The communication model present in Exhibit 11.1 provides a useful “conduit” metaphor for thinking about the communication process. According to this model, communication flows through channels between the sender and the receiver. The sender forms a message and encodes it into words, gestures, voice intonations, and other symbols or signs. Next, the encoded message is transmitted to the intended receiver through one or more communication channels (media). The receiver senses the incoming message and decodes it into something meaningful. Ideally, the decoded meaning is what the sender had intended.
In most situations, the sender looks for evidence that the other person received and understood the transmitted message. This feedback may be a formal acknowledgement, such as “Yes, I know what you mean,” or indirect evidence from the receiver’s subsequent actions. Notice that feedback repeats the communication process. Intended feedback is encoded, transmitted, received, and decoded from the receiver to the sender of the original message.
This model recognizes that communication is not a free-flowing conduit. Rather, the transmission of meaning from one person to another is hampered by noise – the psychological, social, and structural barriers that distort and obscure the sender’s intended message. If any part of the communication process is distorted or broken, the sender and receiver will not have a common understanding of the message.