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Elements of Communication

There are models which try to explain the communication process. A model is an explanation of the occurrences in a phenomenon. Elements of communication have been explained in different models which attempt to explain the communication process. Communication is a two-way process that results in a shared meaning or common understanding between the sender and the receiver. An understanding of how communication works can help us to understand and improve our communication. The elements of communication enable us to understand how communication works. The basic communication model consists of five elements of communication: the sender, the receiver, the message, the channel and feedback. These are the elements of communication and are explained below:


The receiver means the party to whom the sender transmits the message. A receiver can be one person or an entire audience of people. A receiver is the eventual recipient of the message. The receiver is also the decoder of the message. Decoding of a message is as integral to communication as encoding it. Decoding is the process of giving meaning to the encoded message. It can also be referred to as extracting the embedded meaning or interpreting what was encoded by the sender. The ability of the receiver in decoding the message correctly is decisive in understanding the message in its holistic sense.

Noise/ Barriers

Anything that is competing the source‘s and the receivers‘ attention is called noise. Barriers to communication are the factors that contribute towards the total or partial loss or failure of the communication. In simple terms they can be referred to as those features that act as blocks to the desired outcome of any communication process. They are many and very multidimensional in nature. Noise can be internal or external.

Internal: Noise that is coming from within the interlocutors such as a headache, anger, stress, e.t.c

External noise: Noise from the environment such as; cars passing, children shouting, siren from an ambulance e.t.c.


The message is the most crucial element of effective communication. A message can come in many different forms, such as an oral presentation, a written document, an advertisement or just a comment. The message is not necessarily what the sender intends it to be. Rather, the message is what the receiver perceives the message to be. As a result, the sender must not only compose the message carefully, but also evaluate the ways in which the message can be interpreted.


The message travels from one point to another via a channel of communication. The channel sits between the sender and receiver. There are many channels, or types, of communication channels for example, from the spoken word to radio, television, an Internet site or something written, like a book, letter or magazine. Every channel of communication has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, one disadvantage of the written word, on a computer screen or in a book,is that the receiver cannot evaluate the tone of the message. For this reason, effective communicators word written communications clearly so they don't rely on a specific tone of voice to convey the message accurately. The advantages of television as a channel for communication include its expansive reach to a wide audience and the sender's ability to further manipulate the message using editing and special effects.


The last element of effective communication is feedback. This is the response from the receiver and later the source. Feedback is the receiver's response or reaction to the sender's message. The receiver can transmit feedback through asking questions, making comments or just supporting the message that was delivered. Feedback helps the sender to determine how the receiver interpreted the message and how it can be improved. Without feedback the communication process breaks down. The feedback given determines the direction the communication process will take.

A communication process that employs all the elements works as follows:

The source has an urge–a need that requires being satisfied encodes the message in verbal and/or non-verbal language that is considered to best communicate the message according to the intent.

In order to make that happen, it has to be in a form and format that conveys the intent in the best possible manner.

This message is encapsulated in the linguistic conventions such as symbols i.e., words besides signs that can be referred to as non-verbal language.

The message will go through a channel, a means of communication such as e-mail, face to face or phone conversation, letter, presentation etc.

The receiver will then decode the message using conventions, cultural or contextual background, and language skills.

The message that is received or interpreted might or might not be the same as the sent one and may not necessarily meet the intent of the messenger.

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