The Receiver in the Communication Process

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

In the communication process, the receiver is the listener, reader, or observer—that is, the individual (or the group of individuals) to whom a message is directed. Another name for receiver is audience or decoder.

The person who initiates a message in the communication process is called the sender. Put simply, an effective message is one that's received in the way that the sender intended.

Examples and Observations

  • "In the communication process, the role of receiver is, I believe, as important as that of sender. There are five receiver steps in the process of communication--Receive, Understand, Accept, Use, and Give a Feedback. Without these steps, being followed by the receiver, no communication process would be complete and successful." (Keith David, Human Behavior. McGraw-Hill, 1993)

    Decoding the Message

    "The receiver is the destination of the message. The receiver's task is to interpret the sender's message, both verbal and nonverbal, with as little distortion as possible. The process of interpreting the message is known as decoding. Because words and nonverbal signals have different meanings to different people, countless problems can occur at this point in the communication process:

    - The sender inadequately encodes the original message with words not present in the receiver's vocabulary; ambiguous, nonspecific ideas; or nonverbal signals that distract the receiver or contradict the verbal message.
    - The receiver is intimidated by the position or authority of the sender, resulting in tension that prevents effective concentration on the message and failure to ask for needed clarification.
    - The receiver prejudges the topic as too boring or difficult to understand and does not attempt to understand the message.
    - The receiver is close-minded and unreceptive to new and different ideas.

    With the infinite number of breakdowns possible at each stage of the communication process, it is indeed a miracle that effective communication ever occurs." (Carol M. Lehman and Debbie D. DuFrene, Business Communication, 16th ed. South-Western, 2010)

    "Once the message gets from the sender to the receiver, the message has to be understood.

    Understanding occurs when the receiver decodes the message. Decoding is the act of interpreting the encoded message whereby meaning is attributed to and extracted from the symbols (sounds, words) so that the message is meaningful. Communication has occurred when the message is received and some degree of understanding occurs. This is not to say that the message as understood by the receiver has the same meaning as the sender intended. Indeed, the difference between intended and received messages is partly how we define whether communication is effective or not. The greater the degree of shared meaning between the sent message and the received message, the more effective is the communication." (Michael J. Rouse and Sandra Rouse, Business Communications: A Cultural and Strategic Approach. Thomson Learning, 2002) 

    Feedback Issues

    "In the interpersonal setting, a source has a chance to shape a different message for each receiver. Feedback cues on all available levels (depending on physical features of the setting, for instance, face to face or a telephone conversation) enable the source to read the needs and wants of a receiver and adapt a message accordingly. Through give-and-take, the source can progress through a line of reasoning using necessary tactics to make the point with each receiver.

    . . .

    "Feedback in the interpersonal setting provides a running account of a receiver's reception of a message. Obvious cues such as direct questions show how well a receiver is processing the information. But subtle indicators also may provide information. For instance, a receiver's yawn, silence when comments are expected, or expressions of boredom suggest that selective exposure gates may be in operation. (Gary W. Selnow and William D. Crano, Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating Targeted Communication Programs. Quorum/Greenwood, 1987)

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    Your Citation
    Nordquist, Richard. "The Receiver in the Communication Process." ThoughtCo, Apr. 26, 2017, thoughtco.com/receiver-communication-1691899. Nordquist, Richard. (2017, April 26). The Receiver in the Communication Process. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/receiver-communication-1691899 Nordquist, Richard. "The Receiver in the Communication Process." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/receiver-communication-1691899 (accessed January 16, 2018).