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Dr. Kretov Kirill introduction to interpersonal Communication.

Present article is a part of Master Thesis written and successfully defended by Dr. Kretov Kirill (Master of Arts in Human Resource Management and Doctor of Business Administration) in May 2007, Geneva, Switzerland.

The primary objective of this present article is to discuss communication: define the concept of communication, explain the communication process in its entirety and enumerate factors which may improve its efficiency.

Communication
"Communication" is defined by Wikipedia as follows: Communication is a process that allows organisms to exchange information by several methods1. The clarity and scope of this definition are self-evident in addition to explaining the term, it implies that communication is characteristic to all living beings. In fact, alternative definitions of the term tend to incorporate the notion even further, suggesting that animals and even bacteria communicate on a purely biological level. Therefore, a more accurate definition is needed to emphasize the importance of meaningful communication if the subject of purely human interaction is to be considered: Communication can be defined as the process of meaningful interaction among human beings. It is the act of passing information and the process by which meanings are exchanged so as to produce understanding. This definition helps explain the fundamental concept that lies at the heart of communication as well as narrows the scope of communication in question to human beings alone. As such, it is the preferred definition and will therefore be used for the remaining part of the paper.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communication

Importance
Communication is vital. As previously discussed, it is an essential characteristic of all living beings, whether bacteria, reptiles or, indeed, homo-sapiens. The underlying need for communication is undeniable. It stems from a combination of both physical needs and animal instincts and is crucial to survival. However, one of the fundamental differences between human beings and animals is the formers vastly more complicated behaviour mechanisms, which in turn necessitate more accurate, advanced and complex methods of communication. Spiritually, misunderstanding of merely a few words can mean the difference between life and death. From a purely sociological perspective, it is safe to assert that the formation and continued functioning of a grouping or organization is impossible without communication between its members. Furthermore, communication remains an essential precondition of the effectiveness of any such entity. Modern society and, indeed, all of its accomplishments and advancements whether manufacturing a car, learning to milk a cow or constructive a nuclear warhead would have been impossible to accomplish without associated communication. Research indicates that inadequate communication is one of the most frequently cited sources of interpersonal conflict.2 EyeComTec Communication is vital for all human beings. But it may happen that a person is entirely limited in communication, not being able to express himself neither by speech, nor by sign language. This is due to the loss of motor activity - partial (hypokinesia) or complete (akinesia). In the first case, the mobility is lost due to various diseases of the nervous system, and post-traumatic states of the brain and spinal cord, as well as strokes. In the second case, the loss of activity is a consequence of complex mental disorders and paralysis. All of us are so used to the constant movement and communication through speech that all these diseases and problems can seem totally distant and insignificant. But, after losing in one terrible moment, something that was considered so routine and natural the patient will literally be cut off from the world. There will be no possibility for him to move, to ask the doctor to help, or tell his close ones about his condition. This is an irreparable loss for both the patient and his family. The only salvation for the patient in this case is his eyes. Even in the case of complex hemiplegia (paralysis of muscles of one side of the body), many people retain a total or partial ability to control their eyes and blink, as cranial nerves driving the eyeballs remain intact. Thus the patient keeps a last, lackluster compared with the lost abilities but only possible link to communicate with the outside world. With eye movements and blinks he can respond to unambiguous questions of the doctor, for example: one blink - yes, two blinks - no. At the same time, the patient has to resign himself to the fact that hell be unable to communicate voluntarily, outside simple one word answers. Or does he?

K.W. Thomas and W.H. Schmidt, A Survey of Managerial Interests with Respect to Conflict, Academy of Management Journal, June 1976, p.317.

At EyeComTec3 (a subdivision of LAZgroup SA) -- a group of developers creating software to help people who are suffering from paralysis or significantly impaired mobility. Their mission is to develop effective and affordable technology allowing them to communicate exclusively through eye movements. They have already created working algorithms and prototypes of the programs; in the near future (Spring 2013), they will be documented and published on the official web-site www.eyecomtec.com

Interpersonal Communication
Communication has been defined earlier as the transfer and understanding of a certain meaning but how exactly do the members of a group transfer such meaning among themselves? Existing research distinguishes between three methods of communication oral, written and non-verbal. A. Oral Oral communication is the single most common method of transferring a certain meaning, simply because it is the first form of communication that human beings are exposed to. When a baby is born, its cries are not merely a source of delight for the parents it is also the human beings first attempt at oral communication. Oral communication is therefore ingrained in humans from birth. It encompasses meaningful words and sounds produced by human beings in an attempt to create understanding with others through the transfer of meaning. Like every other method, oral communication has its advantages and disadvantages. Firstly, it is fast the delay between sending a verbal message and receiving a verbal response is usually minimal. This enables human beings to exchange enormous volumes of information in comparatively negligible amounts of time. Secondly, in cases where the receives is uncertain as to the precise meaning of the message, feedback and clarification can be requested in real time, enabling corrections by the sender to take place instantaneously. The single biggest disadvantage of oral communication is the possibility of distortion when a message has to pass through several people. The likelihood of such distortion increases in direct proportion to the number of people it is communicated through. The broken telephone game played in primary school remains an equally valid example of distorted meaning in business communication. As a result, oral communication becomes clearly insufficient when sensitive information needs to be communicated via a number of intermediary recipients. Possible distortion is avoided in such cases through the use of Written communication. B. Written Written communication encompasses the transmission of meaning through words and/or symbols, such as e-mails, instruction manuals, notes, faxes and everyday literature. Written
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EyeComTec is a subdivision of LAZgroup SA - a group of developers creating software to help people who are suffering from paralysis or significantly impaired mobility. The primary mission of EyeComTec is to develop effective and affordable technology allowing them to communicate exclusively through eye movements

communication is often the preferred method because it is both tangible and verifiable. For example, the photocopy of an instruction manual or the digital copy of an electronic message can be stored for later reference. In contrast, while such storage is possible with oral communication through the use of a tape recorder, it is relatively time-consuming, complicated, prone to technical errors and difficult to refer to (consider a situation where one needs to refer to a limited portion of data from a 2-hour presentation). The second major advantage of written communication stems from its very nature. When confronted with the need to put their thoughts down on paper, human beings are usually far more careful with the way they present the information. Unlike oral communication, written transfers of meaning do not require the creation of the original message to be nearly instantaneous, and this enables the sender to carefully construct the message, eliminating ambiguities and possible sources of misunderstanding or offense. As a result, written communication has the potential to be far more logical, clear and thought-out than its oral counterpart. The major downside of written communication is time. Unlike oral communication, the written method is far more time-consuming. Additionally, it frequently involves completing a range of prerequisite activities before a written message can be dispatched, such as spell checking or clear handwriting. While currently available software helps automate some of these tasks and makes others downright redundant, written communication still remains an indisputably more time-consuming form of interaction. The final major disadvantage of written communication is feedback - or lack of it. Unlike oral communication where feedback is normally instantaneous, no such rapid feedback mechanism exists for the written form. As a result, the certainty that the message will be received is reduced, as is the likelihood that it will be interpreted as intended. While the option of contacting the receiver for additional clarification and/or verification exists, it is not always available and is relatively timeconsuming. Due to these reasons, written communication should be treated as a complementary form of communication in a given entity rather than the exclusive one. C. Nonverbal The last communication method to be discussed in this section is nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication often takes place when we are sending a verbal message to someone4; however, in some cases, it also occurs even when no verbal message is being sent. In fact, some researchers even argue that everything human beings do from smiles and intonations to body movements and hairstyle can be classified as nonverbal communication, albeit one with a meaning that is difficult to extract and accurately interpret. High emotional intelligence is often an advantage people possessing it can frequently extract more information from the sender by looking at how the verbal message is said instead of focusing merely on what is said. For instance, while a verbal message may say Yes, its nonverbal counterpart (for instance, the eyes of the sender) may actually convey the
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L.S. Rashotte, What Does That Smile Mean? The meaning of Nonverbal Behaviors in Social Interaction, Social Psychology Quarterly, March 2002, pp.92-102.

opposite meaning. Understanding such subtleties is essential not only for ethical reasons, but also because it helps improve the quality and effectiveness of transferring a message. According to J. Fast5, every body movement has a meaning; no movement is accidental. People often unintentionally send messages, often to their own detriment - consider cases where a speaker addressing a large audience may send signals of uncertainty through a shaky voice or intonation. Body language is a very interesting field of study, but its root lie primarily in psychology. For HR managers, however, there are two essential messages that a body can convey. The first is the extent to which an individual is interested in and appreciates the view of others. The second is the perceived status of people involved in such an interaction (5). For instance, human beings tend to position themselves closer to people they like. While body language adds a deeper meaning to a senders message, it can also complicate verbal communication. This stems from the fundamental problem that there is no universally accepted standard of interpreting nonverbal communication. Furthermore, such interpretation can often be affected by the personality, cultural background and experience of the receiver, to name only a few such variables. The single most critical disadvantage of nonverbal communication is that messages sent in this manner are both difficult to control by the sender and difficult to interpret by the receiver.

The Communication Process


In defining the concept of communication, it was mentioned that it is a process of transferring meaning. This section will analyze this process in greater detail by breaking it down into a number of steps that result in the transfer and understanding of the meaning. Various models of this process exist, due to multiple researchers identifying different and occasionally conflicting sets of steps involved. Some of these models are purely technical, such as Bells original sketches of the telephone 6 and bear little practical use for an HR practitioner, while others are severely out of date, often by as much as 60 years. This section will focus on discussing selected models that are considered of relevance to this topic. They will be presented in chronological order reflecting the development of communications as a field of study since 1960s. Shannons model of communication (depicted below) was one of the first general models of the communication process7. For over 60 years, it has remained the first such model learned by students as part of their initial academic foray into the field of communications.
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J. Fast, Body Language (Philadelphia: M. Evan, 1970), p.7. Bell. A.G. (unknown date). Sketch of the workings of the telephone, from his original sketches. Bell Family Papers; Library of Congress. (original image at http://memory.loc.gov/mss/mcc/004/0001.jpg)
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Shannon, C.E.A (1948). Mathematical Theory of communication. Bell System Technical Journal, vol. 27, pp.379423 and 623-656, July and October, 1948.

Shannons model divides the process of communication into eight distinct components: 1. Information Source: the person who creates the message and therefore initiates the communication session. 2. Message: sent by the Information Source and received by the Destination 3. Transmitter: this term encompasses a wide variety of intermediary transmitters, both organic and non-organic. For example, Shannons original definition envisaged the transmitter as a telephone that captured audio waves and converted them into electronic signals. However, a signal can also be created and modulated simply by communicating the message verbally and through associated nonverbal communication. 4. Signal: flows through a channel. 5. Channel or carrier: can be anything, such as electricity, radio waves, paper, etc. 6. Noise: as Shannon originally conceived of transmitters as telephones, the notion of noise was therefore comparatively restrictive and referred purely to secondary signals that confuse or obscure the signal carried by the channel. Contemporary analysis of the communication process generally regards noise as a metaphor for the variety of communication barriers that can distort the clarity of the message. 7. Receiver: a wide variety of receivers is possible for example, in face to face communication it would the set of ears (sound) and eyes (gesture).

8. Destination: the person who consumes and processes the message. Several books on communication8 have since modified Shannons model, replacing transmitters and receivers with encoding and decoding respectively; the essential principle, however, has remained unaltered. The model is also commonly known as the action model of communication). Its single biggest disadvantage of this model is that it fails to account for the fact that communication is usually bidirectional. As there is no guarantee that the original message was received (or was interpreted in the intended manner), there is usually a strong need for feedback. This element should never be underestimated it fulfils an essential function of the communication process by verifying that understanding has been achieved. In fact, it can be safely asserted that effective communication is impossible without feedback, because the use of the latter logically encompasses not only the transfer of meaning, but also its understanding. The Interactive Model depicted below910 expands upon Shannons model by incorporating a cybernetic concept of feedback. It is based on the notion that destinations provide feedback on messages received, which in turn enables the information source to adapt their messages in real time.

As the discussion on the importance of feedback demonstrates, its incorporation into the model is a very important elaboration. Unfortunately, it is also a radically oversimplified one. Much like the original message, feedback, too, needs to be encoded, transmitted, decoded and received. It is also affected by noise but none of these elements are indicated on the interactive model. In other words, while the model accounts for the complexities of the original message, it fails to do the same for feedback and drastically oversimplifies it as a result.
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Stephen P. Robbins, Timothy A. Judge. Organizational Behavior (Pearson, Prentice Hall, 12 edition 2007), p.369. Weiner, N. (1948). Cybernetics: or Control and Communication in the animal and the Machine. Wiley. Weiner, N. (1986). Human Use of human Beings: Cybernetics and Society. Avon.

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The Transactional Model (depicted below) correctly treats feedback as another message. Moreover, it does not distinguish between the message sender and the receiver, instead perceiving both as communicators involved in a circular flow of creating and consuming messages.

Davis Foulger11 argues that the Transactional Model is, in many ways, an excellent model of face-to-face communication. It extends readily to an interactive medium that provides users with symmetrical interfaces for creation and consumption of messages (notes, electronic mails, letters, etc.) However, the drawback of this model is its failure to account for the noise factor. For this reason, a combination of Transactional and Interactive models is best used to understand the communication process; in the Transaction model above, the path from Communicator A to Communicator B (and, equally, from Communicator B back to Communicator A) is also the path from the sender to the received as depicted in the Interactive Model. By now, it should be evident that there multiple models of the communication process, and that none of them fully account for all steps involved in the process. Therefore, the concluding part of this section will discuss the communication process in terms of how it actually happens in reality rather than how it is presented by models. Communication is always a purposeful process, whether it is merely a greeting or a complicated speech to an audience of corporate investors. In other words, communication requires there to be a meaning that needs to be transferred and, in one way or another, expressed in a message. The sender
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Foulder, D. An Ecological Model of the Communication Process. February 25, 2004. Retrieved from http://foulger.info/davis/research/unifiedModelOfCommunication.htm

creates a message by encoding a thought for example, a Swiss entrepreneur running into his American counterpart may decide to encode their greeting into English. Similarly, the Swiss entrepreneur may encode the message in a language unknown to the receiver; however, communication in such cases will usually not take place because it is unlikely to produce the understanding of the intended meaning by the receiver. As soon as the message is formed and the receiver is identified, the sender needs to choose the channel the medium through which the message will travel to its intended recipient. For example, the Swiss entrepreneur above may choose to write a letter, make a phone call or speak with his American counterpart face-to-face. All of these are examples of different channels of communication, and it is the responsibility of the sender to choose the most appropriate one. For example, the Swiss entrepreneur may choose to hold a two-hour long video conference from his mobile phone while expensive, it is clearly cheaper than discussing the matter in person if the American counterpart is thousands of miles away. Once the channel has been chosen and the message has been sent, the receiver has to decode it in other words, the symbols in which the message is encoded need to be translated into a format understood by the receiver. Usually, there is no guarantee that the meaning as understood by the receiver will be identical to the meaning originally invested into the message by the sender. The main reason for this discrepancy is the aforementioned problem of noise barriers to communication that distort the clarity of the message. So far, the communication process has followed Shannons action model of communication in that it focused exclusively on uni-directional communication from the sender to the receiver. However, as discussed previously, communication is usually bidirectional the receiver may decide to respond, giving communication a new purpose, restarting the process at its inception point and effectively creating a communication loop as depicted in the Transactional Model.

Barriers to Communication
The final part of this section discusses possible barriers to effective communication. Previously discussed models of the communication process generally incorporate the element of noise (with the obvious exception of the Transactional Model). Noise has been defined as barriers that can distort the clarity of the message and alter its meaning and in cases where the noise levels are particularly high, the message may not be delivered at all. Filtering Filtering takes place when the sender intentionally manipulates the content of the message and its presentation to ensure that it is viewed more favourably by the receiver. For example, telling people what they want to hear or emphasizing all attention on good news and barely mentioning the bad mention the bad are frequent cases of filtering.

Selective perception Selective perception takes place when the receiver selectively sees and hears. It could be based on the receivers needs, motivations, experience, background, culture and other personal characteristics. We do not see reality; we interpret what we see and call it reality Information overload Human beings have a limited capacity for processing data. When information to be processed exceeds the processing capacity, information overload occurs. This means that an individual may ignore, pass over, select out, or forget information. Information overload results in loss of information and lower efficiency of communication. On a side-note, information overload is applicable not only to human brain, but also to most modern communication channels, such as e-mail or mobile network that occasionally become overloaded and therefore ceases to be fully functional (for example, delayed delivery of e-mails due to network overload). Contemporary managers are at a much higher risk of suffering from information overload due to the proliferation of communication channels available (the proliferation of e-mails and associated spam, phone calls and their quality, SMS, faxes, meetings and the need to remain up-to-date on professional developments in ones own field). Emotions The interpretation of the message by the receiver can be greatly influenced by how the receiver feels at the time of receipt. The same message can be perceived differently depending on whether the receiver is angry, tired or happy. For instance, common sense would lead one to avoid asking their direct superior at work for a salary increase if the latter is known to be in a bad move; similarly, an exhausted and stressed-out recipient is unlikely to effective process information. Extreme emotions, such as depression, may even replace the rational capabilities of a human mind with purely emotional judgements, increasing the likelihood of misinterpreting the message. Language Language is a highly prominent barrier to effective communication. As discussed previously, a Swiss entrepreneur and his American counterpart would be unable to effectively resolve a problem if they could not speak the same language. Communication would simply be impossible and even though body language can convey a number of meanings, it is clearly insufficient for business purposes. Cultural differences can have a similar impact jokes or gestures can be perceived differently depending on the culture of the recipient. Finally, even words can have entirely different meanings to different people, leading to entire messages being misinterpreted due to a persons age, culture, experience, education, professional background, etc. Communication Apprehension One of the biggest barriers to effective communication is communication apprehension or anxiety. It is a serious problem because it can affect most of communication. Research indicates that

anywhere between 5% and 20% of the population is affected by communication apprehension12. Such people often choose communication channels based not on their effectiveness for a given message, but rather on their determination to avoid a selected channel altogether. For example, people apprehensive of oral communication will usually seek to avoid channels that involve verbal communication, rendering them unable to give effective presentations or communicate effectively by phone. There are other barriers to successful communication; however, the ones enumerated above as generally the most prominent. A certain level of noise is always present. Hypothetically, even if human beings were to one day master the secrets of telepathy, the original visual message thus obtained would still possibly mean different things to different people. Successful communication is essential but it is demanding in terms of skills and attention, and not even telepathy is a silver bullet for the problem of noise.

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J.C McCroskey, J.A. Daly, and G. Sorenson, Personality Correlates of Communication Apprehension, Human Communication Research, Spring 1976, pp.376-81.

References
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communication 2. K.W. Thomas and W.H. Schmidt, A Survey of Managerial Interests with Respect to Conflict, Academy of Management Journal, June 1976, p.317. 3. L.S. Rashotte, What Does That Smile Mean? The meaning of Nonverbal Behaviors in Social Interaction, Social Psychology Quarterly, March 2002, pp.92-102. 4. J. Fast, Body Language (Philadelphia: M. Evan, 1970), p.7. 5. A. Mehrabian, Nonverbal Communication (Chicago: Aldine-Atherton, 1972). 6. Bell. A.G. (unknown date). Sketch of the workings of the telephone, from his original sketches. Bell Family Papers; Library of Congress. (original image at http://memory.loc.gov/mss/mcc/004/0001.jpg) 7. Foulder, D. An Ecological Model of the Communication Process. February 25, 2004. Retrieved from http://foulger.info/davis/research/unifiedModelOfCommunication.htm 8. Shannon, C.E.A (1948). Mathematical Theory of communication. Bell System Technical Journal, vol. 27, pp.379-423 and 623-656, July and October, 1948. 9. Stephen P. Robbins, Timothy A. Judge. Organizational Behavior (Pearson, Prentice Hall, 12 th edition 2007), p.369. 10. Weiner, N. (1948). Cybernetics: or Control and Communication in the animal and the Machine. Wiley. 11. Weiner, N. (1986). Human Use of human Beings: Cybernetics and Society. Avon. 12. J.C McCroskey, J.A. Daly, and G. Sorenson, Personality Correlates of Communication Apprehension, Human Communication Research, Spring 1976, pp.376-81. 13. Personal page of the author Dr. Kirill Kretov: http://www.kretov.ch 14. EyeComTec is a subdivision of LAZgroup SA - a group of developers creating software to help people who are suffering from paralysis or significantly impaired mobility. The primary mission of EyeComTec is to develop effective and affordable technology allowing them to communicate exclusively through eye movements