Relevance of Silence in the Context of Managerial Communication Essay

Communication is the way or process of transformation of data or information from a sender to receiver (Bovee and Thill 2008, p. 38). According to them, an effective communication plays the vital part to achieve the organisational goal. In the context of managerial communication, an effective communication is very helpful for early warning of potential problems, stronger decision making, faster problem solving, having a steadier workflow and resulting increased productivity responsible for the growth for the organisation.

In an organisation, an effective communication can be proceed by both verbally and non-verbally. In non-verbal communication silence is one of the most important aspect. In managerial communication, silence is very important in listening more effectively, in understanding and paying concentration in various problems, to support the co-worker in critical work issue and building good relationship, in negotiation process when emphasising a point more effectively. Silence in a team can also signify harmony and productivity.

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Sometimes silence can effect in strong decision making, can result silence conflict in organisation, hinder the overall performance and sometimes silence can cause misunderstanding and tension. So it can be said that silence can play a significant role in the context of managerial communication. Through this essay some important aspects of silence and its consequences will be discussed and some suggestion will be provided to mange silence properly in the context of managerial communication. According to Lewis (1975, p. 156) non-verbal communication are those communications that are not in words.

Bratton and Gold(2002, p. 584) suggested that nonverbal communication is the process of coding meaning through individual behaviour such as facial expression, silence, touch or hand gesture etc. According to Mckenna (2006, p-698) non-verbal communication is concerned about those aspects of communication that are not expressed orally or in writing and this includes movements, intonations that are applied on words, physical distance of the sender and receiver and also facial expression. Silence is very powerful form of nonverbal communication and it can be widely used in the context of managerial communication.

Milliken, Morrison & Hewlin (2003) described that over 85% of the managers and professionals admitted to remain silent about one of their work concerns. In the context of managerial communication silence is very closely related. Silence has both positive and negative impact in managerial communication. Lee (2000, p. 271) suggested that the art of creating and managing silence can be a useful counterpoint in our workplace. In managerial communication, there are different types of situation arises and a manager has to make the right decision at the right time.

In workplace silence can take an important part when listening attentively, in negotiation, in reducing interpersonal conflict and also increasing informational privacy among the employees. In the context of managerial communication silence can play a significant role in listening. Ellis and Richard (2002, p. 16) argued that listening is an activity that is very crucial in all form of communication and in various surveys managers have put down listening as their predominant activity where 45% of their working week is devoted in listening. Bovee and Thill (2008, p. 3) 80% of the top executives rated listening as the most important skill needed to get things done in work place. According to Johnson and et al (2003, p;23), silence greatly improves listening effectiveness. For example a manager has to give full attention to hear his employee and here silence is important. In the context of managerial communication silence can minimise personal conflict among the employee. Employees may remain silent at work both to protect self interest and they also want to avoid co-worker getting in trouble, described by Edmondson (1996).

Silence can be useful for building good relationship among the employees. Employee silence can be beneficial because it minimises managerial informational overload, reduces personal conflict and also increase informational privacy among the employees, argued by Van Dyne, Ang and Botero (2003). For example, if the employees keep their personal information to each other, they become trustful to each other. If silence is used well, it can be a significant form of non-verbal communication.

Thomson (1992) pointed that silence can be used when anyone wants to emphasis a point, that can also increase the listener’s conscious about the topic. To building up the interest and the anticipation of the listener, the pregnant pause before an announcement can be very effective. By this period the listener can pay more attention to the topic which is more important in communication. In managerial communication, negotiation is one of the most critical factors. As a manager proper negotiation skill is must to achieve the goal. Ellis and Richard (2002, p. 5) described that negotiation can be a key in problem solving which can unlock what is blocked and this requires a very careful listening and silence is crucial for listening. In negotiation one side presents a certain position and wait for the response. The other party can either accept or decline – or can become silent (Thomas Payne, 2009). Effective team work is very important to effective management procedure. When a team has good collaboration, good management, good interpersonal relationship among the members then the member become more confident and the work given by the leader can be done silently.

According to kissoon, syed and Campbell (2008, p. 40), silence can express the periods of relative harmony, great productivity and also team cohesiveness. Silence and other forms of nonverbal communication are closely related to each other. In managerial communication, facial expression, eye contact, touch, posture, gesture and other form of nonverbal communication are very important. According to Thomson (1992), as a manager, nonverbal communication can be used to reveal feelings and making some reasonable judgement through proper observation.

As example, a manager can use facial expression to convey their emotion like encouragement, approval and disapproval without using words and being silent. In managerial communication, silence also has got some negative impact. One of the most important adverse is employee silence. It can be simply defined as the intentional withholding of information among the employees. (Johannesen, 1974). According to Enron; Ashforth & Anand (2003), unwillingness of the worker to speak up about any early warning sign can contribute negative outcomes. They also keep important information to hemselves so that often intentionally suppress critical information. Morrison & Milliken (2003) suggested about employee silence that employees remain silent in work for either disengagement from work or fears of reprisal from the manager for speaking up. In another research Morrison and Milliken (2000) found that often employees remain silent in critical issue like disagreement with organisational decision, having conflict with the co-works or having weakness in work issues. So this can cause serious problem in organisational communication.

Silence in the organisation can affect the efficiency of the employees and hinder their performance. The employees who fail to express their thoughts and feelings, goes through cynicism, job dissatisfaction, stress and depression (Jack, 1991; Beer and Eisenstat, 2000; Morrison and Milliken, 2000). According to Kahn (1990), those who remain silent in workplace experience declining interest and disengagement from the organisation. So it can limit the creativity of the employee and decrease the efficiency. As a manager, strong decision making capability is very essential.

But silence can play a negative role in making the right decision. Harvey (2007) pointed that the efficacy of strong decision making can be reduced by the effect of silence. Larkey (1996, p. 466) suggested that communication between individuals those who are working together can help in decision making by sharing information to each other. If they remain silent to each other, valuable information do not pass through and so that a strong decision making can be affected. Good leadership is one of the vital requirements to become a good manager.

Silence can hamper the leadership because it can cause misunderstanding among the employees and manager. Kayworth and Leidner (2002) found that team members always complain and dissatisfied if leaders remain silent and do not acknowledge suggestions or give directions properly. This can result confusion among the members of the team and they become puzzled and frustrated. As a result this silence of the leader is viewed as unwillingness and non-participation to work. In the context of managerial communication silence has a huge impact. In the workplace it can create resentment, anxiety and other negative emotions mong the employees(e. g. , Jack, 1991; Derlega et al. , 1993; Harter, 2002) and this can result a disconnection in a relationship and feelings of distance among the employees (Kantor and Lehr, 1975; Broderick, 1993; Miller and Stiver, 1997). If the members feel the lacking of information from the leader, it can result destructive effect to group cohesion as expressed by Cramton (2001). To recapitulate, Bauhaus architect and designer Walter Gropius said “The human mind is like an umbrella, it works when it open” (blundel and Ippolito, 2008, p. ). So for a open mind communication is very important. In the context of managerial communication, silence is important to have the communication competence. Though silence has both positive and negative impact in managerial communication, it can be used widely in workplace. Silence can be used in motivating employees in difficult situation by improving the managerial listening effectiveness. According to Lee (2000, p. 271), the art of creation and management of silence can be a useful counterpoint in our workplace.

Silence has to be used properly in managerial communication and the managers and employees should work for the better future of the company. If it used properly then it can be a source of significant change in communication. Lee (2000, p. 271) also supported silence by pointing that sometimes silence has as much influence or it can mean more than what is actually being said. By the sensible use of silence, the negative consequences like silence conflict, information mismanagement can be avoided which is fruitful for having dynamic relationship and personal interaction in organisational climate.


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