Basic model of Sending a Message (Communication 101)

post by Elo · 2018-03-25T23:55:52.888Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW · 5 comments

My hope in writing this out is that you go "well duh! Of course" and then pretend like you knew this all already. Whether or not you did is up to you.


With communication there is going to be a Sender and a Receiver. These can and will regularly swap around in a healthy relationship. There will also be a Message. The message goes from the sender to the receiver. Often the sender feels most heard when we get confirmation or affirmation that the message was received and it was the same message that we sent. This can happen by repetition (See also Handshaking (computer science)).

It's not all that complicated.

A short time later.  A confirmation of the first message or a new message being sent.


There are many ways that a message can go wrong.

Here is a few of them:


Problems with messages can be to do with one of these errors, or to do with a failure to successfully send and receive a message. For example an interruption while sending can cause a message to be incomplete. If the receiver is not paying attention this can get in the way of a message being sent.

It can also be helpful to be clear what you want someone to do with the message.

Some ideas:


See also emotional bids, validation/affirmation from NVC (video), Circling. 4 types of conversation from number 2 - difficult conversations in my list of models of relationships, Filter on the way in, Filter on the way out, A model of arguments. What is a problem?


Meta: I've never seen it written out. My hope is that this simple model can help you think about communication and message sending. It's very simple and doesn't cover barriers to sending a message and many other things but it's a start.

5 comments

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comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2018-03-26T00:07:23.260Z · score: 11 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Question / request for clarification / etc.:

… we feel most heard when …

What does this mean? (That is, what does it mean to “feel heard” or to “feel” more, or less, “heard”?)

comment by Elo · 2018-03-26T00:33:34.403Z · score: 4 (1 votes) · LW · GW

To clarify: This statement "we feel most heard" is from the subjective experience of the sender of the message. Feeling like the other side has in fact received the message can be separate from them receiving the message or receiving the right message or confirming that they have received the message.

Does that make sense?

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2018-03-26T00:46:16.178Z · score: 5 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So a synonym would be “your degree of certainty that the person you spoke to has understood what you said”?

comment by Elo · 2018-03-26T01:03:31.958Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

yes. Said another way, "your confidence that the same message was received as the message that you sent".

There is also often a psychological need to be heard that will not be fulfilled unless we believe the receiver has the right message. This "feeling" is about resolving that need.

Note1: This draws on NVC. Note2: I believe there was a concept from NLP that "the message received is the message". If you are not paying attention to, and confirming the message received you may be getting wrong the process of imparting what you want to impart.

comment by ChristianKl · 2018-03-26T06:29:39.525Z · score: 9 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The NLP axiom is slightly different. It's "The meaning of communication is the response you get."

In that mental model everything that counts is what happens empirically and there's no focus on analyzing a message as an abstract entity that somehow is.

"Messages" only exist in the map and not in physical reality. Sometimes it's a useful abstraction but from NLP perspective (or even from what's Korzybski's NL) it's important to be conscious that it's an abstraction.