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Communication Getting Lost in the Channel?

Communication Channels

In our previous article, we talk about an informal communication channel: the grapevine. But whether formal or informal, all communication has something in common. The message goes through a series of encoding and decoding before reaching the receiver. The Shannon Weaver linear model best represents the full cycle of communication.  The image below shows the Shannon Weaver model and the breakdown of each component:


The sender is the source of information. This person chooses what information to include, what channel (email, phone, in-person, memo, etc).


The process of the information being changed into “signals.” These signals are transmitted though whichever channel chosen by the sender.


This is the space the message passes through. Every channel has noise that can interrupt the message or alter it. The noise is a factor of the environment, people, and mode of communication.


The process of receiving and decoding the information. This includes understanding the signals that make up the message. Decoding could just be downloading a PDF or it could be reading body language.


The receiver is the person who gets the message. They are the one that decodes the signals to interpret the information.


At this point, if any clarification about the information, the receiver will reach out to the sender. This feedback helps remove any confusion and misinterpretation.  

Knowing each step in this model can help a send plan for the inevitable noise their message will encounter. By taking time to encode the message and making it easier for the receiver to decode, the sender is working to ensure the message is properly receive. If the feedback received from multiple receivers is the same, look to address the problem during encoding.

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