BERLO’S SMCR MODEL OF COMMUNICATION
Traditional models of communication such as ‘Aristotle model of communication’ emphasized that the speaker was the most important element in communication and further suggested that the speaker was the one who controlled the whole communication process. This changed when David K. Berlo’s model of communication (published in his book El Proceso de la Comunicación), described four main factors affecting individual’s components in the communication making the communication more efficient. These elements include:
i. the source (S)
ii. the message (M)
iii. the channel (C)
iv. the receiver (R)
Berlo’s model of communication takes into account the emotional aspect of the message. Berlo’s model of communication operates on the SMCR model. This model is an example of monologic mode of communication.
i. The source (S) who is the sender is the one from whom the thought come from. He sees the need to pass information. He is tasked with encoding his though and use a medium of his choice to reach the receiver. However the source’s is affected by the following factors in the communication process:
Communication Skills – The sources ability to communicate effectively and make impact on the receiver will depend on his communication skills. The source must take into consideration language skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing), pronunciation of words, articulation of sentences and other speech delivery skills as this might affect delivery of his message to audience either positively or negatively.
Attitude -The speaker’s attitude towards the audience, subject and towards him will determine the efficiency of the communication or even its failure. For instance, in a classroom setting – the teacher must have a positive attitude towards his or her class. In addition, he or she should like the subject matter so as to deliver it effectively to the learners.
Knowledge – The knowledge about the topic one is going to communicate. For instance, in case of speech delivery, the speaker must have the knowledge of the subject matter he or she is going to talk about.
Social System – The social system includes the various aspects in the society like values, beliefs, culture, religion and general understanding of the society. Therefore the source needs to understand society system in order to communicate effectively. For example, delivering a speech in a conservative Muslim country will require one to dress in a way they consider decent and choose the topic wisely and also to know how to relate to their women, for instance, shaking of hands with them is not acceptable if you are from a different culture or religion.
Cultural differences make messages different. A person from one culture might find something offensive which is very much accepted in another culture.
ii. The Message (M) is the idea, opinion, emotion or information conveyed by the speaker. The message the sender gives can be affected by the following factors:
Content – This is what is contained in the idea the sender is expressing. For it to be effective, it must have appropriate and relevant purpose to the audience.
Elements – Elements of a message include language used, that is, formal, informal or semi-formal. Other elements are gestures, body language, facial expression etc. The message therefore has to be encoded using appropriate elements to accomplish it communicative goal.
Treatment – It refers to the packing of the message. In order to communicate successfully with the target, the information must be presented in a way that will be easy understood. Thus the message must always be package with audience in mind. Chances are that a good message might fail to accomplish its goal just by a mere packaging fault.
The structure of the message – This refers to the arrangement of the message to be passed on. For instance, the message can be the same but the goals might be different. One can put it across as a statement whereas another can put it as an exclamation. This is for the sole purpose of suiting different receivers and achieving different purposes.
Code – This is a form in which the message sent and received. The source encodes the message he or she wants to send in appropriate way that the receiver can decode. Failure to decode the message will make communication unsuccessful. Therefore, it is vital to choose appropriate code of messaging.
iii. C- Channel –This is the medium through which we get the message. We receive messages through our five senses, that is, hearing, seeing, touching, smelling and tasting.
Hearing sense get oral messages, that is, audio. We rely on this sense during interpersonal communication.
Seeing sense is for visual messages, for example, television, postures and material that need reading.
Touching sense is for things that we can feel by hand.
Smelling – This sense can also help us receive information. For instance, food aroma, scent from flowers when they are passed over to us, smoke indicating that something is burning etc.
Tasting –We can use our tongue to taste food; good taste or horrible taste can pass message to us.
iv. The Receiver (R) is the one who decodes the message. This can be a listener or audience. Berlo’s model emphasizes that effective communication will occurs where the speaker and the audience are at the same level of understanding. For this reason, the elements that affect the source are the same one affecting the receiver. These include:
Communication Skills – For the receiver to understand the message, he or she should possess communication skill that would enable him or her to make meaning of the message from the sources.
Attitudes -The receiver should also have a good attitude towards the sender of the message. He or she should not view the sender or the message with prejudice. In addition, he or she should not look at himself or herself as unable to understand the receive message; and if he or she does then the communication will definitely fail.
Knowledge –For the message to be understood by the sender, he or she must be in a position to grasp the content of the message. Without the knowledge of the message’s subject matter, the target will be himself or herself a barrier in the communication process.
Social System –This model emphasizes that the receiver must be in the same social setting as the source for effective communication.
Culture – The receiver must also share a cultural background with the source according to Berlo’s model of communication.
Although seen as a more improved model as compared to its predecessors, Berlo’s model of communication is a linear model of communication which does not look at communication as a two way process. Its shortfall is that it does not consider feedback as an important step in the communication process. It also needs people to be on the same level for communication to occur; condition which is unrealistic in most cases. In addition, it does not mention communication interference or “noise”. It does not include the barriers of the communication.