The communication cycle can be defined as a process where one person exchanges messages or imparts ideas and information with another person or a community. The communication process specifies how the conveying and understanding information, messages, opinions, or thoughts operates.
Communication is an essential part of the day-to-day life of human beings. The ability to communicate properly differentiates humans from the other species available on the planet earth. A human can communicate in different ways with other humans, such as through face-to-face verbal communication, verbal communication over a phone call or video chat, text messages, speeches, or presentations.
Each communication method is used in different settings. For example, in an office environment, when an employee wants to present an idea to his boss or superior, he would present it through a presentation.
However, if a father wants to talk about his child’s performance in school, then the ideal communication method would be face-to-face communication.
Therefore, communication can broadly be categorized into two main categories
1. Formal communication
Formal communication is a type of communication that is used in official environments. For example, within office premises, employees opt for formal communication to convey their ideas, thoughts, or information.
However, formal communication can also take place in two ways, such as through written communication or verbal communication. Formal communication eliminates any chances of misunderstanding or miscommunication, which is very important in an official environment.
Formal communication in an official environment can also be divided into two categories:
1.1 Vertical communication
Vertical communication is a type of communication that takes place in an upward or downward direction, i.e., between the management and employees of the organization.
Horizontal communication takes place between people working at the same level. The communication between two employees working in the same department would be categorized as horizontal or lateral communication.
2. Informal communication
Informal communication is a type of communication that takes place outside the official environment. There are no rules set for informal communication. Informal communication can be referred to as a grapevine communication that is distorted in structure and grows in any direction.
The informal communication takes place between two friends or two family members. Because of its unstructured nature, there are high chances of misunderstanding and miscommunication in informal communication.
Irrespective of their nature, the communication cycle in both formal as well as informal communication remains the same. Let us understand communication in the next section.
What is the communication cycle?
Communication is an essential part of human life, and it plays a vital role in running society with harmony. A communication process consists of various stages. These stages play an essential role in the communication process.
A communication process is referred to as a communication cycle because all the steps involved in the communication process takes place in a cycle. Each step, which is part of a communication cycle, holds a great significance in communication.
The following are the eight steps that make a communication cycle complete.
1. The Sender
The first stage in a communication cycle is the sender. The communication cycle begins when a sender has some information to share with the receiver. The role of a sender is to generate the message and make sure that it reaches the receiver passing through the transmission process.
A sender can send a valid message if he has a clear understanding of his audience or receiver. If a sender prepares a message without knowing the receiver’s knowledge, then the receiver will fail to understand the meaning of the message that the sender wanted to convey.
Another important thing that a sender should keep in mind while preparing a message is its purpose. He should be able to convey what actions the receiver should take after receiving the message.
The second stage of the communication cycle is the “message.” A message is a piece of information that the sender wants to send to the receiver. The encoding of the message is done by the sender based on the knowledge he has about the receiver.
He will choose the language, wording, and medium to convey the message. The message can be in written form or oral form. The sender can choose to send informal or formal messages based on the type of relationship he has with the receiver.
The third stage in the communication cycle is the encoding of the message. Once the sender has decided the content of the message, next, he is required to encode the message to be able to transmit it through the chosen medium.
The sender encodes the message in the language that the receiver will be able to understand. Represent the content in the form of pictures and paragraphs in case of textual or digital communication.
In the case of face-to-face communication, he decides the gestures and tone to convey the message so that the message’s impact can be maximized on the receiver.
4. Transmission through the channel of choice
The next step in the cycle of communication is to transmit the message from the sender to the receiver through the channel or medium of transmission. At this stage of the communication cycle, encoding takes place.
The sender transmits the message through the transmission medium of choice. The medium of communication can be a telephone, email, face-to-face conversation, presentation, videoconferencing, post, or text.
5. The noise or distraction
This stage in the communication cycle doesn’t exist independently. The noise or distraction is observed during the transmission of the message. The noise or distraction is the disturbances that take place in the communication cycle that can impact the effectiveness of the communication.
For example, static noise in radio signals makes it difficult for the receiver to listen to the information. Traffic noise during the presentation makes it difficult for people to understand the information presented.
Effective communication can only occur when there is no noise or distraction in the surrounding environment where communication occurs.
Reception is a stage followed by transmission in the cycle of communication. The receiver receives the message and tries to understand the message using his knowledge, previous experience, ideas, and perception. The receiver is the last member of the process of communication.
However, the role of the receiver is as important as that of a sender.
7. Decoding or understanding
Once the message is transmitted, the next stage is the decoding of the message by the receiver. Decoding is a process where the receiver decodes or translates the message using the knowledge that he has to understand the message conveyed by the sender.
The decoding stage of the communication cycle always occurs after the encoding and reception of the message.
The last stage of the communication cycle is feedback. The receiver sends back the response or feedback based on the interpretation that he made of the information sent by the sender.
The sender will receive the feedback sent by the receiver in the form of a message. The feedback also goes through the process of encoding and decoding. The important thing to notice here is that the effectiveness of feedback will depend on the understanding of the receiver of the message received.
A communication cycle remains incomplete if any of the above steps are missing from the cycle. Effective communication occurs when all the stages of the communication cycle are followed in proper order and correctly.
Mistakes at any stage of the communication cycle affect communication effectiveness and create misunderstanding between the sender and the receiver.
What are the barriers to communication?
The barriers of communication are distractions that might change the actual meaning of the message or information. Because of the barriers of communication, misunderstanding can take place, and wrong messages can be conveyed. There are many barriers to communication. Let us learn about them one by one.
1. Personal barriers
The first and most common barrier of communication is the personal barrier. Personal barriers can be the personal issues between the sender and the receiver.
For example, if the receiver doesn’t like the sender, then he will always be prejudiced about the information sent by the sender.
2. Semantic barriers
The semantic barrier in communication is the symbolic barrier that takes place in communication. Symbolic distortion in the message can distort the message’s content and can make it difficult to understand for the receiver. The semantic barriers can be of two types, such as denotative barriers and connotative barriers.
The denotative barrier occurs when the sender and receiver understand the two different meanings of one word.
The connotative barrier occurs when both sender and receiver are aware of all meanings of the word, but use different meanings because of the different context, situation, or feelings at the time of encoding and decoding.
The semantic barriers are quite common when the native language of the sender and receiver is different.
3. Organizational barriers
Organizational barriers occur because of the structure of the organization. Because of that, the information among the employees of an organization does not flow freely.
An example of organizational barriers can be rules and policies, the complex structure of the organization, hierarchical positions, and organizational facilities.
4. Psychological barriers
Psychological barriers are difficult to avoid. Psychological barriers refer to the psychological state of the receiver at the time of receiving the message. The psychological state of a person is formed by his emotions, attitude, and opinions.
The psychological barriers are related to the mental state of the person at the time of communication. For example, psychological barriers are a big problem for a network marketing seller, as most people have negative opinions about networking businesses.
Importance of communication
The importance of communication in human life is undeniable. With the right use of communication, humans have reached where they are today. The main purpose of communication is to share information and to exchange messages. Communication is effective only if both sender and receiver are involved in the process.
Through communication, people not just share their feelings but also share information that helps them grow. Let us understand the importance of communication with the help of an example. AIDS is a deadly disease.
Initially, when there was no information about this disease, people were dying. Then with research, people learned how they could be prevented from this disease.
If there were no means of communication, then this vital information would have remained with a limited number of people, and people in different parts of the world would have never learned about it. Proper communication not only saved humanity but also made the lives of people easy.
The following are a few benefits of communication:
- Communication helps in creating coordination among the members of society.
- Communication allows people to make informed decisions.
- Communication helps a manager to play his role effectively.
- Communication allows people to live in harmony and peace.
- Communication helps humanity to grow.
The communication cycle consists of eight stages, such as sender, message, encoding, transmission, noise, decoding, receiver, and feedback. All of these steps play an essential role in the communication cycle. All of these steps should be followed in a proper sequence to convey the message effectively. In addition to this, barriers to communication can also hinder communication and change the meaning of the message.
The barriers to communication are personal, semantic, organizational, and psychological barriers. One should keep these barriers in mind while creating a message and take necessary precautions to avoid these barriers.