The 8 Elements Of Communication: Characteristics And Examples

Comunication elements

Communication elements such as the message, the sender, the receiver or the context, are concepts that help us understand the complexity of the communicative processes present in social interactions.

We will see in detail what elements of communication come into play where there are subjects exchanging information, and in what ways the variations in each of them can make the interpretation of the information received different.

Communication is a complex process that involves various elements working together to convey messages and exchange information effectively. Understanding these elements is essential for enhancing interpersonal relationships, teamwork, and organizational success. In this article, we delve into the characteristics and examples of the eight key elements of communication.

What are the elements of communication?

By communication we understand the process by which it occurs an exchange of information between two subjects There is a debate about what the nature of these subjects involved in communicative activity should be: whether they can only be human beings and some animals with high capacities for abstract thinking, or they can also be other living beings with less complex nervous systems, and even machines like computers.

And a good part of what defines the communication process is the interpretation made of the results. To what extent does a Smartphone interpret the digital signals it receives from an antenna? Do bacteria communicate through the uptake and emission of chemical elements?

In any case, there is something that is independent of the type of subjects that share information with each other: the elements of communication. These are concepts that help us understand the phenomena that explain communicative activities, and each of them represents a piece in the process by which information travels from a data interpretation system to another that is located in a place. different from the one occupied by the first.

And although in communication there does not have to be a physical body that moves from one place to another, in practice communication is movement and dynamism, and that is why it cannot be explained as it could be done with a static element. The elements of communication are the pieces that articulate with each other to generate different meanings in real time Let’s see what they are.

1. Issuer

The issuer is the subject who triggers the communicative process by exposing information that can be interpreted by other subjects In turn, the sender can emit coded information symbolically, or through non-verbal language, which expresses sensations, attitudes and moods, and which is more spontaneous than the previous one.

On the other hand, many times establishing who the sender is is something very relative, because it is not always easy to know with certainty which subject initiated the communication. For example, if someone meets their neighbor on the street and greets them with “hello,” this could in turn be a reaction to the expression on the neighbor’s face, and in this case it would be the person who has not spoken the who would have adopted the role of issuer in the first place.

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Precisely for this reason, it is assumed that the sender is relatively so, establishing a single information sending cycle as a frame of reference. In a moment, whoever was the sender becomes the receiver, and vice versa.

The sender is the individual or entity initiating the communication process by encoding and transmitting a message to the receiver. Characteristics of the sender include clarity, credibility, and authenticity. For example, a manager delivering a motivational speech to employees is the sender in this communication interaction.

2. Receiver

The receiver is the individual or audience intended to receive and decode the message sent by the sender. Receivers play a crucial role in the communication process by interpreting and responding to the message. Characteristics of effective receivers include attentiveness, active listening, and feedback. For example, employees attending a training workshop are receivers of information from the facilitator.

The receiver is the subject who, voluntarily or involuntarily, receives the information issued by the sender and interprets it, either using a system of symbols that establishes equivalences between signifiers and meanings, or without a system of symbols, obeying the sensations produced by what comes through the senses.

As we have seen, there is an unresolved debate about whether a machine can be a receiver, but in practice signal reception systems are treated as real receivers, since not doing so would make it very difficult to understand how these systems work. devices.

3. Message

The message is the information, idea, or content being conveyed from the sender to the receiver. It can be verbal, written, visual, or nonverbal in nature. Examples of messages include speeches, emails, reports, gestures, and facial expressions. The clarity, relevance, and coherence of the message influence its effectiveness in communication.

The message is what is used to transmit information, that is, the literal existence of what is being said by the sender and what the receiver is capturing Therefore, message is not equivalent to meaning, but rather it is the phenomenon to be deciphered to obtain, from its interpretation, a meaning.

For example, a message can be “I wish you luck”, while the meaning of this word of letters (if it is read) or of phonemes (if it is heard) depends on other aspects: in some cases it is a sign of appreciation, while which in others is an indirect mockery used through sarcasm, if it is formulated implying that the recipient lacks the necessary capabilities to do something.

In practice, the message is inseparable from the rest of the elements of communication, because we will never be able to know it and analyze it without a receiver, a sender, a channel, etc.

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4. Noise

Noise refers to any interference or barrier that disrupts the communication process, leading to distortion, misunderstanding, or misinterpretation of the message. Noise can be internal (such as preconceptions, biases) or external (such as distractions, technical glitches). Minimizing noise through effective encoding, decoding, and feedback mechanisms improves communication effectiveness.

The noise is literally any phenomenon that interferes with the communication process and modifies the message in any of its aspects For example, the coverage cuts that we sometimes experience when talking on a mobile phone, or a burst of vision that distorts some phonemes.

Thus, noise is one of the most diverse elements of communication, because there are very varied ways in which a message can be altered: both physical (electronic failures in signal capture, wall material that keeps people separated, etc.) sender and receiver) as symbolic (errors when typing, errors in word recognition in software, etc.).

The existence of noise is what has made many people look for communication channels capable of very well controlling the variables that come into play in the transmission of information. Message exchange programs used by chat systems, for example, pay a lot of attention to this.

On the other hand, we must not forget that the noise It does not always have to come from phenomena outside the elements of communication ; Sometimes, it comes from within. For example, if the receiver has a brain injury, this can generate noise by making it difficult to analyze what the sender says, generating alterations such as Wernicke’s aphasia.

5. Code

The code is the structured set of rules and signs that make it possible to express and emit complex messages Therefore, it is associated with the ability to use language, or at least a type of language that is somewhat less developed than that of adult human beings.

There are different code systems, and they can be applied in speech or writing. On the other hand, the existence of the code implies that to communicate the sender must carry out a coding process if he wants to issue a message of his own, and the receiver has to decode in order to interpret and understand it. For communication to take place, sender and receiver have to use the same code.

6. Channel

The channel refers to the medium or method used to transmit the message from the sender to the receiver. Channels can be verbal (such as face-to-face conversations, phone calls) or nonverbal (such as written documents, visual presentations). The choice of channel depends on factors like audience preferences, message complexity, and the urgency of communication.

The channel is the medium through which the message travels, passing from one place to another In spoken language, the channel is usually the sound waves that travel through the air, while on the Internet, the channel can be a chat or a binary system for transmitting digital signals, depending on the level at which we place our unit of communication. analysis of what happens.

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In practice, among the most frequent channels that are part of the daily life of this element of communication are air, paper, emails, telephone systems, and light waves emitted by screens. Sometimes, two or more channels can occur at the same time.

7. Context

Context refers to the situational, environmental, and cultural factors that influence the communication process. It includes the physical setting, social norms, organizational culture, and historical background. Adapting communication strategies to fit the context enhances message relevance, credibility, and reception.

The context is the space-time environment in which communication takes place. And we must not forget that The where and when greatly influence both the emission of the message and its reception and interpretation Around the subjects who communicate, there is always a more general environment that conditions the entire process.

For example, talking to someone from the team to which one belongs is not the same as talking to someone from the rival team, nor is saying something considered provocative in the 18th century the same as doing so in a Western country in the 21st century. Our environment conditions not only how we say things, but even the content of what we intend to communicate.

8. Feedback

Feedback is the response or reaction provided by the receiver to the sender’s message, indicating understanding, agreement, disagreement, or confusion. Feedback can be verbal (such as comments, questions) or nonverbal (such as nodding, facial expressions). Effective communication involves soliciting and incorporating feedback to ensure message clarity and comprehension.

Feedback is the response given by the receiver after having interpreted the message sent by the sender For this reason, it can also be considered another element of communication: the message given as sender, since it can be seen as what is said to initiate another communicative process.

A dynamic information exchange process

As we have seen, communication is defined as being a dynamic process, which cannot be captured in its entirety either from a static scheme, or from a linear descriptive model in which an element of communication produce the next one, and this one produces another, etc. When we communicate, everything arises at once, and we cannot separate each of these pieces and analyze them in isolation separated from the rest.

Therefore, this outline of the elements of communication only serves as a guide, like a map that helps us understand what is happening and through what means one or another information could be shared. At the end of the day, what really matters is the interpretation and conception of the messages, and these are always produced linked to a specific time and place.

Understanding the eight elements of communication provides a framework for analyzing, improving, and optimizing communication processes in various contexts. By paying attention to the sender, message, channel, receiver, feedback, context, noise, and purpose, individuals and organizations can enhance their communication effectiveness, foster mutual understanding, and build stronger relationships.