Communication is the process of sending and receiving messages to achieve understanding. Everyone has undoubtedly heard the expression «Say what you mean and mean what you say». Saying what one means is precisely what communication is all about. Anytime one speaks a sentence, makes a gesture, or merely grunts, one is «saying» one has some idea in one's mind that one wishes to transfer to another person. Words, body movements, facial expressions, and voice tones are all symbols one selects attempting to transmit the meaning in one’s mind to the mind of the receiver.
Communication is one of the most important aspects of our everyday activity. In fact, most things we do are directly or indirectly connected with communication. Even «talking» silently to oneself is a form of communication, called «intrapersonal» (inner) communication.
Speech communication, which involves more than one person, is «interpersonal» (outer) communication. It falls into several types – one-to-one, group, public and mass communication. Speech can also be oral and written.
The components of the communication process:
- Thought : First, information exists in the mind of the sender. This can be a concept, idea, information, or feelings.
- Encoding : Next, a message is sent to a receiver in words or other symbols.
- Decoding : Lastly, the receiver «translates» the words or symbols into a concept or information that he or she can understand.
During the transmitting of the message, two elements will be received: content and context . Content is the actual words or symbols of the message that is known as language – the spoken and written words combined into phrases that make grammatical and semantic sense. We all use and interpret the meanings of words differently, so even simple messages can be misunderstood. And many words have different meanings to confuse the issue even more.
Context is the way the message is delivered and is known as paralanguage – it is the nonverbal elements in speech such as the tone of voice, the look in the sender's eyes, body language, hand gestures, and state of emotions (anger, fear, uncertainty, confidence, etc.) that can be detected. Although paralanguage or context often causes messages to be misunderstood as we believe what we see more than what we hear; it is a powerful communicator that helps us to understand each other. Indeed, we often trust the accuracy of nonverbal behaviours more than verbal behaviours.
Some people think they have communicated once they told someone to do something. But a message has NOT been communicated unless it is understood by the receiver (decoded). How do you know it has been properly received? By two-way communication or feedback. This feedback tells the sender that the receiver understood the message, its level of importance, and what must be done with it. Communication is an exchange, not just a give, as all parties must participate to complete the information exchange