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(Handout)

ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR
CHAPTER 7:
COMMUNICATION
What Is Communication?
Communication is the sharing of information between two or more individuals or groups to
reach a common understanding.

Communication components:
Sharing of information
Reaching of a common understanding
The Communication Process
The Communication Process
Context
Participants (Sender, Receiver)
Messages
Encoding
Channels - (Formal, Informal) - Communication
Noise
Feedback
The Medium
Verbal vs. Non-Verbal communication
Verbal communication
Nonverbal communication
Barriers to Effective Communication
Noise
Filtering
The Communication Process
Ways to Improve Communication
Selective Perception
Defensiveness
Language
Improve Sending Messages
Effective Listening
Communication Principles
Communication has purpose
Communication is continuous
Communication messages vary in conscious encoding
Communication is relational
Communication is culturally bound
Communication has ethical implications
Communication is learned

Functions of Communication
Interpersonal Communication
Oral Communication
Written Communication
Nonverbal Communication
Communication Networks
Communication Networks
Gender Communication Differences
Guidelines for Effective Speaking
Determine the purpose of your communication
Consider issues of time and space
Adapt to your listeners
Use appropriate vocabulary
Practice voice control
Use appropriate gestures
Organize your presentation
Guidelines for Active Listening
Control the physical environment
Be alert
Be mentally prepared
Be emotionally prepared
Be attentive
Read nonverbal cues
Distinguish among facts, inferences, and value judgments
Offer and Solicit Feedback
What Is Communication?

Communication is the sharing of information between two or more individuals or groups to reach a
common understanding. Communication has two components: the sharing of information and the
reaching of a common understanding. (This does not mean agreement, rather an understanding of the
message). If people either do not receive the information or understand the meaning, then communication
has not taken place.

Communication is critical for organizational effectiveness. If people lack needed information because it has
not been shared, they cannot perform their jobs well.

Because the interpretation of information affects job performance, if a common understanding of a message
is lacking, workers cannot coordinate their efforts to achieve organizational goals.

The Importance of Communication Skills

“Top executives from Fortune 500 companies rate communications skills as the most
important quality for business leaders.”
New York Times (Business Section)

“There may be no single thing more important in our efforts to achieve meaningful work
and fulfilling relationships than to learn and practice the art of communication.”
The Art of Leadership (Max De Pree, Author)

The Communication Process

Context

• Physical – where The Communication


communication takes
place, the environment, Process
the distance between
participants, seating, time
of day
Encoding Channel Decoding
• Social – the nature of the
relationship Message
Message
• Historical – the
background of previous
communication Source Receiver
• Psychological – the
moods and feelings Feedback
• Cultural – the set of
beliefs, values, and norms that are shared by a large group of people
Participants

Sender: the individual, group, or organization that needs or wants to share information with
another individual, group, or organization to communicate
Receiver: the individual, group, or organization for which the information is intended
A sender might be a supervisor with instructions about performing a task and a receiver might be a
new worker.

Messages

The information the sender needs or wants to share with other people. Effective messages are clear and
complete. A message is clear if it is easily interpreted or understood. A message is complete if it contains
the information to achieve a common understanding between the sender and the receiver. If a sender is
vague or unsure about the message, communication is ineffective.
Encoding
“Translating the message into symbols or language that the receiver can understand”

A supervisor sends a message about policy changes to subordinates by encoding it in a


memo.
Senders must have basic writing and oral communication skills, which many employees lack. A sender
must use words the receiver understands. Jargon, specialized language of members of a profession or
occupation, affects good communication. Although jargon facilitates communication because a single term
describes a complex idea, it leads to ineffective communication when receivers are outside the occupation
or profession.

Channels

Communication
• Formal communication refers to messages that use formally established channels. Follows the
chain of authority and command.
• Informal communication is more spontaneous communication occurring without regard for the
formal channels of communication. (The ‘grapevine’ Gossip spread by spoken communication)

Noise
“Interferes with the communication process”

Managers should decrease noise by increasing the readability and clarity of written communication or fixing
broken answering machines and problematic e-mail systems.
There are four communications problems in organizations: filtering and information distortion, poor
listening, lack of or inappropriate feedback, and rumors.
• External noise – the sights, sounds, and other stimuli that draw people’s attention away from
intended message
• Internal noise – the thoughts and feelings that interfere with meaning
• Semantic noise – alternate meanings
aroused by a speaker’s
symbols

Feedback
The Communication Process
Noise

The Medium Decodes Decodes


“The pathway through which an
encoded message is transmitted to a Receiver
Sender Message
receiver” Encodes
Encodes
Verbal communication is the sharing of
information by means of words, either spoken Feedback
or written. Verbal communication can take the
form of face-to-face oral communication, telephone communication, and written communication
using memos, letters, and reports, transmitted electronically through e-mail or fax machines. Because each
medium of verbal communication has advantages and disadvantages, guidelines can assist the selection of a
medium. It is important to choose a medium the receiver monitors and prefers. Some prefer face-to-face
communication whereas others prefer written communication.

The medium should be appropriate for the message. Certain messages are best conveyed face-to-face, such
as termination or promotion messages. A complex message is best conveyed in written form for
further reference.

A final guideline is to use multiple media when necessary. When a message is important, it is wise to send
through several forms (e.g., face-to-face, written), to ensure receipt and understanding of the message.

Nonverbal communication is the sharing of information by means of facial expressions, body language,
and even dress. Nonverbal communication is used when people feel uncomfortable about expressing part
of a message verbally. People have less control over nonverbal communication; it is difficult to conceal
insincerity
nonverbally. A sender says “Congratulations!” verbally, his or her tone of voice, facial expression, or
gestures may convey a different message, such as resentment.

Nonverbal communication communicates support, acceptance, and a sense of camaraderie. A hug reduces
stress, raises self-confidence, and makes people feel connected. Studies of newborns, the elderly, and
children in orphanages show that touch is necessary for psychological well-being. Hugs express powerful
emotions and feelings.

Barriers to Effective Communication and Ways to Improve


Communication
Noise interferes with the communication process. Managers should decrease noise by increasing the
readability and clarity of written communication or fixing broken answering machines and problematic e-
mail systems.

There are four communications problems in organizations: filtering and information distortion, poor
listening, lack of or inappropriate feedback, and rumors.

Filtering occurs when senders withhold part of a message because they think the receiver does not need or
want the information. Supervisors filter information by not telling subordinates’ details about downsizing.

Withholding negative information results in real or potential disasters. A supervisor remains unaware of
a minor problem until it is too late to resolve. Investigations into airline crashes revealed that junior
crew members were reluctant to transmit important information to the captain, information that could
have prevented the crash.
The receiver then responds, starting the feedback loop. A variety of responses are possible: acknowledging
receipt of the message, ignoring receipt of the message, responding with the requested information, or
asking for clarification. The receiver encodes the message, choosing a medium the sender monitors. The
sender decodes the response and determines if the receiver properly interpreted the message. If so, the
process is complete. If not, the process continues until both parties reach an understanding.
• Selective Perception
Receivers in the communication process selectively see and hear based on their needs,
motivations, experience, background, and other personal characteristics.
• Defensiveness
When individuals interpret another’s message as threatening, they often respond in ways that
retard effective communication.
• Language
Words mean different things to different people.
Improve Sending Messages
• Clarify ideas before communicating
• Motivate the receiver
• Communicate feelings as well as facts
• Be aware of nonverbal behavior
• Obtain feedback
Effective Listening
• Make eye contact
• Exhibit affirmative head nods and appropriate facial expressions.
• Avoid distracting actions or gestures.
• Ask questions.
• Avoid interrupting the speaker.
• Don’t over talk.
• Make smooth transitions between the roles of speaker and listener.

Communication Principles

• Communication has purpose


• Communication is continuous
• Communication messages vary in conscious encoding
• Communication is relational
• Communication is culturally bound
• Communication has ethical implications
• Communication is learned

Functions f Communication Functions of Communication


Communication affects most aspects of
organizational behavior. Effective Control Motivation
communication is important for coordinating
groups and for motivating workers. The
functions of communication in organizations
include: providing knowledge, motivating
organizational members, controlling and
coordinating individual efforts, and Emotional
Information
expressing feelings and emotions.. Expression

Information

Communication provides knowledge to organizational members to perform jobs effectively and achieve
goals.
Knowledge is critical for newcomers because only through effective communication do they learn
organizational expectations. Knowledge is also important for experienced employees because tasks, goals,
responsibilities, and policies constantly change. Communication ensures that workers continue to
understand the tasks needed to achieve organizational goals.

Information Richness

Media differ in information richness—the amount of information carried and how much they enable
senders and receivers to reach understanding. Media high in information richness not only transmit more
information but also generate a common understanding.

Face-to-face communication is the medium highest in information richness for two reasons. The receiver
has a verbal and nonverbal message for additional information to decode the message. Senders receive
instant feedback and clarify ambiguous information until understanding is reached.

The next-highest medium in information richness is verbal communication electronically transmitted over
phone lines. Although a receiver does not see facial expressions or body language, some
nonverbal communication such as voice tones and hesitations decode a message. Video telephone allows
for nonverbal communication. Telephone conversations provide instant feedback to clear up
misunderstandings.

Voice mail and answering machines are electronic verbal media. Both allow senders to leave messages for
receivers. Communication allows receivers to gather nonverbal information (e.g., from the tone of voice and
inflections), but omits immediate feedback. Senders should make sure that receivers check their messages.

Motivating Organizational
Members

Communication plays a central role in motivating employees to achieve goals. The expectancy theory
of motivation suggests that managers should clarify outcomes obtained for a high performance level.
Goal- setting theory suggests that managers set specific difficult goals to motivate workers to perform at a
high level. Both models indicate that motivation depends on what managers communicate.

Controlling and Coordinating Individual


Efforts

Groups and organizations exert control by communicating information about roles, rules, and norms to
them. A group might communicate to a new member that social loafing is unacceptable.
Communication helps coordinate the efforts of individuals. As interdependence increases, the coordinated
communication efforts increase.

Expressing Feelings and


Emotions

Communication allows people to express feelings and emotions. Because workers’ moods influence
behavior, perception, and evaluation of people and situations, it is important to communicate these
emotions to others. Supervisors and coworkers are more accepting of a worker’s lack of enthusiasm if there
is a personal problem. By communicating moods and emotions, employees understand each other and can
work together to achieve goals.

Interpersonal Communication

• Oral Communication
– Advantages: Speed and feedback.
– Disadvantage: Distortion of the message.
• Written Communication
– Advantages: Tangible and verifiable.
– Disadvantages: Time consuming and lacks feedback.
• Nonverbal Communication
– Advantages: Supports other communications and provides observable expression of
emotions and feelings.
– Disadvantage: Misperception of body language or gestures can influence receiver’s
interpretation of message.

Communication Networks

In work groups, a number of types of networks might develop, including the wheel, the chain, the circle,
and the all-channel.

In a wheel network, most information travels through one member, who receives all messages from
other group members and is the sole sender of messages to them. Other members communicate only with
the central member and do not communicate directly with each other. This network type is common when
tasks have pooled interdependence, as members work independently and do not need to
communicate. Most communication flows to and from the leader of the group (e.g., groups of sales
representatives covering different geographical regions).

In a chain network, communication flows sequentially from one group member to the next. Each
member communicates with individuals on either side in the chain. Members on the ends of the chain
communicate with only one individual. This network is for sequential task interdependence (e.g., an
assembly line). The chain characterizes hierarchical communication, whereby information flows up and
down the hierarchy.
In the circle network, members communicate with those, adjacent to them. This can be physical
adjacency, (e.g., seating or office location). It can refer to similarity on some dimension (e.g., experience,
interests, or area of expertise). Communication may flow between members from similar backgrounds.

In an all-channel network, every member communicates with every other member. This occurs in
reciprocal task interdependence, as members depend on one another. All-channel communication allows
group members to coordinate complex tasks (e.g., emergency room teams).

Organizational communication networks are determined by formal reporting relationships, depicted


by organization charts. Communication flows up and down the chain of command.

Actual communication patterns differ from those in an organization chart because communication often
flows around issues, goals, projects, and problems, not vertically through the chain of command. This flow
ensures that workers access the information they need for their jobs. Although reporting
relationships on an organization chart are somewhat stable, actual communication patterns change
as conditions in the organization change. New patterns of communication are developed as the type
of information needed changes.

Common Small-Group Small Group


Network
Networks Effectiveness
Networks
Criteria Chain Wheel All-Channel

Speed Moderate Fast Fast

Wheel Accuracy High High Moderate


Chain
Emergence of Moderate High None
Leader

Member Moderate Low High


All-Channel
Satisfaction
Guidelines for Effective Speaking
Gender Communication
• Determine the purpose of your
communication Differences
Men Women
• Consider issues of time and space
• Adapt to your listeners Gives advice Gives advice
• Use appropriate vocabulary quickly and indirectly and
• Practice voice control directly reluc tantly
• Use appropriate gestures Avoids asking for Frequently asks for
• Organize your presentation information inform ation

Guidelines for Active Listening Less sensitive More sensitive


to nonverbal to nonv erbal
cues cues
• Control the physical environment
• Be alert
• Be mentally prepared
• Be emotionally prepared
• Be attentive
• Read nonverbal cues
• Distinguish among facts,
inferences, and value judgments
• Offer and Solicit Feedback
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