Five Stages of the Communication Cycle
Interpersonal communication is a complicated process. People use many different methods to communicate. It could be a simple method, such as a note stuck on a computer, or a complex method, such as video conferencing.
Whatever medium you choose, the underlying structure or communication cycle remains the same. For a message to be transmitted and received, it must go through five stages:
During this stage, you decide to initiate communication with your chosen receiver. Decide what to you want to communicate and what medium you want to use.
During this stage, you choose the words and images that you need to express or communicate your message.
During this stage, you send the message to the receiver physically. Use verbal and non-verbal language to communicate your meaning.
During this stage, your recipient physically receives your message. In face-to-face contact, the verbal and vocal content of your message is received aurally. Your body language is received visually.
During this stage, the receiver translate what has been seen and heard. They gain a personal understanding of each message.
The communication cycle is complete when the receiver responds. In doing so, the receiver becomes a sender. This cycle continues for as long as the people involved interact with each other. Even when there is no verbal reply, receivers still respond through body language. Their facial expressions, postures, and gestures indicate how they feel about the information that they receive.
Every communication, no matter how brief, goes through these five stages. Understanding the process allows you to diagnose your own communication problems and correct them. By exerting conscious control over your execution of the communication process, you will become an effective communicator and achieve more satisfactory results.
Three Steps for Effective Communication
Interpersonal communication is never perfect. Individuals communicate differently, creating opportunities for misunderstandings. As the sender, all you can regulate is how, what, and when you communicate. Even when both parties participate fully in the process, you cannot dictate what the other person hears, or how your message is interpreted.
However, it is possible to influence how others interpret your messages. The sender of any message has a responsibility to be understood. This can only happen during those stages of the communication process that you perform.
These stages are:
During this stage, you decide on the recipient, the content, and the medium for your message. Your objective should be to select the best medium, manner, and content to communicate your message accurately.
People do not always aim their messages perfectly. Sometimes their intentions are not clear from the words that they choose. Or they speak in a manner that the receiver feels is inappropriate to the relationship that they have with each other. By setting out to achieve your aiming objective, you can avoid these pitfalls.
This stage is when you choose the words and images to express the content of your message. Your objective is to choose the words and images which will give your message the best chance of being understood.
Once you have aimed your message, you will encode it, choosing the words and images that you will use to express it. Not everyone will use the same verbal and non-verbal language to express similar messages. Your choice of language is influenced by your assumptions, experiences, gender, education, and even your moods.
The transmission stage is when you use verbal and non-verbal language to transmit your message. Your objective is to identify conditions that will enable the clear reception of your communication. You need to make sure that you select the best place and time to deliver your information. Try to engage your listener’s attention and avoid distractions.
To ensure that your messages are received clearly and accurately, you must remove as much environmental noise as possible. Transmit your messages in calm, distraction-free surroundings, at a time when receivers can devote full attention to them. Before you speak, ask yourself:
- Is the time right to communicate this?
- Will the receiver hear what I’m saying?
- What distractions might make communication difficult?
- Can they be avoided?
You risk being misunderstood if you are unsure of what you want to communicate. You also communicate less effectively if you use inappropriate language, transmit your message badly, or at the wrong time.
To avoid this, you need to ensure that your communication will accomplish the three stages. If you communicate the right information, using the right words, at the right time, you can positively influence what other people hear, understand and feel about you and your communication.
The Five Categories of Feedback
Effective communication is a two-way process. A message has not been effectively transmitted unless it is received and understood by the person it was sent to. The only way that senders can know this has occurred is from response or feedback.
Therefore, once a message has been sent, it’s essential that the communication cycle is completed. To complete the cycle, the receivers must become the senders. They must encode and transmit their replies to the messages. In other words, they send feedback.
Feedback is a vital part of the communication process. People need some kind of response or reaction to identify the effect of their communication. It is the receiver’s responsibility to let the sender know that the message has been understood.
Responding with feedback ensures that communication is a two-way process. Misunderstanding a message and giving inappropriate feedback can cause problems. If you are not certain of the meaning of a message, you are at risk of giving feedback that could jeopardize the communication and the relationship.
Feedback falls into five categories:
This feedback makes a judgment of the value, validity, worth, or appropriateness of the other person’s statement. It may be positive which shows approval or agreement; or negative which shows disapproval or disagreement.
This type rephrases the sender’s message in the receiver’s own words. This shows the sender what the message means to the receiver. When you receive a message, your interpretation of its meaning is based on your experiences and view of the facts.
Since others have different experiences, they may draw completely different conclusions. Understanding the sender’s feelings and point of view will improve your communication. Always remember to avoid making assumptions when the meaning of the message is unclear.
This feedback is given in an attempt to assist, reassure, or encourage the sender. Although it appears positive, it does not necessarily indicate real empathy or understanding. Supportive feedback is not a response to the message; it is a response to the person.
This type tries to gain additional information, or clarify a point. The receiver is asking the sender to continue the discussion, and elaborate on information that has already been given. Probing feedback shows that you want to increase your comprehension of what has been said.
As it focuses purely on the content of the message, it does not take you closer to understanding the feelings behind the words. However, it is useful for clarification of ambiguous or vague statements, and prevents you from jumping to false conclusions.
This feedback helps you discover the complete meaning of a person’s message. It shows the receiver’s willingness to understand the feelings behind the words. It reduces defensiveness, and fosters mutual communication.
Effective communication occurs when you listen to another person’s point of view with understanding. Using feedback that addresses the feelings behind the words will enable you to become more connected and less judgmental. This skill will also lead to a valuable reduction in the errors and conflicts created by poor communication.