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Topic 7:




Chapter 19 in Text Book

Pages: 522 - 555


Key topics in this chapter :


        What is Communication

        Business Communication

        The Communication Process

        Barriers to Effective Communication

        Types of Communication

        Channels of Communication

        Communication Skills for Managers

        Importance of Effective Communication



What is Communication


Communication is one of the most important element of social life. It is the process by which people attempt to share meaning through the transmission of messages by an appropriate channel. It is a continuous process of telling, listening and understanding information from one person to another and of establishing a commonness of thought between a sender and a receiver. Effective communication is an art, any one can learn it to maintain harmonious and productive relationships with others.


Business Communication


Business communication is a sub set of the broader concept of communication. It is a form of inter-personal communication. Managers spend around 60 - 90% time in communication.

Effective business communication skills are essential in today's dynamic business world because:


        Companies are getting larger with mergers and acquisitions

        More and more products and service packages are designed, made, communicated and sold.

        Increased links of managers with community groups and special interest groups.

        Managerial style is shifting towards collaborative, democratic type

        Fast developments in communication technology such as electronic mail, video conferencing GSM satellite phones, fax services have made communication links essential, effective and efficient. 


The Communication Process



The communication process takes place in the interaction between a sender and a receiver. The sender, or the source of the message, initiates the process and sends the message to be transmitted by encoding it in the form of appropriate words, symbols etc. This encoded message is then passed through a channel of communication and reaches the receiver who decodes the message into meaningful information and understands it. However, the communication process doesnt end here. It should be remembered that communication is a two-way process and communication can only be successful only when the receiver acknowledges the receipt of the message by giving a feedback to the sender. The entire communication process however suffers from various stimuli, both internal and external, called noise. Noise confuses, disturbs and interferes with the effectiveness of the communication process and thus should be minimized.


Example: The late Sam Walton, Wal-Mart's founder was a master communicator. Stopping once to visit a Memphis store, he called everyone to front saying, "Northeast Memphis, you're the largest store in Memphis, and you must have the best floor cleaning crew in America. This floor is so clean, lets sit down on it." Kneeling casually and wearing his Wal-Mart baseball cap, Walton congratulated them on their fine work. "I thank you", he said. "The company is so proud of you and we can hardly stand it", he said reminding them of bonus checks recently given out. "But", he added, "you know that confounded Kmart is getting better, as so is Target. So what's our challenge?" Walton asked. "Customer service" he replied in answer to his own question. Walton's quality measure was clear to everyone.


Barriers to Effective Communication


Psychological Barriers


        Emotional : emotional factors affect communication. Indifference or hostility towards a person or subject.


        Perceptual: we all perceive things differently. Same stimulus can be seen or interpreted differently. People's perception are based on their own experience and value systems.


        Selectivity: Selective retention. All information inputs are not absorbed. Cognitive shutters filter information.


Semantic Barriers:  semantic is the branch of language science dealing with the study of meanings. Words are symbols. They may mean different things to different people, and different meanings may block communication.


Example: Consider the following "bafflegab" found amomg some executive communications. The report said: "Consumer elements are continuing to stress the fundamental necessity of a stablilization of the price structure at a lower level than exits at the present time."

Translation: Consumers keep saying that prices must go down and stay down. 


Physical Barriers:  Physical appearance, the audience, the noise (amount of distraction in the environment), uncomfortable arrangements etc also hamper effective communication.


Types of Communication


1.      Formal: refers to the official communication which takes place following the chain of command. It may be :


        Vertical communication: any communication that moves up or down the chain of command. Vertical communication may be:


Upward: flows from a subordinate to his superior

(work performance, problems, opinions, suggestions)


Downward: flows from a superior to subordinate

(org. plans & policies, orders & instructions, rules)



        Horizontal: flows between persons holding same position level (coordination, consultation)


Informal: refers to the communication which takes place independently of the official hierarchy. Arises out of social interaction and may take place between employees of different position levels.


Grapevine: network of informal communication. Origin and direction difficult to trace. E.g. : Rumours


Channels of Communication


        Oral : face to face, telephone, loud speaker

        Written: letter, notices, orders


Communication may be:


        Verbal : Use of language

        Non-verbal: Vocal cues, eye contact, facial expression, body language, tone of voice, space, touching


Communication Skills for Managers


Communication skills for managers as senders:


+       Send clear and complete messages

+       Encode messages in symbols the receiver understands

+       Select a medium appropriate for the message and monitored by the receiver

+       Avoid filtering (holding back information) and distortion as the message passes through other workers

+       Ensure feedback mechanism is included in the message

+       Provide accurate information to avoid rumours.


Communication skills for managers as receivers:


+       Pay attention to what is sent as a message

+       Be a good listener : dont interrupt. Ask questions to clarify your understanding

+       Be empathetic: try to understand what the sender feels

+       Understand linguistic styles: different people speak differently. Speed, tone, pausing all impact communication. This is particularly true across cultures. Managers should expect and plan for this.


Example: Twice a year Scott's Co. makers of the well-known lawn care products of the same name, holds large employee meetings to thank employees for their work, tell them the results of the firm's financial performance, and celebrate teamwork. The food is good and plentiful, there is music and entertainment, and a lot of information is shared. These meetings demonstrate top management's commitment to and informal and involved workforce.




Importance of Effective Communication


        Better clarification of ideas and concepts

        Improved ability to understand, persuade and work with superiors, peers and subordinates.

        Effective managing (accomplishing results with and through other people)

        Effective selling of a business plan to obtain approval, or finance or credit.

        Communicating clearly the goals of organisation to employees

        Handling difficult interpersonal conflict situation.

        Facilitating planning and decision making

        Facilitating coordination

        Improving superior-subordinate relationships

        Effective leading and motivating




Test Your Knowledge



&   ___________ is defined as the process by which people attempt to share meaning.

&   Effective communication is an art (True or False)

&   The complexities of markets today have made business communication a simpler process (True or False)

&   The _________ is the initiator of the communication process

&   The transformation of information into a series of symbols for communication is called _________

&   __________ is the process by which the receiver interprets the information received into meaningful information.

&   Stimuli that confuse, disturb or interfere with the communication is called ________

&   Barriers to communication include factors like differing perceptions, language difference, emotions etc (True or False)

&   Communication that flows up or down according to the official line of authority in an organisation is called ___________

&   _________ is a network of informal communication where it is very difficult to trace the origin and the direction of the message.

&   Two examples of written channels of communication are _______ and _________.

&   Facial expressions, gestures, body language, tone of voice etc are all examples of ______________ communication.

&   Communication should be both effective and essential (True or False)




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