What Is Decoding?

Decoding is translating the message from its sign format into meaning. It means converting a message into thoughts by translating the received stimuli into an interpreted meaning in order to understand the message communicated.

The process of decoding involves receiving, interpreting and understanding an encoded message. In other words, decoding involves interpretation and analysis of a message.

In the communication process,Opens in new window it is the message that is transferred, as meaning cannot be transferred from one person to another. The receiver has to assign meaning to a message in order to understand it.

The receiver must decode the message in order to understand it. Only when the receiver understands the meaning intended by the sender (i.e., successfully decodes the message) does communication take place. The receiver does this by interpreting the information sent by the sender.

Important Hint! 

Interpreting is to explain or understand information and actions.

Decoding in written communication refers to reading and understanding a written message. On the other hand, in oral communication, decoding includes listening and understanding.

Problems Associated with Decoding

Decoding is often difficult to achieve because factors such as education, opinions, and emotional states shape how a receiver interprets a message.

Similarly, decoding may encounter disruption internally by the receiver’s lack of attention, by bias against the sender, or by competing messages. Loud sounds or illegible words can cause external disruption.

Decoding can also be sidetracked by semantic obstaclesOpens in new window, such as misunderstood words or emotional reactions to certain terms.

A memo that refers to women in the office as chicks or babes, for example, may disturb its receivers so much that they fail to focus on the total message.

On the receiving end, successful decoding is more likely to be achieved when the receiver creates a receptive environment and ignores distractions.

Alert receivers strive to understand both verbal and nonverbal cues, avoid prejudging the message, and expect to learn something.

Effective decoding is very important for successful communication as any misinterpretation of a message leads to communication breakdown and creates confusion and misunderstanding.