In communication, decoding is performed by the person receiving a message. The receiver interprets, analyzes, and makes sense of a message which has been encoded by the sender.
Understanding decoding in communication
Decoding is the process of translating a message from its original format into one that is meaningful for the receiver.
This process requires the individual to receive, interpret, analyze, and understand the message for communication to be successful.
Decoding is the reverse of encoding, where the sender uses symbols to translate ideas or concepts into a coded message ready for communication.
These symbols, which may take the form of words, gestures, or languages, ensure the message is understood by the receiver.
Decoding analogy in the workplace
To better understand decoding and its relationship with encoding, suppose you wanted to explain to a co-worker the directions to the conference room.
You would first picture the layout of the third floor in your mind and identify prominent landmarks such as the verdant indoor fern, elevator, and lunch room.
You would then choose the best words to describe the route so that the co-worker could make the meeting on time.
The process we outlined above is encoding, where you took an idea or mental image of the route and translated it into spoken words to convey the message.
In the decoding process, the co-worker receives the message, thinks about it, and turns the directions back into a mental image.
On their way to the conference room, their mental map of the route would remind them to look for the landmarks you mentioned.
If they make the meeting on time, they have interpreted the message correctly and communication has been successful.
Factors that influence the decoding process
Some of the factors that influence decoding – and by extension, successful communication – are listed below:
Communication channel proficiency
Communication is more successful when both the sender and receiver are capable of using the same channel proficiently.
Shared mental models
These are internal representations of the external world that enable individuals to visualize the relationships between elements.
Communication will be compromised if one person in a discussion has a different or less detailed mental model when compared to the other.
All forms of noise – whether it be physical, physiological, psychological, or cultural – can impact one’s ability to decode a message.
Topic knowledge or experience – if the receiver knows less about a topic than the sender, they may be unable to decode the message.
They may be less familiar with symbols, idioms, terms, gestures, or other information that is only known to those with more expertise or familiarity with the topic.
- In communication, decoding is performed by the person receiving a message. The receiver interprets, analyzes, and makes sense of a message which has been encoded by the sender.
- Decoding is the reverse of encoding, where the sender uses symbols to translate ideas or concepts into a coded message ready for communication.
- Factors that influence the decoding process include communication channel proficiency, shared mental models, communication noise, and discrepancies in topic knowledge or experience.
Read Next: Communication Cycle, Encoding, Communication Models.
Read Also: Lasswell Communication Model, Linear Model Of Communication.
Connected Communication Models
Aristotle’s Model of Communication
Helical Model of Communication
Transactional Model of Communication
Integrated Marketing Communication
Main Free Guides: