Dr. Edwin B.R. Gbargaye
Department of Public Administration
University of Liberia
Four Major Functions of
Communication serves four basic functions
within a group or organization:
3.. Emotional Expression
• Communication acts to control member
behavior in several ways.
• Organizations have authority hierarchies and
formal guidelines that employees are required
When employees are required to first
communicate any job – related grievance to
their immediate boss, to follow their job
descriptions, or to comply with company
policies, communication is performing a
• Informal communication contrasts behavior.
• When work group tease or harass a member
who produces too much they are formally
communicating with the member and
controlling his or her behavior.
• Communication fosters motivation by
clarifying for employees what is to be done,
how well they are doing, and what can be
done to improve performance if its subpar.
• The communications that takes place in the
group is a fundamental mechanism by which
members show their frustrations and feelings
• Communication provides an avenue for
expression of emotions and fulfillment of
• Communication function is also related to its
role in facilitating decision making.
• It provides the information that individuals
and groups need to make decisions by
transforming the data to identify and evaluate
The Communication Process
• Before communication can take place, a purpose, expressed as a message to
be conveyed , is needed.
• It passes between a sender and a receiver.
• The message is encoded (converted to a symbolic form) and passed by way of
some medium (channel) to the receiver, who retranslates (decodes) the
message initiated by the sender.
• Before communication can take place, a purpose, expressed as a
message to be conveyed , is needed.
• It passes between a sender and a receiver.
Definition of Communication
can flow vertically
• The vertical
dimensions can be
• Communication that flows from one level of a
group or organization to a lower level is a
• The vertical dimension can be further
downward communication .
• Upward communication: flows to a higher
level in the group or organization. It’s used to
provide feedback to higher ups, inform them
of progress toward goals, and relay current
• Upward communication takes place among
members of the same work group, among
members of work groups at the same level,
among managers at the same level, or among
• Some organizational examples of upward
communication are performance reports
prepared by lower management for review by
middle and top management, suggestion
boxes, employee attitude surveys, grievance
procedures , superior-subordinate discussion
and informal “gripe” sessions in which
employees have the opportunity to identify
and discuss problems with their boos or
It includes horizontal flow of information, with people on the
same or similar organizational levels, and diagonal flow, with
people at different levels who have no direct reporting
relationships. The lateral communication is used to speed up
information flow, to improve understanding, and to coordinate
efforts for the achievement of organizational objectives
• A question is asked; how do group members
transfer meaning between and among each
• There are three basic methods . People
essentially rely on oral, written, and nonverbal
• The chief means of conveying messages is oral
communication. Speeches, formal one-on-
one and group discussions, and the informal
rumor mill or grapevine are popular forms of
• The advantages of oral communication are
speed and feedback.
• A verbal usage can be conveyed and a
response received in a minimal amount of
• The major disadvantage of oral
communication surfaces in organizations or
whenever the message has to be passed
through a number of people.
• The more people a message must pass
through, the greater the potential distortion.
• Each person interprets the message in his or
her own way.
• The message content, when it reaches its
destination, is very often different from that
of the original.
• In an organization, where decisions and other
communiqués are verbally passed up and
down the authority hierarchy, there are
considerable opportunities for messages to
• Written communication include memos,
letters, fax transmissions, electronic mail,
instant messaging, organizational periodicals,
notices placed on bulletin boards, or any other
device that is transmitted via written words or
• Why would a sender choose to use written
• They are tangible and verifiable.
• Typically, both the sender and receiver have a
record of the communication. The message
can be stored for an indefinite period of time.
Non Verbal Communication
• Every time we verbally give a
message to someone, we
also impart a non-verbal
message. In some instances,
the nonverbal component
may stand alone.
• Example; in a singles bar, a
glance, a stare, a smile, a
frown, or a provocative body
movement all convey
• Nonverbal communication-includes body
movements, the intonations or emphasis we
give to words,,, facial expressions, and the
physical distance between the sender and
• It can be argued that every body movement
has a meaning and no movement is
• Body language adds to and often complicates,
• The formal system is not the only
communication network in a group or
• There is also an informal one, which is called
the grapevine. And while the grapevine may
be informal, this doesn’t mean it’s not an
important source of information
• For instance, a recent survey found that 75
percent of employees hear about matters first
through rumors on the grapevine.
• The grapevine has three main characteristics.
• First, it is not controlled by management.
• Second, it is perceived by most employees as
being more believable and reliable than
formal communiqués issued by top
• Thirdly, it is largely used to serve the self-
interests of the people within it.
• KM is a process of organizing and distributing
an organization’s collective wisdom so the
right information gets to the right people at
the right time.
• Knowledge management is
increasingly important today
for at least three reasons. First,
in many organizations,
intellectual assets are now as
important as physical or
• Organizations that can quickly
and efficiently tap into their
experience and wisdom and
more likely to “outsmart” their
• Second, as baby boomers begin to leave the
workforce, there is an increasing awareness
that they represent a wealth of knowledge
that will be lost if there are no attempts to
• A third is a well designed KM system will
reduce redundancy and make the organization
• For instance, when employees in a large
organization undertake a new project, they
needn’t start from scratch.
• KM system can allow them to access what
previous employees have learned and cut
wasteful time retracting a path that has
already been traveled.
Barriers to Effective
• A number of barriers can retard or distort
• This is the highlight of the more important
• Filtering refers to a sender’s purposely
manipulating information so it will be seen
more favorably by the receiver.
• Example, when a manager tells his boss what
he feels his boss wants to hear , he is filtering
• The major determinant of
filtering is the number of levels
in an organization’s structure.
The more vertical levels in the
organization’s hierarchy, the
more opportunities there are
• You can expect filtering to
occur wherever there are status
• Factors like fear of conveying bad news and
the desire to please one’s boss often lead
employees to tell their superiors what they
think those superiors want to hear, thus
distorting upward communications.
• The receiver , in the
communication process, sees
and hears things in a selective
way, based on his needs,
background, and other
• The receiver also projects his
interests and expectations into
communications as he decodes
• The employment interviewer who expects a
female job candidate to put family before
career is likely to see that priority in female
candidates, regardless of whether the
candidates feel that way or not.
• Individuals have a finite capacity for
• When the information we have to work with
exceeds our processing capacity, the result is
• And with emails, phone calls, faxes, meetings,
and the need to keep current in one’s field, more
and more managers and professionals are
complaining that they are suffering overload.
• What happens when individual have more
information than they can sort out and use?
• They tend to select out, ignore, pass over, or
forget information. Or they may put off
further processing until the overload, situation
• Regardless, the result is lost information and
less effective communication.
• Men and Women use oral communication for
different reasons. Consequently, gender
becomes a barrier to effective communication
between the sexes.
• Research evidence indicates that men use talk
to emphasize status, whereas women use it to
• That is, men speak and hear language of
status and independence, and women speak
and hear a language of connection and
• So, for many men, conversations are primarily
a means to preserve independence and
maintain status in a hierarchical social order.
• For many women, conversations are
negotiations for closeness in which people try
to seek and give confirmation and support.
• For example, men frequently complain that
women talk on and on about their problems.
• Women criticize men for not listening.
• What’s happening is that when men hear a
problem, they want to assert their desire for
independence and control by providing
• Women, on the other hand, view relating a
problem as a way to promote closeness.
• The women present the problem to gain
support and connection not to get the male’s
• How the receiver feels at
the time of receipt of a
will influence how he or
she interprets it.
• The same message
received when you are
angry or distraught is
differently from when
you are happy.
• Extreme emotions such as jubilation or
depression are most likely to hinder effective
• In such instances, we are most prone to disregard
our rational and objective thinking processes and
substitute emotional judgments.
Cross –Cultural Communication
• Effective communication is difficult under the
best of conditions.
• Cross-cultural factors clearly create the
potential for increased communication
• The process of encoding and decoding of
messages into symbols is based for all people.
• The greater the difference in backgrounds
between sender and receiver, the greater the
differences in meanings attached to particular
words or behaviors.
• People from different cultures, see,
interpret, and evaluate things
differently, and consequently act on
• A better understanding of cultural barriers and
their implications for communicating across
cultures can be achieved by considering the
concepts of high-and low-context.
• Cultures tend to differ in the importance to
which context influences the meaning that
individuals take from what is actually said or
written according to whom the other person
• Countries such as China, Vietnam, and Saudi
Arabia are high –context cultures.
• People from these countries rely heavily on
nonverbal and subtle situational cues when
communicating with others.
• What is not said may be more significant than
what is said.
• In these cultures, a person’s
official status, place in
society, and reputation
carry considerable weight in
• In contrast, people from
Europe and North America
reflect their low-context
• They rely essentially on
words to convey meaning.
Body language or formal
titles are secondary to
spoken and written words.
• What do these contextual differences mean in
terms of communication?
• Actually, quite a lot.
• Communication in high-context cultures
implies considerably more trust by parties.
• When communicating with people from a
different culture, what can you do to reduce
misperceptions, misinterpretations, and