You are on page 1of 16

The Role of Communication

Communication plays a key role in the success of any workplace program or policy and serves as the foundation for all five types of psychologically healthy workplace practices. Communication about workplace practices helps achieve the desired outcomes for the employee and the organization in a variety of ways:

Bottom-up communication (from employees to management) provides information about employee needs, values, perceptions and opinions. This helps organizations select and tailor their programs and policies to meet the specific needs of their employees. Top-down communication (from management to employees) can increase utilization of specific workplace programs by making employees aware of their availability, clearly explaining how to access and use the services, and demonstrating that management supports and values the programs.

Examples of communication strategies that can help make your workplace programs successful include:

Providing regular, on-going opportunities for employees to provide feedback to management. Communication vehicles may include employee surveys, suggestion boxes, town hall meetings, individual or small group meeting with managers, and an organizational culture that supports open, two-way communication. Making the goals and actions of the organization and senior leadership clear to workers by communicating key activities, issues and developments to employees and developing policies that facilitate transparency and openness. Assessing the needs of employees and involving them in the development and implementation of psychologically healthy workplace practices. Using multiple channels (for example, print and electronic communications, orientation and trainings, staff meetings and public addresses) to communicate the importance of a psychologically healthy workplace to employees. Leading by example, by encouraging key organizational leaders to regularly participate in psychologically healthy workplace activities in ways that are visible to employees. Communicating information about the outcomes and success of specific psychologically healthy workplace practices to all members of the organizatio

Effective Communication is significant for managers in the organizations so as to perform the basic functions of management, i.e., Planning, Organizing, Leading and Controlling. Communication helps managers to perform their jobs and responsibilities. Communication

serves as a foundation for planning. All the essential information must be communicated to the managers who in-turn must communicate the plans so as to implement them. Organizing also requires effective communication with others about their job task. Similarly leaders as managers must communicate effectively with their subordinates so as to achieve the team goals. Controlling is not possible without written and oral communication. Managers devote a great part of their time in communication. They generally devote approximately 6 hours per day in communicating. They spend great time on face to face or telephonic communication with their superiors, subordinates, colleagues, customers or suppliers. Managers also use Written Communication in form of letters, reports or memos wherever oral communication is not feasible. Thus, we can say that effective communication is a building block of successful organizations. In other words, communication acts as organizational blood. The importance of communication in an organization can be summarized as follows: 1. Communication promotes motivation by informing and clarifying the employees about the task to be done, the manner they are performing the task, and how to improve their performance if it is not up to the mark. 2. Communication is a source of information to the organizational members for decisionmaking process as it helps identifying and assessing alternative course of actions. 3. Communication also plays a crucial role in altering individuals attitudes, i.e., a well informed individual will have better attitude than a less-informed individual. Organizational magazines, journals, meetings and various other forms of oral and written communication help in moulding employees attitudes. 4. Communication also helps in socializing. In todays life the only presence of another individual fosters communication. It is also said that one cannot survive without communication. 5. As discussed earlier, communication also assists in controlling process. It helps controlling organizational members behaviour in various ways. There are various levels of hierarchy and certain principles and guidelines that employees must follow in an organization. They must comply with organizational policies, perform their job role efficiently and communicate any work problem and grievance to their superiors. Thus, communication helps in controlling function of management. An effective and efficient communication system requires managerial proficiency in delivering and receiving messages. A manager must discover various barriers to communication, analyze the reasons for their occurrence and take preventive steps to avoid those barriers. Thus, the primary responsibility of a manager is to develop and maintain an effective communication system in the organization.

Two-way process of reaching mutual understanding, in which participants not only exchange (encodedecode) information, news, ideas and feelings but also create and share meaning. In general, communication is a means of connecting people or places. In business, it is a key function of management--an organization cannot operate without communication between levels, departments and employees. See also communications

Types of Communication
Communication is a process of exchanging information, ideas, thoughts, feelings and emotions through speech, signals, writing, or behavior. In communication process, a sender(encoder) encodes a message and then using a medium/channel sends it to the receiver (decoder) who decodes the message and after processing information, sends back appropriate feedback/reply using a medium/channel.

Types of Communication
People communicate with each other in a number of ways that depend upon the message and its context in which it is being sent. Choice of communication channel and your style of communicating also affects communication. So, there are variety of types of communication. Types of communication based on the communication channels used are:
1. Verbal Communication 2. Nonverbal Communication

1. Verbal Communication
Verbal communication refers to the the form of communication in which message is transmitted verbally; communication is done by word of mouth and a piece of writing. Objective of every communication is to have people understand what we are trying to convey. In verbal communication remember the acronym KISS(keep it short and simple). When we talk to others, we assume that others understand what we are saying because we know what we are saying. But this is not the case. usually people bring their own attitude,

perception, emotions and thoughts about the topic and hence creates barrier in delivering the right meaning. So in order to deliver the right message, you must put yourself on the other side of the table and think from your receivers point of view. Would he understand the message? how it would sound on the other side of the table? Verbal Communication is further divided into:
o o

Oral Communication Written Communication

Oral Communication
In oral communication, Spoken words are used. It includes face-to-face conversations, speech, telephonic conversation, video, radio, television, voice over internet. In oral communication, communication is influence by pitch, volume, speed and clarity of speaking. Advantages of Oral communication are: It brings quick feedback. In a face-to-face conversation, by reading facial expression and body language one can guess whether he/she should trust whats being said or not. Disadvantage of oral communication In face-to-face discussion, user is unable to deeply think about what he is delivering, so this can be counted as a

Written Communication
In written communication, written signs or symbols are used to communicate. A written message may be printed or hand written. In written communication message can be transmitted via email, letter, report, memo etc. Message, in written communication, is influenced by the vocabulary & grammar used, writing style, precision and clarity of the language used. Written Communication is most common form of communication being used in business. So, it is considered core among business skills. Memos, reports, bulletins, job descriptions, employee manuals, and electronic mail are the types of written communication used for internal communication. For communicating with external environment in writing, electronic mail, Internet Web sites, letters, proposals, telegrams, faxes, postcards, contracts, advertisements, brochures, and news releases are used.

Advantages of written communication includes: Messages can be edited and revised many time before it is actually sent. Written communication provide record for every message sent and can be saved for later study. A written message enables receiver to fully understand it and send appropriate feedback. Disadvantages of written communication includes: Unlike oral communication, Written communication doesnt bring instant feedback. It take more time in composing a written message as compared to word-of-mouth. and number of people struggles for writing ability.

2. Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal communication is the sending or receiving of wordless messages. We can say that communication other than oral and written, such as gesture, body language, posture, tone of voice or facial expressions, is called nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication is all about the body language of speaker. Nonverbal communication helps receiver in interpreting the message received. Often, nonverbal signals reflects the situation more accurately than verbal messages. Sometimes nonverbal response contradicts verbal communication and hence affect the effectiveness of message. Nonverbal communication have the following three elements: Appearance Speaker: clothing, hairstyle, neatness, use of cosmetics Surrounding: room size, lighting, decorations, furnishings Body Language facial expressions, gestures, postures Sounds Voice Tone, Volume, Speech rate Types of Communication Based on Purpose and Style Based on style and purpose, there are two main categories of communication and they both bears their own characteristics. Communication types based on style and purpose are:
1. Formal Communication 2. Informal Communication

1. Formal Communication

In formal communication, certain rules, conventions and principles are followed while communicating message. Formal communication occurs in formal and official style. Usually professional settings, corporate meetings, conferences undergoes in formal pattern. In formal communication, use of slang and foul language is avoided and correct pronunciation is required. Authority lines are needed to be followed in formal communication.

2. Informal Communication
Informal communication is done using channels that are in contrast with formal communication channels. Its just a casual talk. It is established for societal affiliations of members in an organization and face-to-face discussions. It happens among friends and family. In informal communication use of slang words, foul language is not restricted. Usually. informal communication is done orally and using gestures. Informal communication, Unlike formal communication, doesnt follow authority lines. In an organization, it helps in finding out staff grievances as people express more when talking informally. Informal communication helps in building relationships.
Purpose of communication

Managers need to be effective communicators to achieve positive results in todays organisations. Some of the purposes are ? Seeking or receiving information, encouragement, control, selling proposals, confrontation. ? Talking to different levels within the hierarchy to individuals, to groups, to departments and externally to customers, suppliers, vendors, and other professionals. ? Using both formal communication - Meetings, reports, proposals, notices; and Informal communication - counseling, advising, talking to other employees. ? Working in different roles: as Chairman, project leader, analyst, subordinate , colleague. ? Evaluating communications : are they facts, opinions, gossip ? ? Building up networks to obtain real information which may be given freely or concealed which means you need to ask the right questions, or else you will find yourself drowned in data but starved of information. ? Trying to influence those over whom you have no power. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION Organisational communication can be External Communication and Internal Communication. Internal Communication is within the organisation, whereas, External Communication is the communication with the external stakeholders of the organisation. The importance and the purpose of the communication in organisation has been explained above.

Communication in organizations use two basic channels formal and informal. Both are important and both carry messages sometimes reinforcing and sometimes conflicting throughout the organisation. Formal channels are ones which have been set up by the organisation. Messages flow in three directions : downwards, upwards and sideways . The downward message consists primarily of information which is necessary for any staff to carry-out their work, such as policies and procedures, orders and requests which are passed down the appropriate level in the hierarchy. Upward messages are reports, requests, opinions, complaints. Sideways messages are between different departments, functions or people at the same level in the organisation. There tend to be strict rules about the use of these formal channels. For communication to be effective, all three channels need to be open and unblocked at all times. The upward channel is the one which blocks most easily, and when this happens it is an indicator that an organisations policies, procedures and employee relations need to be reviewed. Informal Channels spring up by virtue of common interests between people in the organisation these interests may be caused by work, social or outside relationships. The grapevine is very powerful channel. It has been estimated that managers receive over half the information they need for planning purposes through the grapevine. Its messages may frequently be distorted, but they often carry more credibility than those coming from the formal channels. Informal channels become the only means of communication when the formal channels become blocked or breakdown.

Process of communication

The main components of communication process are as follows: 1.Context - Communication is affected by the context in which it takes place. This context may be physical, social, chronological or cultural. Every communication proceeds with context. The sender chooses the message to communicate within a context.

2.Sender / Encoder - Sender / Encoder is a person who sends the message. A sender makes use of symbols (words or graphic or visual aids) to convey the message and produce the required response. For instance - a training manager conducting training for new batch of employees. Sender may be an individual or a group or an organization. The views, background, approach, skills, competencies, and knowledge of the sender have a great impact on the message. The verbal and non verbal symbols chosen are essential in ascertaining interpretation of the message by the recipient in the same terms as intended by the sender.

3.Message - Message is a key idea that the sender wants to communicate. It is a sign that elicits the response of recipient. Communication process begins with deciding about the message to be conveyed. It must be ensured that the main objective of the message is clear.

4.Medium - Medium is a means used to exchange / transmit the message. The sender must choose an appropriate medium for transmitting the message else the message might not be conveyed to the desired recipients. The choice of appropriate medium of communication is essential for making the message effective and correctly interpreted by the recipient. This choice of communication medium varies depending upon the features of communication. For instance - Written medium is chosen when a message has to be conveyed to a small group of people, while an oral medium is chosen when spontaneous feedback is required from the recipient as misunderstandings are cleared then and there.

5.Recipient / Decoder - Recipient / Decoder is a person for whom the message is intended / aimed / targeted. The degree to which the decoder understands the message is dependent upon various factors such as knowledge of recipient, their responsiveness to the message, and the reliance of encoder on decoder.

6.Feedback - Feedback is the main component of communication process as it permits the sender to analyze the efficacy of the message. It helps the sender in confirming the correct interpretation of message by the decoder. Feedback may be verbal (through words) or non-verbal (in form of smiles, sighs, etc.). It may take written form also in form of memos, reports, etc.

The Importance of Business Communication

Good communication means your message is being sent and those receiving it clearly understand it in its entirely. Because of this, they are more likely to respond to it in a positive manner. When this occurs, it means the message was communicated effectively. A customer who receives poor communication from an employee will most likely have an unfavorable response to a company. The reason for this could be because the person listening does not possess a clear understanding of what the person doing the talking is actually saying. Perhaps the request is unclear, or maybe the person listening did not pay close enough attention. Communication is one of the most basic functions of management in any organization. Its importance can never be over emphasized. It is the process of transmitting ideas, thoughts, information, opinions, and plans between various parts of an organization or sometimes to those on the outside of an organization who have a vested interest in the business and need to know the information. Human relations cannot be present without communication. Good and effective communication is required for both personal relationships and successful business relationships. You can use business software and other popular applications for writing communications, or you can utilize the telephone and in-person methods for the spoken part. No matter how you communicate, make sure there is both talking and listening going on and that you take the time to carefully consider what is being said to you. All three forms of communication are important to a business. The written communications can serve as a record of sorts while the phone conversations can facilitate the beginning of a great business relationship. The in-person communication will also help to further promote the business principles as well as the products. Face-to-face communication is especially important between companies and their customers. This is what keeps them coming back time and time again and what can place the business in the forefront of many situations that are perfect for acquiring and maintaining customers.

Organizational Communication

When an information system is to be developed for an organization, it is important to start by analyzing the communication channels within the organization. The purpose is to define information flow. This may be approached in a number of ways, depending on the nature and structure of the organization. For example, the vertical organization may consist of strategic management (top level), operations management (middle level) and staff (lowest level). Information flow from the lowest level to the middle level would include transactions data such as daily sales, inventory levels, etc. Information flow from the middle level to the top level would include summarized reports, executive summaries, etc. Information flow from top level to middle level would include goals and objectives. Information flow from the middle level to the lowest level would include specific business-related instructions

Organizations are also structured horizontally, and therefore the horizontal organization of departments, divisions or locations must be analyzed. An example of departmental information flow would be product orders (sales) resulting in increased production (manufacturing) leading in need for more raw materials (procurement) and more need for inventory space (warehousing and logistics). The initial sales begin an information flow to ensure that other departments are prepared for the increase in business. Divisional information flow takes place in a company with different product divisions and has the goal of ensuring that divisions' goals work in the direction of company goals. An example of divisional information flow would be sales projections shared among the Chevrolet and Pontiac divisions of General Motors Corporation.

barriers There are many reasons why interpersonal communications may fail. In many communications, the message may not be received exactly the way the sender intended and hence it is important that the communicator seeks feedback to check that their message is clearly understood. There exist many barriers to communication and these may occur at any stage in the communication process. Barriers may lead to your message becoming distorted and you therefore risk wasting both time and/or money by causing confusion and misunderstanding. Effective communication involves overcoming these barriers and conveying a clear and concise message. Some common barriers to effective communication include:

The use of jargon, over-complicated or unfamiliar terms. Emotional barriers and taboos. Lack of attention, interest, distractions, or irrelevance to the receiver.

Differences in perception and viewpoint. Physical disabilities such as hearing problems or speech difficulties. Physical barriers to non-verbal communication. Language differences and the difficulty in understanding unfamiliar accents. Expectations and prejudices which may lead to false assumptions or stereotyping. People often hear what they expect to hear rather than what is actually said and jump to incorrect conclusions. Cultural differences. The norms of social interaction vary greatly in different cultures, as do the way in which emotions are expressed. For example, the concept of personal space varies between cultures and between different social settings.

A skilled communicator must be aware of these barriers and try to reduce their impact by continually checking understanding and by offering appropriate feedback.

A Categorisation of Barriers to Communication

Language Barriers
Clearly, language and linguistic ability may act as a barrier to communication. However, even when communicating in the same language, the terminology used in a message may act as a barrier if it is not fully understood by the receiver(s). For example, a message that includes a lot of specialist jargon and abbreviations will not be understood by a receiver who is not familiar with the terminology used. Regional colloquialisms and expressions may be misinterpreted or even considered offensive. (See our page on effective speaking to help you get your message across).

Psychological Barriers
The psychological state of the receiver will influence how the message is received. For example, if someone has personal worries and is stressed, they may be preoccupied by personal concerns and not as receptive to the message as if they were not stressed. Stress is an important factor in Interpersonal relationships - see What is Stress? and Avoiding Stress for more information. Anger is another example of a psychological barrier to communication, please see our pages on anger: Introduction to Anger and Anger Management.

Physiological Barriers
Physiological barriers may result from the receivers physical state: for example, a receiver with reduced hearing may not grasp to entirety of a spoken conversation especially if there is significant background noise.

Physical Barriers

An example of a physical barrier to communication is geographic distance between the sender and receiver(s). Communication is generally easier over shorter distances as more communication channels are available and less technology is required. Although modern technology often serves to reduce the impact of physical barriers, the advantages and disadvantages of each communication channel should be understood so that an appropriate channel can be used to overcome the physical barriers.

Systematic Barriers
Systematic barriers to communication may exist in structures and organisations where there are inefficient or inappropriate information systems and communication channels, or where there is a lack of understanding of the roles and responsibilities for communication. In such organisations, individuals may be unclear of their role in the communication process and therefore not know what is expected of them.

Attitudinal Barriers
Attitudinal barriers are behaviours or perceptions that prevent people from communicating effectively. Attitudinal barriers to communication may result from personality conflicts, poor management, resistance to change or a lack of motivation. Effective receivers of messages should attempt to overcome their own attitudinal barriers to facilitate effective communication. See Assertiveness and Empathy.

Gateways to Communication
In order to enhance the effectiveness of communication, we can focus on the following aspects: Plan the message: Before we decide to communicate an idea/information/message, we need to plan it properly. The message should match the purpose and should be transmitted through the appropriate format. Use Proper language: The language used for a message should be clear, lucid and appropriate. The density of words used should match with the level of maturity of the receivers. Dont be evaluative: If we listen to somebody with preconceived notions, we wont be able to receive, process and interpret the message properly. Give proper Orientation: All the employees should be given proper orientation regarding the objectives, policies, procedures, organization structure and work culture of an organization immediately after they are recruited. This helps in interpersonal communication as well as communication with the people at the higher and lower hierarchies. Be an active listener: Active listening is an art which very few people can master. Many of us confuse listening with hearing. But listening demands more attention and interest than hearing, hence very important in communication.

Have an unbiased attitude: Any person with a biased mind will not be able to communicate properly with others. Hence it is necessary to train people to be unbiased through education, counseling and discussions to help them become good communicators. . Respond don't re-act: When we are dealing with a problematic situation or person, we must understand the facts properly and respond appropriately. If we react in a situation like this, our emotions and feelings take an upper hand and we end up as bad communicators. Our negative reaction to people in stressful situations will aggravate the situation and lead to total collapse of communication. We must respond mindfully rather than re-act emotionally. Though it requires self-knowledge and discipline, it allows us to be more effective in our communication. Promote congruence: Communication will not be effective unless and until people are willing to communicate. This willingness to communicate needs to be inculcated among people to keep them intact. Use the grapevine: The grapevine can be used to predict the responses of the employees regarding a particular issue. This is mainly useful for checking plans which are likely to be implemented in future. On the basis of the responses collected form people, appropriate decisions can be taken. Transmit the message in Installments: If too much of information is sent within too short a period of time, it will not be digested by people. SO it is wise to send the information/message in chunks. This makes the transmission of the message more effective and facilitates feedback. Information overload results in miscommunication or a complete collapse of communication. Provide feedback: In order to enhance the effectiveness of communication, feedback mechanism should be built into all communication networks so that necessary amendments can be made to enhance the quality of communication in future. Suggestions, clarifications, performance reports, surveys and emphatic listening are some of the feedback mechanism we use to ensure the success of communication. Overcome bypassing: When we receive a message, we must respond it appropriately and immediately. Bypassing it will hamper the transmission of the message. Maintain semantic accuracy: While using words with different connotations we must make it clear in its meaning by providing contextual clues. Semantic accuracy will improve the effectiveness of communication and will facilitate timely feedback. Add some eloquence: While presenting the facts, we should be able to present them in a seamless manner so that there is eloquence and the listener does not have any problem in comprehending the logical link between the facts. This in turn will positively impact communication. Improve the ambience: Improper ambience often mars the communication between two participants. If people fight in a meeting where a saint is giving a sermon on world peace, there is no necessity of his sermon. Similarly, if we are speaking in a crowded place with noises flowing

in from all corners, we wont be able to drive anything into the minds of the audience. On the other hand, a calm atmosphere will be appropriate for such an act of communication. Use proper etiquette: Social etiquettes play an important role in ensuring successful communication. A person may be a master of his/her subject, but his/her lack of etiquette may mar his/her chances of a promotion. Likewise, proper telephone etiquettes are also essential for making an act of communication successful. Watch your language: We should opt for clear, positive language and sincerity to encourage shared understanding and earn the support of our group.

Seven Cs of Effective Communication

There are 7 Cs of effective communication which are applicable to both written as well as oral communication. These are as follows: 1. Completeness - The communication must be complete. It should convey all facts required by the audience. The sender of the message must take into consideration the receivers mind set and convey the message accordingly. A complete communication has following features: Complete communication develops and enhances reputation of an organization. Moreover, they are cost saving as no crucial information is missing and no additional cost is incurred in conveying extra message if the communication is complete. A complete communication always gives additional information wherever required. It leaves no questions in the mind of receiver. Complete communication helps in better decision-making by the audience/readers/receivers of message as they get all desired and crucial information. It persuades the audience.

2. Conciseness - Conciseness means wordiness, i.e, communicating what you want to convey in least possible words without forgoing the other Cs of communication. Conciseness is a necessity for effective communication. Concise communication has following features: It is both time-saving as well as cost-saving. It underlines and highlights the main message as it avoids using excessive and needless words. Concise communication provides short and essential message in limited words to the audience. Concise message is more appealing and comprehensible to the audience. Concise message is non-repetitive in nature. 3. Consideration - Consideration implies stepping into the shoes of others. Effective communication must take the audience into consideration, i.e, the audiences view points, background, mind-set, education level, etc. Make an attempt to envisage your audience,





their requirements, emotions as well as problems. Ensure that the self-respect of the audience is maintained and their emotions are not at harm. Modify your words in message to suit the audiences needs while making your message complete. Features of considerate communication are as follows: Emphasize on you approach. Empathize with the audience and exhibit interest in the audience. This will stimulate a positive reaction from the audience. Show optimism towards your audience. Emphasize on what is possible rather than what is impossible. Lay stress on positive words such as jovial, committed, thanks, warm, healthy, help, etc. Clarity - Clarity implies emphasizing on a specific message or goal at a time, rather than trying to achieve too much at once. Clarity in communication has following features: It makes understanding easier. Complete clarity of thoughts and ideas enhances the meaning of message. Clear message makes use of exact, appropriate and concrete words. Concreteness - Concrete communication implies being particular and clear rather than fuzzy and general. Concreteness strengthens the confidence. Concrete message has following features: It is supported with specific facts and figures. It makes use of words that are clear and that build the reputation. Concrete messages are not misinterpreted. Courtesy - Courtesy in message implies the message should show the senders expression as well as should respect the receiver. The sender of the message should be sincerely polite, judicious, reflective and enthusiastic. Courteous message has following features: Courtesy implies taking into consideration both viewpoints as well as feelings of the receiver of the message. Courteous message is positive and focused at the audience. It makes use of terms showing respect for the receiver of message. It is not at all biased. Correctness - Correctness in communication implies that there are no grammatical errors in communication. Correct communication has following features: The message is exact, correct and well-timed. If the communication is correct, it boosts up the confidence level. Correct message has greater impact on the audience/ readers. It checks for the precision and accurateness of facts and figures used in the message. It makes use of appropriate and correct language in the message.

Awareness of these 7 Cs of communication makes you an effective communicator.