Being able to communicate with another person is the first step to having a relationship (or not having a relationship) with others. Without the ability to communicate, we'd live in a very confusing world. These days, there are so many ways for people to communicate easily with friends and family, but it's still important to know how to strike up a conversation with a person you haven't met or with a colleague at work. It all starts with the six stages of communication as well as understanding the various steps involved in the communication process. This can help people really internalize an attribute of daily life that many of us take for granted.

The Six Stages of Communication

In order for people to communicate with one another, they first need to break it down into the six stages of communication, which are essentially the main steps involved in the communication process. Each stage must be analyzed in more detail depending on the medium where the conversation is being held. This could be in-person, over the phone, through a letter, etc. But, in general, every conversation that's conducted in everyday life happens in the same order:

  1. Ideas
  2. Messages
  3. Signals
  4. Recipient
  5. Receiver
  6. Feedback

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Explaining the Phases of the Communication Process

The best way to explain the phases of the communication process is by giving an example that makes sense to your audience. For instance, pretend that an audience is a group of millennials who are accustomed to talking to their friends via video chat.

First, the sender, which is the person initiating the conversation, must have an idea, thought or experience he or she wants to communicate with the recipient. This could be a person wanting to tell their friend that they just got a new puppy. So, they click on the video chat button to ring up their friend (the recipient), who they believe is available able to answer the call.

Next, the sender must turn their idea into a message that the recipient can understand. They have to find the best way to tell the receiver their idea or thought. Many adults are familiar with the fact that some people take news better than others, so this is the phase where you must decide how to best word what you want to say. The sender can use a series of words and sentences to convey this message, such as, "Guess what? I just got a new puppy!"

Once they've decided what to say, the sender must then transmit the message to the sender. In this case, the sender would merely say the thought they want to express over the video chat. But, if this is happening via a text message, then the sender would need to type it.

Finally, the receiver would decode the message to understand what the sender is trying to say to them. Unless the recipient isn't a speaker of the same language as the sender, they can usually move right onto the next phase of the communication process, which is attaching meaning to the message. The recipient can understand, now, that their friend has gotten a puppy. They may also be able to interpret the feelings their friend is having based on previous conversations.

Lastly, the recipient can give the sender feedback, letting the sender know exactly how they feel about the message. Something like, "Congratulations!" would suffice.

The Key Components of Effective Communication

It takes time for people to understand how to communicate effectively with others. Children, for example, may not be able to hold an appropriate conversation with others. They may be able to transmit the message, but their message may have the wrong idea. They also may not recognize that they need to wait for feedback from the recipient before transmitting another message. Adults can have this problem sometimes as well, including those with disabilities.

Therefore, it's always important for an individual to practice his or her communication skills. One of the steps involved in the communication process that people need to work on most is waiting for feedback from others and, ultimately, listening to the recipient. It's very common that the sender wants to just say his or her message and they don't think about what the other person may want to say. Understanding the six stages of communication can help a person be a better friend, parent, romantic partner and coworker overall.

About the Author

Hana LaRock is a freelance content writer from New York, currently living in Mexico. Before becoming a writer, Hana worked as a teacher for several years in the U.S. and around the world. She has her teaching certification in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a TESOL certification. Please visit her website,, to learn more.