What Is the Communication Process and How Does It Work?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

For any organisation to function, it's essential that the company has effective and efficient communication processes implemented in its workplace. This process involves a sender delivering a message through a medium to a receiver who interprets and responds to it accordingly. Understanding how you can communicate better can help you successfully interact with your coworkers, employers and interviewers. In this article, we define what the communication process is, outline the six components of the process, explain the different steps involved and show how you can improve your own communication.

What is the communication process?

The communication process is the procedure of sending and receiving messages. The main aim of communication is to convey information from one person to another. This process is important in our daily lives as it helps us to interact with others and understand their point of view. In the workplace, communication is essential to building positive relationships, solving problems and completing work in an effective and efficient manner.

This process involves two primary components, which are the sender and receiver. There are also different channels of communication, namely how the sender relays the message to the receiver. These channels can include verbal and written communication, such as through speaking face-to-face, writing emails or corresponding via fax. Another important channel to remember is that of body language. This refers to the nonverbal cues that we transmit when communicating, such as our facial expressions and gestures.

Related: 4 Types of Communication

6 components of the communication process

The process of communication has several parts to it. These components are crucial because they enable the message's successful transmission and influence how the receiver interprets the message. The six components of the process include:

1. The sender

This is the person who's responsible for creating and transmitting the message. It's important for the sender to have a clear understanding of what they want to communicate. Once they know what information it is they wish to impart to the receiver, they can begin to craft their message.

2. The message

The message is the communication itself. This can be in the form of spoken words, written words or even nonverbal cues. It's important that the sender encodes their message in a way that the receiver can easily understand.

Related: How to Learn Morse Code (With Examples and Learning Methods)

3. The channel

This refers to the medium through which the sender sends the message. The common channels are verbal and written communication, but there are also other channels such as body language and nonverbal cues. It's important to choose an appropriate channel based on the message.

Related: 15 Ways on How To Communicate Effectively at the Workplace

4. The receiver

This is the person who's responsible for receiving and interpreting the message. The receiver first decodes the message before they can understand it. Importantly, the receiver may have different experiences and knowledge than the sender, which can impact how they interpret the message.

Related: Verbal Communication Examples (With Benefits and Tips)

5. The feedback

This refers to the response of the receiver to the message. Just like with the original message, feedback can also exist in the form of spoken words, written words or nonverbal cues. It's important for the sender to monitor the feedback to gauge whether or not the receiver interpreted the message as intended.

Related: What Is Nonverbal Communication (With Benefits and Types)

6. The context

This includes all of the circumstances surrounding the process of communication. The context can include the environment, the relationship between the sender and receiver and the culture. All of these factors can influence how the receiver interprets the sender's message. For example, suppose the sender's a manager and the receiver's an employee. The message is if the employee can help by working late tonight. The context would include the fact that the manager is the employee's superior and that working late is part of the job.

The employee is likely to interpret the message as a demand, even if this wasn't the intention and it was instead meant to be a simple request. Meanwhile, if the sender and receiver are peers, the receiver might interpret the message differently. In this case, the employee might interpret the message as a request for their help and feel more inclined to volunteer. This is why it's important to be aware of the context when sending and receiving messages to ensure that the message gets interpreted as intended.

The steps of the communication process

It's possible to divide the process of communication into several steps. This is a detailed outline of each step:

1. The sender has an idea or message that they want to communicate

The sender's message or idea can be in the form of a thought, an emotion or even a need. For example, perhaps the sender wants to let their team know that the project is behind schedule. It's vital that the sender has a clear understanding of what they want to communicate before moving on to the next step because this can impact the rest of the process.

Related: What Is Interpersonal Communication and Why Is It Important?

2. The sender encodes the message

Encoding the message means that the sender translates their thoughts or feelings into a form that the receiver can comprehend. For example, the sender might decide to write an email to their team about the project running late. It's important that the sender chooses an appropriate channel based on the message they want to communicate. In this example, the sender chose to communicate via email because it's a quick and efficient way to contact a large group of people.

3. The message is sent through a chosen channel

Next, the sender transmits their message through their preferred channel. For example, the sender drafts, writes and sends the important email notifying the rest of the team of the project delay. If the sender only wanted to communicate the delay to one person, they might choose to have a face-to-face conversation instead. What's important is that the chosen channel is professional and appropriate.

4. The receiver decodes the message

Decoding a message means that they translate the sender's message into a form that they themselves can understand. To do this successfully, it's important that the receiver be familiar with both the sender's communication style and the chosen channel. For example, the receiver reads the email from the sender explaining that the project is behind schedule. They become aware of the delay and understand that this is what the sender wanted to communicate. If the receiver didn't understand the message, they might send a question or request for clarification.

5. The receiver sends feedback to the sender

When the receiver sends feedback it allows the sender to know whether or not they received and understood the message. Feedback can also be in the form of spoken words, written words or nonverbal cues. For example, the receiver might send a reply email thanking the sender for the update and letting them know that they understand the situation.

Related: 5 Constructive Feedback Examples for Colleagues (Plus Tips)

Tips for improving the process of communication

These are some tips you can follow if you want to improve your communication:

  • Make sure you understand the message first. Before trying to decode it, remember to first make sure that you understand the actual message. This prevents any unnecessary misunderstandings.

  • Pay attention to the context. Pay attention to the context of the message and try to understand the situation from the receiver's perspective. This can help you interpret it correctly.

  • Ask for clarification. If you're not sure about something, ask for clarification. This can also help avoid misunderstandings.

  • Provide feedback. Give feedback after receiving the message to ensure that you interpreted it as intended.

  • Choose an appropriate channel. Choose an appropriate channel for your message. This helps to ensure that the receiver understands and decodes it correctly.

  • Know your own communication style. Be aware of your own communication style and how others might interpret it. This can help you choose the right words and tone for your message.

  • Respect other communication styles. Respect the receiver's communication style and try to use a style that they're comfortable with. This can help ensure that your message is understood correctly.

  • Pay attention to the environment. Make sure the environment is conducive to communication. Taking greater care to promote a productive environment can help you communicate clearly and successfully.

  • Use simple language. It's beneficial to use simple language. This allows everyone to understand what you want to say regardless of their language proficiency.

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