Have you ever been told that you need to improve your communication? Do you work on a team that keeps miscommunicating? If so, you may want to revisit the basics. Most of us make the mistake of communicating without thinking about how communication actually works. Whole books have been written on this topic, but here are the basics that you need to understand. 

The Roles:

  1. The sender
  2. The message 
  3. The receiver(s) 

The Steps:

  1. Encoding: The process of the sender sending the message (verbal and nonverbal)
  2. The medium of transmission: How a message is transmitted, i.e., email, text, conversation  
  3. Decoding: How the receiver interprets the message
  4. Feedback: The receivers response to the message. 

What does this look like?

You (sender) are having a face-to-face conversation (medium) about a project with your coworker (receiver). You tell (encoding) your coworker that you have a ton of work that needs to get done before you can focus on the project. Your coworker takes a moment to think about what you said (decoding), flashes a quick smile (feedback), and walks away. A couple of hours later, your manager announces that you’ve been taken off the project. You had no intention of being taken off the project? What happened?

Does this sound familiar? Where do you think the communication breakdown was? Was it the sender, receiver, the message? Was the message decoded correctly, or could it have been encoded differently? Take a moment to think about it. Once you believe you have an answer, ask yourself these questions. Are these individuals from the same culture? Do they both have the same communication styles, life experiences, etc.? Are you starting to see why communication is so difficult?

If you’re interested in improving your communication skills, please check out our other blog posts and subscribe to our blog.


Published by Aaron L.

A young man looking to share his light with the world. I enjoy reading non-fiction, drafting speeches, and writing poetry. Over the past 10 years, I've had the opportunity to lead diverse teams of emergency responders, planners, trainers, and human resource professionals. Fun fact, I've lived and worked in 3 different countries.

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