Various elements work together to achieve a desired outcome as communication takes place. The basic components or parts of the communication system are: the communicators (sender and receiver), message channel, feedback, noise, situation, and the interdependence of all the elements in the process. By that they are interrelated and work systematically.
There have been many different attempts to describe the communication process schematically. All these attempts may aid us in understanding how communication works but we should limit ourselves to these frameworks considering that communication is a dynamic process.
The source of the communication transaction is the originator of the message. Also known as the sender of information, the source initiates the communication process. In speech communication, we can identify the source to be the speaker, the one delivering the message. In daily life situations we are all sources of information as we relate to others and speak our ideas to them. We are both a source of message, consciously and unconsciously.
In the simplest sense, a message may be thought of as an idea, concept, emotion, desire, or feeling that a person desires to share with another human being. A message may be in verbal or non-verbal codes. The purpose of a message is to evoke meaning in another person. Some messages are intentional some are not.
A channel is the means by which a message moves from a person to another. The channel is the medium or vehicle by which we are able to transmit the message to the recipient. The means we use to communicate is the channel. The country’s president to deliver his message to his fellowmen may speak face to face with an audience, via the broadcast media or via print. Language is the basic medium of communication available to man.
The receiver gets the message channeled by the source of information. In a one way communication process, he is in the other end. But in a dynamic communication process the receiver may start to share his ideas and hence become also a source of information for the originator of the message. Listeners and audience are receivers of information. In a classroom situation, the students spend a lot of time as receivers of information.
Feedback is that integral part of the human communication process that allows the speaker to monitor the process and to evaluate the success of an attempt to get the desired response from the receiver. Also called “return signals,” it has a regulatory effect upon the speaker since the speaker must adjust to the feedback responses in order to be successful. In a public communication situation, the response of acceptance of the audience with their applause may be considered a feedback.
Noise may occur anywhere along the communication line, and it may be physical, physiological, or psychological in nature. Noise is any interference in the communication process. Annoying vocal habits of the speaker may interfere in the transmission of his verbal signals. Noise as a barrier may originate from the source or the receiver, from the channel used in sending the message, or outside of the source and receiver’s control. The poor listening of the audience and their unnecessary actions may also interfere in the communication process.
Communication does not take place in a vacuum. Between communicators, the process takes place in a particular communication situation where the identifiable elements of the process work in a dynamic interrelation. This situation is referred to as the context – the when and where of a communication event. Communication contexts vary depending on the need, purpose, number of communicators and the ways exchange is taking place. Communication can be intrapersonal, interpersonal, group, organizational, cultural, public or mediated.
Knowing the elements of communication leads to a more meaningful understanding of the processes that make it work. We communicate and we know it is important for us. To communicate effectively, we need to have an understanding of how these elements work together in a process.
If we sit and look around at the interactions going on, we can definitely identify these elements to be present and at work. How we communicate have probably changed through time, but the same elements are present in whatever ways we communicate. We are communicators and we use other tools to meet some needs that we have, communication is in itself a tool to meet those needs.