Meaning of Feedback in the Communication Process

Feedback is the response of a receiver to a message. It is an indication that communication has taken place successfully or not.

Feedback can be nonverbalOpens in new window (a smile or a nod of the head) or it can be verbal (a comment related to the message). Any response—even no response—is feedback.

Feedback (also referred to as the reaction of the receiver) is the culmination of any communication process. It confirms that the receiver has correctly understood the message. You would recall that appropriate receiver response is one of the goals of business communicationOpens in new window. To achieve this goal, you can:

  • Ask directly or indirectly for the response.
  • Assist the receiver in giving the response.

When a job applicant submits a letter and a résumé to a company, he or she wants the receiver to respond by extending an invitation to interview for a job.

To make it easier for the receiver to respond, the sender should be sure the message clearly asks for an interview and includes a telephone number and address where the sender can be reached easily.

If the communication is about a written sales message, the sender should ask for the order and provide a toll-free telephone number, an e-mail address, or an easy-to-use order form. If the communication is oral, the sender can ask tactfully whether the receiver understands the message or has questions.

In critical situations, the sender might ask the receiver to repeat the message and explain his or her understanding of it.

When speaking to a group, a sender can gain feedback by observing the audience, asking questions, or administering an evaluation.

Because the most important goal of business communication is that the receiver understands the message, feedback from the receiver to the sender is essential to confirm that understanding.

Feedback is critical for effective communication as it provides for a two-way flow of the message, from the sender to the receiver and vice versa. It provides the senderOpens in new window with a way of ensuring that the messageOpens in new window has been received and understood correctly by the receiverOpens in new window. It also helps the sender (originator of communication) determine if an element of the message was not understood by the receiver.

Receivers improve the communication processOpens in new window by providing clear and complete feedback. In the business world, one of the best ways to advance understanding is to paraphrase the sender’s message with comments such as “Let me try to explain that in my own words.”

Feedback is characterized by the following:

  • It ensures that the communication process continues.
  • It is a sign of whether the message was understood or misunderstood.
  • It encourages further communication between the sender and receiver.
  • It ensures that messages are adjusted to avoid misunderstandings in future.
  • It provides the originator of the communication with an opportunity to ask for explanation if the message was unclear.
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