Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Section 1: Written & Oral Communication

ryanrori October 7, 2020

[responsivevoice_button rate=”0.9″ voice=”UK English Female” buttontext=”Listen to Post”]

COMMUNICATION

Introduction To Communication

Communication is the golden chain that links society together as a collective. The ability to communicate enables people to form and maintain relationships. The quality of such relationships depends on the degree and value of communication between parties.

Communication is the process of sharing ideas, information, and messages with others in a particular time and place.

Communication includes writing and speaking, as well as nonverbal communication (such as facial expressions, body language, or gestures), visual communication (the use of presentations) and electronic communication (telephone calls, electronic mail, etc.).

Communication forms a vital part of your personal life as well as the most important component within your professional life and any other situations where you encounter people.

The purpose of communication is to get your message across to others clearly and unambiguously.

This activity involves effort from both the sender of the message and the receiver. It is a process that can be fraught with error, with messages often misinterpreted by the recipient. When this is not detected, it can cause tremendous confusion, wasted effort and missed opportunity.

In fact, communication is only successful when both the sender and the receiver understand the same information as a result of the communication.

By successfully getting your message across, you convey your thoughts and ideas effectively. When not successful, the thoughts and ideas that you convey do not necessarily reflect your own, causing a communications breakdown and creating roadblocks that stand in the way of your goals – both personally and professionally.

In a recent survey of recruiters from companies with more than 50,000 employees, communication skills were cited as the single most important decisive factor in choosing managers. The survey, conducted by the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Business School, points out that communication skills, including written and oral presentations, as well as an ability to work with others, are the main factors contributing to job success.

In spite of the increasing importance placed on communication skills, many individuals continue to struggle with this, unable to communicate their thoughts and ideas effectively – whether in verbal or written format.

This inability makes it nearly impossible for them to compete effectively in the workplace, and stands in the way of career progression.

Getting your message across is paramount to progressing. To do this, you must understand what your message is, what audience you are sending it to, and how it will be perceived.

You must also weigh-in the circumstances surrounding your communications, such as situational and cultural context.

Communications Skills – The Importance of Removing Barriers:

Communication barriers can pop-up at every stage of the communication process (which consists of sender, message, channel, receiver, feedback and context – see the diagram below) and have the potential to create misunderstanding and confusion.

To be an effective communicator and to get your point across without misunderstanding and confusion, your goal should be to lessen the frequency of these barriers at each stage of this process with clear, concise, accurate, well-planned communications.

Source / Sender

As the source of the message, you need to be clear about why you’re communicating, and what you want to communicate. You also need to be confident that the information you’re communicating is useful and accurate.

Message

The message is the information that you want to communicate.

Encoding

This is the process of transferring the information you want to communicate into a form that can be sent and correctly decoded at the other end. Your success in encoding depends partly on your ability to convey information clearly and simply, but also on your ability to anticipate and eliminate sources of confusion (for example, cultural issues, mistaken assumptions, and missing information.)

A key part of this is knowing your audience: Failure to understand who you are communicating with will result in delivering messages that are misunderstood.

Channel

Messages are conveyed through channels, such as verbal including face-to-face meetings, telephone and videoconferencing and written, including letters, e-mails, memos and reports.

Different channels have different strengths and weaknesses. For example, it’s not particularly effective to give a long list of directions verbally, while you’ll quickly cause problems if you criticise someone strongly by e-mail.

Decoding

Just as successful encoding is a skill, so is successful decoding (involving, for example, taking the time to read a message carefully, or listen actively to it). Just as confusion can arise from errors in encoding, it can also arise from decoding errors.

This is particularly the case if the decoder doesn’t have enough knowledge to understand the message.

Receiver

Your message is delivered to individual members of your audience. No doubt, you have in mind the actions or reactions you hope your message will get from this audience. Keep in mind, though, that each of these individuals enters into the communication process with ideas and feelings that will undoubtedly influence their understanding of your message, and their response.

To be a successful communicator, you should consider these before delivering your message, and act appropriately.

Feedback

Your audience will provide you with feedback, verbal and nonverbal reactions to your communicated message.

Paying close attention to this feedback is the only thing that allows you to be confident that your audience has understood your message.

If you find that there has been a misunderstanding, at least you have the opportunity to send the message a second time.

Context

The situation in which your message is delivered is the context. This may include the surrounding environment or broader culture (i.e. corporate culture, international cultures, etc.).

Removing Barriers at all these Stages

To deliver your messages effectively, you must commit to breaking down the barriers that exist in each of these stages of the communication process.

Let’s begin with the message itself. If your message is too lengthy, disorganised, or contains errors, you can expect the message to be misunderstood and misinterpreted. Use of poor verbal and body language can also confuse the message.

Barriers in context tend to stem from senders offering too much information too fast. When in doubt, less is oftentimes more. It is best to be mindful of the demands on other people’s time.

Once you understand this, you need to work to understand your audience’s culture, making sure you can converse and deliver your message to people of different backgrounds and cultures within your own organisation, both in this country and even abroad.

Importance of Communication within Human Resource

Without the communication component, Human Resource Practitioners would be obsolete.

The important aspects of communication which Human Resource Practitioners must possess are:

  • Language skills
  • Reading and oral comprehension
  • Oral communication skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Computer skills

Communication is the cornerstone for being an effective Human Resource Practitioner. From the time the Learner enters into this Qualification, and proceeds to work towards becoming a Human Resource Practitioner, he/she is taught how to effectively communicate.

Communication for a Human Resource Practitioner is more than just conversation.

The importance of communication is to ensure that Human Resource Practitioners are able to represent themselves in a professional manner, as well as those they are representing.

The ability to use effective communication in the workplace for a Human Resource Practitioner is a learned process.

Human Resource Practitioners must be able to communicate clearly and concisely both in writing and verbally. Writing is a skill, which is imperative to the success of a Human Resource Practitioner in (his or her) workplace.

In the modern workplace, Human Resource Practitioners spend the majority of their time attending to Labour Relations through written and oral communication, negotiating with disgruntled employees or employers to resolve disputes on the lowest possible level, drafting legal documents such as employment contracts or Dispute Resolution Agreements and attending to Dispute Resolution administration.

For a Human Resource Practitioner to be considered effective in their career; he/she must be able to utilise professional writing and oral communication at all times.

Reading and oral comprehension are also essential tools for effective communication. Human Resource Practitioners are expected to absorb new information as well as memorise and recall large quantities of legal material.

This recollection of information expands their “framework of legal knowledge.”

Communication within this area is especially important because of the continually changing laws, statutes and codes. Human Resource Practitioners are responsible for being able to decipher the exact meaning of what these laws mean, and utilise the information to pursue their cases as needed.

The next area of real importance is oral communication.

Human Resource Practitioners must be able to speak in public. The usage of proper rhetoric is vital to presenting an effective position, especially for those Human Resource Practitioners who work within The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), various Bargaining Councils and the Labour Court.

Critical thinking skills are equally important as the aforementioned skills. Critical thinking is intertwined closely with effective communication because it involves reasoning, which enables the Human Resource Practitioners to prepare a logical argument, or analyse the validity of a case.

Human Resource Practitioners are expected to solve complex problems which involve analytical thinking. Without the use of effective communication the Human Resource Practitioners cannot do their jobs properly.

They must be able to think on their feet, and ask questions in order to have a concise comprehension of their responsibilities at hand.

The last essential means of effective communication is that of computer skills. Most of the written communication is done via electronic means such as e-mails.

Research is done via the World Wide Web. Caution must be used when e-mailing due to the monotone voice that is carried with the message.

E-mails can easily be taken out of context if not written in a clear manner.

Considering that Human Resource Practitioners primarily write contracts and other legal documents, the use of precision communication is indispensable within their computer skills.

Human Resource Practitioners must be frank and to the point while maintaining the utmost professionalism.

In summary, all of the skills that enable Human Resource Practitioners to do their job correctly are essential to effective communication in the workplace.

Human Resource Practitioners deal with people by representing them, whether in an organisation, or within the different spheres of government (local, provincial and nationally).

Although effective communication is not limited to those in the Human Resource Profession, it is important for all people to convey their messages without misunderstanding or confusion.

Poor Communication

Poor communication can produce disastrous outcomes, such as the following:

Distortion of goals and objectives of the organisation 

Through anxiety, distrust, lack of support, rigidity, and other human resource issues created by poor communication, employees develop patterns of work in which they set their own agenda without regard for the organisation’s mission.

They focus on tasks that are only partially related to the major goals of the organisation. For example, employees may devote their work efforts to pet projects instead of working to accomplish organisational objectives.

Misuse of resources

Another consequence of poor communication is the misuse of an organisation’s resources. For instance, money may be budgeted for purchases that are only marginally effective, and employees may be assigned tasks that do not take full advantage of their abilities. Because of mistrust, a highly competent employee may be given routine duties and never be allowed to make significant decisions and to advance in the organisation.

Inefficiency in performance of duties

Because of communication problems, employees may perform their jobs inefficiently. An angry employee may choose to use more resources than necessary, to take more time than required to complete a task, or route information along more complex channels. In each case, poor communication contributes to a less efficient use of resources and to inefficiency in the organisation.

Inept performance

Poor communication can lead directly to completing a task badly, or failure to complete it at all. Unskilled, incompetent, inept completion of tasks probably contributes to waste and loss as often as any other cause. Inept performance can lead to intolerable conditions and can be grounds for dismissal. Much inept performance could be eliminated through effective communication.

Lack of coordination

Accomplishment of organisational goals requires the co-ordination of activities. The degree to which activities are coordinated depends on the quality of communication. The lack of communication that results in poor co-ordination is a serious organisational loss in and of itself.

There can be little doubt that the consequences of poor communication are costly – in terms of productivity and financial losses plus detrimental effects on employees.

 

1.1 The Communication Process

Communication is considered to be a multi-culture phenomenon, since it is as old as human history; many indicators prove that effective communication is the main factor enhancing civilisation through history.

The Ancient-Greeks, Ancient-Egyptians, Ancient-Chinese, Europeans, Arabs and Americans have had their impact on communication. Even communication within South Africa has a unique aspect to it due to the rich multi-cultural environment we live in.

Yet the study of human communication is inter-disciplinary in nature.

It began with the mathematical theory of communication by Claude E. Shanon and Warren Weaver in 1949, who were scientists considered being strictly mathematical.

They strived to measure the amount of information in messages that were transmitted through the media or on the telephone; ever since inter-disciplinary approaches to study human communication have developed.

Inter-Disciplinary Approaches rely on:

  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Oral (Speech) Communication
  • Political
  • Journalism
  • Anthropological Management
  • Education
  • Marketing
  • Philosophy

 

Therefore every discipline concerned with human behaviour deals with communication one way or another.

Definition of Communication within the Communication Process

Berelson and Steiner define communication as the transmission of information, ideas, emotions and skills through the use of symbols, words, pictures, figures and graphs.

Kar defines communication as all those planned or unplanned processes through which one person influences behaviour of others.

Schramm defines communication as a tool that makes societies possible and distinguishes human from other societies.

Communication therefore would be: “A process of transmitting ideas, information or attitudes by the use of symbols, words, pictures or figures from the source (who is the originator of the message) to a receiver, (the recipient of the message) for the purpose of influencing with intent.”

Communication is thus considered as a process through which senders and receivers of messages interact in a given social context.

The concept of communication simply relies on four basic components:

  • Sender
  • Message
  • Receiver
  • Feedback

 

An overview of the Four Basic Components of Communication in “action” would be:

Message

  • What you are going to say?
  • What is the nature of your message, either positive or negative?
  • The preparation of your message in anticipation of the reaction of the receiver?

Sender

The one sending the message.

Method / Channel

In other words “The medium the sender uses is called the method”

Receiver

The one receiving the message.

Feedback

  • What are the after effects of the message?
  • How does the receiver react when he / she receives the message?
  • The confirmation of delivery of the message.

Factors in the Definition

  • Process – Through the Definition it suggests that the components of interaction are dynamic in nature. They cannot be regarded as unchanging elements in time and space. This means that no single aspects of communication can be meaningfully understood apart from the other elements, therefore it is a process.

 

Communication is a process used to timely and properly exchange information to achieve a desired outcome.

 

  • Interaction – Is the process of linking between senders and receivers of the message. The process specifies interaction or linkages between or among countless factors, so that the changes in any set of forces affect the operation of all the other processes to produce a total affect.

 

The concept of interaction is central to the understanding of the concept of the communication process. Communication is an attempt to bridge the gap between two individuals (or more) through producing and receiving messages which have meaning for both.

 

  • Social Context – Communication is ALWAYS influenced by the social context in which it occurs. The context or the situation that consists of a set of rules which govern the origin, flow and effect of the messages.

 

It describes what is necessary for an act of communication to take place. A model represents the major features and eliminates the unnecessary details of communication.

Communication Models

Functions of the Communication Model

  • To clarify the scope of interaction showing it to be a circular, complex, continuous dynamic, or a coding process.
  • To point out where to look and under what conditions to analyse different responses
  • To show the variables in communication
  • Used as a frame work in researches

Communication Model

When looking upon human communication (Aristotelian Model) we find three vital components for consideration:

  • The person who speaks / sends out the message
  • The message
  • The person who receives

 

Various Communication Models have been developed over the years; the contemporary model was developed in 1949 by Claude Shannon, a mathematician and explained by the non-mathematician, Warren Weaver.

Shannon and Weaver were not talking about human communication but were referring to electronic communication.

Shannon was working for the Bell Telephone Laboratory but his model was found useful in describing human communication as well.

The Shannon-Weaver model is consistent with Aristotle’s position. If we translate the source into the speaker, the signal into the speech and the destination into listener, we have the Aristotelian model, plus added components namely a transmitter which sends out the source’s message and a receiver, which catches the message from destination.

However, if we choose to draw a diagram of human communication, we must remember that the process itself is more complicated than any picture (or description) of it that we are likely to draw. Most of the communication process is within our central nervous system, the content which we vaguely understand.

Most of our current communication models are similar to Aristotle’s, though somewhat more complex. They differ partly in terminology and in the point of view of the disciplines out of which they emerged.

Various Communication Process Models

Shannon – Weaver Model

In 1947, Claude E. Shannon, a research mathematician working for Bell Labs, created a theory of communication designed to facilitate information transmission over telephone lines. Later, Warren Weaver added the component of feedback to Shannon’s linear model, thus making it in effect circular.

Although originally intended to be used by engineers dealing with information that was void of meaning, the Shannon-Weaver Model is one of the most popular inter-personal communication models used today.

http://davis.foulger.info/research/unifiedModelOfCommunication.htm

Within the Shannon-Weaver Model 8 key elements exist that are required for communication, or information transmission, to occur.

These elements are:

  • Source
  • Encoder
  • Message
  • Channel
  • Decoder
  • Receiver
  • Noise
  • Feedback


Source –
The source of communication is the initiator, or origin, that puts the model into action. It is an individual or group that has a specific reason to begin the communication process.To understand how the Shannon-Weaver Model pertains to communication, it is necessary to define each individual element.

That is, there is a message that they wish another to receive.

Encoder – Once the purpose of the source has been decided, there must be a specified format for the message. This is what the communication encoder does; it takes the concept that the source wants sent out, and puts it into a suitable format for later interpretation.

Message – The information, idea, or concept that is being communicated from one end of the model to the other is the message. Most of the time, in human communication, the message contains a distinct meaning.

When the model was created, Shannon and Weaver were not concerned whether the message had substance, but rather that it was being transmitted.

Channel – It is essential for meaningful communication that a suitable means to transmit the message be selected. The channel is the route that the message travels on, be it verbal, written, electronic, or otherwise.

Noise – It is inevitable that noise may come into play during the communication process. Noise could be considered an interference or distortion that changes the initial message; anything that can Cause the message to be misconstrued may be noise.

Noise can be physical, as in an actual sound that muffles the message as it is being said, or it can be semantic, for example if the vocabulary used within the message is beyond the knowledge spectrum of its recipient. In order for communication to be effective, noise must be reduced.

Decoder – Before the message reaches the intended recipient, it must be decoded, or interpreted, from its original form into one that the receiver understands. This is essentially the same interaction as that of source and encoder, only in a reversed sequence.

Receiver – In order for communication to be executed, there must be a second party at the end of the channel the source has used. The receiver takes in the message that the source has sent out.

Feedback – For meaningful communication to become a reality, it is vital that the receiver provides feedback to the source. Feedback relates to the source whether their message has been received, and most importantly, if it has been interpreted accurately.

Without feedback, the source would never know if the communication was successful. On-going communication is made possible by the cyclical route feedback allows; if more communication between the two parties is necessary, they can follow the model indefinitely.

Like all models, this is a minimalist abstraction of the reality it attempts to reproduce.

The reality of most communication systems is more complex.

Most information sources (and destinations) act as both sources and destinations.

Transmitters, receivers, channels, signals, and even messages are often layered both serially and in parallel such that there are multiple signals transmitted and received, even when they are converted into a common signal stream and a common channel.

Many other elaborations can be readily described. It remains, however, that Shannon’s model is a useful abstraction that identifies the most important components of communication and their general relationship to one another.

That value is evident in its similarity to real world pictures of the designs of new communication systems, including Bell’s original sketches of the telephone.

[Bell’s drawing of the workings of a telephone, from his original sketches (source: Bell Family Papers; Library of Congress; http://memory.loc.gov/mss/mcc/004/0001.jpg)]

Bell’s sketch visibly contains an information source and destination, transmitters and receivers, a channel, a signal, and an implied message (the information source is talking).

What is new in Shannon’s model (aside from the concept of noise, which is only partially reproduced by Bell’s batteries), is a formal vocabulary that is now generally used in describing such designs, a vocabulary that sets up both Shannon’s mathematical theory of information and a large amount of subsequent communication theory.

This correspondence between Bell’s sketch and Shannon’s model is rarely revised.

Shannon’s model isn’t really a model of communication.

It should rather be seen as a model of the flow of information through a medium, and an incomplete and biased model that is far more applicable to the system it maps, a telephone or telegraph, than it is to most other media.

It suggests, for instance, a “push” model in which sources of information can inflict it on destinations. In the real world of media, destinations are more typically self-selecting “consumers” of information which have the ability to select the messages they are most interested in, turn off messages that don’t interest them, focus on one message in preference to others in message rich environments, and can choose to simply not pay attention.

Shannon’s model depicts transmission from a transmitter to a receiver as the primary activity of a medium. In the real world of media, messages are frequently stored for elongated periods of time and/or modified in some way before they are accessed by the “destination”.

The model suggests that communication within a medium is frequently direct and unidirectional, but in the real world of media, communication is almost never unidirectional and is often indirect.

Derivative Models of the Communication Process

One of these shortcomings is addressed in the Bell-drawing intermediary model of communication (sometimes referred to as the gatekeeper model or two-step flow (Katz, 1957)).

This model, which is frequently depicted in introductory texts in mass communication, focuses on the important role that intermediaries often play in the communication process.

Mass communication texts frequently specifically associate editors, who decide which stories will fit in a newspaper or news broadcast, with this intermediary or gatekeeper role.

There are, however, many intermediary roles associated with communication.

Many of these intermediaries have the ability to decide what messages others see, the context in which they are seen, and when they see them. They often have the ability, moreover, to change messages or to prevent them from reaching an audience (destination).

In extreme variations we refer to such gatekeepers as censors.

Under the more normal conditions of mass media, in which publications choose some content in preference to other potential content based on an editorial policy, we refer to them as editors (most mass media), moderators (internet discussion groups), reviewers (peer-reviewed publications), or aggregators (clipping services), among other titles .

Delivery workers (a postal delivery worker, for instance) also act as intermediaries, and have the ability to act as gatekeepers, but are generally restricted from doing so as a matter of ethics and/or law.

An Intermediary Model

An Intermediary Model

Variations of the gatekeeper model are also used in teaching organisational communication, where gatekeepers, in the form of bridges and liaisons, have some ability to shape the organisation through their selective sharing of information.

These variations are generally more complex in depiction and often take the form of social network diagrams that depict the interaction relationships of dozens of people.

They network diagrams and often presume, or at least allow, bi-directional arrows that are more consistent with the notion that communication is most often bidirectional.

The bi-directionality of communication is commonly addressed in interpersonal communication text with two elaborations of Shannon’s model (which is often labelled as the action model of communication): the interactive model and the transactive model.

The interactive model, a variant of which is shown in Figure 4, elaborates Shannon’s model with the cybernetic concept of feedback (Weiner, 1948, 1986), often without changing any other element of Shannon’s model.

The key concept associated with this elaboration is that destinations provide feedback on the messages they receive such that the information sources can adapt their messages, in real time. This is an important elaboration, and as generally depicted, a radically oversimplified one. Feedback is a message (or a set of messages).

The source of feedback is an information source. The consumer of feedback is a destination. Feedback is transmitted, received, and potentially corruptible via noise sources.

None of this is visible in the typical depiction of the interactive model. This doesn’t diminish the importance of feedback or the usefulness of elaborating Shannon’s model to include it.

People generally do adapt their messages based on the feedback they receive. It is useful, however, to notice that the interactive model depicts feedback at a much higher level of abstraction than it does messages.

An Interactive Model

An Interactive Model

This difference in the level of abstraction is addressed in the transactional model of communication, a variant of which is shown above.

This model acknowledges neither creators nor consumers of messages, preferring to label the people associated with the model as communicators who both create and consume messages.

The model presumes additional symmetries as well, with each participant creating messages that are received by the other communicators.

This is, in many ways, an excellent model of the face-to-face interactive process which extends readily to any interactive medium that provides users with symmetrical interfaces for creation and consumption of messages, including notes, letters, C.B. Radio, electronic mail, and the radio.

It is, however, a distinctly interpersonal model that implies equality between communicators that often doesn’t exist, even in interpersonal contexts.

The caller in most telephone conversations has the initial upper hand in setting the direction and tone of a telephone call rather than the receiver of the call.

In face-to-face head-complement interactions, the Employer (head) has considerably more freedom (in terms of message choice, media choice, ability to frame meaning, ability to set the rules of interaction) and power to allocate message bandwidth than does the employee (complement).

The model certainly does not apply in mass media contexts.

A Transactional Model

A Transactional Model

The “mass personal” media of the Internet through this implied symmetry is brought into even greater relief.

Most Internet media grant everyone symmetrical creation and consumption interfaces. Anyone with Internet access can create a web site and participate as an equal partner in e-mail, instant messaging, chat rooms, computer conferences, collaborative composition sites, blogs, interactive games, MUDs, MOOs, and other media.

It remains, however, that users have very different preferences in their message consumption and creation. Some people are very comfortable creating messages for others online.

Others prefer to “lurk”; to freely browse the messages of others without adding anything of their own.

Adding comments to a computer conference is rarely more difficult than sending an e-mail, but most Internet discussion groups have many more lurkers (consumers of messages that never post) than they have contributors (people who both create and consume messages).

Oddly, the “lurkers” sometimes feel more integrated with the community than the contributors do.

A New Model of the Communication Process

Existing models of the communication process don’t provide a reasonable basis for understanding such effects.

The ecological model of communication, shown below, attempts to provide a platform on which these issues can be explored.

It asserts that communication occurs in the intersection of four fundamental constructs: communication between people (creators and consumers) is mediated by messages which are created using language within media; consumed from media and interpreted using language.

This model is, in many ways, a more detailed elaboration of Lasswell’s (1948) classic outline of the study of communication: “Who … says what … in which channel … to whom … with what effect”.

In the ecological model, the “who” are the creators of messages, the “says what” are the messages, the “in which channel” is elaborated into languages (which are the content of channels) and media (which channels are a component of), the “to whom” are the consumers of messages, and the effects are found in various relationships between the primitives, including relationships, perspectives, attributions, interpretations, and the continuing evolution of languages and media.

A Ecological Model of the Communication Process

A number of relationships are described in this model:

  1. Messages are created and consumed using language
  2. Language occurs within the context of media
  3. Messages are constructed and consumed within the context of media
  4. The roles of consumer and creator are reflexive. People become creators when they reply or supply feedback to other people. Creators become consumers when they make use of feedback to adapt their messages to message consumers. People learn how to create messages through the act of consuming other people’s messages.
  5. The roles of consumer and creator are introspective. Creators of messages create messages within the context of their perspectives of and relationships with anticipated consumers of messages. Creators optimise their messages to their target audiences. Consumers of messages interpret those messages within the context of their perspectives of, and relationships with, creators of messages. Consumers make attributions of meaning based on their opinion of the message creator. People form these perspectives and relationships as a function of their communication.
  6. The messages of “creators” of messages are necessarily imperfect representations of the meaning they imagine. Messages are created within the expressive limitations of the medium selected and the meaning representation provided by the language used. The message created is almost always a partial and imperfect representation of what the creator would like to say.
  7. A consumer’s interpretation of a message necessarily attributes meaning imperfectly. Consumers interpret messages within the limits of the languages used and the media in which those languages are used. A consumer’s interpretation of a message may be very different to what the creator of a message imagined.
  8. People learn language through the experience of encountering language being used within media. The languages they learn will almost always be the languages used when communicating with people who already know and use those languages. That communication always occurs within a medium that enables those languages.
  9. People learn media by using media. The media they learn will necessarily be the media used by the people they communicate with.
  10. People invent and evolve languages. While some behaviour expressions (a baby’s cry) occur naturally and some aspects of language structure may mirror the ways in which the brain structures ideas, language does not occur naturally. People invent new language when there is no language that they can be socialised into. People evolve language when they need to communicate ideas that existing language is not sufficient to do so.
  11. People invent and evolve media while some of the modalities and channels associated with communication are naturally occurring, the media we use to communicate are not.

A medium of communication is, in short, the product of a set of complex interactions between its primary constituents: messages, people (acting as creators of messages, consumers of messages, and in other roles), languages, and media.

Three of these constituents are themselves complex systems and the subject of entire fields of study, including psychology, sociology, anthropology (all three of which study people), linguistics (language), media ecology (media), and communication (messages, language, and media).

Even messages can be regarded as complex entities, but its complexities can be described entirely within the scope of languages, media, and the people who use them.

This ecological model of communication is, in its most fundamental reading, a compact theory of messages and the systems that enable them. Messages are the central feature of the model and the most fundamental product of the interaction of people, language, and media.

But there are other products of the model that build up from that base of messages. These include; (in a rough order, to increasingly complex orders) observation, learning, interpretation, socialisation, attribution, perspectives, and relationships.

Discussion: Positioning the study of media in the field of communication

It is in this layering of interdependent social construction that this model picks up its name.

Our communication is not produced within any single system, but in the intersection of several interrelated systems, each of which is self-standing necessarily described by dedicated theories, but each of which is both the product of the others and, in its own limited way, an instance of the other.

The medium is, as McLuhan famously observed, a message that is inherent to every message that is created in or consumed from a medium.

The medium is, to the extent that we can select among media, also a language such that the message of the medium is not only inherent to a message, but often an element of its composition.

In what may be the most extreme view enabled by the processing of messages within media, the medium may also be a person and consumes messages, recreates them, and makes the modified messages available for further consumption.

A medium is really none of these things. It is fundamentally a system that enables the construction of messages using a set of languages such that they can be consumed. But a medium is also both all of these things and the product of their interaction. People learn, create, and evolve media as a vehicle for enabling the creation and consumption of messages.

The same might be said of each of the constituents of this model. People can be, and often are, the medium (insofar as they act as messengers), the language (insofar as different people can be selected as messengers), or the message (one’s choice of messenger can be profoundly meaningful). Fundamentally a person is none of these things, but they can be used as any of these things and are the product of their experience of all of these things.

Our experience of messages, languages, media, and through them, other people, is fundamental in shaping who we become and how we think of ourselves and others. We invent ourselves, and others work diligently to shape that invention, through our consumption of messages, the languages we master, and the media we use.

Language can be, and often is, the message (that is inherent to every message constructed with it), the medium (but only trivially), the person (both at the level of the “language instinct” that is inherent to people and a socialised semiotic overlay on personal experience), and even “the language” (insofar as we have a choice of what language we use in constructing a given message).

Fundamentally a language is none of these things, but it can be used as any of these things and is the product of our use of media to construct messages. We use language, within media, to construct messages, such as definitions and dictionaries) that construct language. We invent and evolve language as a product of our communication.

As for messages, they reiterate all of these constituents. Every message is a partial and incomplete précis of the language that it is constructed with, the medium it is created in and consumed from, and the person who created it.

Every message we consume allows us to learn a little more about the language that we use to interpret, the medium we create and consume messages in, and the person who created the message. Every message we create is an opportunity to change and extend the language we use, evolve the media we use, and influence the perspective that consumers of our messages have of us.

Yet fundamentally, a message is simply a message, an attempt to communicate something we imagine so that another person can correctly interpret the message and thus imagine the same thing.

This welter of intersecting McLuhanesque/Burkean metaphors and interdependencies provides a second source of the model’s name.

This model seeks, more than anything, to position language and media as the intermediate building blocks on which communication is built. The position of language as a building block of messages and communication is well understood.

Over a century of study in semantics, semiotics, and linguistics have produced systematic theories of message and language production which are well understood and generally accepted.

The study of language is routinely incorporated into virtually all programs in the field of communication, including journalism, rhetoric and speech, film, theatre, broadcast media, language arts, speech and hearing sciences, telecommunications, and other variants, including departments of “language and social interaction”.

The positioning of the study of media within the field of communication is considerably more tenuous. Many focus almost entirely on only one or two media, effectively assuming the medium such that the focus of study can be constrained to the art of message production and interpretation, with a heavy focus on the languages of the medium and little real introspection about what it means to use that medium in preference to another or the generalised ways in which all media are invented, learned, evolved, socialised, selected or used meaningfully.

Such is, however, the primary subject matter of the newly emerging discipline of media ecology, and this model can be seen as an attempt to position media ecology relative to language and messages as a building block of our communication.

This model was created specifically to support theories of media and position them relative to the process of communication. It is hoped that the reader finds value in that positioning.

Conclusion: Theoretical and Pedagogical Value

Models are a fundamental building block of theory. They are also a fundamental tool of instruction.

Shannon’s information theory model, Weiner’s Cybernetic model, and Katz’ two step flow each allowed us to decompose the process of communication into discrete structural elements.

Each provides the basis for considerable bodies of communication theory and research.

Each model also provides Facilitators with a powerful pedagogical tool to train Learners to understand that communication is a complex process in which many things can, and frequently do, go wrong; for Learners the ways in which they can perfect different skills at different points in the communication process to become more effective communicators.

But while Shannon’s model has proved effective across the primary divides in the field of communication, the other models of Katz and Weiner have not. Indeed, they in many ways exemplify that divide and the differences in what is taught in courses oriented to interpersonal communication and mass communication.

Weiner’s cybernetic model accentuates the interactive structure of communication. Katz’ model accentuates its production structure.

Interpersonal communication teaches us that through the use of the interactive/cybernetic and transactive models that attending to the feedback of our audience is an important part of being an effective communicator.

 Mass communication teaches us that through the intermediary/gatekeeper/two-step flow model that controlled production processes are an important part of being an effective communicator. The difference is a small one and there is no denying that both attention to feedback and attention to detail are critical skills of effective communicators, but mass media programs focus heavily on the minutiae of production, whereas interpersonal programs focus heavily on the minutiae of attention to feedback.

Despite the fact that both teach message production, the languages used in message production and the details of the small range of media that each typically covers; they discuss different media, to some extent different languages, and different approaches to message production. These differences, far more than more obvious differences like audience size or technology, are the divides that separate the study of interpersonal communication from mass communication.

The ecological model of communication presented here cannot, by itself, remediate such differences, but it does reconstitute and extend these models in ways that make it useful, both pedagogically and theoretically, across the normal disciplinary boundaries of the field of communication.

Through the ecological model several communication disciplines are being carried forward, including on-

  • Interpersonal communication;
  • Mass media criticism;
  • Organisational communication;
  • Communication ethics;
  • Communication in relationships and communities;
  • New communication technologies.

Through Interpersonal Communication the model has shown considerable value in outlining and tying together such diverse topics as the –

  • Social construction of the self;
  • Verbal and non-verbal languages;
  • Listening;
  • Relationship formation and development;
  • Miscommunication;
  • Perception;
  • Attribution;
  • And the ways in which communication changes in different interpersonal media.

In an Organisational Communication the model has proved valuable in –

  • Tying contemporary Organisational models;
  • Network analysis models;
  • In the Weick’s model to key organisational skills like effective presentation, listening, and matching the medium to the goal and the stakeholder.

 

In communication ethics it has proved valuable in –

  • elaborating the range of participants in media who have ethical responsibilities;
  • and the scope of their responsibilities.

 

In a mass media criticism it has proved useful in showing –

  • how different critical methods relate to the process of communication;
  • and to each other.

 

In each subject field the model has proved valuable, not only in giving tools with which we can decompose communication, but which we can organise the information into a cohesive whole.

While the model was originally composed for pedagogical purposes, the primary value has been theoretical.

The field of communication encompasses a wide range of very different and often un-integrated theories and methods.

Context-based gaps in the field like the one between mass media and interpersonal communication have been equated to those of “two sovereign nations,” with “different purposes, different boundaries”, “different methods”, and “different theoretical orientations”, causing at least some to doubt that the field can ever be united by a common theory of communication.

It may be that the complex model of the communication process that bridges the theoretical orientations of interpersonal, organisational, and mass media perspectives can help to bridge this gap and provide something more than the kind of metamodel that Craig calls for.

Defining media directly into the process of communication may help to provide the kind of substrate that would satisfy Cappella’s (1991) suggestion we can “remake the field by altering the organisational format”, replacing contexts with processes that operate within the scope of media. This perspective does exactly that.

The result does not integrate all of communication theory, but it may provide a useful starting point on which a more integrated communication theory can be built. The construction of such theory is the author’s primary objective in forwarding this model for your comment and, hopefully, your response.

Understanding the basic Elements of the Communication Model (Simplified)

The message goes through five stages when it is sent by the sender to the receiver.

These stages are as follows:

  • Sender The sender is the entity that conveys or sends the message.
  • Message Is what is being transmitted from sender to receiver.
  • Encoding Is a process through which the message is symbolised.
  • Channel Channel is the medium through which message is being sent.
  • Receiver Is the entity that receives the message.
  • Decoding Is the process in which the message is translated and meaning is generated out of it.
  • Feedback Is the process through which receiver sends his response.

Source / Encoder

All human communication has some source, some person or group of persons with a purpose for communicating. The source has ideas, needs, intentions, information and a purpose for communication, which is translated into a code, or a language.

This is performed by the encoder who is responsible for taking the ideas of the source and putting them in a code, expressing the source’s purpose in the form of a message. As source encoder, our communication skill levels determine our communication fidelity in two ways:

  • They affect our ability to analyse our purpose and intentions, our ability to say something when we communicate.
  • They affect our ability to encode messages which express that which we intend.
  • There are at least four kinds of factors within the source, which can increase the fidelity in communication.

 

These are:

  • Communication Skills
  • Attitude
  • Knowledge Level
  • Socio-cultural system

Receiver / Decoder

The receiver is the most important link in the communication process. If the source does not reach the receiver with the message, communication has not taken place.

The receiver is the target of communication from whom we want to elicit a favourable response.

Both the source and the receiver can be analysed in terms of four factors:

  • Communication Skills
  • Attitudes
  • Knowledge Level
  • Social systems

 

The receiver always has to be kept in mind when the source makes decisions concerning different communication variables.

The relationship between the source and the receiver

Receiver / Decoder

The message is the translation of ideas, propositions and intentions into a code and a systematic set of symbols. There are three factors that should be taken into account considering the message:

  • Message Code – Which has to do with the way in which symbols are structured
  • Content – The selection of material to express the purpose
  • Treatment – The way in which the message is presented, that is frequency and emphasis

 

Another factor is the filter or frame of reference (Terms of Reference of the audience) through which the audience receives the message which includes meanings that may enhance or cripple the effect.

Meanings are references (ideas, images and thoughts) expressed in symbols. For communication to occur at all, the source and receiver must have at least some minimum degree of prior experience, some level of similarity and some level of shared meanings, however, no two individuals have exactly the same experience.

Hence, the symbols in the message have somewhat different meanings for the source and the receiver.

Furthermore, the individuals experience is continuous, so is their meaning related to some symbols which will change over time.

Many failures in communication are due to mistaken assumptions by source, or receiver, regarding the meaning of the symbols they exchange.

The source and receiver have to have a minimum degree of common experience and a common frame of reference. We must keep in mind that meanings are in people’s perceptions not in messages. 

Frame of Reference (Terms of Reference)

It is the degree by which the sender and receiver overlap in various frames of communication. The communicator, who is addressing different personalities at the same time, cannot adjust an appeal to meet their individual reaction.

An approach that convinces one part of the audience may not agree with another part. The successful communicator is one who finds the right method of expression to establish empathy with the largest number of individuals in the audience.

The receiver filters the message in terms of their own frame of reference.

Each person has stored experience, consisting of beliefs and values related to him/her and to his/her group.

A message that challenges these beliefs or values may be rejected, distorted or misinterpreted.

Where the receiver has beliefs that are firmly fixed, the communicator often finds it more effective to try to redirect existing attitudes slightly than to attack them.

Dimensions of the Message

  • Elements – The ideas that are included in the message
  • Structure – The organisation of the message
  • Production – Which means the length and placement of the message

Characteristics of the Message

  • The Amount of Communication –includes the total volume of information as well as content covered.

Too little information may not answer all questions of the receiver and result in a rejection of the message.

Too much information may not be efficiently integrated and may confuse the receiver. In general, people tend to forget details of communication; this is why the sender needs to sharpen the message to emphasise a limited number of details.

  • The Frequency of Communication – Repeated exposure to varied communicated messages reinforces the probability of action in those receivers.

Repetition may irritate the audience but varying the content of the message serves the purpose of reminding the receiver of the general ideas that are being discussed.

Communication Channel

It is the medium utilised to convey a message; it is the means by which a message travels between the communication sender to the communication receiver.

Channel Dimension

These dimensions permit the investigator to evaluate the effectiveness of different communication channels. These dimensions include:

  • Channel Credibility – It is the expertise and trustworthiness of a channel as perceived by the receivers. Channel credibility is directly linked to communicator and audience characteristics however print media is perceived by members of upper socio-economic grouping as being more credible, while television is perceived as more credible by lower socio-economic groupings.
  • Channel Feedback – It is known as the opportunity a channel provides for the receiver to respond immediately and to affect the source of the message in communication process. Face-to-Face communication tends to facilitate feedback, while mass communication tends to restrict it.
  • Channel Involvement / participation – it is the effort required by all senses in order to receive information from a communication channel, face-to-face communication offers the greatest possibility for involvement where print media offers the least possibility for involvement.
  • Channel Availability – The frequency and extent to which a channel may be used to reach a given audience. In some geographic areas, some channels may not be available such as the Internet in mountainous areas or print media in highly illiterate areas.
  • Channel Permanency / ability to preserve a message – The ability of a communication channel over a sustained time to carry the message. Print media has this dimension but in contrast radio does not.
  • Channel Multiplicative Power – The channel ability to cover areas with speed and timeliness. The mass media can multiply a message and make it available to large numbers of people while face-to-face communication is low in this dimension.
  • Channel Complementary – The channel ability to supplement the communicative work of another channel. Both mass media and interpersonal channels have proven to be high on this dimension.

Effects

Communication Effects represent the changes in the receiver behaviour that occur as a result of transmission of the message.

So, when we speak of “Effective Communication” we mean communication that results in changes to the receiver’s behaviour and/or attitude that were intended by the source.

 

There are few propositions about communication effects; these are as follows:

  • There are many levels of effect = attention to inner confirmation of inner change, to overt action.
  • Much of the effect and its mechanism is hidden in our cognitive structure. It can be recognised from visible behaviour or physical manifestations.
  • Complex behaviour usually has complex causes. The effects are the goals of all communication processes.

Feedback

Feedback is an idea derived from engineering communication theory. It means a return flow from the message. In human communication, a speaker hears his words at the same time, or approximately the same time, that the other party hears them. He / she can then judge for him/herself how well he/she has spoken.

Therefore, feedback is a response by the receiver to the source’s message, which the source may use to modify his/her further message. From this perspective, feedback may be thought of as messages conveying knowledge of communication effectiveness.

There are two kinds of feedback:

  • Positive Feedback – Confirms to the source that the intended effect of the message was achieved. Positive feedback tells the source that everything is going in the desired way.
  • Negative Feedback – Informs the source that the intended effect of the message was not achieved.

Communication Noise

Communication channels are subject to noise and this can be identified as the loss of meaning during the transmission.

There are two major types of noise:

  • Channel Noise – This type of noise includes any disturbance, which interferes with the physical transmission of the message. In mass communication channel noise includes static on the radio; ink in the newspaper, a rolling screen on the Computer / Television, or type too small to read in a magazine. In Interpersonal communication, someone speaking in a room over another conversation, or a door shutting etc.
  • Semantic Noise – This type of noise results in the wrong interpretation of messages, even though the message is received exactly as it was sent because words used were too difficult to understand, the subject was too difficult for receiver to understand, or inherent differences of selected meanings of words between the message sender and a receiver. For example the receiver thinking that the words indicate something different in meaning to that intended by the sender.

 

1.2 Communication Channels & Forms

Communication Channels

Introduction

In an organisation, information flows forward, backwards and sideways. This information flow is referred to as communication.

Communication channels refer to the way this information flows within the organisation and with other organisations.

In this web known as communication, a manager becomes a link. Decisions and directions flow upwards or downwards or sideways depending on the position of the manager in the communication web.

For example, reports from lower level management will flow upwards.

A good manager has to inspire, direct and organise his employees efficiently, and to accomplish this, the tools in his possession are spoken and written words.

For the flow of information and for a manager to manage his employees, it is important for an effectual communication channel to be in place.

The Working of a Communication Channel

Through a modem of communication be it face to face conversations or an inter-department memo, information is transmitted from a manager to a subordinate or vice versa.

An important element of the communication process is the feedback mechanism between the management and employees.

In this mechanism, employees inform managers that they have understood the task at hand while managers provide employees with comments and directions on employee’s work.

Importance of a Communication Channel

A breakdown in the communication channel leads to an inefficient flow of information. Employees are unaware of what the company expects of them. They are uninformed of what is going on in the company.

This will cause them to become suspicious of motives and any changes in the company.

Also without effective communication, employees become department minded rather than company minded, and this affects their decision making and productivity in the workplace.

Eventually, this harms the overall organisational objectives as well. Hence, in order for an organisation to be run effectively, a good manager should be able to communicate to his/her employees what is expected of them, making sure they are fully aware of company policies and any upcoming changes.

Therefore, an effective communication channel should be implemented by managers to optimise worker productivity and ensure the smooth running of the organisation.

Types of Communication Channels

The number of communication channels available to a manager has increased over approximately the last 20 years. Video conferencing, mobile technology, electronic bulletin boards and fax machines are some of the new possibilities.

As organisations grow in size, managers cannot rely on face to face communication alone to get their message across.

A challenge the managers face today is to determine what type of communication channel they should opt for in order to carry out effective communication.

In order to make a manager’s task easier, the types of communication channels are grouped into three main groups: formal, informal and unofficial.

http://www.tutorialspoint.com/management_concepts/communication_channels.htm

Formal Communication Channels

  1. A formal communication channel transmits information such as the goals, policies, and procedures of an organisation. Messages in this type of communication channel follow a chain of command. This means information flows from a manager to his subordinates and they in turn pass on the information to the next level of staff.
  2. An example of a formal communication channel is a company’s newsletter which gives employees as well as clients a clear idea of a company’s goals and vision. It also includes the transfer of information with regard to memoranda, reports, directions, and scheduled meetings in the chain of command.
  3. A business plan, customer satisfaction survey, annual reports, employer’s manual, review meetings are all formal communication channels.

Informal Communication Channels

  1. Within a formal working environment, there always exists an informal communication network. The strict hierarchical web of communication cannot function efficiently on its own and hence there exists a communication channel outside of this web. While this type of communication channel may disrupt the chain of command, a good manager needs to find the fine balance between the formal and informal communication channel.
  2. An example of an informal communication channel is lunchtime at the organisation’s cafeteria/canteen. Here, in a relaxed atmosphere, discussions among employees are encouraged. Also managers walking around, adopting a hands-on approach to handling employee queries, is an example of an informal communication channel.
  3. Quality circles, team work, different training programs are outside of the chain of command and so fall under the category of informal communication channels.

Unofficial Communication Channels

  1. Good managers will recognise the fact that, sometimes, communication that takes place within an organisation is interpersonal. While minutes of a meeting may be a topic of discussion among employees, sports, politics and TV shows also share the floor.
  2. The unofficial communication channel in an organisation is the organisation’s ‘grapevine’. It is through the grapevine that rumours circulate. Also those engaging in ‘grapevine’ discussions, often form groups which translate into friendships outside of the organisation. While the grapevine may have positive implications, more often than not information circulating in the grapevine is exaggerated and may cause unnecessary alarm to employees. A good manager should be privy to information circulating in this unofficial communication channel and should take positive measures to prevent the flow of false information.
  3. An example of an unofficial communication channel is a social gathering among employees.

Conclusion

In any organisation, three types of communication channels exist:

  • Formal
  • Informal

 

While the ideal communication web is a formal structure in which informal communication can take place, unofficial communication channels also exist in an organisation.

Through these various channels, it is important for a manager to get his/her ideas across and then listen, absorb, glean and further communicate to employees.

Forms of Communication

There are various classifications of forms of communication.

Basically we can distinguish between two main forms of communication:

Verbal Communication

  • Oral communication such as consultations, dialogue, discussion between people, telephone calls etc.
  • Visual Communication such as Presentations, Maps, Graphics, Advertisements etc.
  • Written communication such as memo’s, letters, reports etc.
  • Electronic which is communication facilitated by an interface with a computer, modem, telephone fax, e-mail, Internet etc.

 

Non-Verbal Communication

  • Body language, facial expression and voice etc.

 

Depending upon these basic forms of communication, many researches agreed to classify forms of communication as:

Intrapersonal Communication

It is a communication transaction that takes place within the individual; this is the silent talking all of us do within ourselves such as thinking, remembering, dreaming and deciding.

Intrapersonal communication is made possible because we become objects to ourselves. We both produce and receive the same message.

This type of communication requires time for processing based on our own experience because in every communication we are always subject to our own private interpretation.

Interpersonal Communication

It is the process of face-to-face interaction between sender and receiver such as consultation sessions, meetings, interviews and conversations between individuals.

It has the advantage of a two-way communication with immediate feedback.

Characteristics of Interpersonal Communication:

  • There is a perceptual engagement on the part of two or more people in physical proximity.
  • Perceptual engagement allows focused interaction on a single focus of cognitive and visual attention as in a conversation. In focused interaction, each participant supplies cues that are exchanged and interpreted by the other participant.
  • In this focused interaction, there will be an exchange of messages. In this exchange, the participants present cues to each other which they think the other will interpret as intended.
  • The interaction is face to face, therefore all senses may be utilised and participants confront each other completely.
  • The interpersonal setting is unstructured; few rules govern the form of content in interpersonal messages

 

Interpersonal communication is very effective in influencing attitudes and behaviour.

Characteristics of this field of communication:

  • Personal contacts are casual, difficult to avoid.
  • People are likely to put their trust in the judgement and view point of persons whom they know, like and respect.
  • Personal communication influences people through what is said and through personal control in which the source is as important as the content itself.
  • There is a great flexibility in the content of interpersonal communication. If the communication meets resistance from the receivers, the sender can change the approach to meet this reaction.
  • In face-to-face communication a person can ask questions, help direct the communication and have some control over it.
  • In face-to-face situations, there is a chance for quick exchange of information. Two-way communication provides an opportunity for immediate feedback to evaluate the effect of the signs you put out, and to correct, explain and answer objections.
  • In face-to-face communication it is possible to stimulate all the senses. It is also possible to communicate more freely for complete information.
  • In face-to-face communication a high percentage of the available information is non-verbal. The silent language of culture, gesture and body movement constitutes a large part of interpersonal communication.

Medio communication

This is the area of communication which interfaces between interpersonal communication and mass communication. It is an intermediate level of communication.

Medio is derived from Latin, meaning middle.

Medio communication is distinguished by the presence of technical instruments used under restricted conditions.

Medio communication is similar to mass communication in the following:

  • Participants in media can be heterogeneous
  • Participants also can be in different physical locations
  • The presence of a technical channel

 

Medio communication includes point-to-point telecommunication, surveillance telecommunication, closed circuit television and home movies.

Telecommunication

It is a special type of communication that uses electromagnetic devices to cover distance. It has similar audience characteristics with interpersonal communication.

Point-to-Point communication includes telephone, teletype, telegraph, mobile, radio, air-to-ground radio.

Surveillance Telecommunication

Surveillance Telecommunication is used for scanning the horizon for danger signals. Surveillance telecommunication includes radar, atmospheric pollution monitoring, weather satellite and other such telecommunication systems.

 

Mass Communication

Is the process through which communication is directed simultaneously to a large, heterogeneous and anonymous audience on a massive scale.

Messages are transmitted publicly and are transient in nature. The communicator works in a complex organisation.

The mass media includes the following:

  • Print media – Newspaper, magazines, books, journals etc.
  • Electronic Media – Internet, Cell phones, iPods, Audio recordings, T.V. etc.

 

The mass media may also be compared on the following dimensions:

  • The medium fidelity in presenting the following dimensions of an original event
  • Verbal symbols
  • Picture symbols
  • Colour
  • Sound
  • Emotions
  • The medium delivery speed, the length of time between an event and when the medium is able to inform people about it.
  • The medium’s portability, the ease with which the medium can be moved about the environment, both to cover news stories and to reach its audience.
  • The extensiveness of the medium’s coverage of the environment, the extent of information of interest the media transmits to its receivers.
  • The medium’s access to feedback.
  • The possibility of having a message repeated to satisfy receiver’s needs, e.g. bulk SMSs, bulk e-mail notifications etc.

Non Verbal Communication

It is a fundamental human interaction where speech alone is unable to communicate. It is communication that can occur without words at all.

The sender has at least four main sets of physical non-verbal cues:

  • Face includes frowning, smiling and grimacing
  • Eyes can signal by direction of gaze
  • Body offers posture positions of arms and legs and distancing
  • Voice includes tone and speech rhythm

 

The receiver has five primary senses:

  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Touch
  • Taste
  • Smell

 

There are five functional categories of Non-verbal communication:

  1. Emblems or movements that are substituted for words
  2. Illustrators – movements that accompany speech and accent
  3. Regulators – movements that maintain or signal a change in speaking and listening roles
  4. Adaptors – movements related to individual need or emotional state
  5. Particularly effective is the facial expression showing emotions

Kinds of Non-Verbal Language

  • Language of facial expression – In general a smile, a scowl or a frown has a universal meaning.
  • Language of eye contact – There are a number of messages communicated by glances such as involvement, hostility, command and others.
  • Language of posture – Body language is an art in itself to understand.
  • Language of voice – Voice variations may convey confidence, lack of confidence, emotions etc.
  • Language of apparel – The way we dress communicates something about us. Our dress code reflects much more than we realise.
  • Language of colour – Warm colours such as yellow, orange and red stimulate creativity and make people feel outgoing and responsive to others. Cool colours encourage mediation.
  • Language of odour – Odours have a profound ability to recall memories out of one’s past. People respond to smells.
  • Language of time – People and culture have a unique culture clock. In Egypt it is acceptable for you to be half an hour late for a party, or business appointment, whereas it is not acceptable elsewhere in the world.
  • Language of space – Every individual seems to develop a distance at which he/she prefers to interact with others.

Organisational / Workplace Communication

It is a form of interpersonal communication that takes place within definite boundaries. It is concerned with the achievement of the goals of that organisation.

It has the characteristics of interpersonal. Each member of the organisation is obliged to communicate in certain ways.

Different organisations share similar characteristics:

  • They all have members/staff interacting with each other occupying various social positions and performing social roles.
  • Norms of appropriate behaviour with standards of appropriate methods of communication which are rewarded and reinforced, while others are disapproved.
  • Communication through organisations becomes predicted because of the direction, frequency, form and content of message exchanges
  • Organisational communications activity remains a two-person interaction. The messages exchanged are transmitted from one person to another, then from that person to another, and so on.
  • Major transmissions in organisational communication are oral, yet within recent years this has changed to more written communication structures through various channels.
  • The official routes of organisational communication are formal channels of communication. These are concerned with the dissemination of information to the members/staff and or internal or external stakeholders.

Communication Context

Communication transactions always occur within, and are constrained by, several critical contexts.

By contexts, we mean the environments where communication takes place, including the three and four critical communication contexts other communicators involve in the transaction.

 

The Cultural Context

Cultural influences are an inherent aspect of all communicative transactions. The term Culture refers to the sum of language, values, beliefs, habits and practices shared by a large group of people.

These characteristics comprise the cultural context of communication.

Understanding the cultural context contributes greatly to effective environmental management, for without some appreciation of the cultural milieu, communication is doomed to failure.

The Sociological Context

Just as everyone belongs to a culture, each person also belongs to many groups within the culture.

The sociological context of communication refers to the sum of the individual’s group memberships as well as the societal roles within those memberships.

The Physical Context

Does the communication transaction occur over coffee during a hurried 15 minute break? Or does it occur over a leisurely business dinner at a restaurant?

Depending on the specific location where the communication occurs, there will be varying degrees of competing stimuli as well as varying degrees of openness on the part of the communication participants.

Within the general location of the communication transaction studies have indicated that specific arrangement of seating affects the communication process.

In large group meetings, rows of seats facing a single speaker will create a very different context to concentric circle seating with a speaker standing in the centre of the circle.

The total number of receivers involved in the communication transaction must be considered. In general, interaction both verbally and nonverbally decreases as the number of receivers increases.

Does the communication occur in the morning, in the afternoon, or in the evening? If the communication occurs too early in the morning, receivers may not be as alert as they will be later in the day, on the other hand, communication very late in the day may be influenced by listeners who are simply too exhausted to accurately receive and understand the message.

In reality, it is difficult to separate the physical from the psychological context, for they operate interdependently.

For example, the numbers of receivers influence the psychological as well as the physical communication context. If only fifteen people attend a meeting for which over a hundred were anticipated, interaction between speaker and audience may increase, but the effectiveness of that interaction may be negated by the psychological impact of the low attendance.

On the other hand, if many more people attend a meeting than were anticipated, a feeling of excitement and satisfaction about the excellent response may enable communicators to more than compensate for problems created by the physically crowded conditions.

Culture and Communication

Culture is the way people think, act, live and communicate. Culture and Communication are vitally interlinked with each other. A culture develops as the result of interpersonal communication – the communication between people that we are concerned with.

At the same time, the form, the nature, the makeup of the culture results from the interaction of the people and the place and time in which they live.

The interaction of people is just another way of saying communication. Living together, working together, relating to one another is communication, we are always communicating – or attempting to communicate.

Explaining culture and relationship to communication in simplicity is to understand that people are different; we live and work in different societies, environments and climates, and we adapt to these in different ways.

As a result of living in different societies, environments, and climates, people develop special needs, acquire different habits and customs peculiar to themselves, and have experiences which, in general result in particular patterns and methods and forms of expression and relating with one another. Many examples of this could be given.

People in Cape Town, for example, live quite differently from people in Johannesburg or Pretoria. They live in a much more relaxed style compared to those living in Johannesburg or Pretoria.

In order to be effective in communication we need to know about people and their background if we are to understand their communication. It is important to know that when you do business with foreigners, for example, it is necessary for you to check their local customs, cultures, and communication carefully.

Our communication is surrounded by barriers of human behaviour and language.  Our communication attempts are also complicated by cultural barriers.

Many cultural differences take the form of non-verbal communication. If a person frowns while listening to your presentation, it may indicate doubt or disagreement, but it can also mean the person might be have a headache or the light may be bothersome.

It is important to remain alert to non-verbal signals, but it is also essential that you interpret them accurately.

1.3 Communication Methods

Overview of Communication Methods

Introduction

The importance of communication is known to all of us, we know that nothing can take place without some method of communication being used to express ourselves for whatever purpose.

Communication is even more valuable in a business environment as there are several parties involved. Various stakeholders, whether they are customers, employees or the media, are always sending important information to each other at all times.

We are therefore constantly using some form of communication or another to send a message. Without these different methods of communication available today, it would take eons for us to carry out business as efficiently as it is done today and with the same speed.

Let us try and understand what these methods of communication are.

Types of Communication

Numerous new instruments have emerged over the years to help people communicate effectively.

Oral Communication

Oral communication could be said to be the most used form of communication. Whether it is to present some important information to your colleagues or lead a boardroom meeting, these skills are vital.

We are constantly using words verbally to inform our subordinates of a decision, provide information etc. This is done either by phone or face-to-face.

The person on the receiving end would also need to exercise caution to ensure that they clearly understand what is being said.

This shows therefore, that you need to cultivate both your listening and speaking skills, as you would have to carry out both roles in the workplace, with different people.

Written Communication

Writing is used when you have to provide detailed information such as figures and facts, even while giving a presentation.

It is also generally used to send documents and other important material to stakeholders, which could then be stored for later use as it can be referred to easily as it is recorded. Other important documents such as contracts, memos, and minutes of meetings are also in written form for this purpose.

It can be seen in recent years however, that verbal communication has been replaced to a great extent by a faster form of written communication, and that is e-mail.

You could also use videoconferencing and multiple way phone calls with several individuals simultaneously. Apart from a few glitches that could occur, these methods of communication have helped organisations come a long way.

Body Language

Although the most common methods of communication are carried out orally or in writing, when it comes to management techniques, the power of non-verbal communication must never be underestimated.

Your smile, your gestures and several other body movements send out a message to the people around you. You need to be mindful of this while dealing with your employees and customers.

Always remember to maintain eye contact. This would show that you are serious and confident about what is being said.

Why Do We Need Different Communication Methods?

You may ask why it is important that we use different methods of communication in one organisation.

The answer is very simple. The reason for this is the pivotal role that communication plays in the effective functioning of a business.

Imagine an organisation today without e-mail facilities. How would a customer be able to send an important proposal quickly and directly to the applicable person?

Similarly, an organisation may have to stall their work if certain managers are not in the country and are thereby unable to give a presentation to the board.

But of course this can be done today with the help of video conferencing.

Therefore, it is crucial that different methods of communication are employed.

Choosing the Right Method

It is important that the most cost-effective methods of communication are chosen for any organisation. Simply choosing a method of communication due to it being a popular instrument is not going to help.

You would need to understand the needs of your organisation in particular. There are certain questions that you would need to ask:

  • What is our target audience?
  • How much are we willing to spend on such an instrument?
  • Will it increase employee productivity in the long run?
  • What kind of information do we send out most often?

You may have more questions to ask based on the type of work you carry out and the message that you need to send. Remember there is no ‘right’ method of communication.

You will need different methods for different purposes and tasks.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is important to always remember the importance of communication in an organisation.

The methods of communication you choose could in a sense enhance or weaken the management structure of your organisation and could also affect your relationship with customers, if not chosen carefully.

It is vital therefore that you spend some time choosing the right methods to aid you in your management tasks.

1.4 Communication Theories

Introduction to Communication Theory

Communication theory is a field of information and mathematics that studies the technical process of information and the human process of human communication.

Communication is the process by which people interactively create, sustain, and manage meaning. As such, communication both reflects the world and simultaneously helps to create it.

All of the theories presented relate to the various ways in which human interaction is developed, experienced, and understood.

WHAT IS THEORY?

Theories simply provide an abstract understanding of the communication process. As an abstract understanding, they move beyond describing a single event by providing a means by which all such events can be understood.

Understanding communication abstractly can assist with development and improvement where barriers within Communication exist.

At their most basic level, theories provide us with a lens through which to view the world. Think of theories as a pair of glasses. Corrective lenses allow wearers to observe more clearly, but they also impact vision in unforeseen ways.

For example, they can limit the span of what you see, especially when you try to look peripherally outside the range of the frames.

Similarly, lenses can also distort the things you see, making objects appear larger or smaller than they really are. You can also try on many pairs of glasses until you finally choose one that works best for your lifestyle.

Theories operate in a similar fashion. A theory can illuminate an aspect of your communication so that you understand the process much more clearly; theory can also hide things from your understanding or distort the relative importance of things.

We consider a communication theory to be any systematic summary about the nature of the communication process. Certainly, theories can do more than summarise.

Other functions of theories are to focus attention on particular concepts, clarify our observations, predict communication behaviour, and generate personal and social change (Littlejohn, 1999).

We do not believe, however, that all of these functions are necessary for a systematic summary of communication processes to be considered a theory.

What does this definition mean for people in communication, business, and other professions?

It means that any time you say that a communication strategy usually works this way at your organisation, or that a specific approach is generally effective with your employer, or even that certain types of communication are typical for particular media organisations; you are in essence providing a theoretical explanation.

Defining Communication Theories

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

Cognitive Dissonance Theory argues that the experience of dissonance (or incompatible beliefs and actions) is aversive and people are highly motivated to avoid it.

In their efforts to avoid feelings of dissonance, people will avoid hearing views that oppose their own, change their beliefs to match their actions, and seek reassurance after making a difficult decision.

Communication Accommodation Theory

This theoretical perspective examines the underlying motivations and consequences of what happens when two speakers shift their communication styles.

Communication Accommodation theorists argue that during communication people will try to accommodate or adjust their style of speaking to others.

This is done in two ways:

  • Divergence
  • Convergence

 

Groups with strong ethnic or racial pride often use divergence to highlight group identity.

Convergence occurs when there is a strong need for social approval, frequently from powerless individuals.

Co-ordinated Management of Meaning

Theorists in Coordinated Management of Meaning believe that in conversation, people co-create meaning by attaining some coherence and coordination.

Coherence occurs when stories are told, and co-ordination exists when stories are lived.

Co-ordinated Management of Meaning focuses on the relationship between an individual and his or her society.

Through a hierarchical structure, individuals come to organise the meaning of literally hundreds of messages received throughout a day.

Cultivation Analysis

This theory argues that television (and other media) plays an extremely important role in how people view their world.

According to Cultivation Analysis, in modern Culture most people get much of their information in a mediated fashion rather than through direct experience.

Thus, mediated sources can shape people’s sense of reality. This is especially the case with regard to violence, according to the theory.

Cultivation Analysis posits that heavy television viewing cultivates a sense of the world that is more violent and scarier than is actually warranted.

Cultural Approach to Organisational approach

The Cultural Approach contends that people are like animals that are suspended in webs that they created.

Theorists in this tradition argue that an organisation’s culture is composed of shared symbols, each of which has a unique meaning.

Organisational stories, rituals, and rites of passage are examples of what constitutes the culture of an organisation.

 

Cultural Studies

Theorists in cultural studies maintain that the media represents ideologies of the dominant class in a society.

Because media is controlled by corporations, the information presented to the public is necessarily influenced and framed with profit in mind.

Cultural Studies theorists, therefore, are concerned with media influenced and framed with profit in mind.

They are concerned with media influence and how power plays a role in the interpretation culture.

Dramatism

This theoretical position compares life to a drama.

As in dramatic action, life requires an actor, a scene, an act, some means for the action to take place, and a purpose.

A rhetorical critic can understand a speaker’s motives by analysing these elements.

Further, dramatism argues that purging guilt is the ultimate motive, and rhetors can be successful when they provide their audiences with a means for purging their guilt and a sense of identification with the rhetors.

Expectancy Violations Theory

Expectancy Violation Theory examines how non-verbal messages are structured.

The theory advances that when communicative norms are violated, the violation may be perceived either favourably or unfavourably, depending on the perception that the receiver has of the violator.

Violating another’s expectations may be a strategy used over that of conforming to another’s expectations.

Face-Negotiation Theory

Face-Negotiation Theory is concerned with how people in individualistic and collectivist cultures negotiate face in conflict situations.

The theory is based on face management, which describes how people from different cultures manage conflict negotiation in order to maintain face.

Self-face and other-face concerns explain the conflict negotiation between people from various cultures.

Groupthink

The groupthink phenomenon occurs when highly cohesive groups fail to consider alternatives that may effectively resolve group dilemmas.

Groupthink theorists contend that group members frequently think similarly and are reluctant to share unpopular or dissimilar ideas with others.

When this occurs, groups prematurely make decisions, some of which can have lasting consequences.

Muted Group Theory

Muted Group Theory maintains that language serves men better than women.

Due to this problem with language, women appear less articulate than men in public settings. As women have undergo experiences this situation should change.

The Narrative Paradigm

This theory argues that humans are storytelling animals.

The Narrative Paradigm proposes a narrative logic to replace the traditional logic of argument.

Narrative logic, or the logic of good reasons, suggests that people judge the credibility of speakers by whether their stories hang together clearly (coherence) and whether their stories ring true (fidelity].

The Narrative Paradigm allows for a democratic judgment of speakers because no one has to be trained in oratory and persuasion to make judgments based on coherence and fidelity.

Organisational Information Theory

This Theory argues that the main activity of organisations is the process of making sense of equivocal information.

Organisational members accomplish this sense-making process through enactment, selection, and retention of information.

Organisations are successful to the extent that they are able to reduce equivocality through these means.

Relational Dialectics Theory

Relational Dialectics suggests that relational life is always in process.

People in relationships continually feel the pull-push of conflicting desires.

Basically, people wish to have autonomy and connection, openness and protectiveness, also novelty and predictability.

As people communicate in relationships, they attempt to reconcile these conflicting desires, but they never eliminate their needs for both of the opposing pairs.

The Rhetoric

Rhetorical theory is based on the available means of persuasion.

That is, a speaker who is interested in persuading his or her audience should consider three rhetorical proofs: logical, emotional, and ethical.

Audiences are essential to effective persuasion. Rhetorical syllogism, requiring audiences to supply missing pieces of a speech, are also used in persuasion.

Social Exchange Theory

This theoretical position argues that the major force in interpersonal relationships is the satisfaction of each party’s self-interest.

Theorists in Social Exchange posit that self-interest is not necessarily a bad thing and that it can actually enhance relationships.

The Social Exchange approach viewing interpersonal exchange posits that self-interest is not necessarily a bad thing and that it can actually enhance relationships.

The Social Exchange approach views interpersonal exchanges as analogous to economic exchanges where people are satisfied when they receive a fair return on their expenditures.

Social Penetration Theory

This theory maintains that interpersonal relationships evolve in some gradual and predictable fashion.

Penetration theorists believe that self-disclosure is the primary way that superficial relationships progress to intimate relationships.

Although self-disclosure can lead to more intimate relationships, it can also leave one or more persons vulnerable.

Spiral of Silence Theory

Theorists associated with Spiral of Silence Theory argue that due to its enormous power, the mass media has a lasting effect on public opinion.

The theory maintains that mass media works simultaneously with majority public opinion to silence minority beliefs on cultural issues.

A fear of isolation prompts those with minority views to examine the beliefs of others. Individuals who fear being socially isolated are prone to conform to what they perceive to be a majority view.

Standpoint Theory

This theory posits that people are situated in specific social standpoints; they occupy different places in the social hierarchy.

Because of this, individuals view the social situation from particular vantage points.

By necessity, each vantage point provides only a partial understanding of the social whole. Yet, those who occupy the lower rungs of the hierarchy tend to understand the social whole.

Those who occupy the lower rungs of the hierarchy tend to understand the social situation more fully than those at the top.

Sometimes, Standpoint Theory is referred to as Feminist Standpoint Theory because of its application to how women’s and men’s standpoints differ.

Structuration Theory

Theorists supporting the structuration perspective argue that groups and organisations create structures, which can be interpreted as an organisation’s rules and resources.

These structures, in turn, create social systems in an organisation. Structuration theorists posit that groups and organisations achieve a life of their own because of the way their members utilise their structures. Power structures guide the decision making taking place in groups and organisations.

Symbolic Interaction Theory

This theory suggests that people are motivated to act based on the meanings they assign to people, things, and events.

Further, meaning is created in the language that people use both with others and in private thought. Language allows people to develop a sense of self and to interact with others in community.

Uncertainty Reduction Theory

Uncertainty Reduction Theory suggests that when strangers meet, their primary focus is on reducing their levels of uncertainty in the situation.

Their levels of uncertainty are located in both behavioural and cognitive realms. That is, they may be unsure of how to behave (or how the other person will behave), and they may also be unsure what they think of the other and what the other person thinks of them.

Further, people’s uncertainty is both an individual and relational level. People are highly motivated to use communication to reduce their uncertainty according to this theory.

Uses & Gratifications Theory

Uses and Gratifications theorists explain why people choose and use certain media forms.

The theory emphasises a limited effect position; that is, the media has a limited effect on their audiences because audiences are able to exercise control over their media.

Uses & Gratifications

Theory attempts to answer the following; what do people do with the media?

List of most used Communication Theories
Theories Authors
Action Assembly Theory John Greene
Adaptive Structuration Marshall Scott Poole
Agenda Setting Theory Maxwell McCombs & Donald Shaw
Anxiety-Uncertainty Management William Gudykunst
Attribution Theory Fritz Heider
Black Feminist Thought Patricia Collins
Categorical Imperative Immanuel Kant
Classical Management Philosophy Weber, Taylor
Cognitive Dissonance Leon Festinger
Communication Accommodation Theory Howard Giles
Communitarian Ethics Clifford Christians
Communication Privacy Management Theory Sandra Petronio
Compliance Gaining Strategies Marwell & others
Constructivism Jesse Delia
Coordinated Management of Meaning W Barnett Pearce & Vernon Cronen
Critical Theory Karl Marx
Critical Theory of Communication in Organisations Stanley Deetz
Cultivation Theory George Gerbner
Cultural Approach to Organisations Clifford Geertz & Michael Pacanowsky
Cultural Dimensions Hofstede
Cultural Studies Stuart Hall
Cybernetics Wiener
Dialogic Theory Martin Buber
Dialogic Ethics Martin Buber
Dialogics Bakhtin
Different Voice Carol Gilligan
Discourse Ethics-Theory of Communicative Action Jürgen Habermas
Discursive Formation Michel Foucault
Dramatism Kenneth Burke
Elaboration Likelihood Model Richard Petty & John Cacippio
Existential Theory Carl Rogers
Expectancy Violations Theory Judee Burgoon
Face Negotiation Theory Stella Ting-Toomey
FIRO Theory William Schutz
Functional Perspective on Group Decision Making Randy Hirokawa & Dennis Gouran
Genderlect Styles Deborah Tannen
General Semantics Alfred Korzybski
Goals-Plans-Action Model James Dillard
Golden Mean Aristotle
Groupthink Irving Janis
Hierarchy of Needs Abraham Maslow
High- and Low-Context Cultures Edward Hall
Information Theory Claude Shannon & Warren Weaver
Information Systems Approach to Organisations Karl Weick
Interaction Adaptation Theory Judee Burgoon
The Interactional View Paul Watzlawick
Interaction Process Analysis Robert Bales
Interactive Universalism Seyla Benhabib
Interpersonal Deception Theory David Buller & Judee Burgoon
Interact System Model of Decision Emergency B Aubrey Fisher
Linguistic Relativity Edward Sapir & Benjamin Lee Whorf
Magic Bullet-Hypodermic Needle- Powerful Effects Laswell and others
Meaning of Meaning I A Richards
Media Ecology Marshall McLuhan
The Media Equation Byron Reeves & Clifford Nass
Mediational Theory of Meaning Charles Osgood
Muted Group Theory Cheris Kramarae
Narrative Paradigm Walter Fisher
Performance Ethnography Dwight Conquergood
Phenomenology Husserl, Merleau, Ponty, Fish, Gadamer, Ricoeur
Postmodernism Lyotard, Baudrillard, Derrrida, others
Principle of Veracity Sissella Bok
Prophetic Pragmatism Cornel West
Proxemic Theory Edward Hall
Relational Control Millar & Rogers
Relational Dialectics Leslie Baxter & Barbara Montgomery
The Rhetoric Aristotle
Semiotics Roland Barthes
Significant Choice Thomas Nilsen
Social Construction Shotter, Harre, others
Social Exchange Theory John Thibaut & Harold Kelley
Social Information Processing Theory Joseph Walther
Social Judgement Theory Muzafer Sherif
Social Learning Theory-Social Cognition Theory Albert Bandura
Social Penetration Theory Irwin Altman & Dalmas Taylor
Speech Codes Theory Gerry Philipsen
Spiral of Silence Elisabeth Noelle-Nuemann
Standpoint Theory Sandra Harding & Julia T Wood
Structural Linguistics Ferdinand de Saussure
Structuration Theory Anthony Giddens
Symbolic Convergence Theory Ernest Bormann
Symbolic Interactionism George Herbert Mead
Two-Step Flow of Communication Katz & Lazarsfeld
Uncertainty Reduction Theory Charles Berger
Yale Attitude Change Hovland

Evaluation of Communication Theory

To evaluate if a Communication Theory is good or not, it is vital that the Theory must be have the properties of a strong theory.

(The terminology presented here is drawn from Littlejohn, Theories of Human Communication, but a similar set of criteria are widely accepted both within and outside the field of communication.)

Theoretical Scope

  • How general is the theory?
  • That is, how widely applicable is it?

 

In most cases, a theory that may only be applied within a fairly narrow set of circumstances is not considered as useful as a theory that encompasses a very wide range of communicative interactions.

The ideal, of course, is a theory that succinctly explains the nature of human communication as a whole.

Appropriateness

Theories are often evaluated based upon how well their epistemological, ontological, and axiological assumptions relate to the issue or question being explained. If a theory recapitulates its assumptions (if it is tautological), it is not an effective theory.

Heuristic value

Some theories suggest the ways in which further research may be conducted. By presenting an explanatory model, the theory generates questions or hypotheses that can be operationalised relatively easily. In practical terms, the success of a theory may rest on how readily other researchers may continue to do fruitful work in reaction or support.

Validity

It may seem obvious that for a theory to be good, it must also be valid.

Validity refers to the degree to which the theory accurately represents the true state of the world. Are the arguments internally consistent and are its predictions and claims derived logically from its assumptions? Many also require that theories be falsifiable; that is, theories that present predictions that if proven to be incorrect invalidate the theory. The absence of such questions significantly reduces the value of the theory, since a theory that cannot be proven false (perhaps) cannot be shown to be accurate, either.

Parsimony

The law of parsimony (Occam’s razor) dictates that a theory should provide the simplest possible (viable) explanation for a phenomenon. Others suggest that good theory exhibits an aesthetic quality, that a good theory is beautiful or natural. That it leads to an “Aha!” moment in which an explanation feels as though it fits.

Openness

Theories, perhaps paradoxically, should not exist to the absolute exclusion of other theories. Theory should not be dogma: it should encourage and provide both for scepticism and should, to whatever degree possible, be compatible with other accepted theory.

 

1.5 Effective Communication

Key Principles For Effective Communication

  • Clear and precise exchange of information – so that everyone that receives the message receives the same meaning
  • Open and non-judgmental – does not allow biases or prejudices to get in the way of transmitting or hearing the message
  • Understanding the meaning behind the words – looks for the real message, which may be different from the message conveyed through the words alone of the sender – this is where you have to listen to the tone of voice and observe the body language and facial expressions (the non-verbal message)
  • Clarify meaning to ensure the listener receives the right message – involves making sure you know what the sender is trying to communicate by questioning and paraphrasing
  • Two way interaction that involves both parties – is based on mutual respect and valuing each other’s viewpoints
  • Appropriate time and place – ensures the receiver is able to receive the message that is being given without external interruptions or influences such as background noises – TV; radio; children playing; static noise; or lack of time to fully attend to what is being said
  • Recognises verbal, non-verbal and vocal messages – the receiver receives the full message by watching body language, facial expressions and listening to vocal nuances
  • Can be in writing – especially to confirm important communications such as times, dates, or topics that require the receiver to be prepared to discuss
  • Uses appropriate language set at a level and pace the receiver can understand – the sender knows the developmental ability of the receiver – for instance in the case of communicating with a child
  • Involves negotiation, problem solving and supporting one another – seeks a “win-win” outcome for both parties
  • Is on-going and messages given over time do not conflict with each other but maintain consistency of meaning – consistency is achieved through continually reassessing and evaluating communication strategies and how messages are sent and received
  • Keeps everyone informed and aware of what is happening – uses a range of communication methods and styles to ensure that everyone receives the correct information i.e. spoken; e-mail; memo; flier; notice; letter; newsletter
  • Uses positive body language and eye contact – (where culturally appropriate) to encourage the receiver to ask questions if they don’t fully understand the message

Communication & The Quality Assurance Process

Effective communication is an integral part of the Quality Assurance process and is imbedded in all of the Quality Areas.

Non-verbal Communication

Non-verbal communication incorporates more than 70% of any message. This means that although the words we choose are important (30%), it is the minority of the message received. The non-verbal components of a message are:

Eye Contact

Eye contact is something to watch fairly astutely. It’s difficult to stare intently at another’s eyes without making them feel uncomfortable, therefore ensure that your eye contact is maintained, but in a non-threatening way.

Also be aware that different eye contact is indicative of different cultures and this should be respected.

Eyes tell one a lot about the emotional state of another.

Tone & Inflection of Voice

By practising different ways of saying a phrase, e.g. “Don’t tell me what to do”, the message sent can be taken or interpreted in different ways. It all depends on how loud or intense your tone is and which words you put the inflection on.

Body Language

Body language refers to the unconscious message sent from the brain that becomes an outward reflection of a person’s emotional state – a reflection of how a person feels expressed through the body itself.

It is not difficult to begin to understand body language; anybody can become knowledgeable in the art of reading body language.

The most important aspect of body language is CLUSTERS.

For example somebody folding their arms may not mean they are tuning off or rejecting what you are saying, it could mean they are cold, but folding their arms, crossing their legs, body to one side, tightening their mouth and narrowing their eyes would be a fairly strong indication of their not accepting what you are saying.

Therefore, once you begin to look for body language, be aware that it should be read in clusters.

Repetitive signals are another obvious signal that should be tuned in to, e.g. nose touching, hair twirling, ring fiddling or collar pulling, done out of context and in isolation of other gestures, these are signs of boredom or tension.

Changes in facial skin tone such as flushing can mean a person is hot, but when observed with other signs such as those listed above, can mean anger or embarrassment.

Sometimes a person’s body language contradicts what they say:

When a person’s words and body language appear to contradict each other, most of us choose to believe what we see rather than what we hear. We trust a person’s body language more than we do their words.

It must be remembered, however, that different cultures have different ways of relating.

In Western cultures for instance making eye contact with the person we are communicating with is a sign of respect and interest. However in some Aboriginal and Asian cultures it is a sign of rudeness and disrespect.

Being aware of these differences is important.

Your first few interactions with people will give you clues as to what is appropriate and what is not. Watch closely and listen carefully.

When new clients or employees arrive at your organisation you want to make them feel

  • Welcomed
  • Respected
  • Valued, and
  • Acknowledged

Effective Listening – Paraphrasing; Clarifying; Reflecting

Effective listening requires that we focus on sounds and then try to make sense of them. When we are interacting with others it’s not just a matter of hearing the words, but also being aware of the person’s body language

  • Giving your full attention
  • Being alert to any underlying feelings and emotions
  • Suspending your own feelings, emotions and judgments
  • Allowing the person to talk and not interrupting with your own comments and observations
  • Not talking about yourself
  • Not changing topics
  • Not advising, diagnosing, reassuring, encouraging or criticising
  • Not pretending you have understood their meaning if you haven’t
  • Being focused on the speaker’s needs and assisting the speaker to express their thoughts or feelings in safety

This is ACTIVE listening. Active listening requires the listener to ATTEND to what is being said and to have the skills of paraphrasing, clarifying and reflecting.

 

Paraphrasing

Saying in your own words what the other person has said to you. This is a technique to show that you have heard and understood what the person has said. Do not make judgments, offer advice or add your own interpretation. Paraphrasing helps you to understand the other’s point of view, which may be different to your own.

 

Clarifying

Make sure you understand what the speaker means by questioning

  • I believe what you are saying is……?
  • What I’m hearing you say is…..?
  • What did you mean…..?
  • When you said this, are you saying…..?

 

Reflecting

Listening with understanding requires that the listener shows empathy towards the speaker’s feelings

  • You sound really angry (about …)
  • I’d be really upset if that happened to me
  • How are you feeling about what has happened?

 

If you can put yourself in the place of the other person you will have a better understanding of the issue from their perspective.

Open & Closed Questions

The art of clarifying requires asking questions. Questions also have another important function. They allow us to gather additional information. Through questioning we can find out more about the children in our care, and their families, or the particular issue under discussion.

There are two types of questions: open and closed questions.

  1. Closed questions require short, to-the-point answers. They give us information and help to clarify and pinpoint details, but they do not encourage people to talk.
  2. Open questions on the other hand, can lead to explanations and insights.

Giving & Receiving Feedback

Feedback can be positive or negative depending on how it is delivered. The impact you can have on others can be devastating if not managed in a constructive and positive way.

Feedback should be given to HELP and not discourage or to humiliate, and therefore you should try to balance positive rather than negative feedback by a ratio of at least 2:1.

Positive constructive feedback

  • Improves confidence
  • Improves performance
  • Improves relationships
  • Motivates
  • Encourages levels of responsibility
  • Focuses on behaviour rather than the person
  • Focuses on facts, not speculation
  • Describes rather than judges
  • Is sensitive and gentle and demonstrates empathy

 

Silence

  • Can be threatening
  • Leaves people confused
  • Reduces confidence
  • Can affect performance
  • Can be dangerous

 

Advice

  • Sometimes restricts initiative
  • Can lend support
  • Can enhance performance
  • Might be overpowering if not given in small doses

 

Criticism

  • Affects self confidence
  • Is usually negative
  • Can be destructive
  • Leads to avoidance

 

Helpful Hints on Giving Feedback:

  1. Be specific – Let’s look at some alternative words you could use rather than “What you’ve said is all wrong.”
  2. Start with a positive – “I really like the way you did (this), and think you could have had an even better result by …”
  3. Focus on the behaviour and not the person – “I like the way you‘ve helped Jenny …”
  4. Reflect on the person’s feelings when giving feedback – “I think you are not very sure about …
  5. Focus on things the person can do – “Maybe next time this happens you could discuss this with another staff member ….” rather than “You shouldn’t have done (that) …”
  6. Give feedback when the person is asking for feedback and is able to fully attend to what you are saying “When can we meet to discuss this further?”
  1. Share your expertise and experience – “When I do this particular task, I find it useful to …”
  2. Be careful not to overload the receiver – “Next time start by doing this” … rather than saying “You must remember to do this, and this, and then this, and don’t forget to …”
  3. Make sure the person understands your feedback – “Let’s recap what we have been discussing.”

 

Helpful Hints on Receiving Feedback

Receiving feedback can be quite confrontational because it is personal and our feelings are on the line.

  1. Listen to what is being said without judging or debating the issue.
  2. Do not interrupt.
  3. Let the person finish and assume they are trying to be constructive and helpful.
  4. Don’t jump to conclusions.
  5. Ensure you understand what is actually being said – “Have I understood you correctly …?”
  6. Take time to consider what has been said, and give your response after you have gone away and thought about it. – “Thank you for your feedback, I need to consider what you have said and will get back to you …”

Later come back and be assertive in your response.

Common Barriers To Effective Communication

There are many things that can get in the way of effective communication:

  • Inappropriate vocabulary and differences in meaning – don’t use jargon or speak at a level that is above or below the receiver, as they will simply stop paying attention to what you are saying – consider that words and gestures mean different things in different cultures
  • Anxiety – when we are anxious we don’t always interpret meanings correctly and may respond in ways that do not express what we really want to say
  • Not listening and an inattentive attitude – “People are more likely to listen to us if we listen to them.”
  • Jumping to conclusions – assuming you “know” what the other person means by imposing your own interpretations and not fully listening to what is being said
  • Prejudice and bias – judging the other person because of your prejudices and biases, and not then listening to what they have to say
  • Sensory disability – check that the other person is able to hear and understand what is being said, (perhaps they are deaf)
  • Personal problems – may intrude and block the message
  • Self- image – affects how you interpret comments, what you say and how you say it
  • The other person’s self-image – which effects the way they receive your message i.e. they may think you are criticising them when you are not; they may feel insecure and inadequate and so concentrate on the negatives; or they may consider themselves to be superior to you and not be prepared to accept what you are saying
  • Noisy distracting environment, lack of time and interruptions – affect both the sender’s and receiver’s concentration and ability to fully attend to the communication process
  • Inappropriate location – i.e. discussing a personal or confidential issue when other people are within hearing
  • Not being clear about what you want to say – it is difficult to get the message across if you are not clear in your own mind as to what you want to say – preparing, practicing or writing down the information you need to give can help to build confidence and clarify the message you wish to give
  • Information overload – after a while the brain cannot assimilate more information, and we stop paying attention
  • Insufficient information – the full message will not be transmitted
  • Not asking questions if you don’t understand – it is important to clarify what is being said by asking questions or asking for clarification
  • Lack of common ground – a good communicator will find some common ground on which to begin the communication process

1.6 Communication Barriers

Barriers to effective human communication

Communication is the key factor in the success of any organisational. When it comes to effective communication, there are certain barriers that every organisational faces. People often feel that communication is as easy and simple as it sounds. No doubt, but what makes it complex, difficult and frustrating are the barriers that get in the way. Some of these barriers are mentioned below.

Barriers to successful communication include message overload (when a person receives too many messages at the same time), and message complexity.

Physical barriers: Physical barriers are often due to the nature of the environment. For example, the natural barrier that exists, if staff are located in different buildings or on different sites.

Likewise, poor or outdated equipment, particularly the failure of management to introduce new technology, may also cause problems. Staff shortages is another factor which frequently causes communication difficulties for an organisational.

Distractions like background noise, poor lighting or an environment which is too hot or cold can all affect people’s morale and concentration, which in turn interferes with effective communication.

System design: System design faults refer to problems with the structures or systems in place in an organisational. Examples might include an organisational structure which is unclear and therefore makes it confusing to know who to communicate with.

Other examples could be inefficient or inappropriate information systems, a lack of supervision or training, and a lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities which can lead to staff being uncertain about what is expected of them.

Attitudinal barriers: Attitudinal barriers come about as a result of interpersonal problems with staff in an organisation. These may be brought about, for example, by such factors as poor management, lack of consultation with employees, personality conflicts which can result in people delaying or refusing to communicate, the personal attitudes of individual employees which may be due to lack of motivation or dissatisfaction at work brought about by insufficient training to enable them to carry out particular tasks, or just resistance to change due to entrenched attitudes and ideas.

Ambiguity of Words/Phrases: Words sounding the same but having different meaning can convey a different meaning altogether.

Hence the communicator must ensure that the receiver receives the same meaning. It would be better if such words can be avoided by using alternatives.

Individual linguistic ability is also important. The use of difficult or inappropriate words in communication can prevent people from understanding the message. Poorly explained or misunderstood messages can also result in confusion. We can all think of situations where we have listened to an explanation which we just could not grasp.

Interestingly, however, research in communication has shown that confusion can lend legitimacy to research when persuasion fails.

Physiological barriers may result from individuals’ personal discomfort, caused—for example—by ill health, poor eye sight or hearing difficulties.

Presentation of information is also an important aid to understanding.

Simply put, the communicator must consider the audience before making the presentation itself and in cases where that is not possible, the presenter can at least try to simplify his/her vocabulary so that majority can understand.

Good & Poor Communicators Characteristics

There are some distinguishing characteristics of good and poor communicators.

Good Communicators

  • Know what they are going to say
  • Can gain the attention of the listener
  • Choose when and where to communicate
  • Are clear, succinct and coherent
  • Do not get distracted
  • Are active listeners
  • Know how to close a conversation
  • Can establish and maintain relationships

Poor Communicators

  • Are not clear about what they want to say
  • Communicate at inappropriate times and places
  • Are not aware of their listeners when they are speaking
  • Fail to respond to verbal and non-verbal feedback
  • Have difficulty getting their point across
  • Get distracted easily and go off into irrelevant issues
  • Have difficulty closing conversations
  • Have difficulty maintaining relationships

 

1.7 Communication Techniques

Overview

Oral communication is the ability to explain and present your ideas in clear English, to diverse audiences.

This includes the ability to tailor your delivery to a given audience, using appropriate styles and approaches, and an understanding of the importance of non-verbal cues in oral communication.

Oral communication requires the background skills of:

  • Presenting
  • Audience Awareness
  • Critical Listening
  • Body Language

Written communication is the ability to write effectively in a range of contexts and for a variety of different audiences and purposes, with a command of the English language.

 This includes the ability to tailor your writing to a given audience, using appropriate styles and approaches. It also encompasses electronic communication such as SMS, e-mail, discussion boards, chat rooms and instant messaging.

Written communication requires background skills such as:

  • Academic Writing
  • Revision and Editing
  • Critical Reading
  • Presentation of Data

Non-verbal communication is the ability to enhance the expression of ideas and concepts without the use of coherent labels, through the use of body language, gestures, facial expression, and the tone of voice and also the use of pictures, icons and symbols.

Non-verbal communication requires background skills such as:

  • Audience Awareness
  • Personal Presentation
  • Body Language

Background Skills

Revision and editing is:

  • Applying techniques to improve writing or presentation. Proofreading for spelling, grammar and style.

Presentation skills are:

  • Using appropriate technologies and techniques to present information to an audience (for example, in a tutorial, seminar, lecture or meeting).

Academic writing skills are:

  • Writing in order to analyse a topic closely, develop a point of view in relation to that topic through research and thought, and persuade your reader that the point of view you have developed is well supported by the ideas and information you present (for example, an essay, poster, paper or thesis).
  • Writing a clearly structured document that presents an account of what has happened in a practical session or as part of an experiment (for example, an experimental report or journal).

Audience awareness is:

  • Understanding the needs, experience and level of understanding of an audience (for example, the public, learners, employers, stakeholders).
  • Displaying sensitivity to your audience in organising and presenting ideas, and responding to feedback (for example, favouring plain language over jargon when communicating with the general public).
  • Understanding the particular perspective of professionals in your field and communicating appropriately with colleagues (for example, presenting data at a seminar in a standard style for that field).

Critical listening/reading is:

  • An awareness of both the content of the message and the style and method of communication, as well as an understanding of how the content and method combine to create the meaning of the message (for example, results published in a scientific paper may be given more credibility than results presented at a departmental seminar).
  • Actively listening, reading or viewing information to gain a complete and accurate understanding of the communicated message (for example, noting the steps in a presented argument, or extracting specific detail from an academic paper).

Personal presentation and body language is:

  • An understanding of and ability to use gestures, expressions and non-verbal cues to help communicate a message (for example, using the changing  tone and volume of your voice to convey emotion and feeling, or controlling posture and nervous gestures to present confidence).

Presentation of technical or scientific data is:

An understanding of the use of images, graphs and other methods to present data simply and concisely for example using appropriate graphing techniques in a scientific report, or well-chosen graphics to convey a concept.

There are various Techniques within Communication.

Basic Communication Techniques

Basic communication techniques can take many forms.

Developing basic communication skills lies at the heart of becoming an effective communicator. No matter how basic the skill, you must develop and hone it continually. Learning good communication skills can help you foster stronger interpersonal relationships and aid in the art of persuasion if you’re arguing a point or trying to sell an idea or product.

Individualised Communication

  • No one-size-fits-all way exists to communicate with people; everything is individualised. You must modify your perspective and put yourself in other people’s shoes when communicating with them. Stay true to yourself and be honest while you communicate; those who are listening will take away a unique personal style assigned only to you. This technique helps make you more memorable and increases the resonance of your communication.

Verbal and Nonverbal Communication

  • Verbal communication is an important interpersonal skill. What you say and how you say it can have an important impact on how the listener receives the communication. Nonverbal communication plays an equally important part in communicating. If you are speaking in an angry tone but your body language is relaxed, the listener can easily misinterpret the information you are communicating. Take the time to ensure that nonverbal cues are congruent with the verbal contents of your communication; otherwise, you risk misinterpretation.

Cycle of Communication

  • Following the communication cycle is a basic communication technique that ensures you’ve fully communicated with the listener or your audience. The cycle begins at the spoken stage, during which you send out verbal and nonverbal communications. The audience then hears and understands the communications before agreeing to and acting on them. The agreement and execution stages of the cycle can be the hardest to perform, as different audiences require different kinds of persuasion. The final stage of the communication cycle lies in implementation, or when the audience or listener finally puts the communication into action.

Resolving Conflicts

  • Conflict resolution is an important basic communication skill because conflicts of all types and degrees are constantly arising. The earlier you can identify a conflict and communicate through it, the better, otherwise the conflict typically becomes worse the longer you ignore it. Find a common ground between the two communicating parties, and build a bridge between them by having one party offer information on their perspective to the other. This technique can help each party understand the other viewpoint thereby reaching an agreement.

Techniques Of Communication

Clear communication is one of the greatest challenges in both personal and professional relationships. Being an effective communicator makes it easier to get your point across enabling you to become a more productive member of a team.

Knowing how to communicate with others is a strength that will benefit you in every area of your life. Several techniques can improve your communication with relatively little effort.

Audio and Video Enhancement

  • You can augment your presentations and make your points easier to follow by using audio and video elements. Put together a short animation designed to simplify a complex idea, or find a couple of movie quotes that help you to summarise your main point. No matter what your subject material may be, your audience is more likely to understand the message and retain important details if you engage their eyes and their ears by doing more than just talking.

Body Language

  • Your body language is very important when trying to convey a certain tone or message. For instance, standing with your arms crossed sends the message that you are closed off to suggestions or questions, while standing with your hands in your pockets makes you seem uncomfortable or shy. Be aware of the subtle messages sent by your body positioning and carefully monitor your posture to ensure your body is not undercutting your words.

Understanding Commonality

  • When faced with a situation where you must speak with another person or a class about a topic at work, you must first understand what you have in common with your audience. As an example, many computer engineers are familiar with the Java programming language, while people in other departments of your business may equate the word “java” with coffee. Whenever you speak with someone you should be constantly aware of possible gaps in common knowledge between the two of you.

Listening

  • Listening is often the most overlooked component of communication. Listening to someone does not simply mean you allow them to talk. When you listen to another person you should be actively engaging your mind to process what they are telling you so you can respond with appropriate feedback or comments. Listening is one area in which communication often becomes confused, as the person doing the listening was not focused enough to get the correct message from the conversation. Practice your listening skills and you will find effective communication much easier

Techniques Of Positive & Effective Communication

Learning how to communicate positively and effectively is important in relationships.

Whether in the workplace, at home or between friends, positive and effective communication is vital for sustaining good relationships and successfully exchanging ideas from one person to another. Poor communication techniques can be the reason for a relationship breakdown. With a few fundamental techniques, you can learn how to communicate effectively for a positive outcome.

Non-Verbal Communication

  • How we say things, not what we say, relates to the true message. When communicating with someone, maintain eye contact and an open posture as this communicates openness and that you are listening to what they have to say. Avoid crossing your arms, hunching your shoulders and leaning away from someone; this body language is a form of negative communication.

Summarise and Clarify

  • Summarising and clarifying what has been said confirms that both speaker and listener are on the same level and recognise which messages were the most important. Successful communication occurs when each person feels respected and clearly understood. Taking the time to summarise the conversation and clarify the main points reduces the chance of misunderstanding, leading to unclear and ineffective communication.

Attentiveness

  • Allowing each other to speak and be heard is a vital part of effective and positive communication. Be attentive, listen carefully with respect to what the other person is saying; make sure that you fully understand them. Interrupting the speaker results in negative and ineffective communication.

Speak for Yourself

  • Taking responsibility for your own feelings and describing things from your point of view using “I” and “me” reduces the chance of negative and ineffective communication. Using “you” statements instead of “I” statements sets up defense in the other person and can seem like an attack or an attempt to blame the listener.
  • When you are speaking, be clear about what it is that you wish to say and take full responsibility for how you feel. For example, instead of saying “You know that is not right”, say “I see it differently to you.”

Types Of Communication Techniques Used In The Business World

Have a Clear Objective

  • Have a clear purpose and make it obvious. In e-mails, clearly state your topic in the subject line; when starting a meeting, review objectives and expected outcome.

Understand the Audience

  • Whether calling your boss or writing for the corporate blog, the starting point is the same: know your audience. A good audience analysis helps determine the best language, style, level of detail and format for reaching that audience.

Match Method to Message

  • Good communicators know how to select the right communication mode for a particular message. For instance, e-mail is well suited for project information, while face-to-face interaction is required for an emotionally charged topic.

Pay Attention to Detail

  • Attention to detail in message delivery is an essential communication technique. Before hitting “Send” on that e-mail, spellcheck it.

Obtain Feedback

  • The only way to know how effectively you’ve reached your audience is to obtain feedback. When announcing a new employee benefit plan, for example, conduct a survey to ensure that employees have not only read but also understood the changes.

Looking Forward

  • With these business communication techniques and a little practice, you’ll be on the road to continuous improvement.

How To Use Organisational Communication Techniques

Organisational communication is essential for any business or organisation to succeed. Communication is the fabric that holds the company together. Without effective use of organisational communication techniques, an organisation’s members will be confused, frustrated and feel unseen.

Using organisational communication techniques effectively will produce followers that are all on the same page, unified and empowered to reach a common goal.

Organisational Communication:

  • Gather the information you want to communicate. Hold a meeting with the company’s management to ensure the information that is going to be communicated is understood and approved by management. Communicate the general message you want to send to the entire organisation and then detail it in points to management. Invite discussion, disagreement and encouragement from management to refine the information so it is as accurate and concise as possible.
  • Use a variety of communication techniques to communicate the information. Send an e-mail that details the information in written form. Hold a company-wide meeting or have departmental leaders hold the meeting within their departments to orally communicate the information.
  • Allow for questions and feedback at the end of the oral presentation. Providing the avenue of feedback will help the staff to feel empowered and will also help to identify any loopholes in the communicated information. Gather the feedback and communicate it to management so it can be addressed and clarified.
  • Create an action point that all staff perform. Create an action plan that all employees are required to follow according to the information supplied. For example, if the communication was about improving customer service, separate the employees into pairs and have them role play with one another. Have one person play an angry customer and another play the customer service representative

Group Communication Techniques

  • Group interaction may be improved through various group communication techniques.
  • Communication is a very important process in human interaction. In many organisations today, there is an increasing emphasis on how to best facilitate group communication for business. Because people are a driving force behind companies and organisations, staff must be able to communicate effectively. Correct communication helps to accomplish organisational goals. Group communication may be improved through several techniques.

Nominal Group Process

  • Nominal Group Technique refers to the series of face-to-face communication techniques for groups. The idea of the process is to have members of the group interact only under specific conditions or during certain steps of the process. Steps in the nominal group process include: development of ideas silently, round-robin sharing of ideas, group feedback, group discussion (it’s important that ideas are properly explained here), re-assessment of group members and organisational of revised judgments. In the normal group process, it’s recommended that as many ideas as possible are collected prior to evaluation. It would not be practical to evaluate individual ideas due to time constraints. The idea is that delayed evaluation can actually increase the number of creative solutions from the members of the group. Also, group members get to reflect more on their opinions and thoughts while they listen to other people sharing their ideas. This type of process is more practical for unstructured group interactions.

Group Communication Strategy

  • Group Communication Strategy is a form of group communication technique from Hall and Watson’s series of normative instructions. These instructions serve as a guideline from which group interactions should proceed. Instructions under group communication strategy include: evading disagreements, refraining from giving win-lose statements and refraining from constantly changing opinions. Basically, the idea is that better communication is achieved among members of groups that employ conflict-reducing techniques. The strategy also emphasises that varying and even opposing opinions within groups is only natural. Group communication strategy is ideal for groups sharing common status.

Social Judgment Analysis

  • The social judgment analysis technique helps minimise the pressure of complying or agreeing with the more popular ideas in the group. It facilitates feedback from each member of the group. Basically, this type of technique may use computers for better convenience and better organisation. Members will be asked to judge ideas and provide feedback on the computer. They can rate ideas freely due to anonymity. Only after all the results are collected will ideas be evaluated. This provides a more objective group approach to things

Fourteen Very Effective Communication Skills

According to numerous surveys, approximately 85% percent of our success in life is directly attributable to our communication and relationship building skills. That means that no matter how ambitious anyone is or how many of their fears they overcome or even how high their level of education, they’ll still have a low probability of going far in life without effective communication skills that are vitally important to successfully connect with people.

Communication and success

It takes skill to expand outside of the small circle of people you’re involved with and learn how to connect with the majority of people you come across. It is this kind of power that is guaranteed to catapult your success in life.

Developing your communication skills

When you’re trying to connect with the majority of people, you need to ask yourself 5 questions:

  • Are you finding common ground between you?
  • Are you making them feel comfortable?
  • Are you making them feel understood?
  • Is your relationship clearly defined?
  • Are they feeling positive emotions as a result of interacting with you?
  1. Give them the impression that you’re enthusiastic about talking to them.

Give them the impression that you would rather talk to them than anyone else in the world. When you give them the impression that you are excited about talking to them and that you care about them, you make them feel supremely positive and confident about themselves. They’ll be more likely to open up to you and have deep, personable conversations with you.

However you must be sincerely interested in them and their needs otherwise you’ll be seen as a phony.

  1. Ask open-ended questions about their interests.

Ask questions that will get them to talk about their interests and their life in a way they never have before. Go into as much detail as possible and help them gain a new perspective about themselves and what their goals are in life.

  1. Adapt to their body language and feelings.

Get a feel for how they are feeling by observing their body language and voice tone. From this standpoint, you can tailor your words, body language, and voice tone to their own; thereby they are more likely to respond positively.

  1. Show them approval: Tell them what you admire about them and why.

One of the best ways to instantly connect with people is to be forthright and tell them exactly why you like or admire them. If being too direct is not appropriate, insinuate your approval with a few indirect statements here and there. Either approach can be equally as effective.

  1. Listen attentively to everything they say.

Don’t focus too much on what you’re going to say next as they are talking. Instead, listen to every word they say and respond as relevantly and smoothly as possible. This shows people that you are truly listening to what they have to say and you are fully engaged in the moment with them.

Also make sure to ask questions whenever there’s something they say that you don’t quite understand. You want to avoid all possible lapses in communication if you want to develop a fully engaged relationship with that person.

  1. Give them prolonged eye contact.

Strong eye contact communicates to the other person that you are not only captivated by them and what they have to say but that you are also trustworthy. When done in moderation, they will also assume you are confident in yourself because of your willingness to face them directly. As a result, people will naturally want to pay more attention to you and what you have to say.

  1. Reveal as much about yourself as possible.

One of the best ways to earn someone’s trust is to reveal yourself as openly as you can. Tell stories about interesting events from your life or just describe zany instances from normal everyday life. As you do this, make sure not to mention things that stray too far from where their interests and values lie. You can let them find out more about you as the relationship progresses.

  1. Give the impression that you’re both on the same team.

Use words like “we, us, we’re, our, and ourselves” to instantly build a bond. When you use those words, you make it seem as if you and the other person are on the same team while everyone else seems more distant from the two of you.

  1. Give them your best smile.

When you smile at people, you communicate that you like them and their presence brings you happiness. Smiling at them will cause them to subconsciously want to smile back at you which will instantly build rapport between the two of you.

  1. Offer helpful suggestions.

Recommend restaurants you’ve been to, places you’ve been to, movies you’ve seen, helpful people they’d like to meet, books you’ve read, career opportunities and whatever else you can think of.

Describe what was so great about those people, places and things and how they might appeal to the other person. If you suggest enough ideas that interest them, they will look at you as a “go to” person when they need to make a decision about what to do next.

  1. Give them encouragement.

If the person you’re dealing with is younger, or in a more difficult position than you, they might want to hear some words of encouragement from you since you are more experienced or you seem to be doing well in life. This helps even out the relationship. If you want to have a healthy relationship with that person, you don’t want to seem like you have it all while the other person has nothing.

Convince them that they can surpass their problems and limitations and they will look forward to having you as a person to talk to.

  1. Appear to have a slightly higher energy level than the other person.

Generally, people want to be around those who lift them up, rather than those who bring them down. If you consistently have a lower energy level than other people, they will naturally move away from you in favour of someone who is more energetic.

To prevent this from happening, consistently indicate with your voice and your body language that you have a slightly higher energy level so that they’ll feel more energised and positive while around you. Don’t be so energetic that you put people off, but have just the right amount of energy and animation to marginally build up their enthusiasm.

  1. Say their name in a way that is pleasing to their ears.

A person’s name is one of the most emotionally powerful words for them. But it’s not necessarily how often you say someone’s name that has an impact; but rather how you say it.

It may help if you practiced saying a person’s name for a minute or two so that you induce just the right emotional reaction you’re going after. Invariably, if you state their name more eloquently than everyone they know, they’ll find you to be the most memorable.

  1. Offer to take the relationship a step further.

 There are a number of things you could do to advance your friendship with someone: offer to eat with them, talk over a cup of coffee, see a sports game, have a beer or two with them, etc.

Even if people don’t take you up on your offers, they will be flattered that you like them enough to want to take the friendship to a deeper level. In a way, they will look up to you because you have the initiative to take charge of your life and boldly build business relationships instead of expecting those business relationships to magically appear for you.

Become A Skilled Communicator

If you can develop only a few of these techniques, you’ll dramatically improve your ability to connect with people from all walks in life and social circles. Take some time to observe the most sociable people in your life and you’ll see many of these methods in full use. And they aren’t done in a way that is rigid or in a way that would be too noticeable by most people. They are done naturally and in a way that fits in with the current situation.

For the best results, just relax and let these techniques flow out of you naturally. Be as close to your true self as you can. Choose the techniques that fit best with your personality and what your motives are when you interact with people. Learn to get a feel for those techniques that fit your personality best and use them for particular situations so that you feel comfortable and confident.