How to Encode & Decode a Communication Model

by Zachary Fenell
Linear communication involves successfully encoding messages so a large crowd can relate.

Linear communication involves successfully encoding messages so a large crowd can relate.

Within the general communication field there exist many different communication models. The linear communication model involves one-way communication. The communicator sends a message, referred to as encoding, and the audience receives the message and interprets the meaning, called decoding. For effective communication using the linear communication model, you need to successfully encode and decode messages. This entails understanding nonverbal communication elements in addition to verbal communication.

Encoding Messages

Identify your audience, albeit a single person or a large crowd, and research your audience's background. Knowing your audience assists with encoding messages effectively. For example, you might smile to reinforce your message's happy tone. However, according to Buffalo State University, a smile in some cultures indicates embarrassment. When talking to people from these cultures, a smile could turn your happy message ambiguous.

Choose an appropriate environment for communicating your message. Environment plays an important role in how your audience decodes your message, according to California State University Fullerton.

Compose your appearance carefully. Your appearance communicates to others your attitude. For instance, your clothes, grooming habits, and hair style all represent your attitude toward a given situation.

Maintain a proper distance from your audience when speaking. The reason for the communication indicates the proper distance to maintain. Personal conversations can take place within an 18 inch to four foot radius, while four feet to 12 feet serves as the parameters for social settings, and 12 feet plus proves appropriate for public communication. Violating these distances can make your audience feel uncomfortable, preventing them from successfully decoding your messages.

Decoding Messages

Pay attention to the communicator's nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication accounts for the majority of messages sent, according to Buffalo State University. In decoding messages, nonverbal communication can reemphasize verbal messages, indicate deception, or add further meaning. An important factor to keep in mind for deciphering nonverbal communication is the speaker's nonverbal communication cultural norms.

View the communicator's message from his perspective. By doing this, you will better understand the other person's opinion, enabling you to decode messages more effectively.

Analyze the communication setting to detect any further messages being sent by the communicator. For example, if you decide to get lunch with an old friend and the friend insists you meet her at her office, this could indicate she wants to share with you her professional success.

Items you will need

  • An appropriate setting
  • Background information about the speaker/audience

About the Author

Zachary Fenell is a 2009 graduate of Notre Dame College of Ohio. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication with minors in philosophy and writing. Fenell has been writing since 2002, when he joined his high school newspaper, "The Arc Light." In college Fenell won awards for excellence in English and communication.

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