Chapter 12: Communicating and Interpersonal Skills Section 12.1 - Understanding Communication Key Terms Communication process Encoding Message Channel Decoding Feedback Grapevine Body language Verbal intonation Filtering Selective perception Information overload Jargon Active listening Summary Everything a manager does involves communicating. Ineffective communication skills can lead to a continuous stream of problems for the manager. Communication can be thought of as a process or flow. Communication problems can occur when there are deviations or blockages in that flow. Before communication can take place, a purpose, expressed as a message to be conveyed, is needed. It passes between a source (the sender) and a receiver. The message is encoded (converted to symbolic form) and is passed by way of some medium (channel) to the receiver who re-translates (decodes) the message initiated by the sender. The result is transference of meaning from one person to another. The communication process, shown in Exhibit 12-1, is the transferring and understanding of meaning. It includes seven stages: sender, encoding, channel, decoding, receiver, and feedback. Four conditions affect the encoded message: skill, attitudes, knowledge, and the social cultural system. Written communications are tangible, verifiable, and more permanent than the oral variety. Both sender and receiver have a record of the communication. They can be stored for an indefinite period of time and they are physically available for later reference. One drawback is that writing consumes a great deal of time. Another major disadvantage is the lack of feedback - written communications don’t have a built-in feedback mechanism. The grapevine is the unofficial way that communications take place in an organization. It is neither authorized nor supported by the organization. It gets information out to organizational members as quickly as possible with questionable accuracy. Some of the most meaningful communications are nonverbal communications. The bestknown areas of nonverbal communication are body language and verbal intonation. Body language refers to gestures, facial configurations, and other movements of the body. Verbal intonation refers to the emphasis someone gives to words or phrases. During oral communication the nonverbal component is likely to carry the greatest impact. Interpersonal and intrapersonal barriers explain why the message decoded by a receiver is often different from that which the sender intended. There are several barriers to effective communication. Filtering - The deliberate manipulation of information to make it appear more favorable to the receiver. Selective Perception - Receiving communication on the basis of what one selectively sees and hears depending on his or her needs, motivation, experience, background, and other personal characteristics. Information Overload - When the amount of information one has to work with exceed one’s processing capacity. Emotions - How the receiver feels when a message is received. Language - Words have different meanings to different people. Receivers will use their definition of words communicated. Gender - How males and females react to communication may be different; and they each have a different communication style. National Culture - Communication differences arising from the different languages that individuals use to communicate and the national culture of which they are a part. The techniques useful for overcoming these barriers are identified below. Use feedback - Check the accuracy of what has been communicated—or what you think you heard. Simplify language - Use words that the intended audience understands. Listen actively - Listen for the full meaning of the message without making premature judgment or interpretation—or thinking about what you are going to say in response. Constrain emotions - Recognize when your emotions are running high. When they are, don’t communicate until you have calmed down. Watch nonverbal cues - Be aware that your actions speak louder than your words. Keep the two consistent. Section Outline I. Understanding Communication A. How does the communication process work? B. Are written communications more effective than verbal ones? C. Is the grapevine an effective way to communicate? D. How do nonverbal cues affect communications? E. What barriers exist to effective communication? 1. Filtering 2. Selective perception 3. Information overload 4. Emotions 5. Language 6. Gender 7. National culture F. How can managers overcome communication barriers? 1. Why use feedback? 2. Why should simplified language be used? 3. Why must we listen actively? 4. Why must we constrain emotions? 5. Why the emphasis on nonverbal cues?