9 Elements of Communication Process & Communication Cycle

Elements of Communication definition

Elements of communication is the process of transmitting information from a sender to a receiver through a communication channel, with various elements involved in encoding and decoding the message. Claude E. Shannon and Warren Weaver: In their book “The Mathematical Theory of Communication”

What is Communication Process?

Communication is the process of exchanging information between individuals, following a sender-receiver model. The sender initiates the communication by transmitting an idea, opinion, fact, or any other form of information to the receiver.

The receiver, in turn, responds by providing feedback on the received content and may also share their own ideas and opinions. This interactive exchange between the sender and receiver in communication enables both parties to understand and engage with each other’s perspectives.

The communication process is a vital part of business communication. It ensures coordination, teamwork, and building relationships. Elements in the communication cycle include a sender, a receiver, a message, a channel, encoding, and decoding along with feedback, response, and noise.

In a company, sender and receiver communication can occur in:

The sender and receiver communication may not necessarily involve only two parties. Two or more groups of people can be parts of the communication process.

Check out our detailed guide on: What is Communication Process: Examples, Stages & Types

Example of the communication process

The illustration represents a live example of the communication process between two persons.

Elements of the Communication Process

The basic elements of the communication cycle are as follows:

1) Sender: The sender is also known as the source of the information. They come first on the list of elements in communication. They share information which can be in various forms such as opinions, ideas, news, etc. with a person or group of persons. 

The sender may be an individual person (sales representative or executive) or a non-personal entity such as the organization itself. 

The elements of the sender in communication include:

  1. Intention: The purpose or objective behind initiating communication.
  2. Knowledge: Proficiency and knowledge of the sender in the subject matter.
  3. Attitudes and Beliefs: Personal biases, values, and opinions that shape the communication of the sender.
  4. Communication Skills: Verbal and written skills, active listening, and adaptability.
  5. Non-verbal Cues: Body language, gesture, and tone of voice used by the sender.
  6. Emotional State: The sender’s emotions and their impact on communication.
  7. Cultural Background: Language, customs, and social norms influencing communication.
  8. Perceptions and Assumptions: The sender’s interpretations and assumptions about the receiver.

These elements shape how the sender formulates and delivers their message, impacting effective communication.

2) Encoding: Encoding in the communication process refers to the means that the sender uses to communicate information. The sender uses words, pictures, symbols, etc. to put together thoughts and ideas in a way that would be easily understood by the receiver. The goal of the encoding process is to ensure a clear flow of information from sender to receiver.

3) Message: Once the encoding process is decided, the sender must develop the message that contains the information they wish to convey. The message may be written, symbolic, verbal, or non-verbal. It must be in a form that is transmittable for the appropriate channel in the communication process.   

4) Channel: A channel is the means by which the sender communicates a message to the receiver. It is a form of communication that relies on a medium to deliver a message. For example, written communication is a channel of communication that relies on mediums such as letters, business reports, emails, etc. to convey information. 

Channels in the communication process are divided into three broad categories:

1. Oral: In oral communication, the sender directly interacts with the receiver in a face-to-face conversation. For example, a sales executive directly deals with customers. This allows the sender greater control over the interaction.

=>Check out our detailed article on the merits and demerits of oral communication.  

2. Written: Messages are also transmitted in written format between sender and receiver. For example, letters, memos, business communication reports, emails, notices, manuals, etc.

=> Check out our detailed article on the merits and demerits of written communication.  

3. Audio/Video: The audio channel involves video tapes, video conferences, video chats, etc.

5) Receiver: The receiver acts as an essential element of communication, decoding the message. Simply put, the receiver is the intended party for the message. They can read, see, or hear the message, and can also actively participate in the communication process if the sender contacts them directly.

6) Decoding: Same as a sender encoding a message, the receiver must decode the message received. Decoding is the sixth element in the communication process that involves the receiver interpreting the message based on their individual backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints

For effective communication, the encoding and decoding of the message must match. This refers to the receiver interpreting the message exactly how the sender intended.

7) Response: Once the receiver has seen, heard, or read the message, how they react to it makes up their response. The response of a receiver can vary from person to person.

A receiver may simply store the information in their memory or act immediately by replying or taking action. For example, a customer buys a product right after communicating with the salesperson.

8) Feedback: Feedback is one of the main components of the communication model. It is a form of reverse communication where the receiver encodes a message for the sender to decode.

In simple words, the receiver tells the sender how they interpreted the message and offer their own thoughts and ideas. Feedback in marketing can be in the form of personal communication, online customer reviews, ratings, etc.

Why is feedback important in communication?

    • Feedback allows the sender to collect information about the message from the receiver.
    • It completes the communication process as the sender and receiver interact with each other.
    • Depending on positive or negative feedback from the receiver is a good way to measure the effectiveness of communication and make future improvements.
    • Feedback helps in improving employee and management relations as it creates a congenial atmosphere in the workspace.

Must Read: What is Feedback In Communication: Examples & Importance

9) Noise: During the communication process, outside factors may distract or interfere with the reception of the message. This distortion of unplanned factors is referred to as the noise element of communication.

Noise can disrupt any and all elements of communication. For example, ineffective communication by an inexperienced sender can cause the message to be poorly interpreted by the receiver.

There are two types of noise:

  1. Channel Noise: This covers mechanical failures, static, and technical problems such as the legibility of text, volume, etc.
  2. Semantic Noise: This type of noise is related to problems in the message. Examples are grammatical errors, wrong punctuation, spelling mistakes, etc.

Example of elements of the communication with diagram

Example of how nine elements work in a communication process.

Importance of elements of communication 

The elements of communication are fundamental components that collectively contribute to the success and effectiveness of the communication process. Each element fulfills a distinctive and crucial role in enabling the transfer of information among individuals or groups. Here is the importance of these elements:

1/ Effective Message Delivery: The clarity and accuracy of the message are essential for successful communication. The sender’s ability to encode the message appropriately ensures that the intended information is conveyed clearly and without ambiguity to the receiver.

2/ Building Relationships: Effective communication establishes the cornerstone for building strong relationships, in both personal and professional environments. When messages are conveyed accurately and understood well, it fosters trust and mutual understanding between individuals or groups.

3/ Feedback and Confirmation: Feedback from the receiver allows the sender to confirm whether the message was received and understood as intended. It helps in identifying any misunderstandings and provides an opportunity for clarification and improvement.

4/ Problem-Solving: Clear communication facilitates problem-solving by ensuring that instructions, suggestions, or ideas are effectively transmitted and comprehended, leading to better outcomes.

5/ Enhancing Collaboration: Proper communication enhances collaboration and teamwork. When messages are delivered effectively, it promotes open communication and encourages individuals to share ideas, opinions, and feedback.

How elements of the communication process are used for the marketing communication process?

Businesses and organizations utilize communication processes to effectively convey their marketing messages to their intended audience. Subsequently, the consumer responds to these messages by providing feedback and expressing their likes or dislikes towards the products or services being offered.

The process begins with the organization, acting as the sender, formulating a marketing message specifically tailored for their target audience. This message is then converted into understandable symbols, a process known as encoding. These symbols are closely aligned with the marketing messages developed by the organization.

The encoded message is transmitted to the target consumer through a channel or medium. This enables organizations to effectively deliver their marketing message to potential customers. The medium used can be direct, such as sales executives making phone calls to prospects, or indirect, utilizing various forms of media like newspapers, magazines, brochures, television, and radio.

The next stage involves the consumer’s response to the organization’s message. This feedback stage provides the organization with valuable insights regarding the perception of its product or service directly from consumers. Feedback can be positive or negative, depending on how the consumers perceive the product.

The process concludes with the element of “Noise.” In this context, noise refers to cultural differences that exist between the targeted region and the organization’s marketing message. Such differences can hinder the acceptance of the product in the market, leading to lower levels of success.

Explanation of communication cycle with diagram

The communication cycle refers to the different elements in communication interacting together to successfully transmit a message from the sender to its receiver. 

The correct sequence of communication begins with a sender who acts as the source of the information. The sender encodes information and puts together their ideas in the form of words (oral or written), pictures, etc.

The encoded information is used to form a message which requires a channel (personal or non-personal) to be transmitted to the receiver.

After receiving the message, the receiver starts the process of decoding the information according to their needs and understanding.

Once this is done, the receiver responds in the form of a reply, action, or simply inaction. Additionally, the receiver may offer the sender feedback on how they interpreted the message, completing the stages of the communication cycle.

Communication cycle diagram

Diagram including components of a communication cycle

Communication cycle example 

The communication cycle starts with the sender and ends with the receiver. Similarly, the above diagram shown can be explained with the following example:

  • Sender: Sarah wants to share information about an upcoming project with her colleague, John.
  • Encoding: Sarah processes the information in her mind and translates it into a message using words, tone of voice, and body language.
  • Message: Sarah verbally communicates the details of the project to John, explaining its objectives, timeline, and tasks involved.
  • Channel: Sarah delivers the message through a face-to-face conversation with John.
  • Reception: John receives the message, paying attention to Sarah’s words, tone of voice, and nonverbal cues.
  • Decoding: John mentally processes the message, interpreting its meaning based on his own knowledge and experiences.
  • Feedback: John responds to Sarah, asking clarifying questions or providing his thoughts and suggestions on the project.
  • Reception: Sarah receives John’s feedback, paying attention to his words, tone, and nonverbal cues.
  • Decoding: Sarah mentally processes John’s feedback, understanding his perspective and incorporating his suggestions, if applicable.
  • Response: Sarah replies to John’s feedback, addressing any queries or concerns and discussing further steps.

Feedback elements of the communication cycle:

In the communication cycle, the element of feedback refers to the receiver’s response or reaction to the message sent by the sender.  Here are the key elements of feedback in the communication cycle:

  • Receiver’s Response: Feedback involves the receiver providing a response or reaction to the message they have received.
  • Understanding: Feedback indicates whether the receiver has understood the message correctly.
  • Clarity: If the receiver provides feedback that they found the message unclear or confusing, it prompts the sender to reconsider their communication approach and improve the clarity of the message.
  • Confirmation: Positive feedback or confirmation from the recipient indicates successful reception and comprehension of the message.
  • Questions and Queries: Feedback can include questions or queries from the receiver seeking clarification or more information. 
  • Action or Response: In certain situations, feedback may involve the receiver taking specific actions or responding to the message in some way, indicating engagement with the communication.
  • Improvement and Adaptation: Feedback helps the sender to improve future communication by learning from the receiver’s response.

Types of the communication cycle 

There are several types of communication cycles that are commonly recognized in the field of communication studies. Here are brief descriptions of some of the key types:

1/ Linear Communication Cycle: This is a basic communication model that involves a one-way flow of communication, starting from the sender and ending with the receiver.

2/ Interactive Communication Cycle: This type of communication cycle incorporates feedback and interaction between the sender and receiver. It recognizes that communication is a two-way process, where the receiver’s feedback influences subsequent messages from the sender, creating a back-and-forth exchange.

3/ Transactional Communication Cycle: This cycle emphasizes the continuous nature of communication. In this model, communication is seen as a dynamic and ongoing process where both the sender and receiver play active roles. It highlights that both parties are constantly sending and receiving messages, influencing and being influenced by each other.

4/ Organizational Communication Cycle: This communication cycle focuses on communication within organizations. It includes various levels of communication, including three main directions, upward communication (from lower authority subordinates to higher authority superiors), downward communication (from higher authority superiors to lower authority subordinates), and horizontal communication (between colleagues or departments). It recognizes the formal and informal channels of communication within an organizational structure.

7 C’s of Communication 

The 7 C’s of communication apply to both oral and written forms of communication. They are:

1) Completeness: The information communicated should be complete and mention all facts required by the receiver.

2) Conciseness: The communicated message should be concise and use as few words and technical jargon as possible.

3) Consideration: The sender should be unbiased and try to take the audience’s viewpoints, backgrounds, mindsets, etc. into consideration.  

4) Clarity: The message should convey the information clearly and be easily understood by the receiver.

5) Concreteness: A concrete message focuses on the particulars and clear information rather than being confusing and generic. 

6) Courtesy: The sender should respect the receiver and convey their message in a polite and courteous manner. 

7) Correctness: Correctness in communication refers to the message having no grammatical errors.

Must Read: Principles of Effective Business Communication

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1) What is communication?

Ans: Communication refers to the transmission of thoughts, ideas, and messages between a sender and a receiver. This is done through a channel of communication which can be oral, written, symbolic, picturized, etc. For communication to be effective, certain principles of effective communication should be followed by the sender and receiver.

Q2) What are the 7 elements of communication?

Ans: The seven elements of communication are: sender, message, encoding, channel, receiver, decoding, and feedback. These seven elements facilitate understanding and successful interactions between individuals or groups.   

Q3) What are the four elements of communication?

Ans: The four elements of communication are sender/source, message, channel, and receiver. These four elements work together in the communication for the successful transmission and reception of the intended message.

Q4) What are the major elements of a communication process?

Ans: The essential components of communication are Sender, Encoding, Message, Channel, Receiver, Decoding, Response, Feedback, and Noise. 

Q5) What are the 5 elements of communication? 

Ans:  The five elements of communication are sender, message, channel, receiver, and feedback. These five elements work together to ensure an effective and meaningful exchange of information between individuals or groups.

Q6) Definition of the sender in communication? 

Ans: In communication, the term “sender” refers to the individual, group, or entity that initiates the process of transmitting information or a message to one or more recipients, known as receivers. The sender is the source of the communication and plays a crucial role in conveying a thought, idea, feeling, fact, or any other form of information through various communication channels.

Aditya Soni

Aditya is the head of content at clearinfo and is responsible for improving the site's organic visibility. He is a certified SEO trainer and has worked with SaaS companies and startups to enhance their digital marketing presence. He is also an ahref fanboy. Click to connect with him on Twitter, and LinkedIn.  

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