How Communication Works?

Communication is a process of exchange of ideas with specific intentions. You may know this already but do you understand how communication works? Well, most you will say yet technically, I do.

There is a sender who sends a message to the receiver through a media and the receiver decodes and makes the interpretation. Then, comes the feedback so that communication goes back to the original sender who now becomes the receiver, so on and so forth. This is technically correct but communication has more to it because you cannot refine your communication by just applying the sender receiver theory. You need to have a deeper understanding of what a communication is and how it works to be able to make the most effective use of it. Sounds good? Read on

There is more theory than I can count on my fingertips so if I go on explaining each one of them then I will have to write an entire book. So, here I will give you a glance of a few that can actually be the starting point for you and if properly applied, they can give amazing results by improving your communication capabilities.

Social Exchange Theory: the theory states that people when exchange communication actually change rewards as well as share costs. As any normal human, you would like to maximize your rewards and minimize your costs. So, if the rewards of having a relationship looks more than the costs associated then you would be more than welcome for communicating and maintaining that relationship. This could be the reason why marriage is not an easy institution to break even if there are issues because there is a lot of exchange happening between the two individuals. Leaving the relationship in the case then appears to be too costly.

So, if you want to build a relationship with any one through effective communication, remember that the person would be more interested in what you can give than what you want. The benefit may not always be in the form of a monetary transaction but it can also be a personal or social benefit. Imagine a person coming to office in the morning looking a bit stressed. Now, as soon as this man enters the elevator, he gets a brilliant compliment from the liftman who says, “Sir, you are looking really handsome today”. Now, think what benefits this liftman is giving the office man? Feeling of confidence and happiness, release of stress that was troubling him?

Theory of Emotional Communications: Emotions are generated by a brain system that performs two functions. These are analyzing the stimuli to decipher its meaning through associative pairing and controlling the responses resulting from the release of hormones, activation of nervous system, and allocation of cognitive resources. Confused? In simple words, when we communication, we first receive a message, interpret its meaning and then respond to it! Wait, you may now think that this is something I already know. How does this theory add value then?

Now, go a little deeper into the first function of the brain – analyzing stimulus which would help you form a meaning. Let us take an example. A child creates a painting and goes to his dad, shows him the painting and Dad says, “What is this? These lines are not even straight” How would the child interpret the message? Will it match with the message that Dad was trying to deliver. All Dad wanted to say was that lines should be straight so the child needs to take care of the same next time. How will the child interpret the message? The child would think “No matter what I do, Dad would never like it. He thinks I suck at drawing”.

Now, imagine, if instead of Dad, we had a painting teacher and instead of the child, we had a student learning from him. Will the student have the same interpretation if the teacher said the same thing as Dad did? What if Dad had said, “Wow! This is a wonderful painting you did. Look here, this looks a little curved. Don’t you think it would look better if you made it straight?” Now, think of the interpretation the child would have.

The point is that it is not just the message that is important but the way the receiver is going to interpret is also equally important. So, next time, you want to say something, try modifying your way of saying for which you need to understand the level of understanding of the receiver and the psychology of thinking.  Remember, that communication is not just about the exchange of words but more of emotions.

Dual Process Theory: Communication consists of two processes – automatic implicit process that happens at unconscious level and a controlled explicit process that happens at conscious level. In other words, when reacting to any communication, both your subconscious and conscious brain works. Have you ever observed people acting out of anger or just reacting to situations without even thinking of consequences? They happen to do this because they take the first response that subconscious process generates. In a person with some control over brain, the person may have the push from the subconscious brain to react but then the conspicuous brain thinks of consequences and establishes a control over mind to dilute the extreme reaction making a person respond more logically.


So, if you are acting out of anger or going to your extremes too easily, remember that you are doing it unconsciously but at the same time, also remember that you have a conscious brain that can always take control and prevent you from doing mistakes. Unconscious is too spontaneous and conscious is a bit of a thinker and thus, slow. Imagine, you have two people sitting in your head – one reacts within a second and other first thinks and then responds.

The instant actor inside you can actually calm down as easily as it is agitated while on the other side, the conscious person in your head would take time to get agitated and would not easily calm down. So, to control the reactor inside your brain, all you have to do is hold him for a little while and the extreme emotion would be gone. Then, your conscious can take the control and you respond in a more appropriate way. You must have heard people suggesting you to start counting fingers every time you feel anger to calm down. By counting fingers, you are actually holding the angry brother of your brain so that your logical brother can then take over and handle the situation.

All the extreme emotions like panic, anger, tension, stress, are coming from the angry brother. Just having the awareness of his existence can help you activate your logical self and then you can calm yourself down in no time. How will this help in communication? Obviously, it will by ensuring that you do not commit silly blunders in communication or relationships.

To summarize,

·        Communication is a form of exchange of cost and benefits such that more benefits you give to your receiver in any form, higher are the chances that you will get more acceptance

·        You do not just exchange the message but also the associated emotions and the effectiveness of message would depend on how your message is interpreted which is influenced by the emotions

·        Any unfavorable situation will first trigger your angry brother inside your brain and you need to hold him for a few seconds so that he allows your logical self to act with calm



  1. Poojadubey

    I am a professional writer and I write for organizations mostly. I also help people create their personal brands using content. I do blogging considering what my readers would need and at times, if I feel a topic deserves a space on my blog. I am not a regular blogger but more of a writer which is why you may not have heard much about me but since you spoke about fame, here is one thing I can tell you about me. I was listed by this website among top 100 content writers in India.

  2. Poojadubey

    Thank you Vikey for the appreciation. Do comment if you want us to talk about any topic of your interest. You could be looking for answers to some questions related to writing, content, personal branding, or marketing. If you are, feel free to drop your questions and we promise to create one article for you.

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