Determining the framework

By NICK VILLALOBOS, Editor-in-Chief

Two weeks ago, we began looking at interpersonal communication by addressing the question, why study this form of communication and looked at how it will bring personal, social and professional success.

This week, we are going to dive into the basic elements for this form of communication.

Looking back at the book by Joseph Devito, ‘Foundations for Interpersonal Communication,’ he wrote the basic elements of interpersonal communication consists of the source-receiver, messages, channels, noise and context.


Beginning first with source-receiver, the source in interpersonal communication is the person formulating and sending the message on to the next person. For example, in a conversation between two friends, the person speaking is the one serving as the source.

Then on the flipside, the friend that is hearing the message is serving as the receiver. The receiver, in the words of ‘Foundations for Interpersonal Communication,’ the receiver is simply the person who receives and understands the message.

Also within the linked term, source-receiver, the source takes the role as an encoder, which means the person is taking the idea that they have thought up in their head and using sound waves, gestures, facial expressions or body movements to pass it on to the receiver.

Then the receiver acts as a decoder, which in laymen terms means they are breaking down each of the different cues being sent their way.


Next, with the messages, according to the book refers to the expression of thoughts and feelings being both sent and received by the source/receiver.

Not all messages sent between the two involve verbal actions. Instead there are those of the nonverbal form that can take place as well, such as positive or negative body language or facial gestures.

In face-to-face communication, it is important to note that every action given during the delivery of the message by either the source or receiver can be used as feedback for the message.


Moving next to the channels, these are the mediums by which the messaged is passed between the source and receiver. The book refers to the channel as the bridge between both people on either side of the message.

One channel in which a message can be transferred is through a human’s five senses; sight, taste, touch, smell, and hearing.

Another channel is through the more physical forms, emails, phone calls, text messages, faxes, etc.

One example of a channel, is the Northwestern News. We utilize the newspaper as a means to get the message across to you our readers.


Next, the noise element of interpersonal communication refers to anything that interferes with the delivery of the message. This can either be external factors or internal.

External factors for this might include an air conditioner, phone ringing or busy cars on the street.

In addition, internal factors that could serve as noise might also be preconceived thoughts, or assumptions on what the source’s message is going to be before they even share it, a wandering mind or being closed-minded.

Other types of noise that can affect the delivery of the message include physiological noise, such as hearing or sight impairments, and sematic noise, which include language or dialect differences between the source and receiver.


The final element of interpersonal communication is context, which is an environment that influences the form and content of the communication.

In the simplest terms, the way in which the message is delivered by the source/receiver depends on the environment that he or she finds themselves in at the time. For example, if a sympathetic message is trying to be delivered at a funeral by the source, they should not try to put do so in a sarcastic manner. It should be in a quiet and calming manner.

Or, if the environment calls for a fierier means of delivery for the message, such as if it was in a debate between political candidates, the source should do so in a faster, but still clear way.