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1.1 Introduction Objectives 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Understanding Communication Self Assessment Questions 1 The Communication Process Self Assessment Questions 2
Basic Principles Of Communication
Barriers to Effective Communication Self Assessment Questions 3 The Importance of Communication in the Workplace Self Assessment Questions 4 Summary Terminal Questions Answers to SAQ’s and TQ’s
Communication is a nonstop process and is a vital ingredient for success, both within and outside the workplace. It is a part of “soft skills”, as opposed to domain or technical knowledge, which is a part of “hard skills.” A formal study of business communication is important, since the average business executive today spends a good part of his time on the job communicating in some form or the other. In this unit, we will see how communication involves certain key elements, no matter in what context it takes place. We will also examine some of the general problems that come in the way of smooth communication and ways of overcoming these problems.
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ideas.. “It is the sum of all the things one person does when he wants to create an understanding in the mind of another. “Communication is the process by which we understand others and in turn endeavor to be understood by them. skills. 1. communication is “the transmission of information.” · According to Berelson and Steiner. ideas.Business Communication Unit 1 Learning Objectives: After studying this unit. 3. Communication has been defined differently by different writers and behavioral theorists. etc.” Sikkim Manipal University 2 .2 Understanding Communication Communication in simple terms. letters. is a transfer of information between people.” · According to Allen Louis. graphs. opinions or emotions by two or more persons. 1. you should be able to. words. emotions. 4. pictures. symbols or messages. Understand how good communication contributes to managerial success. production and transmission of signs in such a way as to help a receiver perceive a meaning similar to that in the mind of the communicator. Some popular definitions are – · According to Newman and Summer. resulting in common understanding between them. 2. figures.” · In the words of Fotheringham. and as a way that one organization member shares meaning with the other.” In the words of Anderson. etc. by the use of symbols. It is dynamic. “Communication is an exchange of facts. It is the act or process of transmission that is usually called communication. Identify the barriers to communication and suggest ways to overcome these barriers. constantly changing and shifting in response to the total situation. Describe the key elements in the communication process. “ Communication is a process involving the selection.” · Bellows.” · · Hoben defines communication as “ The verbal interchange of thoughts or ideas. Gilson and Odirone define communication as “ A communion by words. Explain the general purpose of communication.
all convey certain messages to others. For example. 2. Communication may best be described as a _____________ . This may be due to several reasons. This means that the meaning attached to a message depends on what has happened before and on the present context. Our body language. Self Assessment Question 1 1. When the message is wrongly interpreted. For communication to take place. _________________ or ________________ . the communication is a failure. the way we dress. with continuous feedback. or through the use of body language such as gestures and facial expressions. it is clear that communication has the following characteristics – · It is Unavoidable – It is impossible to not communicate. even without the use of words. · It could be Verbal or Nonverbal – Communication could be through the use of words in spoken or written form. 5. since we communicate unintentionally all the time. as well as his mood at that particular moment. · It is successful when the Receiver Interprets the Meaning in the Same Way as that intended by the Sender – The receiver does not always attach the same meaning to a message as the sender. your boss’s response to your request for a promotion will depend on your past relationship with him. which we will examine later in this unit. Sikkim Manipal University 3 . · It is a Twoway Exchange of Information – Communication is sharing of information between two or more persons. Communication can take place using ____________. Communication is accurate when the _____________ that is sent is the same as the _________________ that is attached to it. the importance we give to arriving on time.Business Communication Unit 1 From the above definitions. our behavior and the physical environment in which we work. · It is a Process – Each message is part of a process and does not occur in isolation. 3. 4. Our dress code is an example of __________________ communication. · It involves a Sender and a Receiver of Information – Any communication starts with a sender of a message and requires a receiver to attach some meaning to that message. there must be a _________________ and a ________________ .
Decoding may not always be accurate and a wrong meaning may be attached to a message. Sikkim Manipal University 4 .Business Communication Unit 1 Let us now look at communication as a process and discuss its key elements. 1. a friendly joke might be taken as an offense. or a sales manager making a presentation to his sales team. all communication consists of certain key elements. a manager writing a letter of apology to a customer regarding a defective product.3 The Communication Process Irrespective of the setting in which communication takes place or the number of people that are involved. For example. or attaches some meaning to a message. or feedback given to a subordinate by a superior might be taken in the wrong sense. For example. The Communication Model shown on the next page illustrates each of these elements Model of Communication NOISE RECEIVER/ SENDER/ MESSAGES DECODER ENCODER Channel(s s) Channel(s s) (SENDS & RECEIVES) (RECEIVES & SENDS) NOISE Sender or Encoder – This is the person who transmits a message. Receiver or Decoder – The person who notices and decodes.
hostility. Noise – Communication fails when the message received is not identical to the message that is sent. you could communicate with a customer through a letter. people are simultaneously senders and receivers of information in facetoface communication. or physical illness could come in the way of both speaking and listening. Sometimes feedback could also be written. At other times. Psychological Noise – Sometimes emotions within the sender or receiver such as preoccupations. or just information overload could interfere with the listening process. for example. fear or lack of interest could interfere with the speaking or listening process.Business Communication Unit 1 Message – This is any signal that triggers the response of a receiver. feedback could be nonverbal. Feedback – Most communication is twoway. Even failure to respond could be considered as feedback. Sikkim Manipal University 5 . For example. since it may indicate a lack of interest or indifference to the sender’s message. Several factors could interfere with the exchange of messages. through email or telephone. Messages may be intentional ( as in the example of the sales presentation given above) or unintentional ( non verbal signals such as yawns that convey the message of boredom). students may ask questions during a lecture session and an employer may tell an employee that he has to think about his proposal. poor acoustics. “Noise” refers to all these factors that disrupt the communication and could be classified under the following types Physical Noise – Distracting sounds. Receivers generally respond to messages – for example. As a business executive. Due to the element of feedback. Channel – This refers to the medium or the method used to deliver the message. you will often have a choice of channels. as when you respond to a customer’s letter of complaint. Physiological Noise – Hearing or other disabilities. as in smiles and nods of appreciation during a talk or presentation. fatigue. This kind of feedback is oral. This response to a sender’s message is called feedback.
depending on whether the communication takes place in your office. Sikkim Manipal University 6 . The message is unclear or badly worded. leading to confusion and information overload. Each of the elements discussed above contributes to the success of the communication. is your request made first thing in the morning or at the fag end of the day? Is it made during or after work hours? Is it made at a time when the company is going through problems such as a strike in the factory. Asking your boss for a promotion might be received differently. or major losses? Cultural context refers to the similarity of backgrounds between the sender and the receiver. communication can go wrong if any of the following elements go wrong 1. your boss’s office. Taking the same example. Chronological context refers to time related factors that could influence the communication. religion and gender. Context could be classified as follows Physical context refers to the physical surroundings for example a work or social environment. nationality. asking for a promotion is likely to be received differently. depending on how well you get along with your boss and whether you are personal friends or not. in which the communication takes place. is not likely to get the bank’s approval. 2. Social context refers to the relationship between the sender and the receiver. The wrong person sends the message. language. These factors could influence the communication favorably or unfavorably. For example. asking for a loan for a project worth several crores.Business Communication Unit 1 Context – This refers to the setting in which the communication takes place and could sometimes determine the success or failure of the communication. such as age. In other words. at a company party or over lunch at a restaurant. Or there are too many messages. a junior accountant in a company writing a letter to a bank. For example.
Your boss gives you a good performance review at a time when the company is making profits.. Physical. Communication is mostly through words. The communication message is the same as the meaning of the message 3.Business Communication Unit 1 3. chronological or cultural context.4 Barriers To Communication In the earlier section on the communication process. The message is wrongly interpreted. physiological or psychological noise distorts the message. 6. This is an example of physiological noise leading to communication failure. Placing an ad for a liquor product in a religious magazine for example. Self Assessment Question 2 Are the following statements true or false? 1. 8. One reason for failure of communication is wrong interpretation of the message. is not likely to be received favorably! 4. You feel that your professor does not have anything new to say and do not listen to him. social. The communication takes place in the wrong physical. 7. 2. namely the barriers or obstacles to effective communication. 7. 1. 4. This is an example of chronological context influencing the communication. “noise” was mentioned as one of the elements of communication. The success of communication depends only on the sender of the message. i. This brings us to the next topic. Communication is a dynamic process. 6. The wrong channel of communication is chosen. Sikkim Manipal University 7 . 5. The feedback is not adequate to ensure understanding.e. the receiver attaches the wrong meaning to the message. Noise is essentially a barrier to communication and we distinguished between “physical” noise. “physiological” noise and “psychological” noise. 5. Immediate feedback is possible in the case of facetoface communication.
which could be in the form of distracting sounds. poor facilities and acoustics. that is. it is distorted completely. In such cases. Environmental Barriers – This is the same as physical noise. These barriers may be classified as follows – 1. evaluate. 2. approve or disapprove of the views of another person. This happens particularly in situations where we have strong feelings about something. Individual Barriers – A major barrier to interpersonal communication is a tendency to judge. we tend to block out the communication and form our own viewpoints. The following example illustrates an organizational barrier to communication. an overcrowded room.Business Communication Unit 1 There are many other barriers to communication. so much so that the original message is interpreted differently by each level in the organization – The Chief of the Space Center gets to know about the possibility of seeing Halley’s Comet and decides that the entire organization should witness this spectacle. modify or completely change the message. In other words. He sends a memo to the Director – Sikkim Manipal University 8 . 3. By the time the message is passed down from the Chief to the lower level Executives. an understanding and analysis of which are needed before coming up with ways to eliminate or minimize them .Organizational Barriers – In organizations that are too hierarchical. where there are multiple “layers”. all of which may hinder the ability to listen to and understand the message. there is likely to be loss of meaning and the message may not reach the receiver in the same way as it was intended by the sender. messages may have to pass through many levels before they finally reach the receiver. Each level may add to. so much so that it becomes distorted by the time it reaches the intended receiver.
Director To Executive Directors The Executive Director sends out memos to the Heads of Departments – By order of the Chief. The Chief will tell us whether it is going to rain. Executive Director To Heads of Departments The Heads of Departments send this message to their Managers Sikkim Manipal University 9 . tomorrow evening. we shall not be able to see it very well on site. in our best clothes. Since this is not an everyday event. we shall follow through. tomorrow evening. we will be able to see “Halley’s Comet” at 20:00 hrs. This is something which we cannot see happening everyday. we will be able to see Halley’s Comet in the sky through the naked eye.Business Communication Unit 1 Tomorrow evening. at 20:00 hours. In that case. the disappearance of the Comet will be followed through in the Canteen. the disappearance of the Comet in the Canteen at 20:00 hrs. This is something which we cannot see happening everyday. in our best clothes. everyone at the Center should assemble outside in their best clothes to watch it. we will not be able to see it very well. If it is raining. To Director By order of the Chief The Director then sends the following memo to various Executive Directors By order of the Chief. If it rains. in which case everyone should assemble in the Canteen.
our Chief will disappear. or conveying a message orally when a written letter would be more appropriate. our Chief in his best clothes will disappear at 20:00 hrs. Sikkim Manipal University 10 . Linguistic barriers may also occur in crosscultural advertising and distort the communication. Another type of organizational barrier is a departmental barrier. Either the sender may be using a different or foreign language. it was pointed out that communication can fail due to any of the different elements going wrong.Business Communication Unit 1 If it is raining in the Canteen tomorrow evening. Head of Department To All Managers Finally. each Manager sends the following notice to their Executives Tomorrow evening. Using a wrong medium of advertising. Wrong choice of channel is one of the main barriers to communication. while emotional messages such as feelings about coworkers are better conveyed orally. are examples. 4. It is a pity that we cannot see this happening everyday. the communication will not succeed. at 20: 00 hrs. when translating campaigns or slogans literally from one language to another. Linguistic and Cultural Barriers – When the sender of the message uses a language that the receiver does not understand. 5. which is something we cannot see happening everyday. The written channel is more appropriate when the communication is more formal or for keeping things on record. or the language used may be too highly technical for the receiver to understand.. This means that each department in an organization functions in isolation and there is no coordination or communication between them. Channel Barriers – In the earlier section.
if you happen to meet a long lost friend and say “I am delighted to meet you”. body language such as gestures and facial expressions. Pepsi’s slogan “Come Alive with Pepsi”. On the other hand. 7. etc. 6. Example : Saying “ The new product launch went like a bomb” in British English would mean that the new product launch was a success. it is important to avoid giving conflicting signals.Business Communication Unit 1 For example. Sikkim Manipal University 11 . the communication will fail. different words may have different meanings in different cultures. We will be discussing this in great length in a later unit. read “ Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave!” Cultural differences refer to differences in values and perceptions. If the tone of voice and body language are negative. however positive the spoken and written message. but in a sad tone of voice. the exact opposite message will be conveyed! Therefore. saying “The product launch bombed” in American English would mean that the new product was a disaster. Nonverbal communication includes tone of voice. through the use of nonverbal communication. a joke about women may be taken in the wrong sense if the receiver belongs to a culture where women are highly respected. which may affect the interpretation of the message by the receiver. Semantic Barriers – The word “semantics” refers to the meaning of words and the way in which they are used. For example. For example. when translated into Chinese. For example. Nonverbal Barriers – This refers to the nonverbal communication that goes with a particular message. Failure to take this into consideration could lead to serious blunders.
both at the organizational level. Use Multiple Channels of Communication – Organizations should encourage the use of multiple channels of communication. Individual Action 1. Listening is a skill which can be developed through proper training. 3. Feedback can tell the managers whether the message has reached the receiver in the intended way or not. as well as at the individual level.4. with understanding. in a separate unit. Passive listening is a barrier to communication. Encourage Feedback – Organizations should try to improve the communication system by getting feedback from the messages already sent. 2. whereas real communication takes place when we listen actively. or “passive listening”. rather than listening without hearing.1 Overcoming The Barriers To Communication Certain steps can be taken. in order to try to minimize them. Active Listening – This means listening to the meaning of the speaker’s words. Careful wording of messages – Messages should be worded clearly and without ambiguity. This means using a combination of both oral and written channels. 2. The types of channels will be discussed in detail later.Business Communication Unit 1 1. All subordinates or junior employees should be allowed to air their opinions and differences without fear of being penalized. as well as formal (official) and informal (unofficial) channels of communication. to make sure that the message that is received is the same as the message that is sent. to effectively deal with the barriers to communication. in order to make sure that messages reach the intended receivers without fail. Sikkim Manipal University 12 . Create a Climate of Openness – A climate of trust and openness can go a long way in removing organizational barriers to communication. if not eliminate them entirely – Organizational Action 1.
Eye movements 7. As you go up the corporate ladder. Several surveys conducted among people who have been successful Sikkim Manipal University 13 .Business Communication Unit 1 3. Speaking with a foreign accent e. Messages with multiple meanings f. Psychological noise 2. you will find that communication skills are required. depending on the situation. Understanding customers’ c. Channels of communication and the criteria for selection of channels will be discussed in detail in a later chapter. Organizational barrier problems 4. Self Assessment Question 3 Match the following 1.5 The Importance Of Communication In The Workplace Communication is the nerve center of business today. Physical noise 3. Individual barrier b. communication skills rank above technical skills. Suppressing the views of junior employees 5. Communication research has revealed that among the factors most important for managerial success. Semantic barrier d. Nonverbal communication g. Active listening 1. Letter addressing customer complaints h. Written communication channel 6. Environmental barrier a. Selection of Appropriate Channels – Individuals should be competent enough to choose the right communication channel. Cultural barrier 8. more than technical skills.
communication is required to explain a new computer program or software. Sikkim Manipal University 14 . since it is one to one and highly personalized in nature. Face–toface communication is especially suited for achieving this task. technology will overwhelm an organization. Communication has assumed even greater importance today. While computers can perform routine tasks. Without communication and human skills. Communication is also required all the more in this age of information and technology. For example. showing empathy and giving them the freedom to express their opinions without fear of being repressed. · Problemsolving – Effective communication can help resolve conflicts between coworkers. since the new model of business is based on teamwork. Communication helps to make sense of technology and to manage all this information. coworkers and subordinates. Effective communication serves the following specific purposes in an organization – · Greater Awareness of Organizational Goals and Teamwork – When there is open communication between superiors. Employees will then feel more comfortable in approaching their superiors and discussing any matter with them. Teamwork requires greater coordination and communication. there is smooth flow of information regarding the goals of the organization.Business Communication Unit 1 in their professions have indicated that communication skills are more vital to job success than subjects taken in college. a manager can create a climate of openness that leads to better work relationships. Coordination between the different departments in particular. work related and performance related problems. jobs like responding to customers’ needs require a high degree of communication skills. rather than on individual action. rather than working in isolation. · Better Employeremployee Relationships – By listening to employees. leads to greater motivation to work together towards achieving a common organizational goal.
A constructive review of performance. A large part of it is also non verbal. Body language is a part of nonverbal communication. Although there is no single and correct definition of communication. 3. through which a manager gives positive feedback and counsels the employee. · Communication is not only through the spoken and written word. · For communication to take place. only through proper communication. of government regulations and of the expectations of the community at large. Communication is needed only between superiors and subordinates. be aware of the presence of quality suppliers of material. 2. A destructive review of performance can lower employee morale. Self Assessment Question 4 Are the following questions true or false? 1. most communication theorists and writers on the subject agree that communication has certain characteristics – · It is a nonstop process like breathing. media and suppliers leads to a better rapport with them. · Stronger Link between Managers and the External Environment – Apart from internal communication within the organization. effective communication by managers with external audiences such as customers. A manager will be able to understand the needs of his customers. there must be a sender and receiver of a message. Sikkim Manipal University 15 . since we communicate all the time in some form or another. Listening is not a part of communication skills. instead of criticizing him for poor performance. can motivate the employee to perform better. Team skills do not require the ability to communicate effectively. 4.Business Communication Unit 1 · Improved Performance – Effective communication by managers at the time of appraising the performance of their employees can point out areas for improvement.6 Summary In this unit. we have looked more at communication in general. External communication is as important as internal communication. 1. 5. bankers. government. its nature and principles.
such as multiple meanings of words Channel barriers. There are a number of barriers or obstacles to smooth communication. in the following ways – · · · · · It leads to better information flow and teamwork It creates a climate of openness and trust It strengthens employeremployee relationships It helps to resolve conflicts It improves morale and enhances performance Sikkim Manipal University 16 . a receiver who decodes or attaches meaning to a message. such as conflicting signals This unit also dealt briefly with organizational communication and how effective communication can enhance performance in the workplace. such as ego problems Organizational barriers. Communication is not always successful and can go wrong if any of the above elements go wrong. This unit also described the communication process in detail.Business Communication Unit 1 · Communication usually involves a twoway exchange of information. such as use of a foreign language Semantic barriers. where the receiver provides some feedback in some form or the other. As one goes up the corporate ladder. communication always includes some key elements a sender who transmits a message. Communication contributes to success in the workplace. These may be categorized as follows · · · · · · · External or physical barriers. Irrespective of the number of people involved. such as lack of coordination between departments Linguistic or cultural barriers. · Communication may be said to be accurate when the intended message is understood in the same way by the receiver. a channel or medium through which the message is sent. such as use of a wrong medium Nonverbal barriers. feedback given by the receiver to the sender. noise that can disrupt the communication at any time and the context in which the communication takes place. communication skills are more important for success than technical skills. such as distracting sounds Individual barriers.
True 4. wrong channel. Message; meaning 4. What are some ways in which you could overcome these barriers? 3. True Self Assessment Questions 3 1. True 5. etc. False 3.8 Answers to Self Assessment Questions Self Assessment Questions 1 1. True 7. Sender; receiver 2. Describe a situation you experienced where the communication was a failure. b 2. Words; symbols; pictures 5. 2. Analyze the problem by identifying the element of the communication process that contributed to the failure – e. what is the most important way in which effective communication contributes to managerial success? 1. a Sikkim Manipal University 17 . False 2.Business Communication Unit 1 · It links managers with the external environment of the organization 1. Nonverbal 3. False 8. False 6.g. wrong sender.7 Terminal Questions 1. Process Self Assessment Questions 2 1. List out some barriers that stand in the way of your own communication. In your opinion.
f 8. Refer 1.Business Communication Unit 1 3. e Self Assessment Questions 4 1. False 2. True 4. True Answer to Terminal Questions 1. d 4.4 3. Refer 1. False 3. h 7. g 6.5 Sikkim Manipal University 18 . Refer 1. False 5. c 5.3 2.