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The Process of Communication

As human beings we communicate with each other every day and when we communicate it is with a specific purpose in mind.

To interact
To inform
To find out
To influence
To regulate
To entertain
To record 

You communicate by means of a language that is understood by the person or persons you are communicating with. You are communicating when you are speaking face-to-face, or speaking over the phone, or online. You communicate when you read an article written by an author in a newspaper, in a magazine, in a letter; in a report; and in a book. When you write you are communicating through written words rather than spoken words. Communicate - according to the Oxford English Dictionary -  means the “share or exchange of information”. Since the beginning of time man has communicated with his fellow beings.  This “sharing or exchange of information” may take on many forms and many instruments may be utilized to convey this information. The reaction to the transfer of information may also vary, depending on a number of factors. Communication is a two-way street – information is shared with another party and the other party normally reacts in some way, even if they do absolutely nothing.

A bus driver communicates with other people all the time.  It starts when he receives instructions about his schedule and route.  He receives information and reacts to this exchange of information by getting into his bus and driving according to schedule.  Upon his return to the depot, he communicates information about the route and schedule e.g. road conditions, number of passengers, etc., as well as the condition of his vehicle back to the appropriate authorities. Along his route, he communicates with passengers when they board the bus. He communicates with the controller and fellow drivers. In the event of a breakdown, he will communicate with the workshop personnel to inform them about the problem. The most important communication the driver engages in is with other road users. By using warning devices like brake lights, indicators, hazard lights, he communicates his intentions to his fellow road users. In the event of the driver NOT communicating his intentions, he might cause an accident and have to communicate with the police and ultimately a magistrate. 

The Communication Process - Communication is the interaction between at least two people, the communicator and the recipient. There can, however, be more than one recipient, like an audience listening to a speech or watching a movie.

The Communicator - The communicator starts the communication process by conveying a message about what he feels, thinks, or believes about a matter that he wishes to share with others.

The message - The message is that which the communicator wishes to convey to others by way of communication and can be used by the communicator to attempt to persuade someone to his way of thinking or it can be an idea, thought, or feeling that the communicator wishes to share with others. This message needs to be communicated in some form, for while the message remains a thought in the communicator’s mind, it cannot be received or interpreted by a recipient.

The Recipient - The recipient receives the message, interprets it, and reacts. This reaction is called feedback. 

Feedback - Feedback is not always verbal, but can also be conveyed by means of other reactions e.g. applause after a good performance

What you do when you communicate:

You listen to what someone is saying – you think about what has been said  - you respond; 
You think about what you want to say- you speak your thoughts, opinions, etc. you wait for a response.
You read the words written by an author- you think about what you have read - you respond.
You think about what you want to say– you write the words you want to speak – you wait for a response.

Response refers to the feedback you give or get when communicating. It can either be oral or spoken, or it can be written. It can be in the form of a suggestion, advice, recommendation, statement, instruction, command, etc. or it can be in the form of an assessment; a test, task, examination, demonstration, observation, etc. 

Remember, it is not always what you say that is important. It is how you say it. You are continuously being assessed either directly or indirectly in all you say, or do, or write.  Your knowledge, competency, or your capabilities are measured when you respond or give feedback. Each type of feedback has different criteria or outcomes against which it is measured or assessed. These outcomes are in fact the skills you are required to demonstrate to prove that you are competent in what you are doing, saying, reading or writing.  Meaningful feedback requires purposeful preparation and presentation. 

When participating in a conversation you are constantly interpreting the words you hear so that you can unpack or extract important information. This you do in order give an appropriate response. It is a process that you work through instinctively before you respond or give feedback or say something. You first have to interpret what you have heard, or read before you can respond or give meaningful feedback. Your, response or reaction demonstrates your interpretation, and your understanding of what you have heard, seen, felt, tasted, smelled, experienced, or read. When you interpret a message, whether it is a picture you look at; words someone is speaking, or the written word you are reading, your mind instinctively works through the following steps:

First, you extract or unpack keywords and key concepts so that you can speak about what is relevant. They can be extracted from your general knowledge bank or your experience, or from what you have heard and read about. Unpacking or extracting key ideas is like a brainstorm. Ideas are randomly thought of and not placed in a specific order. This is part of preparing a response starting with careful planning what you want to say. Example: You are required to give feedback on the effect crime has on a community and how it can be minimized. You can brainstorm to unpack or collect information

Second, you repack or rearrange and restructure these key ideas (keywords and key concepts) into sentences. Sentences are developed into paragraphs and organized into a logical sequence so that the information you share is meaningful. In order to repack or make an interpretation of these key ideas you have to make use of questions (what, when where, why who and how) to rearrange or restructure the brainstorm into a mind map or a flow diagram. This you do by means of grouping key concepts or related key ideas to show how they link or flow into each other in a logical sequence, to make sense. Example: A mind map or flow diagram to restructure and organise the key ideas generated on crime in a logic way.

You do not have to make two diagrams. You can start with a brainstorm and then with the help of questions (What; When; Where; Why; Who; and How) you can develop the brainstorm into a flow diagram to map out your thoughts or your interpretation. Then only do you respond by giving either verbal or written feedback. This is the final part of your preparation where you focus on how you are going to present your response or feedback.  It is important to be familiar with the correct format in which you choose to give feedback or to respond.


Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Natalie Soine