Chapter 9: Communication
! Communication: The process by which information is exchanged between a sender and a
receiver. Interpersonal communication is the exchange of information between people.
! Effective communication: The right people receive the right information in a timely manner.
! Chain of command: Lines of authority and formal reporting relationships. Three necessary
forms of communication can be accomplished.
! Downward communication: Information that flows from the top of the organization toward
! Upward communication: Information that flows from the bottom of the organization toward
! Horizontal communication: Information that flows between departments or functional units,
usually as a means of coordinating effort.
Deficiencies in the Chain of Command
! Informal Communication: It fails to consider informal communication between members.
However, informal grapevine can spread rumours about the organization.
! Filtering: Getting the right information to the right people is often inhibited by filtering. It is
the tendency for a message to be watered down or stopped during transmission. On one hand,
employees are supposed to filter information but it may prevent the right people from getting
the right information. Upward filtering often occurs because employees are afraid that their
boss will use the information against them. Downward filtering is often due to time
constraints, simple lack of attention to detail, or more sinister motives.
! Open door policy: The opportunity for employees to communicate directly with a manager
without going through the chain of command.
! Slowness: It can be painfully slow. Even slower for horizontal communication between
departments and not a good mechanism for reacting quickly to customer problems.
Barriers to Effective Manger-Employee Communication
! Conflicting Role Demands: Many managers will have difficulty balancing task and social-
! The Mum Effect: The tendency to avoid communicating unfavourable news to others. The
sender need not be responsible for the bad news for the mum effect to occur. Employees with
strong aspirations for upward mobility are especially likely to encounter communication
difficulties with their bosses. Also, the boss might be reluctant to transmit bad news
! Grapevine: An organization’s informal communication network. It often cuts across formal
lines of communication that are organized by management. Distinguishing features of
! 1) Written notes, emails, faxes contribute to grapevine along with word of mouth.
! 2) Organizations often have several grapevine systems, some of which may be loosely
! 3) The grapevine can transmit information relevant to the performance of the organization as
well as personal gossip.
! Information does not run in a chain and does not spread fast through the organization.
! Extraverts are more likely to pass information than introverts. Nature of information also
influences who passes on the information. Also the physical location of organizational
members is related to their opportunity to both receive and transmit news via the “vine”.
! Grapevine pros: It can keep employees informed about organizational matters, it can be a
substitute for formal communication in lax organizations, provide a test of employee reactions
to proposed changes, managers can “leak” ideas into grapevine and judge reactions. It can add
interest and diversion to the work setting.
! Grapevine cons: It can be a real problem for the organization when it becomes a constant
pipeline for rumours. A rumour is an unverified belief that is in general circulation. It is
highly susceptible to distortion.
! Jargon: Specialized language used by job holders or members of particular occupations or
organizations. Jargon is an efficient means of communicating with peers and provides but it
can serve as a barrier to clear communication between departments. New members can find
jargon intimidating or confusing. A second serious problem with the use of jargon is the
communication barrier to those outside the organization.
! Nonverbal communication: The transmission of messages by some medium other than
speech or writing.
! Body language: Nonverbal communication by means of a sender’s bodily motions, facial
expressions, or physical location. People of higher status tend to be more relaxed.
Props, Artifacts, and Costumes
! Nonverbal communication can also occur through the use of various objects such as props,
artifacts, and costumes.
! Office Decor and Arrangement: Research showed that clean office decor and arrangement
with posters and plants showed that the person is more organized and more approachable.
! Clothing: The clothing organizational members wear sends clear signals about their
competence, seriousness, and promotability.
Gender Differences in Communication
! Girls see conversations as a way to develop relationships and networks of connection and
intimacy. Boys view conversations as a way for them to achieve status within groups and to
maintain independence. Gender differences in communication revolve around the “One up,
One down” position. Men tend to be more sensitive to power dynamics and will use
communication as a way to position themselves in a one-up situation. Women are more
concerned with rapport building, and they communicate in ways that avoid putting others
down. Key differences between communications styles:
1) Getting credit: men are more likely to blow the horn about something good they’ve