Barriers to Communication | Conformity | Communication


• Some of the variables which interfere with communication
– Ineffective use of power – Language – Problems of defensiveness and lack of self-confidence

• When is power (influence & control) used? • What is decision making?
– Decision making – Who does, what, when, where and how – Delaying is also a decision-making

• Can we do without decision making? • Power is neither good nor bad • The manner in which organisational decisions are made and power is exercised affects interpersonal relations • If managers have little power, their ability to function interpersonally is restricted

• Powerful managers can use their power to encourage or restrict the participation of the less powerful in decision-making • Acquiring power is easy when the “rules of the game” are more authoritarian • Who are these powerful managers?

• Healthy respect for “work ethic” • Not likely to challenge authority • Not tolerant towards their authority being challenged • Well-disciplined and orderly • Likely to be familiar with various power tactics because:
– They would have devoted a major part of their adult life to attain power

• The power tactics usually revolve around controlling the communication process • Such tactics may be barriers to communication, although they may be used to maintain power • A few power tactics often used with the primary motive of maintaining power:
– – – – – Taking counsel Maneuverability Complete communication Compromise Negative timing

• Executives should seek advice only when they think it is necessary • If they allow subordinates to give advice, they are likely to be under pressure to act as per the advice

• Wise executives should never fully commit themselves • If they do, they may find themselves in situations where they cannot defend themselves • A number of options should be kept available, to retract previously made commitments, since they consider such retractions would
• lower their credibility and • diminish power

• Not a good strategy to communicate everything • Complete open communication deprives the executives of determining who should know what & when • If future plans do not materialise, it would be difficult to excuse oneself from the commitment

• Executives who wish to maintain power may openly compromise, but • Should continue to work toward their own goals • Any concession made, should be seen as
– A way of delaying, rather than – An act of cooperation

• The executive may encounter pressure to do something that is not agreeable to him/her • The appropriate tactics to take action but proceed so slowly that little harm is done • They are taking actions, but by using negative timing, they make sure that nothing comes out of the action

• Power-seeking executive’s foremost concern is “exercising power” • The power tactics are direct contrast to cooperation and open communication • These executives view the concentration of power as necessary for the success of
– Organisation – individual

• With such a position, the individual success becomes the driving concern

• Power concentration tends to distance the powerless • The equalisation of power, without equalisation of responsibility and expertise, may bring conflict of interest and anarchy • Such power tactics tend to lead to
– inefficient communication – Destructive conflict – Dissatisfaction in the organisation

• The more powerful person should adopt the viewpoint of developing the less powerful member of the organisation • This leads to increasing delegation of power, as the subordinate develops responsibility and expertise

• The relatively less powerful organisational members have little direct influence on decision making • They must conform to the decisions made by the more powerful • In this context, one way of gaining influence is through
– Gaining favour of a relatively powerful manager, who has the power to influence decision making – Ingratiation – compliance

• Two basic ways of conformity are:

• One way the lower level manager can gain influence is by using a strategy of
– Lays the groundwork for later influence attempts – “appearing” to agree with the idea and attitudes of the more powerful manager

• Such support results in the person to be liked by this powerful manager, and thereby • Such support is described as “Ingratiation”

• Is a strategic attempt to get someone to like you in order to obtain compliance with a request, even if at a later stage • The effectiveness of this depends on clever concealment of ulterior motives • The lower-status person disagrees with the higher-status person on unimportant issues to appear to be a non-conformist • A high-status person attempting to ingratiate himself with lower-status people will agree on unimportant issues

• Another way of handling the power issue which is often used by the less powerful if compliance • Amounts to reluctant obedience, obeying
– In letter, but not – In spirit

• The person does what he/she is told but with little enthusiasm

CONsequences of conformity
• Restricts personal development since
– the individual does not express his or her own ideas and feelings

• The effect of conformity over a period of time is to produce “yes men” with not initiative • If new ideas are eliminated though conformity,
– The organisation becomes inflexible – Inability to adjust to changes

• Managerial strategy aimed solely at gaining cooperation through conformity is unlikely to be successful • The organisation needs both
– Cooperation (stability, law and order) – innovation

• Conformity and power tactics in combination tend to lead to a situation where task accomplishment is less important than power structure • By using these tactics, open communication is not only unimportant, but intentionally avoided

• The result of conformity is dying interpersonal relationships • It is suggested that absence of conflict is an indicator of an unexciting and unproductive relationship • Conformity is a means of avoiding conflict essentially through the sacrifice of one’s own individuality

• The power issue is to be resolved constructively, if the manager wishes to improve the interpersonal relations in the organisation • Conflict must be faced, rather than avoided • Best method is through self-disclosure and feedback • This should be sequenced in a way which builds and strengthens interpersonal trust

• The barrier arising from differences in the use of language
– Associated with the segregation of people into various groups within the organisations

• Characteristics of present day organisations are that they are
– Large – Complex – hierarchical


• These characteristics tend to produce numerous groups of people which are separate from each other on the basis of • This separation of groups, tends to be emphasised by differences in the use of language between groups
– Specialty – Status – Physical location within the organisation

SPECIALISISED LANGUAGE has evolved • Each specialised function in organisation

a precise language to describe its experience • The various groups have terminology which they use to precisely communicate to others of the same group • Specialised language exists for
– Specialised functions – Top management policies

For specialised functions
• Division of work results in specialised functions which is turn would be responsible for development of specialised language • This language is inappropriate for communication between people performing different organisational functions • The specialised vocabulary of one groups appears as jargon to the other groups • This results in minimal transmission of information

• Top management are generally involved in formulating policies of the organisation • If policy decisions are made using information which is inaccessible to lower levels of management
– Managers at lower levels will not be able to interpret the policies – Especially true if top management is unaware of the problems and routines of lower management – The language used to formulate policy is likely to be ambiguous since the information on which the policy is based is not shared

• In the language difference between two specialised groups in an organisation, both are aware that they do not understand the language • However, between the top and the lower managements, they are unaware of these differences of language • The language of the policy decision may be clear but the communication might be poor

• Language is an integral part of our experience that the limitations it can have are numerous • Language is an
– Abstraction – Labeling of experience – At best an approximation

• Greatest barrier is the style of communication • When a message is sent in a way that provokes defensiveness, he/she contributes to poor interpersonal relationship • When relationships are strained, the chances of communication breakdown is extremely high • Four types of communication which often provoke defensiveness:
– – – – Evaluative Dogmatic Manipulative Implying superiority

• Evaluation = labeling, especially negative • Once a person is labeled it is difficult to see the “whole person” • We tend to see the label

• Dogmatic are close-minded people who resist new ideas and unable to see other’s viewpoint • The supervisor’s
– resistance to feedback, and – tendency to see the situation in black-and-white

• Of all the barriers, dogmatism is perhaps the most difficult to overcome • Research suggests that dogmatism is a personal trait that is difficult to change

• Highly resistant to feedback • React to negative feedback by counterattack • Because of the rigidity in their beliefs, they tend to have little creativity and flexibility

• People who believe their contribution more important because of their possession of
– – – – Superior knowledge Expertise Experience Superior position, etc

• If a manager, is constantly implying his or her superiority, then in turn implies that the other person is inferior • Such implications are likely to lead to defensiveness • The insistence of superiority is not generally a successful communication strategy • The manager has the opportunity of establishing rapport simply by listening to other viewpoints

• When we perceive that someone is trying to influence us, with an ulterior motive, we tend to react negatively • Rather seeing the communication as neutral, they tend to oppose the communication, even if it is detrimental to them • Manipulative communication excites the control issue and reaction is based on “not wanting to be controlled”

• Managers who are aware that force meets resistance, often try to use manipulative tactics • The subordinates in turn are likely to be defensive, become increasingly critical of the management • The communication understood by subordinates, in these instances, is that subordinates are
– easily influenced, and – are incapable of participating in decision making

• The end result of manipulation, may be disastrous

• The four types of communication discussed are themselves defensive in nature • When a person evaluates another person, it is often selfdefense • Manipulation is generally used when we think that our true feelings/motives may be misunderstood or unaccepted • Dogmatic, closed-minded individuals are busy defending their ideas and beliefs that they are not receptive to new ideas – may be associated with feelings of insecurity or inadequacy • Implying one’s superiority are directly defending their self-concept

• Best way to increase effective communication is to
– increase one’s self-confidence and – decrease one’s defensiveness

• For effective communication, managers need to be able to distinguish between
– confronting others and constructively, and – provoking defensivenss

• Confrontation of conflict through selfdisclosure and feedback involves
– The description of one’s own ideas, attitudes, feelings opinions, etc

• While confronting conflict , the way to avoid provoking defensiveness is by
– Describing one’s own position – Encouraging the other person to describe his/her position

• When a manager can communicate a message that he values the ideas of others, the defensive reactions are considerably lessened

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