Chapter 10- Communication
What is communication
o Communication: The process by which information is exchanged
between a sender and a receiver.
Interpersonal communication is between two people
Simplest prototype, is one on one communication between
o Model of the communication process
Purchasing manager thinks, “I think we’re getting short on A-
Purchasing manger keyboards memo to assistant requesting
that he/she order A-40s.
Purchasing manager sends memo by email.
Assistant reads memo
Checks parts catalogue to find out what an A-40 is.
Assistant realizes that he must place an order for flange
Assistant sends the manager a copy of the order.
Demonstrates a number of points where errors can occur
o Effective Communication: Communication whereby the right people
receive the right information in a timely manner.
Violating any of these 3 conditions results in a communication
episode that is ineffective.
Basics of Organizational Communication
o Chain of command: Lines of authority and formal reporting relationships
Downward Communication: Information that flows from the top of
the organization toward the bottom
Vice president -> manager > employees
Upward Communication: Information that flows from the bottom
of the organization toward the top
Employee > manager > Vice president
Horizontal communication: Information that flows between
departments or functional units usually as a means of coordinating
Flows up to and down from a common manger.
o Deficiencies in the chain of command.
Informal Communication Chain of command does not consider informal
communication. It helps people accomplish their jobs more
effectively. Not always beneficial for the company
Filtering: The tendency for a message to be watered down or
stopped during transmission.
Occurs both upward and downward and potential increases
with the number of links in communication
Organization will establish channels to prevent:
o Open door policy: The opportunity for employees to
communicate directly with a manager without going
through the chain of command. (Preventing upward
o To prevent downward filtering organizations attempt
to communicate directly with potential receivers,
bypassing the chain of command.
The chain of command can be very slow and an inefficient
way to quickly react to customer problems
o Cross-functional teams and employee empowerment
have been used to improve communication by short-
circuiting the chain of command.
The one on one exchange of information between a boss and
Key element in upwards/downwards communication
Perceptions that managers are good communicators tend to be
correlated positively with organizational performance.
o How good is the manager-employee communication
Managers and employees often differ in their perceptions of the
How employees should and do allocate time.
How long it takes to learn a job.
The importance employees attach to pay.
The amount of authority the employee has.
The employee’s skills and abilities.
The employee’s performance and obstacles to good
The manager’s leadership style.
These differences suggest a lack of openness in communication,
which contributes to role conflict and ambiguity and reduces
o Barriers to effective communication
Conflicting role demands
Leadership requires both task and social-emotional
functions. Difficulties balancing the two.
Two separate messages focus on each aspect individual is
more effective than one focusing on both Mum effect: The tendency to avoid communicating unfavorable
news to others.
More likely when sender is responsible for bad news
Applies to both management and employees
The Grape Vine
o Grapevine: An organizations informal communication network
Cuts across formal communication, not just through word of mouth.
Transmits information relevant to the performance of the
organization as well as personal gossip
Personal and emotionally charged information is most likely to be
distorted (75% non controversial info is correct)
Only a portion of those who receive the information pass it on
o Who participates?
Personality plays a role- extraverts more likely, same with people
who lack self esteem and the info gives them a personal advantage.
The nature of the info influences who shares it
The physical location (high traffic work stations, constant moving
positions mailman) is related to who passes on the information
Can keep employees informed on organizational matters
Can be used to test reactions, with out making a formal change.
Can serve as informal recruiting source
Pipeline for rumors
Rumor: An unverified belief that is in general circulation
Spread fastest when information is ambiguous, content is
important, seems credible and recipient is anxious
No verification of accuracy can lead to rumors being distorted as
they are shared.
The Verbal Language of Work
o Jargon: Specialized language used by jobholders or members of particular
occupations or organizations.
Its an efficient way to communicate with peers and provides a touch
of status to those who have mastered it.
Can also serve as a barrier between departments and its intimidating
to new members
The Non-Verbal Language
o Non-verbal communication: The transmission of messages by some
medium other than speech or writing.
Body Language: Non-verbal communication by means of a senders
bodily motions, facial expressions or physical location.
Conveys two important messages
The extent to which the sender likes and is interested in the
The sender’s views concerning the relative status of the
sender and the receiver.
Senders communicate liking and interest in the receiver
o Position themselves physically close to the receiver. o Touch the receiver during the interaction.
o Maintain eye contact with the receiver.
o Lean forward during the interaction.
o Direct the torso toward the receiver
Senders who feel themselves to be of a higher status then the
receiver act more relaxed
o The casual, asymmetrical placement of arms and legs
o A reclining, non-erect seating position; and
o A lack of fidgeting and nervous activity.
The greater the difference is relaxation the more they
communicate a status differential to each other.
This could include showing our true feelings, “editing” our feelings,
or trying to actively deceive others.
One area where body language has an impact is on the outcome of
employment interview decisions.
Increased body language might give the edge to applicants
who are otherwise equally well qualified
o Props, artifacts and costumes can also contribute to communication
Office Décor and Arrangement
Conveys information about occupant
Personal decorations, neatness and a desk placed against the
wall made student more comfortable in professor’s offices.
Middle managers have been found to use office décor to
“profile” the identity and status of office occupants.
Sends signals about competence, seriousness and
Does communicate but only partly as the clothes affect ones
own self image
Gender Differences in Communication
o Differences in communication styles influence the way which men and
women are treated in the workplace.
Originates from childhood and centers around a “one up, one down”
o Men are most concerned with power dynamics and use communication as a
way to put them in a one up situation
o Women are more concerned with rapport building and communicate in a
way that avoids putting others down
This results in women being in a one down situation, which has
negative effects on the rewards they receive and their careers.
o Key differences placing women in one down situations:
Men are more likely than women to blow their horn about
something good they have done.
Confidence and boasting
Men tend to be more boastful about themselves and their
capabilities and to minimize their doubts.
Asking questions Men are less likely to ask questions.
Men avoid ritual apologies because it is a sign of weakness.
Men are more blunt and straightforward.
Women are more likely to provide compliments.
Men often use ritual opposition as a form of communication
and to exchange ideas.
Managing up and down
Men spend much more time communicating with their
superiors and talking about their achievements.
Women tend to be indirect when giving orders.
o These differences almost always reflect negatively on women and place
them in a one down position
o Need to recognize people have different linguistic skills and be flexible so
that you can adjust your style when necessary
Cross Culture Communication
o Language differences
Speaking same language is no guarantee of perfect communication