Communication: Definition, Characteristics, Network, Elements of Process

Communication is a Latin word that means, sharing of information or intelligence.”

What is Communication? 

Communication is really a broad term and is complex in nature. Communication is the process of transferring information on common interest from one person to another. In every communication process, there should be at least the involvement of the sender, message, and recipient. Otherwise, communication is impossible.

Communication is a continuous process and the basics of the managerial function. Managers provide information about instruction, guidance, and suggestion to subordinates to implement plans and policies. It’s almost impossible to go through a day without any use of communication. In each and every organization there is communication. They communicate internally with their employees and externally with their customers, their stakeholders,  and their communities. 

In simple terms, Communication is simply the act of conveying information from one place, person, or group to another. Also, as the exchange of ideas, news, views, opinions, and beliefs.

Definitions of Communication

There are various definitions of communication, and below I will give you three of them. The word itself is derived from the Latin verb communicate, which means “to share” or “to make common“.

3 Simple  Communication Definitions

  1. Communication is the sharing of information
  2. Communication is the giving and receiving of messages
  3. Communication is the transfer of information from one or more people to one or more other people

The first of these three definitions of communication is the simplest. Because of those qualities, it is also a bit nonspecific. The second definition tells us that information, here called a message, must be received, as well as sent, to complete the communication process. The third and last definition mentioned above only applies to communication between people.

What Are The Basic Elements of Communication?

  1. Sender
  2. Message
  3. Receiver

1. Sender

The initiator of communication; Someone who encodes and sends a message to a receiver through a particular channel; Communication begins with a sender. The sender has some kind of information—question, request, a command, or an idea—that he or she wants to convey to others. The sender might be, a writer, a speaker, or someone who merely gestures.

2. Message

A message is a piece of information that the sender is trying to convey. The message content can be both verbal and non-verbal. The message should be meaningful and should be understandable to the receiver.

3. Receiver

While communicating, the role of the “receiver” is the reader, observer, or listener — i.e the individual (or the group of individuals) to whom a message is directed. The receiver interprets the meaning of the message. To understand the message receiver uses education, knowledge, attitudes, experience, and emotions. The receiver is also called the decoder or the  “audience.

Characteristics of Communication

Communication helps to maintain coordination among all the mechanisms of the organization and gain common goals. The following are the main characteristics of communication: 

  • Minimum of two persons
  • Continuous function
  • Pervasive function
  • Oral or written
  • Formal or informal
  • Basis of action and coordination
  • Two-way process
  • Clearness

Minimum of Two Persons

In the communication process, there must be at least two persons. One is the sender and another is the receiver. The sender delivers the messages and the receiver receives them. They exchange information of common interest with each other. Nevertheless, in mass communication, there may be more than two persons.

Continuous Function

Communication is a continuous process up to the existence of the organization and its performance. It is known that “if no communication, there is no functioning of an organization.”

Pervasive Function

It is a pervasive managerial function. Communication is the function of every manager.  They communicate with each other i.e their superiors and subordinates.

Oral or Written

Generally, managers communicate either orally or by writing. when messages are important and carry evidential or formal information, it is appropriate to use written means. And for general or regular information it is sufficient to use oral means. Besides, oral and written communication signs, and symbols are also means of communication. It includes everything which is used to convey meanings. 

Formal or Informal

On the basis of nature and system, communication may either be formal or informal. Formal communication is used to communicate official information. For Example, The managing director communicates with departmental heads. Informal communication flows through informal channels, which are not defined by the management i.e. friends, family, and colleagues.

Basis of Action & Coordination

Communication is the most important element of action and coordination, communication contributes to maintaining coordination among workgroups to develop the concept of team spirit. Communication helps to implement plans and policies in practical operation.

Two-way Process

For the effectiveness of information, there must be a two-way process in communication. In the management hierarchy, the information of direction, guidance, and instructions are communicated from the top level to the subordinate level. It is essential to get feedback in direction.


Clear communication helps to build exact concrete words and expressions to reduce vagueness and confusion in the communication process. If your message is clear it becomes easier for the receiver to decode it. 

Communication Structure (Communication Network)

Communication structure is the pattern or network that is implemented in the organization to communicate information. It is the system where the message may flow in one or too many directions on the basis of requirement. Broadly, there are two types of communication i.e. formal and informal.

Depending upon the nature and size of organizations and types of communication, different communication networks can be implemented on the basis of their effectiveness. In large organizations, it is complex to develop an effective communication network. In such organizations, the main communication network is divided into many sub-networks that maintain a link with the main network for their effectiveness. It is helpful to determine the speed, accuracy, and smoothness through which the messages flow in the organization.

Broadly, there are four types of communication networks consisting of wheel, chain, circle, and all channels networks as mentioned in the figure below:

Communication Network
Communication Network

1. Wheel Network

Under the wheel network system, the leader of the organization works as a central person to accumulate information and disseminate it to all the members. In this network, the top-level manager is the source of information. He provides information within and outside the organization. Within the organization, he provides information to subordinates and also accumulates the required information from them. In this network system, subordinates have no authority to communicate with each other to exchange official information. Similarly, he receives all information coming from outside. It is faster and suitable for simple and routine types of work. However, it is the most authoritarian type of network.

2. Chain Network

The chain network has all the appearances of an organizational chain of command. It is the vertical upward and downward form of the formal chain of communication. In this structure, a person can communicate only with his immediate superior and subordinate. In this structure information about an organization is communicated in a chain from the upper level to the subordinate levels and also from the subordinate levels to the upper level in a sequence. This type of network is common in all organizations where the hierarchy of authority and responsibility are clearly defined among the members.

3. Circle Network

It is the horizontal form of communication or sideward form of a circle network, in which a person can communicate only to the persons next to his right or left but not with any other members of the group. Such a network offers a wider option of channels and provides satisfaction to members. For instance, in a meeting, a member converses with the member on his right or left. In a similar way, informal organizations, a production manager communicates with the marketing or finance manager to get official information.

4. All channel network

It is an informal form of a network where all members can communicate their ideas, views, and suggestions to all the members of the group. In this structure, members have no restrictions and boundaries to convey their information. They have more freedom to flow information among the group members. The leader of the group does not hold excessive power to control group members. Therefore, it is known as an open channel of the network.

Elements of Communication Process System

For the systematic transformation of information. It is essential to satisfy some communication processes consisting of the sender, encoding, message, medium, decoding, receiver, feedback, and noise.

Communication is the process of exchanging information from one person to another. The process of communication begins when one person (sender) wants to transmit a fact, idea, opinion, and other information to someone else (receiver). To make communication purposeful, it is essential to complete some common steps both from the sender and also from the receiver. Generally, the following are the steps essential to fulfill the communication process:

Elements of Communication Process System
Elements of Communication Process System
  • Sender or Source
  • Encoding
  • Message
  • Medium
  • Decoding
  • Receiver
  • Feedback
  • Noise

 1. Sender

The sender is the source of information. He may be the manager, non-manager, department, or organization itself. A manager may communicate with other managers, subordinates, supervisors, clients, customers, and outsiders. Basically, the sender is the initiator of the process of communication. He formulates the message through his idea, needs, intention, and source, which he wants to communicate to the receiver. Therefore, the sender must conceptualize the message before it is encoded.

2. Encoding

It is the process of giving form and meaning to the message. It involves selecting the medium through which to communicate the planned message. When the sender expresses the message in terms of words, symbols gestures, drawings, or other means are forms of encoding. The main purpose of encoding is to translate thoughts and feelings into a code that others are able to understand. It makes the message meaningful and understandable to the receiver.

3. Message

The output of the encoding process is the message. It is the subject matter of communication that the sender wants to convey to the receiver. It may consist of facts, opinions, ideas, requests, suggestions, etc. of the sender. The sender expresses his views, ideas, and facts in terms of messages either written or verbally to the receiver. In a business organization, the purpose of the message may concern purchase, sales, agreement, promotion, and other business-related activities.

4. Medium

It refers to the selection of channels of communication to convey encoded messages to the receiver. It bridges the gap between the sender and the receiver in communicating the message of common interest. To communicate messages different mediums can be used on the basis of their effectiveness. For instance, oral communication can be made through telephone, mediator, group discussion, etc. whereas written communication can be made through the means of letters, memos, reports, newspapers, etc. However, the selection of an appropriate medium of communication depends upon the nature and importance of the message.

5. Receiver

The receiver is the second person in the communication process. He receives messages, understands the same, and takes the necessary steps for a response. From the technical point of view, communication becomes complete only when it is received and understood by the receiver. Therefore, an effective message communicated must be receiver-oriented, not sender oriented. A receiver does not respond to a message until and unless he understands the actual meaning of the message.

6. Decoding:

Decoding refers to the process by which receivers translate the message into terms meaningful to them. It is the process of interpreting messages by the receiver. In other words, decoding is termed the transmission of understanding between the sender and receiver. It is essential to get the knowledge or meaning of the message as per the intention of the sender. If words of letters, reports, circulars, newspapers, etc. are decoded not in accordance with the sender’s intention, they will be misinterpreted, which may create a misunderstanding between the sender and, the receiver Such an event creates problems in the organization. The effectiveness of communication can be realized only when the receiver is able to decode the message in accordance with the sender’s intentions.

7. Feedback

It is the final stage in the communication process. Feedback determines whether the message is clearly understood and whether the required action is taken by the receiver as intended by the sender. When the receiver is able to decode messages received from the sender, he provides the response on lime. Therefore, the sender should send messages in simple and clear sentences by considering the receiver’s views. The success of the communication process can be measured only when the sender is able to receive a positive response from the receiver. The feedback to the sender completes the process of communication. Basically, a one-way communication process does not fulfill the objectives of communicating a message.

8. Noise

Noise is any element or condition that disturbs or interferes with the effectiveness of communication. It disturbs the free flow of information from one person to another. An organization may use modern technology in the communication process, where some disturbances occur from environmental factors. Noise consists of the sound of radio, loudspeakers, machines also involves sloppy handwriting, slow voice, soft speech tone, etc. It is part of the communication process to minimize the noise in transformation that makes it effective.

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