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Ace Institute.

of Management

Communication Malfunctions
Communication can be imperfect
Infiniteness and complexity of the reality Symbols of communication imperfect & they

loosely fit the reality

Unique and different perception

Thus, malfunction exist in our communication. Communication malfunctions- a pattern of Lg Result from the language imperfection

Five Communication Malfunctions

Two Valued Thinking
Fact Inference Confusion

The Blocked Mind

The Static Viewpoints Failure to Discriminate

1. Two Valued Thinking

Either/or Deeply entrenched in our culture Exists when we consider two possibilities in a situation

Accepts no middle ground

The true dichotomy

Two valued thinking can describe some situations correctly sometimes Fits the reality Common in business situation. E.g. either to buy or not to buy

BC frequently reports information in either/or

Multi valued situations

Not all situations are two valued
Situations with value between two extreme positions Reporting multi value situation in two value thinking is incorrect

It is lack of thinking & inaccurate reporting

The danger involved

Two valued situations always do not fit into the reality
Use only when appropriate: simplify

communication and make it understandable

Mention the values that exist between two extremes in case you express multi valued

situation in two valued thinking

Value specific reference

Overcome two valued thinking by
Being aware of the problem

Using words precisely


quantitative measures


middle ground words


More qualifying

Application in business communication

Two valued thinking-possible in business
True dichotomy can and do exist But compromise decision and consider other

alternatives possible
Existence of middle ground positions is possible

in business
Two valued thinking applies to reports, letters

and speaking in business


Fact Inference Confusion

We communicate on the basis of experiences as they fit reality.

But, factual communication may not be

We need to infer and inference might go wrong.

Wrong inference causes miscommunication

Need for inferences

An essential factor of communication.

No inference-no communication.
Limiting all comments to factual materials; makes communication dull and difficult.

Required for interpretations, predictions and evaluation.

Inference required for survival though it involves some risk. To live we must calculate risk and make inferences.

Effect on communication
Source of human miscommunication.

Do not infer from the facts that we perceive.

Do not treat your inferences as if they were facts.

Failure to see the reality causes miscommunication

Inferences are not facts of reality. Communication involving inferences has probability of being untrue.

Calculating the probability

We can reduce communication hazards caused by

inferences by

Being aware of the inferences that we make. Calculating the probability of our correctness. Being aware that our inferences can go wrong.

Being aware of the nature of the reality and

checking inferences against it.

Importance in business communication

Fact-inference confusion is a problem. Be aware of it in report writing. Report writers must emphasize the facts and their meaning. Report writers can infer but they must compute

the probable correctness of their inferences.

They must look with extreme care at the reality represented.

3. The Blocked Mind

Refers to the condition in which we are close to

the reality but considering only limited information.

So communication efforts become partially correct. A result of opinions, attitudes and beliefs. Our minds tend to ignore information that are contrary to our viewpoints.

A result of allness
Our tendency to judge the whole by a part is a cause of blocked mind.
An attitude of implying that what we know or

say about something is all there is to know or say about it.

Reality is infinite so knowing all about something is impossible.

Result of allness contd...

Concentrating just on single characteristic while

you are communicating is not enough.

Beliefs that the single characteristic is the whole is miscommunication. Make limited references but they should not block our mind. Be careful with selecting one characteristic also, as it forms stereotypes.

Extreme effects of the blocked mind

Prevents us from good communication. A fact: we all live with extreme viewpoints and the

attitude of allness!!!
Dogmatism and know-it-all results from blocked

Adamant attitude is caused by blocked mind.

Most arguments stem from the blocked minds:

parties in an argument usually defend their blocked minds rather than listen.

Unblocking the mind

Unblock your mind to communicate better. Question your viewpoints; check them against reality. Be aware of the nature of reality, avoid the attitude of allness. Select some of the details of the reality and omit


Not being aware of blocked mindedness

causes disaster in letter writing, report writing and in oral communication situation.
A wrong decision reached because of a

blocked mind can be costly to business.

4. The Static Viewpoints

Failure to consider the fact that reality

changes causes miscommunication.

Communication must reflect changes in reality. Have up-to-date references of people and places because the reality changes though the symbols remain unchanged.

The static viewpoints in business communication

Be aware of the fact that reality changes; its never static but symbols might remain unchanged. Failure to address the changes in reality may cause errors in all form of communication. Written and oral communication in business must reflect time changes otherwise miscommunication will occur.

5. Failure to Discriminate
Tendency to see similarities rather than

differences in reality: source of miscommunication.

It is contrary to the nature of things. Our language, built on broad categories,

has contributed to view similarities.

Miscommunication from stereotypes

Focus on similarities forces us to form

Stereotypes totally not true; there exist many differences. We hold many stereotypes but all distort reality. Stereotypes in communication replace reality.

Judgment by Category
Making common judgments to cover all

things within a category

Such judgments are based on
very limited and superficial observation and an extreme form of failure to make


Most category judgments result from limited

observation and emotional reaction

Being more rational might help to find

differences within a category

Extreme judgments are

They miscommunicate!

Discrimination failure and Business Communication

Awareness of discrimination failure helps have better communication. Use stereotypes with caution in letters in business. Select words that will create effect. In oral and written reporting - search the

differences, analyze them and reach conclusion from their analyses.

The process of seeing differences is important.