Communication is about transmitting messages between the sender and the receiver. The communication loop that we are going to describe here, is universally acceptable in that it applies equally well to all forms of communication – verbal and non-verbal, direct and indirect, and written and oral. Here’s more on the steps or phases involved in a communication loop diagram.
Sender: The process of communication begins with the sender, the person who has thought of an idea that needs to be transmitted to a certain audience. For instance a manager who wants to send work-directions to his team, a writer who wants to express his viewpoint on some topic or a filmmaker who wants to tell a story through his film, they’re all the starting point for the process of communication.
Encoding: Having an idea in one’s mind is not enough, the idea needs to be put into a form that can be received and understood by the audience. And that’s what is referred to as encoding in the communication process. Encoding can be done in the form of words, symbols, graphics or gestures. The idea here is to shape up the message for easy transmission and easy interpretation by the audience. Going with the above examples – the manager can encode the message as a bulleted list, the writer can draft an article and the filmmaker can build up a storyboard and have it enacted by actors. When encoding the message, the most important consideration should be the audience and every effort should be made to encode the message in a form that will be well accepted and correctly interpreted.
Channel: For the purpose of transmission, the message requires some channel or media, just like you need a vehicle to commute from one place to another. The choice of media again should take into consideration the target audience. The media can range from simple words or actions to the more complex graphics and videos. Radio, newspapers, magazines, TV, Internet, mobile phones and films, are all examples of media. In case of our examples, the media can be an office memo from the manager, a magazine for the writer or a film for the filmmaker.
Receiver: The receiver is the ultimate audience for whom the message was targeted. Still going with our examples, the receiver for the manager’s instructions will be his staff members who have been sent the memo, for the writer, the magazine subscribers and readers are the receivers, and for the filmmaker the film watchers are the receivers.
Decoding: Decoding refers to the interpretation of the message by the receiver. The interpretation of the message by the receiver will depend on a lot of things – the context of communication, personal education and knowledge, thoughts and beliefs, mood, perception and such other factors. In many cases, the communication fails its purpose for the simple reason that the receiver is not able to decode the message properly.
Feedback: Feedback which is the last phase in the communication loop diagram reflects how well the entire communication process has gone. Feedback is essentially a response to the message sent by the sender to the receiver, but it’s important to note here that the feedback may not always return in the same format and through the same channel. For instance the manger’s memo may get his team into action and their work is what will be counted as the feedback. The response that a message triggers is the feedback, and since every communication aims at achieving something, the communication loop is never complete until the time the receiver receives a feedback.
The prime reason for studying and understanding the communication loop is to make communication effective. When the communicator understands each and every step of the communication process and keeps that in mind at the time of transmitting a message the chances of the communication going hay-wire are rare.