Communication can be thought of as a process or flow. Communication problems occur when deviations or blockages disrupt that flow.
Before communication can take place, a purpose, expressed as a message to be conveyed, is needed. It passes between a source (the sender) and a receiver. The message is encoded (converted to symbolic form) and is passed by way of some medium (channel) to the receiver, who retranslates (decodes) the message initiated by the sender. The result is communication, which is a transfer of understanding and meaning from one person to another
The final link in the communication process is a feedback loop. “If a communication source decodes the message that he encodes, if the message is put back into his system, we have feedback.” Feedback is the check on how successful we have been in transferring our messages as originally intended. It determines whether understanding has been achieved
Exhibit 12-1 depicts the communication process. This model has seven parts: (1) the communication source or sender, (2) encoding, (3) the message, (4) the channel, (5) decoding, (6) the receiver, and (7) feedback
Written communications include memos, letters, e-mail, organizational periodicals, bulletin boards, or any other device that transmits written words or symbols. They’re tangible, verifiable, and more permanent than the oral variety. Typically, both sender and receiver have a record of the communication. The message can be stored for an indefinite period of time. Of course, written messages have their drawbacks. Writing may be more precise, but it also consumes a great deal of time. You could convey far more information to your college instructor in a one-hour oral exam than in a one-hour written exam. In fact, you could probably say in 10 to 15 minutes what it takes you an hour to write. The other major disadvantage is feedback or, rather, lack of it. Oral communications allow receivers to respond rapidly to what they think they hear
The grapevine is the unofficial way that communications take place in an organization. It’s neither authorized nor supported by the organization. Rather, information is spread by word of mouth—and even through electronic means. Ironically, good information passes among us rapidly, but bad information travels even faster. The grapevine gets information out to organizational member as quickly as possible
Body language refers to gestures, facial expressions, and other body movements. A snarl, for example, says something different from a smile. Hand motions, facial expressions, and other gestures can communicate emotions or temperaments such as aggression, fear, shyness, arrogance, joy, and anger. Verbal intonation refers to the emphasis someone gives to words or phrases
Filtering refers to the way that a sender manipulates information so that it will be seen more favorably by the receiver. For example, when a manager tells his boss what he feels that boss wants to hear, he is filtering information. The second barrier is selective perception where the receivers in the communication process selectively see and hear based on their needs, motivations, experience, background, and other personal characteristics. Receivers also project their interests and expectations into communications as they decode them.
Individuals have a finite capacity for processing data. For instance, consider the international sales representative who returns home to find that she has more than 600 e-mails waiting for her. It’s not possible to fully read and respond to each one of those messages without facing information overload. In an organization, employees usually come from diverse backgrounds and, therefore, have different patterns of speech. Additionally, the grouping of employees into departments creates specialists who develop their own jargon or technical language
A number of interpersonal and intrapersonal barriers help to explain why the message decoded by a receiver is often different from that which the sender intended. We summarize the more prominent barriers to effective communication in Exhibit 12-2
Many communication problems are directly attributed to misunderstanding and inaccuracies. These problems are less likely to occur if the manager gets feedback, both verbal and nonverbal. Because language can be a barrier, managers should consider the audience to whom the message is directed and tailor the language to them. Remember, effective communication is achieved when a message is both received and understood. When someone talks, we hear. But too often we don’t listen. Listening is an active search for meaning, whereas hearing is passive. In listening, the receiver is also putting effort into the communication
Unlike hearing, active listening, which is listening for full meaning without making premature judgments or interpretations, demands total concentration. The average person normally speaks at a rate of about 125 to 200 words per minute. However, the average listener can comprehend up to 400 words per minute. The difference leaves lots of idle brain time and opportunities for the mind to wander.
In a networked computer system, an organization links its computers together through compatible hardware and software, creating an integrated organizational network. Organization members can then communicate with each other and tap into information whether they’re down the hall, across town, or anywhere on the globe E-mail is the instantaneous transmission of messages on computers that are linked together. Some organization members who find e-mail slow and cumbersome are using instant messaging (IM) A voice mail system digitizes a spoken message, transmits it over the network, and stores the message on a disk for the receiver to retrieve later
Fax machines can transmit documents containing both text and graphics over ordinary telephone lines. Electronic data interchange (EDI) is a way for organizations to exchange business transaction documents such as invoices or purchase orders, using direct, computer-to-computer networks. Organizations often use EDI with vendors, suppliers, and customers because it saves time and money
The limitations of technology used to dictate that meetings take place among people in the same physical location. But that’s no longer the case. Teleconferencing allows a group of people to confer simultaneously using telephone or e-mail group communications software. If meeting participants can see each other over video screens, the simultaneous conference is called videoconferencing
Many organizations are using intranets as ways for employees to share information and collaborate on documents and projects—as well as access company policy manuals and employee-specific materials, such as employee benefits—from different locations. Most of the large auto Manufacturers have extranets that allow faster and more convenient communication with dealers.
Knowledge management involves cultivating a learning culture in which organizational members systematically gather knowledge and share it with others in the organization so as to achieve better performance
Active listening requires four essential elements: (1) intensity, (2) empathy, (3) acceptance, and (4) a willingness to take responsibility for completeness. The active listener concentrates intensely on what the speaker is saying and tunes out the thousands of miscellaneous thoughts. They summarize and integrate what has been said. They put each new bit of information into the context of what preceded it
An active listener demonstrates acceptance. He or she listens objectively without judging content, which is not an easy task. It’s natural to be distracted by what a speaker says, especially when we disagree with it. The final ingredient of active listening is taking responsibility for completeness. That is, the listener does whatever is necessary to get the full intended meaning from the speaker’s communication
We know that managers treat positive and negative feedback differently. So do receivers. You need to understand this fact and adjust your feedback style accordingly.
Delegation is the assignment of authority to another person to carry out specific activities. It allows an employee to make decisions—that is, it is a shift of decision-making authority from one organizational level to another lower one
What contingency factors should be considered in determining the degree to which authority is delegated? Exhibit 12-5 presents the most widely cited contingency factors to provide some guidance in making those determinations
The ability to manage conflict is undoubtedly one of the most important skills a manager needs to possess. A study of middle- and top-level executives by the American Management Association revealed that the average manager spends approximately 20 percent of his or her time dealing with conflict.
Three different views have evolved regarding conflict. The traditional view of conflict argues that conflict must be avoided—that it indicates a problem within the group The human relations view of conflict, argues that conflict is a natural and inevitable outcome in any group and need not be negative, but has potential to be a positive force in contributing to a group’s performance. The interactionist view of conflict, proposes that not only can conflict be a positive force in a group but that some conflict is absolutely necessary for a group to perform effectively.
Some conflicts— functional conflicts—are constructive and support an organization’s goals and improve performance. Other conflicts—dysfunctional conflicts—are destructive and prevent organizations from achieving goals. Exhibit 12-6 illustrates the challenge facing managers.
Research shows that relationship conflicts are almost always dysfunctional because the interpersonal hostilities increase personality clashes and decrease mutual understanding and the tasks don’t get done. On the other hand, low levels of process conflict and low-to-moderate levels of task conflict are functional
When group conflict levels are too high, managers can select from five conflict management options: avoidance, accommodation, forcing, compromise, and collaboration. (See Exhibit 12-7 for a description of these techniques.)
For our purposes, we will define negotiation as a process in which two or more parties who have different preferences must make a joint decision and come to an agreement. To achieve this goal, both parties typically use a bargaining strategy. The most identifying feature of distributed bargaining is that it operates under zero-sum conditions. That is, any gain you make is at the expense of the other person, and vice versa
In contrast to distributive bargaining, integrative problem solving operates under the assumption that at least one settlement can create a win-win solution. In general, integrative bargaining is preferable to distributive bargaining. Why? Because the former builds long-term relationships and facilitates working together in the future
In distributive bargaining, each party has a target point that defines what he or she would like to achieve. Each also has a resistance point that marks the lowest acceptable outcome (see Exhibit 12-8)