaking, as words may not be heard or understood the first time.
- Focus: concentrate on the essential aspects of the message and avoid unnecessary detail.
The message is the tangible expression of the sender’s thoughts and ideas. Once completed, the sender must then choose the best medium in which to communicate the message, such as an email, face-to-face meeting or a letter.
The Process of Receiving a Message (decoding)
Decoding is interpreting a message into a form with meaning.
Upon receiving a message, the recipient decodes the symbols contained within and tries to reconstruct the sender’s idea. Coding and decoding are sources of communication failure as the sender and receiver can have different knowledge, experience and interests.
Noise is anything that confuses, diminishes or interferes with communication. Receivers also ‘filter’ messages from having prior knowledge of the sender’s behaviour, which affects their expectations of how valuable the communication is likely to be. These filters, along with other distractions and interruptions, are often referred to as noise.
Feedback in communication occurs as the receiver expresses their reaction to the sender’s message. The final stage is when the receiver responds by giving feedback to the sender, turning one-way communication into a two-way exchange. The flow of information between parties is continuous and reciprocal, each giving feedback that allows the sender to know that the receiver has received and understood the message as intended.
What is Effective Communication?
Effective communicators understand it is a two-way process, and positively encourage feedback. They do not solely rely on making their message clear but also encourage the receiver to respond with a nod, a question that implies understanding, or a quick email acknowledgement, etc. Without that, the sender cannot tell if their message has been communicated effectively (Boddy, 2014: 503).
Boddy, D. (2014).Management an Introduction, 6th ed. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited