The Nature of Communication

There are three important elements in the process of communication: symbols, noise, and channels. In the most formal definition, communication is the process of sending and receiving symbols with attached meanings. Noise is anything that interferes with the effectiveness of communication. Channels are the pathways through which messages are communicated.

It’s important to understand that there are always gaps between the intended meaning from the source and the perceived meanings by the recipient. For example, the message that is intended to be polite and helpful can be perceived as unpleasant or even hostile. One way to identify the gap is to send or ask for feedback. Feedback communicates how one feels about something another person has done or said. In practice, it often means that one person communicating an evaluation of what another person has said or did.

Essentials of Interpersonal Communication

The most common communications are the interpersonal communication. And we used two metrics to measure the interpersonal communication.

  • Effective communication is when the intended meaning equals the perceived meaning.
  • Efficient communication is low cost in its use of resources.

An efficient communication might not be effective. For example, relying only on the email communication for an important organizational change might not be that effective.

Besides the verbal communication, nonverbal signals are equally important. Nonverbal communication occurs by facial expressions, body motions, eye contact, and other physical gestures.

For anyone who’s large part of the work is communication, the ability to listen well is a distinct asset. Everyone in the new workplace should develop good skills in active listening: the ability to help the source of a message say what he or she really means. Active listening encourages people to say what they really mean.

Communication Barriers

There could be different barriers about the communication process:

  • Physical distractions
  • Semantic problems: the poor choice of words and mixed messages.
  • Mixed messages: mixed messages occur when words say one thing while nonverbal cues say something else.
  • Cultural difference
  • Absence of feedback: one way communication flows from the sender to the receiver only.
  • Status effect: Status differences create potential communication barriers between persons of higher and lower ranks.

It is important to know that the information flow upward are often biased: the subordinates may filter information and tell the supervisor only what they think their boss want to hear. And therefore, the high level decision making is may end up being taken based on the biased and inaccurate information. This is generally called the MUM effects. The MUM effect occurs when people are reluctant to communicate bad news.

In order to overcome this issue, the managers and group leaders need to develop trust in their working relationship with their subordinates and team members.

Organizational Communication

Organizational communication is the process by which information is exchanged in the organizational settings. There are two types of channels in the organizational communication:

  • Formal channels follow the official chain of command.
  • Informal channels do not follow the chain of command.

Besides, there are informal channel called grapevine. A grapevine transfers information through networks of friendships and acquaintance. Grapevine can help transfer the information quickly and efficiently, it also brings social satisfactions to the person who is involved, but is can also transfer dysfunctional rumors. The key is to make sure the key person on the grapevine gets the right information to begin with.