The first pre-requisite is that you have something to say – an "idea". Are you clear as to what you want to communicate?
This means (1) taking special effort in encoding your idea (2) with the target recipient in mind. It is important to note that the words, tone and actions that you choose to encode your idea represent specific content meaning … therefore, choose them wisely.
||Encoding the Idea … with the Target Recipient in Mind
As the transmitter you now have the task of putting your idea into a form in which the recipient can understand. You have to "encode" it. This cognitive process of changing ideas into symbols and organising them into a message is called encoding.
You may think that if you have fulfilled you part in encoding the idea then it is up to the recipient to play his part to decode the message. But an effective communicator ensures that his target recipient understands what is being communicated.
Next, you have to keep the target recipient in mind. Does the recipient understand the words used? Does the recipient have the maturity and enough experience to understand what is being communicated?
The apostle Paul took special efforts to ensure the reception of the gospel message. Though he was entitled to financial support (1 Cor. 9:3-5), he did not exercise this right. Instead he worked and supported himself so as to eliminate charges of selfish motives thereby facilitating the communication of the gospel (1 Thess. 2:9).
Coping with Noise in the Encoding Process
There may be internal noises (i.e., your attitude about your position and your feelings) that interfere with the encoding process so much so that the message transmitted is NOT your intended idea. Recognizing this danger, what can you do to encode your idea clearly?
Handling Noises in the Environment and in the Recipient
There are noises that distort the message in transmission and decoding. Effective communicators take these noises into consideration when they are communicating.
- External noises along the channel of communication are sights, sounds and other stimuli in the environment that draw a recipient’s attention away from what is being communicated.
The consequence of external noise is that the message may not reach the recipient in the same form in which it left you (i.e., the message received is NOT the message transmitted).
- Moreover, the recipient also has to cope with internal noises. In this case, the internal noises (the recipient's attitude and feelings) interfere with the "decoding" process so much so that the message decoded is NOT the message received.
- Then there are semantic noises, the unintended meanings aroused by certain symbols inhibiting the accuracy of decoding. We need to maintain an empty closet where there are no unsettled grievances in the recipient's mind.
Keep in mind and apply the following model whenever you are communicating. We have succeeded in communicating only when the message decoded is the same as the original idea.
We have touched on one aspect of communication … talking. But communication is circular in nature … we are not just transmitters of messages, we are also recipients of messages. We all have difficulty communicating positively with others when feelings are involved – either your own or their’s. We will look at how we can improve our listening skills in another article.