All communication takes some way, or passage through some well-defined, easily identifiable stages.The word ‘channel’ therefore, becomes synonymous with the ‘position’ or ‘point through’ which the communication passes. It is also known as the chain/line of command. All downward, upward, and horizontal communications flow through this chain.
Read this article to learn about –
According to context – a. Formal communication and b. Informal communication.
According to the persons involved – a. Intrapersonal communication b. Interpersonal communication c. External communication d. Internal communication e. Mass communication
According to the direction of communication – a. Vertical communication b. Horizontal communication c. Diagonal communication
According to the method of communication – a. Verbal communication and b. Nonverbal communication.
List of communication channels –
1. On the basis of organisational structure
(i) Formal communication (ii) Informal communication
2. On the basis of direction of communication
(i) Upward channel (ii) Downward channel (iii) Horizontal channel (iv) Diagonal channel
3. On the basis of way of expression
(i) Oral or Verbal communication (ii) Written communication
Channels of Communication
All communication takes some way, or passage through some well-defined, easily identifiable stages. It means that the sender of the written communication means to pass it on to the addressee through somebody occupying an important position in the hierarchical system of the organisation.
The word ‘channel’ therefore, becomes synonymous with the ‘position’ or ‘point through’ which the communication passes.
Very often we hear the term ‘through proper channel’ which means communication through the channel prescribed in the organisation. It is the path of the line of authority linking two positions in the organisation.
It is also known as the chain/line of command. All downward, upward, and horizontal communications flow through this chain.
All organisations depend heavily on communication to accomplish their objectives. The approach to communication varies from one organisation to another depending upon their different requirements and characteristics. In a small business with only five or six employees, much information can be exchanged casually and directly.
However, in a giant organisation with hundreds or thousands of employees scattered around the world, transmitting the right information to the right people at the right time is a real challenge. It requires a channel of communication.
Types of Communication Channels
Every organisation has its own system of communication—regular patterns of interaction among people and systematic flow of information. There are several forms of communication Channel:
- According to Context: Every communication takes place within a context which is formed by the combination of circumstances that influence the piece of communication at a certain point of time.
The factors that influence a context are physical surroundings, emotions, reactions, attitudes, opinions, etc. Based on the context, communication is classified into:
- Formal communication and
- Informal communication.
a. Formal Communication:
Formal communication is a piece of communication that strictly adheres to rules, conventions, and ceremony, and is free of colloquial expressions.
b. Informal Communication:
Informal communication is an unofficial communication which takes place in an unstructured manner and outside formal forums.
II. According to the Persons Involved:
Communication involves transfer of message from sender to receiver. Depending on the type of persons involved in the communication, it is divided into the following:
a. Intrapersonal Communication:
Intrapersonal communication is the most basic level of communication where one communicates with oneself. Intra-personal communication is also known by many other names like self-dialogue, self-talk, inner monologue, inner dialogue, inner speech and self-verbalisation.
b. Interpersonal Communication:
All aspects of personal interaction, contact, and communication between individuals or members of a group.
Although interpersonal communication can encompass oral, written, and nonverbal forms of communication, the term is usually applied to spoken communication that takes place between two or more individuals on a personal, face-to-face level.
c. External Communication:
The exchange of information and messages between an organisation and other organisations, groups, or individuals outside its formal structure.
d. Internal Communication:
The exchange of information and messages within an organisation is internal communication.
e. Mass Communication:
Mass communication refers to the process of transferring or transmitting a message to a large group of people. Typically, this requires the use of some form of the media, including newspapers, television, and the Internet.
III. According to the Direction of Communication:
Internal communication in an organisation involves flow of information from one authority level to another. Hence, based on the direction of the flow of message, communication is further divided into the following:
a. Vertical Communication:
It is communication between different levels of authority within an organisation. It may be upward or downward.
b. Horizontal Communication:
It is communication among peers within the same work unit.
c. Diagonal Communication:
It is communication among employees in different work units who are neither subordinate nor superior to one another.
IV. According to Method of Communication:
Since thoughts and messages cannot be directly sent from the mind of the sender to the mind of the receiver, some medium or channel is used. Based on the method or medium used, communication can be classified into:
- Verbal communication and
- Nonverbal communication.
a. Verbal Communication:
It is the written or oral use of words to communicate. Hence, verbal communication can be further divided into oral and written communication.
b. Non-Verbal Communication:
It is the communication by means of elements and behaviours that are not coded into words. Non-verbal communication involves visual, auditory, kinesics (body language), paralanguage, proxemics (space), surroundings, silence, etc.
List of Communication Channels
A. Formal Communication
Formal Communication networks are systems designed by management to channalise the flow of communication along formal organizational structure.
This communication flow is deliberately created along officially recognized positions to ensure smooth, orderly, accurately and timely flow of information. Usually we talk of proper channels which means communication through networks prescribed in the organization.
The most common way of explaining formal communication networks with organizational charts.
Characteristics of formal communication are as follows:
1. Formal structure has a fixed channel path.
2. The goal of formal organisation is to achieve the objectives of organisation.
3. Formal structure is systematically defined and controlled.
4. The structure describes authority, power and responsibility.
5. There is a delay in transmitting information due to different levels.
6. In formal structure the job specification is clearly defined.
Formal communication has the following advantages:
i. Maintenance of Authority of Executives – Formal Communication helps in maintaining the authority of line executives over their subordinates. The line executives are responsible for getting work done through their subordinates. If a formal communication system is efficient, the responsibilities of subordinates can be fixed easily.
ii. Clear and Effective Communication – In formal communication systems, the process of communication is well defined. There is no ambiguity in this regard. This well-defined system helps in carrying out clear and effective communication within the organisation. This helps in reducing the possibility of distortion of communication to the minimum.
iii. Orderly Flow of Information – Under formal communication systems, there is an orderly flow of information according to the rules of the companies.
iv. Wider Scope – Formal communication is wide in scope. Branches and centres established in different departments can be easily contacted through it.
v. Filtering of Communication – Another advantage of formal communication is constant filtering of the messages. Objectionable matter, if any, is deleted by different authorities. Thus, communication becomes clear and understandable.
vi. No overlapping of work – In formal organisation structure, work is systematically divided among various departments and employees. Hence, there is no chance of duplication or overlapping of work.
B. Informal Communication
Communication taking place outside the formal communication channels is known as informal communication. It is built around the social relationships of members of the organisation.
Informal communication does not follow the lines of authority as is the case of formal communication. It arises due to the personal needs of the members of an organisation. It is also called grapevine.
The grapevine exists outside the formal channels and is used by people to transmit casual, personal and social interchanges at work. It is the natural motivation to communicate. It consists of rumours, gossip and truthful information. Its speed is very fast compared to formal communication.
Advantages of Informal Communication:
1. Man being a social creature needs to have social interaction. Informal communication satisfies the social needs of members and it also provides the workers an outlet to freely express their fears, views and thoughts.
2. Informal communication is a very good way to promote good human relations in the organisation.
3. The informal communication (specially grapevine) is a very speedy network to spread the information.
4. It works as a linking chain – it links even those people who do not fall in the official chain of command.
5. It serves to fill the possible gaps in the formal communication.
Disadvantages of Informal Communication:
1. Informal communication is not authentic. Different persons may distort the message because of different interpretations.
2. Informal communication is oral in nature and it is very difficult to fix the responsibility of the communicator for the message transmitted. It may lead to generation of rumours in the organisation.
3. Informal channels may not always be active therefore are not dependable.
4. It may lead to the leakage of confidential information.
5. Incomplete information – Grapevine information is generally incomplete.
Despite all these disadvantages, the informal communication system permits employees to satisfy their need for social interaction and works parallel to the formal network.
It can be used positively to improve an organisation’s performance by creating alternative and frequently faster and more efficient channels of communication. The managers can do this if they pay due attention to informal communication networks.
C. Vertical Communication
As it is not possible to have a direct interface on all occasions, especially when the number of people working is high, messages traverse or percolate down with the help of a go-between or an opinion leader. In such situations, the probability is high that message might get distorted as it travels from one person to another.
Upward and downward flow of messages constitutes vertical communication. Information is transmitted from top management to the employees working in the organisation or vice versa.
Advantages of Vertical Communication:
1. In vertical communication official channels are used thus strict discipline can be maintained.
2. It has documentary evidence which can be used in future.
3. Instructions or directions for proper implementation of official functions can be transmitted through vertical communication.
4. Both downward and upward communications are allowed in vertical communication which ensures proper feedback.
5. Vertical is one of the recognized media of internal communication.
6. Vertical communication ensures coordination among the employees.
7. Information transmitted through vertical communication is authentic and dependable.
Disadvantages of Vertical Communication:
1. It is a time consuming process.
2. It is not flexible.
3. Dedicated communication channels have to be used.
D. Downward Communication
Communication which flows from the superiors to subordinates is known as downward communication. In an organization structure, the superiors utilize their abilities to attain the desired targets which mean that they may be engaged in issuing commands, directions and policy directives to the persons working under them (at lower levels).
Under downward communication, the superiors anticipate instant recital of a job that’s why it is highly directive. Some examples of downward communication include notice, circulars, instructions, orders, letters, memos, bulletins, handbooks, annual reports, loudspeaker announcements and group meetings.
Communication from superior to subordinate can be face to face as well as through written memorandums, orders, job descriptions etc.
Advantages of Downward Communication:
- Provides Job Instructions: Downward communication provides specific directives or instructions on how to do a job.
- Provides Information: It provides all information about organisational policies, procedures and practices.
- Provides Job Rationale: It provides information which produces an understanding of the task and its relationship to other organisational tasks and therefore gives a rationale or reason for the job.
- Provides Feedback: It provides feedback to the subordinates.
- For Indoctrination: It gives philosophical information regarding the organization’s mission and orientation towards the goals of the organization.
Limitations of Downward Communication:
- Dilution or Filtering of Message: In downward communication, as the message passes through various levels there is loss of information.
- Time Consuming: Since, downward communication moves along the line of command, it is very slow.
- Misunderstanding & Confusion: Poor perception and ineffective understanding of the message in its real spirit and content can cause confusion and misunderstanding.
- Lack of Face-to-Face Interaction: This results in delay in getting feedback.
- Lack of Participation: Does not allow subordinates to contribute to communication. They have to just follow their superior’s orders
E. Upward Communication
In any organisation, when communication is transmitted from bottom level to the upper level it is said to be upward communication. In other words, when communication flows from subordinates to superiors along with the chain of command, it is called upward communication.
The advantages of upward communication are as follows:
(i) It provides needful feedback for working performance of subordinates;
(ii) It promotes useful ideas and innovative approaches;
(iii) It promotes feeling of belongingness and loyalness among subordinates;
(iv) It may encourage the receptiveness of messages and information;
(v) It allows subordinates to express their problems and grievances.
i. Possibility of Distorted Message – In the upward communication the information is sought by top management from lower level management. The lower level management, for its own benefit may furnish wrong or distorted messages to top management.
ii. Proper Channel of Communication is not followed – In upward communication, managers seek information from lower level employees. In the process, managers may leave one or two hierarchical levels thus not following the proper channel of communication system.
iii. Lack of Free Expression – Often subordinate employees hesitate to converse freely with their superior officers.
F. Horizontal or Lateral Communication
Communication with persons of relatively equal status in an organisation is termed as horizontal or lateral communication. Horizontal communication ensures coordinated cross- functional efforts in achieving organisational goals.
Communication with peers provides the much required social support for a person. They tend to turn towards their peers for support than to those above and below them. This may work well or adversely for an organisation.
Objectives of Horizontal Communication:
Studies have shown that in organisations, horizontal communication takes up more time than vertical communication. Personnel who occupy almost equal status and handle similar responsibilities will have much to share and learn.
Some of the objectives of horizontal communication are:
1. To coordinate functions throughout the organisation.
2. To share information.
3. To solve problems.
4. To resolve conflicts.
For coordination of activities, information has to be shared. Data collected by one department could be useful for the functioning of another department. Problems affecting the departments could be solved by employing brainstorming sessions. Such interactive sessions could bring out valuable ideas.
Conflicts between individuals or departments could be resolved if the two parties concerned or their departmental representatives meet, discuss and find amicable solutions.
Sometimes horizontal communication serves as a substitute for vertical communication when it encourages subordinates to resolve conflicts and to take decisions without the aid of their superiors.
Merits of Horizontal Communication:
Horizontal communication improves efficiency and saves time. Spontaneous and prompt decision making helps in critical situations of the organisation.
2. Increases Productivity:
Productivity and efficiency of the employee’s increases due to horizontal channels of communication.
3. Limits Informal Communication:
Horizontal channel brings employees closer. It enables them to discuss matters directly and personally. This controls the growth of rumours within the organisation.
4. Better Coordination:
Horizontal channel of communication promotes better coordination and in turn increases co-operation among the employees.
Though written communication in the form of reports, letters or memos are used for horizontal communication, oral communication is more common. Face-to-face interactions and meetings being the most frequently used oral communication.
Some of the limitations of horizontal communication are:
(1) Increased Specialisation:
We live in a world of specialisation. For e.g. Even within a department, two people occupying similar status may be in-charge of two different projects or areas, so their common interests may be few.
This affects communication between them. Then the lack of communication between personnel of two departments can be easily visualised. The larger the organisation the more the variety of jobs to be handled and so more the specialisation.
(2) Lack of Recognition and Reward:
Though horizontal communication is a vibrant channel of communication there is not much encouragement from the organisation.
(3) Suppression of Differences:
Some people are too diplomatic and will not express disagreement. They would prefer to go with the group rather than speak up or question.
(4) Ego Clashes:
As horizontal communication is between peers, ego clashes are very common. Unhealthy competition, projecting oneself better than one’s peers, withholding information, so that it hampers the work of another are some of the petty tactics pursued by people of the same status. Only mature behaviour and giving importance to organisational goals can overcome this barrier.
G. Diagonal Communication
Communication that takes place between a manager and employees of other work groups is called diagonal communication. Diagonal communication occurs between officers who are at different levels of authority and who serve under different commands.
It generally does not appear on organisational charts. Example – To design a training module a training manager interacts with an Operations personnel to enquire about the way they perform their task
Advantages of Diagonal Communication:
1. It is the most direct method of communication.
2. It is the most selective method of communication.
3. It is one of the fastest methods of communication.
4. In critical situations, it would seem to be the most essential and logical type of communication.
Disadvantages of Diagonal Communication:
1. It can hamper the lines of authority and formal chains of command.
2. It can leave immediate superiors uninformed of what their subordinates are doing.
3. It can lead to conflicting orders and hence to further confusion.
4. It is usually verbal and thus is untraceable if things go wrong.
H. Oral or verbal Communication
In oral communication, the two parties to communication, the sender and the receiver, exchange their views through speech, either in face to face communication between individual and individual, or between an individual and the group, or any mechanical or electrical device, such as a telephone, public address systems, etc.
Characteristics of Oral Communication:
The characteristics of oral communication are as follows:
1. It consumes less time.
2. It results in saving money.
3. Easy understanding of the message is possible.
4. Immediate feedback can be achieved.
5. Immediate clarification is possible.
6. Effective coordination can be achieved.
An example of Informal business communication would be – Grapevine. When the communication is oral, the receiver of the message may take undue advantage of it and do nothing or take any action, which is convenient to him. Further if the communication has to pass through several people some part of information is lost in each transmission.
It includes face to face conversation, telephonic talks, interviews, conferences, negotiation, meetings and group discussion. It should be clear and effective to achieve the objective of communication.
I. Gestures or Non-verbal Communication
It is the communication through symbols like facial expressions, smile, posture, eye contact, graphs, pictures etc. Human beings communicate more through nonverbal means. Some estimates are that so-called body language accounts for 65, 70, even 90 percent of human communication.
Using the 70-percent figure for body language, the voice accounts for another 20 percent or so and specific words only about 10 percent. Nonverbal communication is hugely important in human interaction.
Characteristics of Non-verbal Communication
The characteristics of non-verbal communication are as follows:
1. Verbal and non-verbal clues co-exist.
2. Body postures, gestures and dress suggestive of social status and education level.
3. Non-verbal clues are more reliable than verbal clues.
4. Non-verbal clues carry cultural biases.
5. It is necessary to interpret non-verbal clues in relation to their context.
Techniques of Non-verbal Communication
a. Visual Symbols:
(i) Sign and signals
(ii) Auditory symbols
(iii) Diagrams, graph and charts
(iv) Colours and pictures
b. Body Languages:
(i) Facial expression
(iii) Personal appearances
(iv) Eye contact and
(i) It can create and develop some creative and optimistic approaches as well as some innovative ideas;
(ii) It can develop some informal relations.
(i) This media incurred more expensive at various situations;
(ii) It is difficult to manage and follow some norms for developing personal appearances.
J. Written Communication
Written communication is used for many purposes. First of all it is needed for communicating with persons who are not present. Although the telephone overcomes the problem of distance between the two, it is not necessary to incur the expense of a telephone call unless the matter is urgent.
Besides, many types of documents are required for official work and for record. Letters, circulars, memos, notices, reports and minutes are constantly prepared and exchanged in and between organizations. Each has a format and layout which is fixed by custom. Documents are printed out on the organization’s official stationery.
Letters are the most widely used form of written communication. They are used mostly for external communication. A letter has a complex layout which has to be carefully followed as each part of the layout has a purpose and is needed for reference.
It is typed/printed on the company’s letterhead. It may be sent by mail, speed post, courier or hand delivery.
Letters can also be faxed or sent by e-mail. Faxed and e-mail letters do not use the complex format since they are usually followed up by other communication.
Memo (short form of memorandum) is usually an informal message between members of an organization and generally relates to daily work. Information or instructions can be conveyed by a memo. Many organizations provide pads of memo forms (with blank sheets for carbon copies) for the exchange of short messages among individuals.
Memo forms are usually small and are used for brief messages. The forms may have the company’s name printed on the top; spaces are provided for date, sender’s name and department, and the receiver’s name and department.
Top executives of an organization may have personal memo pads with their name printed on the top, for use within the department. A memo may or may not be signed.
A notice is used when many people in the organization have to be given the same information. It is the most common method of mass communication within an organization. A notice is short; the language is simple, and the type is large and well-spaced for easy reading. A notice is put up on the notice board.
A circular is a detailed document giving information, instructions or orders on a specific matter. A circular has a number and a date for reference, and is signed by the authorized signatory of the issuing office.
Circulars are generally issued by government departments and other official bodies like councils, universities, and Head Offices of organizations. Circulars are sent by mail or fax to the various offices that are to be given the information.
A report is a document prepared by an individual or a committee entrusted with the task of collecting information on a given subject. It requires careful research, collection of data and presentation of the findings, conclusions and recommendations. Reports are of varying length and may be anything from two pages to a full book divided into chapters.
Minutes are the written record of decisions taken at a meeting. Different bodies have their own convention of recording the discussion and the decisions. Minutes may be written by hand or typed and pasted in a minute book, or typed and filed in a minute file. Minutes are a legal document.
(i) It has a permanent feature to maintain records for future references;
(ii) It provides reliabilities and worthiness in its message and contents;
(iii) It can build up the images and goodwill of the concern.
(i) This media provides permanent and wide evidence;
(ii) It provides an appropriate and accurate content;
(iii) It has wide coverage; and
(iv) It provides legal evidence.
(i) It takes time to prepare and complete the transmitting process;
(ii) It is more expensive and costly;
(iii) There is a lack of personal touch and emotions.
K. Internal Communication
It is the communication to follow its system and process within an organisation. Internal communication is important for imparting a feeling of closeness and cohesion between the employees. It can promote harmony within the organisation.
Applicability of Internal Communication:
The internal communication can be applicable in various instances as given here:
(i) Communication with superiors – Any conversation, reports, or other information that is passed within the company from the juniors to people on senior levels, will be a part of internal communication.
(ii) Communicating with subordinates – When managers have to communicate with people who are on levels lower to them, it is called downward communication. It may be in the form of orders, circulars, enquiries, memos and instructions and it can be written or oral.
(iii) Communication between departments – In the course of business, all departments have to interact with each other. All the divisions and departments have to keep in touch with each other for proper work coordination.
(iv) Communicating with colleagues – It is very important for colleagues to communicate with each other. The more they do it, the more they will feel past the entire system. No one can function in isolation.
We need to talk to each other to exchange information, which is important in the conduct of business as well as they can build a positive organisational climate that can help the individuals as well as the company.
The advantages of internal communication are given here:
(i) The internal coordination among people and different departments can be possible;
(ii) It provide different information in respect of all the aspects relating to managerial and organisation set up;
(iii) It provides some comprehensive information about the working and process of the organisation.
The disadvantages of internal communication are given here:
(i) It becomes ineffective at the instance of an unfavourable situation.
(ii) The incomplete and doubtful messages can create some misunderstanding among people.
The means or measures of internal communications are oral, written, non-verbal and audio-visual systems.
L. External Communication
External Communication (14, Ch-3)
External communication is communication with external partners or agencies. All the government and private organisations, financial institutions, suppliers, bankers, customers and other environmental agencies that are external to a company, have to communicate with it for various business dealings.
External communication that has a long range impact on some specific aspects like product development, investment plans, plant expansion, promotional tasks, community activities and annual reports etc.
Applicability of External Communication:
The different aspects to be applicable in external communication are as follows:
(i) The external communication provides a platform for making worthwhile interaction with customers.
(ii) The external communication has provided a proper bias for dealing with the suppliers, marketers and financial institutes as they have decisional and vital role in any business.
(iii) The organisations are required to deal with different legal and statutory aspects through various government agencies.
The advantages of external communication are as follows:
(i) It can develop some worthwhile contractual relations with external partners;
(ii) It can create and develop the goodwill of organisation;
(iii) The external partners can get the plans, policies and programmes of the organisations.
The disadvantages of external communication are as follows:
(i) Doubts and differences may be arised due to inadequate and incomplete messages and information;
(ii) The external barriers may be arised due to some mechanical and defective instruments;
(iii) The language and semantic barriers are also responsible for defective ways towards external communication.
M. Visual Communication
It is the communication through visual aids it includes: signs, typography, drawing, graphic design, illustration, colour and electronic resources. It also explores the idea that a visual message accompanying text has a greater power to inform, educate or persuade a person or audience.
Visual aids are often used to help audiences of informative and persuasive speeches understand the topic being presented. Visual aids can play a large role in how the audience understands and takes in information that is presented.
There are many different types of visual aids that range from handouts to powerpoint slides. The type of visual aid a speaker uses depends on their preference and the information they are trying to present.
Types of Visual Aids
It is the communication through visual aids it includes- signs, typography, drawing, graphic design, illustration, colour and electronic resources. It also explores the idea that a visual message accompanying text has a greater power to inform, educate, or persuade a person or audience.
Visual aids are often used to help audiences of informative and persuasive speeches understand the topic being presented. Visual aids can play a large role in how the audience understands and takes in information that is presented.
There are many different types of visual aids that range from handouts to powerpoint slides. The type of visual aid a speaker uses depends on their preference and the information they are trying to present.
Types of Visual Aids
Objects: The use of objects as visual aids involves bringing the actual object to demonstrate during the speech. For example, a speech about tying knots would be more effective by bringing in a rope.
Models: Models are representations of another object that serve to demonstrate that object when use of the real object is ineffective for some reason. Examples include human skeletal systems, the solar system or architecture.
Graphs: Graphs are used to visualize relationships between different quantities. Various types are used as visual aids, including bar graphs, line graphs, pie graphs and scatter plots.
Others are Maps, Tables, Photographs, Drawings/Diagrams, and Video Excerpts.
Advantages of Visual Communication
1. Complex concepts can be explained easily through visuals. Visual Communication can bring a thing, location and even an idea to life in dynamic ways.
2. Visual communication simplifies the information of ideas that you are seeking to pass on to others. For example, architects use visual diagrams and schematics to pass on valuable information to contractors in a quick, easy to understand manner.
3. Visual communication can also demonstrate the relationship between two entities or ideas in accessible ways.
4. Appealing visual images will often be more persuasive than verbal messages.
5. Gestures and facial expressions enhance speaking performance. For example, Making eye contact with the audience and using applicable hand motions the words become more meaningful to the audience.
Disadvantages of Visual Communication
1. Excessive gesturing can distract the listener as listener’s attention is directed to the gestures.
2. A speaker can lose track of the topic if a visually distracting element is in the room.
Each type of visual aid has pros and cons that must be evaluated to ensure it will be beneficial to the overall presentation. Before incorporating visual aids into speeches, the speaker should understand that if used incorrectly, the visual will not be an aid, but a distraction.
Planning ahead is important when using visual aids. It is necessary to choose a visual aid that is appropriate for the material and audience. The purpose of the visual aid is to enhance the presentation.
Grapevine is an informal channel of personal, unofficial communication which exists in every organization in addition to the formal organized channels. It has no definite pattern or direction though it is largely horizontal.
It is a complex web of oral communication flow, linking all the members of the organization one way or another. It may sometimes move along in a chain, passing information from person to person; and sometimes in clusters, that is, groups, at meal-times or other free time.
There are four types of grapevine chains that can be enumerated as follows:
(i) Single-strand Chain: In this type of chain ‘A’ tells something to ‘B’ who tells it to ‘C’ and so on. It goes down the line. This chain is the least accurate in passing on the information.
(ii) Gossip Chain: In it one person seeks out and tells everyone the information he or she has obtained. This chain is often used when information or a message regarding an interesting but ‘non-job-related’ nature is being conveyed.
(iii) Probability Chain: In this type of chain individuals are indifferent to, or not really interested in, the persons to whom they are passing some information. They just tell at random, and those people in turn tell others at random. This chain is found when the information is somewhat interesting but not really significant.
(iv) Cluster Chain: In this type of chain ‘A’ tells something to a few selected individuals, and then some of these individuals inform a few other selected individuals.
O. Intrapersonal Communication
Intrapersonal communication is the most basic level of communication where one communicates with oneself. For the majority of people, communication only means having interaction with others. But this is a fallacy because communication also takes place between ourselves.
In fact, all forms of communication originated from within us in the form of intra-personal communication and only then it leads to communication which involves others. The thoughts going on in our minds like thinking whether to say or not to say something is just one example of intra-personal communication.
According to some experts, we communicate with ourselves 50,000 times a day, which indeed is a lot of communication, and which needs great attention.
Intra personal communication is also known by many other names like self- dialogue, self-talk, inner monologue, inner dialogue, inner speech and self- verbalisation.
The understanding of Intra-personal communication and improving it can tremendously improve the quality of our lives. Self-talk is the inner speech that includes the questions and comments you make to yourself.
It is a powerful influence. You use it when you think things through, interpret messages of others, interpret events, and respond to your own experiences and interactions with others.
P. Interpersonal Communication
Interpersonal communication is the term applied to verbal and non-verbal interactions that occur in both one-on-one and small group settings. Here we will learn how listening, speaking and non-verbal communication are used to build positive relationships and to give and receive constructive feedback comfortably.
Interpersonal communication primarily involves face to face communication between two or more people with the opportunity for immediate feedback. Hence both sender and receiver affect one another; the feedback loop involves both oral and non-verbal responses.
Interaction with one other person is called dyadic communication. A dyad is defined as two persons seeking to exchange information.
The Major Role of Perceptions in all Dyadic Communication
Self-perception is the ability to look at ourselves. It could be subjective or objective. We also have perceptions about other people. Perceptions are mostly private but at times we could make them public. Some perceptions of others are listed below.
|Tall||Married||Has a beard||Smokes|
|Wears jeans to work||Drives a four wheeled vehicle||Wears horn rimmed glasses||Wears a cap backwards|
|Friendly||Consistently late||Wears no socks||Drinks|
The above description is incomplete but it does provide an insight about the individual. Self-perception could at times lead to a quick judgement being made about a person on the basis of a few visible, non-verbal characteristics.
We are often inaccurate in our perception of others and we might even have a distorted view of ourselves. A cyclical action may occur as seen in Figure 2.2.
Minimal Interpersonal Communication
Speaker A sends a message to receiver B and does not receive much feedback from receiver B. Receiver B, in turn, sends that same message to listener C, again with little feedback. The cycle continues. This is not good interpersonal communication .
Minimal communication could have consequences.
Extensive Interpersonal Communication
Some people believe that it is not possible not to communicate. Even averting one’s eye or turning away from a speaker is a form of response. Figure 2.4 is a representation of a good dyadic exchange.
Another way of looking at dyadic communication is to think about the levels at which you look at people on a continuum of intimate to non-intimate. Where do the following persons fall in this continuum – your family, boss, co-worker, fellow students, spouse, secretary, teacher, president, roommate, significant others?
Interpersonal Disclosures in Interpersonal Communication
Recognize that interpersonal relationships take time. You should ask the following questions. Am I comfortable with certain people? What can I do to improve my relationship with them?
Recognize that some persons do not offer self-disclosure statements. Ask yourself whether you want a closer relationship with others, have you, over time, attempted to make your personal thoughts public?
Recognize the end of a relationship. Ask yourself whether you personally made an effort to continue or discount the relationship? Can you assess why the relationship ended?
A purposeful meeting may involve two people meeting for a common purpose. Here the bond is tighter than that relating to a conversation in the hall or hello on the street. The functional related interactions are given below.
Interviewing for a position (qualifications of a candidate are evaluated)
Instructional interview (new employee learns the specific duties of his/her position)
Telephone exchange (clarification of issues, information on topics, hopes for closing a deal)
Grade review (session to clarify grades on a recent examination between student and instructor)
Job termination (exit interview seeking to obtain the departing employee’s reasons for leaving a position)
Elements of Interpersonal Communication
Social scientists often refer to interpersonal skills as communication climate – the quality of personal relationships that exist within an organization. A positive communication climate is the key to success in business. Today, worker specialization increases the likelihood that senders and receivers do not speak the same technical language.
These changes have resulted in an increased demand for employees who are flexible and adaptable and who can solve problems creatively, manage time effectively, work well under pressure and accept and learn from constructive feedback.
An employee’s failure to practice or possess these soft skills can create communication barriers. Employers want to hire candidates who have intangible soft skills.
Building and maintaining positive relationships depends on two factors, conversations in various settings and relationship repair.
One-to-one oral communication, including conversation, is a valuable business tool. It occurs in both structured and unstructured social business settings, it is essential to good customer service and it forms the foundation for workplace interactions among employees. More critical business decisions are made during conversations between two people than in any other forum.
The Conversation Process
Greeting: Through gestures, tone and words, you provide information about your relationship with the receiver. Smiling warmly, extending your hand portrays a very different relationship than does a stern face and a curtly uttered “Hello”.
Introduction: During this stage, the person initiating the conversation previews what will follow. Instructions should be brief and informative. It alerts the receiver to the topic of conversation and helps frame the context for his or her role in it. An introduction may be direct or indirect.
For example, if you believe you deserve an above average increase in salary and your analysis of your boss tells you that he or she prefers a direct approach, introduce your conversation topic by saying, “Considering my performance this past year, I think I deserve an above-average raise. May we discuss this?” Your introduction makes your position on the topic clear.
On the other hand, when a division manager needs to discuss a budget cut with a department supervisor, he or she might say, “We need to discuss your department’s budget request.”
This introduction defines the topic, provides a buffer to the negative news, and serves as a smooth transition between the greeting and the exchange, the third stage of the process.
Exchange: As the word exchange implies, the business of a conversation is conducted in a give-and-take format. During this stage of the process, the purpose of the conversation comes to the forefront. Simply put, it is where the actual subject is discussed in detail.
Summary: The fourth stage in the conversation process, the summary, allows the parties to reflect on the exchange, to recap the items discussed during a long complex exchange, and to indicate that a conversation is ending.
Closing: The closing is the cordial conclusion to the conversation. Depending on the situation, the closing may be verbal, non-verbal, or a combination of both.
For example, “It has been a pleasure working with you. I shall email you the process order details by tonight. And a week after I shall give you a call to ensure you are satisfied with our service. Good-bye.” This makes it clear that the conversation has ended and the process has been completed.
Every communication follows a particular style, be it passive, aggressive or even assertive. We look at them in detail.
Passive: A passive communicator is often tentative and lets others make choices for him or her, e.g., “I don’t mind anything. Please go ahead with your idea. Mine wasn’t good anyway.”
Aggressive: It is the opposite of passive. Here, the communicator disregards others’ rights and uses intimidation to make his or her point, e.g., “You are so useless! How could you not understand something so simple?”
Assertive: Assertive communication achieves goals, is productive and respects the rights of all involved in the conversation. Here, the communicator’s words reflect ownership and avoid exaggeration, e.g., “I would like to offer my suggestion without being interrupted.”
Basics for Successful Face-to-face Conversations
1. Choose the location carefully: Place furniture to encourage open communication. For example, place the chair beside the desk rather than behind it.
2. Minimize interruptions: Give full attention to the conversation. Avoid receiving phone calls during the discussion.
3. Speak effectively: Apply principles of effective business communication. Vary the pitch, speed and volume to hold the listener’s interest and convey your message more effectively.
4. Choose appropriate language: Use an appropriate tone to convey your message correctly. Be assertive, not aggressive.
5. Ask questions: Use questions to obtain facts and learn about feelings. A close ended question is more suitable when a stern point of view about an issue needs to be conveyed whereas an open ended question is preferred to obtain detailed information.
6. Accommodate diversity: Recognize the cultural, linguistic, religious and political diversity between persons during your conversations and be considerate about these differences.
7. Listen with your eyes and ears: Attentive listening shows your interest in the speaker. Paraphrase the content to clarify and retain what you hear. Listening must be done empathetically.
Tips and Hints
Importance of a name: Remembering a person’s name always helps in a conversation by giving a personal touch to the whole process. However, in case of not remembering it, be honest about it and admit it clearly to avoid further embarrassment. Begin a conversation by introducing yourself.
Send clear, appropriate non-verbal clues: Use non-verbal clues that match the situation. For example, limited eye contact may signify dishonesty, fear or lack of interest.
Basics of Successful Telephone Conversations
1. Use the telephone equipment and system properly: The telephone normally amplifies sound, hence avoid being too loud while speaking over the phone. Know how to transfer calls, make conference calls, arrange conference calls etc.
2. Be businesslike: Be courteous and businesslike over the phone. Introduce yourself at the beginning, be polite during the conversation and let the caller hang up first.
In case of leaving a voice-mail, give clear and complete information about yourself, your organization and your reason for calling. You may also leave the date and time of your call. Pace your message correctly.
3. Be considerate: Be considerate about the other person’s time when receiving calls. If putting the caller on hold, keep updating him after 15 to 30 second intervals about the status. Receive your own calls rather than making an assistant do it.
Basics of Successful Social Business Conversations
1. Practice basic social conversation rules: Project a confident and professional image of yourself when meeting people. Keep conversations moving, do not monopolize any one person’s time.
2. Choose appropriate topics: Choose safe topics for social conversations such as current topics, local events etc., avoid personal questions and/or gossip and rumours.
3. Observe social business etiquette: Dress appropriately, switch off cell phones or put them on silent, be on time, be confident, polite and courteous.
Sometimes, despite good intentions, relationships tend to get damaged. At such times, the obvious thing to do is to apologize rather than avoiding or walking away.
Depending on what caused the relationship to break, positive actions may be used to repair the damage. Finally, both the parties must be willing to let go of the problem and regain the confidence in each other.
Consensus is a method of decision making that reflects the ideas and thought of all the team members. Reaching consensus ensures that decisions are explored thoroughly and strong disagreements resolved. It is used by task forces, teams, departments, work groups and so on.
Consensus is a decision that is acceptable to everyone. It is not unanimity; (the conclusion may not be everyone’s first choice) nor is it a majority vote.
Decision making by consensus involves discussion and accountability of view points rather than power struggles. The idea behind consensus is to empower not to overpower. Everyone must act as a member of the group.
- Communication skills especially listening, probing and conflict management
- Considering disagreements and conflicts as part of the process
- Keeping an open mind and thinking creatively
- At the end, everyone must be able to support the decision even if they do not feel it was the best one. Underlying the consensus decision there must be some shared values which are:
- Unity of purpose – the decisions are made in the best interests of the group or organization
- Co-operation – the participants look for a solution that best meets everyone’s needs
- Mutual trust – all believe that others will be fair with them, respect them and care about their feelings
- Common ownership of ideas – personal attachment to an idea hinders the process
- Feelings are valued
- Conflict is valued
- Equal power — everyone has equal power and no one is made to feel “conquered” (not respected as a person) or compromised (values not respected)
- Time and process – the process is respected and given the time it needs
- Willingness to learn skills – skills of communication, meeting participation, etc., are learnt willingly by everyone.
S. Feedback Communication
Receivers are not just passive absorbers of messages; they receive the message and respond to them. This response of a receiver to the sender’s message is called Feedback. Sometimes feedback could be a non-verbal smiles, sighs etc.
Sometimes it is oral, as when you react to a colleague’s idea with questions or comments. Feedback can also be written like—replying to an e-mail, etc.
Feedback is your audience’s response; it enables you to evaluate the effectiveness of your message. If your audience doesn’t understand what you mean, you can tell by the response and then refine the message accordingly.
Giving your audience a chance to provide feedback is crucial for maintaining an open communication climate. The manager must create an environment that encourages feedback.
For example after explaining the job to the subordinate he must ask them whether they have understood it or not. He should ask questions like “Do you understand?”, “Do you have any doubts?” etc. At the same time he must allow his subordinates to express their views also.
Feedback is essential in communication so as to know whether the recipient has understood the message in the same terms as intended by the sender and whether he agrees to that message or not.
There are a lot of ways in which a company takes feedback from their employees, such as- Employee surveys, memos, emails, open-door policies, company newsletter etc.
Employees are not always willing to provide feedback. The organization has to work a lot to get accurate feedback. The managers encourage feedback by asking specific questions, allowing their employees to express general views, etc. The organization should be receptive to their employee’s feedback.
A manager should ensure that a feedback should:
i. Focus on a particular behaviour — It should be specific rather than being general.
ii. Impersonal — Feedback should be job related, the manager should not criticize anyone personally.
iii. Goal oriented — If we have something negative to say about the person, we should always direct it to the recipient’s goal.
iv. Well timed — Feedback is most effective when there is a short gap between the recipient’s behaviour and the receipt of that feedback.
v. Use “I” statements — Manager should make use of statements with the words like “I”, “However” etc. For example, instead of saying “You were absent from work yesterday”, the manager should say, “I was annoyed when you missed your work yesterday”.
vi. Ensure understanding — For feedback to be effective, the manager should make sure that the recipients understands the feedback properly.
T. Mass Communication
Mass Communication is a means of communication by which individuals and entities relay information to large segments of the population all at once through mass media.
And mass media is that particular medium through which the information is communicated to a large section of the audience. Examples of mass media include newspapers, magazines, cinema films, radio, television, etc.
Methods of Mass Communication:
Mass communication plays a pivotal role in boosting the image of the business organization. Mass means are organized to circulate the same message to the large number of public. Following are some of the methods of mass communication used by business organization:
1. Exhibitions and Trade fairs
Exhibitions and trade fairs are conducted to educate and inform the public about the company’s products and their potential benefits to the users.
Displays of products and demonstrations of their performance attract the public and arouse their interest in buying.
In the course of exhibition, printed booklets, handouts, photographs are supplied free of cost to the visitors. This will naturally raise the value of the organisation.
2. Press Releases
Press releases are one of the most important mass communication methods. On different special events like opening of new branches, launching of new products, retirement of directors, etc. press releases are issued. These press releases provide very useful information to the public.
Big business houses make films of their products. These films are exhibited to the public at different locations and localities with the help of the company’s talkie vans. Sometimes local theatres are contacted for display of films as a matter of routine advertisement.
Sound, light, colour and actions have a deep impact on the masses. This penetrating and profound impact can be achieved through films. However the cost of production and distribution of slides and films is quite high.
Publications like handouts, house organs, bulletin, annual reports etc. are good media of mass communication. These publications provide useful information about the company’s products, activities and achievements. These are most suitable for persons who are seriously interested in this information.
However, some of the drawbacks of these publications are that they are casually read by a large number of people and are thrown in a waste bucket. Moreover they are not suitable for illiterate people.
Radio offers a considerable promising medium of mass communication. It uses only an audio (sound) signal which is very suitable for illiterate people. Its effect can be enhanced through proper tuning and appropriate musical background.
Through radio, the public can be easily approached. However its impact is low because of low memory value and its declining popularity among the middle and rich class.
Television applies both sight and sound signals, and combines both vision and sound for transmitting the message to the audience. Therefore, it provides the additional advantages of sight and action.
To make its impact more effective, it requires a high degree of creativity. It is one of the most effective forms of mass communication these days because of its widespread uses. But being too expensive, it requires a huge budget to be spent.
7. Folk media
In India, folk media proves an efficient and excellent way of mass communication among people of different castes, religions, languages, customs and cultures. These folk media include local fair, magic shows, puppet shows, decorated festoons, etc.
If these folk medias appeal to the cultural ethos of the various communities, they can work. But they have their limited coverage.
8. Sponsoring Sports Tournaments
Sponsoring sports tournaments as mass communication media is gaining popularity these days. Various big corporations, especially multinational companies sponsor various tournaments at international or national level.
Because of the increasing popularity of cricket in India, batsmen are contacted by different business houses to play with a bat that displays the name of their company. In the same pattern various small companies sponsor cricket tournaments to project a public-friendly image of their organization.
Different Channels of Communication
1. On the Basis of Organizational Structure
(i) Formal Communication: Communication which are associated with a formal organization structure and which are to be set through the formal or officially recognized channel are called formal communications. Generally orders, instructions, decisions of the superior officer are communicated through this channel.
The basic purpose of designing such channels is to link various sub-systems of organization. These channels are the part of organizational structure based on authority and relationship between employees.
(ii) Informal Communication: Informal communications are also known as ‘Grapevine communication’. In the case of informal communication, the formal channels of communication are not used.
In this channel, informal communication may be conveyed by a gesture, nod, smile etc. Such channels do exist off the line of official or formal communication and work independently.
2. On the Basis of Direction of Communication
(i) Upward Channel: Are those channels which are used by subordinates to transmit information, ideas and requests to their superiors. Such information may be related to job, role, responsibility and problems. These channels carry the message which is partly task-related and partly and received properly.
(ii) Downward Channel: These channels refer to the communication which takes place from the top level to the operative levels. Thus these channels are employed by superiors at the various levels of organization for transmitting information, orders and instructions to their subordinates.
It also carries information of plans, policies, managerial decisions and programmes from higher levels to lower levels.
(iii) Horizontal Channel: These channels of communication are employed to facilitate exchange of information between the managers working at the same position or same level or it may also be used by various departments working at the same level. It facilitates smooth functioning of organization, co-ordination and participative problem solving.
(iv) Diagonal Channel: It means communication between people who are neither in the same department nor at the same level of organizational hierarchy. In this type communication cuts across departmental lines.
3. On the Basis of Way of Expression
(i) Oral or Verbal Communication: It refers to communication of messages which are expressed, sent and received verbally. The sender and receiver exchange information by word of mouth.
Generally it may be in the forms of face to face communication through mechanical or electronic devices such as telephone; loudspeaker etc. in an oral communication the role of talking and listening seems to be very important because effectiveness of communication depends much on the art of talking and listening on the part of sender and receiver of the message.
(ii) Written Communication: It refers to messages conveyed in writing including letters, notes, circulars and memorandum etc. it provides record and ready references of the messages communicated.
It is more structured and formal in nature because such communication can be made precisely after due thought. Moreover, written communication is taken more seriously and cannot be denied. It offers the following relative advantages.