Researchers have observed that when communication takes place, the source and the receiver may send messages at the same time, often overlapping.
EXAMPLEIf you are giving a speech, you are playing both the roles of source and receiver. You’ll focus on the communication and the reception of your messages to the audience. The audience will respond in the form of feedback that will give you important clues. This is where your self and social awareness skill comes into play as you adjust based on this feedback.
Rather than looking at the source sending a message and someone receiving it as two distinct acts, the transactional model of communication views communication as an exchange, with actions often happening at the same time.
The distinction between source and receiver is blurred in conversational turn-taking, where the participants play both roles simultaneously.
Researchers have also examined the idea that we all construct our own interpretations of the message. In the constructivist model of communication, the focus is on the negotiated meaning, or common ground, when trying to describe communication.
Imagine that you are visiting Atlanta, Georgia, and go to a restaurant for dinner. When asked if you want a "Coke," you may reply, "Sure." The waiter may reply, "Which kind?" and you may say, "Coke is fine." The waiter then may ask again, "Which kind of soft drink would you like?"
The misunderstanding in this example is that in Atlanta, the home of the Coca-Cola Company, most soft drinks are generically referred to as "Coke." When you order a soft drink, you need to specify which type, even if you wish to order a beverage that is not a cola or not even made by the Coca-Cola Company. To someone from other regions of the United States, the words "pop," "soda pop," or "soda" may be the familiar way to refer to a soft drink— not necessarily the brand "Coke."
Both you and the waiter understand the word "Coke," but you each understand it to mean something different. In order to communicate, you must each use your self and social awareness skill to realize what the term means to the other person, and establish common ground so that you can fully understand the request and provide an answer.
Because we carry multiple meanings of words, gestures, and ideas within us, we need to use communication as an opportunity to negotiate meaning.
Source: This content has been adapted from Lumen Learning's "What Is Communication?" tutorial.