Discuss the Purpose and Importance of Communication in Business Administration. What Are Barriers and Break-Downs in Communication? Essay

Q:Discuss the purpose and importance of communication in business administration. What are barriers and break-downs in communication? Discussion of this question has been arranged as follows: 1. DEFINITIONS OF KEYWORDS 2. INTRODUCTION 3. TYPES OF COMMUNICATION 4. DIRECTION OF COMMUNICATION 5. PURPOSE AND IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNICATION 6. BARRIERS AND BREAKDOWNS IN COMMUNICATION 7. OVERCOMING THE BARRIERS AND BREAKDOWNS 8. CONCLUSION 1. DEFINITIONS OF THE KEYWORDS 1. 1Communication Communication is a process of which information is exchanged between individuals intentionally or unintentionally (Nzure 1992).

In other words, it is the transfer and understanding of meaning. In order for communication to be effective, there should be a sender, receiver, medium of exchange and feedback. Communication can be verbal, nonverbal, oral or written. 1. 2Barriers This refers to any difficulties which partly or fully prevent or hinder performance of an activity. In communication, barriers are those actions or anything hindering effective communication between sender and receiver. According to the online Free Dictionary a barrier is something immaterial that obstructs or impedes. Intolerance is a good example.

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Intolerance is a barrier to understanding. 2. INTRODUCTION 2. 1General Organizations function by means of collective actions of people. Good communication is required to achieve coordinated results. (Michael Armstrong, 2008). Most of the organizations problems emanate from poor communication. 2. 2Effective Communication Good and effective communication is vital in running any business successfully. Making good profits requires effective communication in all aspects. Effective communication involves sending messages and receiving feedback, – a two way communication. 3. TYPES OF COMMUNICATION

Communication can be by speech, non verbal, writing, audiovisual and electronic means As relates to communication in organizations, there are two main types of communication -formal communication, and informal communication. 3. 1Formal Communication This is an official type of communication which is planned and approved by management – usually in the form of circulars, memos, minutes, official letters, meetings and posters 3. 2Informal Communication This type of communication is unofficial and unplanned. Examples are the grapevine and networks. Employees normally employ the former to meet their innate need for information.

However, such information is normally incomplete – usually only 70% to 90% accurate in content. The grapevine has no proper. It conveys information in a random manner. Managers and other members of the organization are all involved. (Dr. J. Katunzi, 2007) As opposed to the grapevine, networks are formed by groups of members with common interest. Members of these groups obtain information and circulate it within the group. They interact regularly. 4. DIRECTION OF COMMUNICATION In organizations there are three known levels of communication. – (i) downward communication, (ii) upward communication and (iii) lateral communication. . 1Downward Communication ( Top – Down) In this level, information flows from a manager to a subordinate ie. from the top to the bottom. The information communicated is intended to influence strategies, objectives, to issue directives and policies, and to provide performance feedback to subordinates after appraisal, etc. 4. 2Upward Communication (Bottom – Up) Information flows from subordinates to managers in all forms. The information communicated is intended to inform top management of lower level employees’ problems, to give results, suggestions, and to ask questions and inform management of their needs. . 3Horizontal Communication (Lateral) This is communication between coworkers or between managers, which is less formal than the two vertical types. Information is exchanged rapidly especially in crisis situations. It functions as a coordinator. 5. PURPOSE AND IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNICATION 5. 1Communication is Necessary to Carry out the Thoughts and Visions of an Organization The ability to communicate effectively is necessary to carry out the objectives an organization. Effective communication in a business setting is critical to success.

Components contributing to effective communication in an organization include frequency, clarity, transparency, reliability and tone. i. Frequency If communication only happens occasionally, employees may find themselves confused or feeling isolated, which decreases confidence and overall productivity. ii. Clarity Business communication requires a high level of clarity. If communication is too surface and simple, recipients miss pertinent information. iii. Transparency Transparency is a crucial element of effective business and administrative communication. iv. Reliability

Business communications often contain important and timely information. v. Tone It is important that business communications be transmitted with a sense of energy and urgency. 5. 2 Communication Provides a Link Between Management and Employees Communication provides a link between the management and employees in the process of performing organizational activities for effective achievements of set objectives. “It is vital for the success of our companies that businessmen and women emerge as real leaders and demonstrate their ability to communicate effectively, internally and externally. (Sir Colin Marshall, then chairman, British Airways) The success of organizations depends to a great extent on effective communication. One of the primary causes of organizational malfunction is a failure to meet communication challenges. Managers are supposed to be experts in organizational communication 5. 3Communication Facilitates Decision Making Individuals and groups within an organization require information on which to base their various decisions. Information so gathered has to be communicated 5. 4Communication Facilitates the Direction and Control of Employees’ Behaviour.

Under the classical perspective communication is a managerial tool to command and control workers. Organizations have formal guidelines that employees are required to comply with, such as their job descriptions and company policies. Employees will not be able to abide by these guidelines and policies if the existence and mode of compliance are not effectively communicated to them. . C5. 5 Communication Enhances Employees’ Motivation Employee motivation is enhanced when management clarifies to employees w what is to be done, how it is to be done and when 5. 5. 6 Communication Contributes to Creating Relationships

According to Matoka communication contributes to creating relationships and assists both individuals and organizations in achieving diverse purposes (Dr. Chacha A. Matoka, ) 6. BARRIERS TO/BREAKDOWN IN COMMUNICATION Anything that prevents understanding of a message is a barrier to communication. These barriers may be physical or even psychological. They can be summarized as follows: 6. 1Lack of Planning Good communication needs prior thinking and proper planning. Officers and employees of an organization feel comfortable to give and receive information in the light of known policy, 6. Physical Barriers Physical barriers include the following: 6. 2. 1Environmental Disturbances Within or Around the Organization’s Premises. For example there might be a dance hall adjacent to the organization’s premises, and the dance hall is not sound proof. Such situation may hinder effective communication within the organization 6. 2. 2. Physical Condition of the Receiver If the receiver of information audibly conveyed is suffering from some degree of hearing impairment he/she will obviously not be able to receive the information conveyed effectively.

For such people communication in writing is more effective. 6. 3Mechanical Barriers In the process of communication different equipments are used as a medium. A defective equipment is obviously a barrier. eg a defective speaker of a mobile phone, unavailability of electricity or network. 6. 4Racial/Tribal Prejudices and Cultural Barriers There are various such factors which cause barriers to effective communication. Some are due to to semantics, e. g. a word can have different meanings and connotations to people of different cultures.

Tone differences for example the tone and language of most Kenyans when ordering food at a restaurant seems as a command rather than a request to Tanzanians . The Kenyan could be considered as being rude. 6. 5 Language Barrier Language that describes what we want to say in our terms may present barriers to others who are not familiar with our expressions, buzz-words and jargons (Chacha Matoka) 6. 6Perceptional Bias Barriers Assumptions are key to perception barriers.. Most people tend to assume that someone knows something or will behave in a certain manner simply because he/she hails from a certain region.

The listener, for instance, may be mentally developing an answer before the other speaker has finished. This is where the stereotypes, the hallo effects and selective perception come in. 6. 7Emotional Barriers Such barriers are caused by fear, mistrust and suspicion. Information conveyed under strong emotions can easily be a barrier to communication. For example a manager who has been reprimanded by the top boss could find himself using a very strong tone to communicate with his junior staff. 6. 8Gender Barriers It is common ground that men and women use oral and body language communication differently.

Men emphasize and use language of status and independence while women use communication to create connection and intimacy (Stephen P. Robbins, 2005). Females have the ability to read body language and pick up nonverbal cues, good listening skills and effective display of empathy. However, women are overly emotional, meandering and not authoritative. Males are direct and to-the-point. However they are overly blunt and direct, insensitive to audience reactions. and too confident in own opinion. (Carol Kinsey Goman ) 6. 9Mistrust Mistrust undermines communication because any message will be viewed with skepticism.. Tawhidul Alam Program) A good example is where a Chief Accountant is given some information by his senior who at one time misinformed him about the organizations use of funds 6. 10 Projection or Impact Creation. This could be a barrier particularly when advanced technology is used to communicate. Projection and impact are not automatically helped by using the latest high-tech devices. In fact, there is a danger that techology will lead to a greater number of monologues as executives become consumed by technical gimmickry rather than focusing on the information they are supposed to deliver. 6. 11Unclarified Assumptions

Messages may be interpreted otherwise if the sender does not clearly spell out his intention. For example, Mr. X (General Manager) sends a message to Mr. Y (Human Resources Manager) that he will have a meeting with employees of the Marketing Department on Monday at 7 o’clock. Mr. Y may assume it to be at 7pm, only to learn later that the General Manager meant 7am. 6. 12Poor Expression A comunicator fails to effectively communicate with the desired receiver if the messages are marked by poorly chosen words, poor organization of ideas, awkward sentence structure, lack of coherence, omission, and unnecessary jargon. . 13Poor Retention In the process of transmission a fraction of the message gets lost at every stage. The longer the communication route,the more the loss of the message. Thus, very little information finally reaches the destination and of that very little information only a fraction is likely to be retained. This may lead to imperfect responses. 6. 14Poor Listening Many people talk more and listen less. This stands in the way of effective communication. It is advisable to “Seek first to understand” (Stephen R. Covey) Many people do not listen with intention to understand, but with intent to reply.

They are either speaking or preparing to speak. 6. 15Information Overload If people are overloaded with information, they simply fail to screen out which information is worth reaching to. As a result, they cannot absorb or adequately respond. 6. 16Semantic Distortions Words have a variety of meanings. The same word may mean an entirely different thing to different people within the same organization. For example, different departments within an organization receive a memo stating that a new product is to be added to the product line in a short time.

The word ‘short time’ might mean 2/3 years to the people in the research and development department, 5/6 months to the people in the finance department and a few weeks to the people in the sales department. 6. 17Absence of Feedback In the absence of feedback, it becomes one-way communication creating an autocratic environment, which is neither desirable nor feasible in these days. The receivers to whom these orders have been directed not duly and sincerely honor in one-way or autocratic directions. For obvious reason, absence of feedback then acts as a barrier to effective communication. 6. 8Inappropriate Medium Not all media of communication available are equally suitable for all the purposes and in all situations. A medium selected should be proper and appropriate. An unsuitable medium may act as a barrier. For example, an employee misbehaves later express his regret, if the employee through face-to-face communication admits his offence and apologizes with a remorseful look, the boss will be more appreciative. But if the employee simply delivers a regret letter the boss may not appreciate. So the letter as a medium of communication, selected in this instance does not prove to be appropriate.

Instead it becomes one of the barriers. 7. OVERCOMING THE BARRIERS 7. 1 Realize that Communication is a Dialogue, not a Monologue Effective communication needs to be built around the simple foundation and realization that communication is a dialogue, not a monologue. The barriers to communication can be overcome by both the sender and the receiver. The sender should communicate messages effectively and the receiver should listen to messages attentively. Several things can be done by the sender to increase effectiveness.

These include: setting communication goals, using appropriate messages, using empathy, improving credibility, encouraging feedback, developing a trusting climate and selecting appropriate media. Sender should also use direct and simple language or use language appropriate to the receiver. The use of jargons should be eliminated or minimized Communication can be improved by the receiver by paying attention to messages, avoiding premature evaluation/judgment of the message, listening to total meaning and providing responsive feedback. 7. 2Listen and Depict Empathy One author describes empathy as follows: Empathy is the ability to identify and understand the other person’s feelings, ideas and situation” (James Borg) 7. 3 Determine the Plan A policy or planning tells the members what to do, how to do, etc. Well thought policies or planning aid the smooth flow of effective communication. 7. 4Avoid Assumptions Unclarified assumptions may sometimes lead to draw different conclusion by different people. To avoid this messages should be clearly spelled out. Whatever intention is in the mind of the sender, it should clearly be encoded. There should be no room for the receiver to interpret the message differently.

Be direct, clear, specific, honest, respectful and tactful 7. 5Appropriate Encoding Communication is intended to inform others as well as to know the others. When it is done for others, management should be serious in the organization of the ideas. Every effort should be taken to make the message understandable to the receivers 7. 6Create Credibility Distrust is to a great extent, overcome through creating trust or credibility. A person’s credibility is high if others perceive him or her as knowledgeable, trustworthy and sincerely concerned about the welfare of others. . 7 Regulate Information Flow Regulating the flow of communication ensures an optimum flow of information, which facilitates the elimination of information overload.. 7. 8Recognize and act on the Receiver’s Personal Factors To overcome the preconceived perception of the receiver, the communicator must place himself or herself in the receiver’s position to anticipate how the message is likely to be decoded. If the receiver is skeptic about the sender, the communicator must try to remove the skepticism from the receiver’s mind. 7. 9Use of Appropriate Language/Words

Effective communication is sometimes impeded by semantic problems. Great care should be taken while encoding a message to ensure that words having varieties of meaning are not used. Words chosen for the purpose should have as far as possible, positive and specific connotations. Ideas are important, but the words you use to express them are equally important” (Kaitholi 2008) 7. 10Use Simple Language Technical jargons used in communication transform simple concepts into complex puzzles. If technical jargons are to be used at all, their clear meaning should be given 7. 1Utilizing Feedback Feedback enables the communicator to determine whether the message has been received as intended by the communicator. 7. 12Select the Appropriate Channel A cautious communicator should judiciously evaluate the alternative channels. This technique will indicate which particular channel proves to be most appropriate. 7. 13Communicate Like Crazy! Whenever the situation is ambiguous lack of formal communication only compounds the problem. Don’t let the grapevine take over the communication function. The manager should be the one to keep the employees informed. 7. 4Getting Out of The Office and Meeting with Employees Face-to-Face. Technology has been a wonderful tool for reaching geographically dispersed employees. However, when dealing with fear and uncertainty, people need to meet with their bosses face-to-face. Sometimes employees just want to hear the information being communicated from “the horses mouth” 8CONCLUSION Communication has been part of our daily life from the first day of our life on earth. We spend nearly 70% of our waking hours communicating; reading, writing, listening, and speaking to others including passing of useful nformation to others. (Stephen P. Robbins – 2005) Without effective communication there is no development in the world. However, if not properly used, communication can also be a hindrance to development. It is therefore important for every organization to ensure that there is effective communication within the organization and also between the organization and its customers. References 1. Dr. Chacha A. Matoka, PhD (2010), Human Resource Management Lecture on Organisational Communication and Systems. 2. Dr. George Kaitholil, “ You can be an Effective Speaker”. . Dr. Justine Katunzi, PhD (2007), Organisational Behaviour Compendium , 73-83 4. Michael Armstrong (2008), “Human Resource Management Practice”, 10th Edition, 817-821 5. Sir John Harvey Jones “Persuasion” – The art of influencing people , 2nd edition 6. Stephen N. M. Nzuve (1992), “Organisational Behaviour” , 55-65 7. Stephen P. Robbins (2005), “Essentials of Organisational Behaviour”, 8th Edition, 138-155 8. Stephen R. Covey, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Websites 1. www. communications. fullerton. edu/… /orgcomm. html) 2. www. hodu. com. arriers, Seven Barriers to Great Communication, Article by Eric Garner 3. www. leehopkins. com/articles-on-organizational-communication. html 4. www. livestrong. com/article/73440-barriers-communication/#ixzz0y8Fav7Cg 5. www. scribd. com/… /Barriers-to-Effective-Communication-in-Your-Organization 6. www. thefreedictionary. com/barrier Articles: 1. Tawhidul Alam Program in his article “Barriers to Effective Communication in Your Organization” 2. “Venus, Mars, and workplace communication” (Articles on Organizational Communication) 3. Leadership in challenging times by Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph. D.


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