What is Communication?

Communication is as old as human civilization. The common need for protection led to group life. As group life developed, forms of communication also developed. Communication was in the forms of codes, indications, signals and expressions.

Gradually with the increase in population, division of labour, exchange economy, etc., necessitated the development of language. In the present day world, communication is vital need of every Step in any industrial or commercial activity.

The term communication has been derived from the Latin word, ‘communis’, which means common. Literally, communication means, to tell, show, spread the information and inform. The term communication is used to signify the process of transferring ideas or receiving it by any means such as word of mouth, telephone, telegram, letter, message, etc. Thus, communication stands for sharing of information, imparting or conveying ideas and knowledge.

Learn about:- 1. Meaning of Communication 2. Concept of Communication 3. Objectives of Communication 4. Characteristics 5. Importance 6. Communication Process Model 7. Functions 8. Good Communication Gateway 9. Organisational Communication 10. Essentials 11. Fundamentals 12. Mechanics 13. Barriers 14. Guidelines for Effective Communication.

What is Communication: Meaning, Concept, Objectives, Characteristics, Importance, Functions, Fundamentals and Barriers


  1. Meaning of Communication
  2. Concept of Communication
  3. Objectives of Communication
  4. Characteristics of Communication
  5. Importance of Communication
  6. Communication Process Model
  7. Functions of Communication
  8. Good Communication Gateway
  9. Organisational Communication
  10. Essentials of Communication
  11. Fundamentals of Communication
  12. Mechanics of Communication
  13. Barriers to Communication
  14. Guidelines for Effective Communication

What is Communication?

The English word ‘communication’ is derived from the Latin word communis, which means common. The term communication refers to the sharing of ideas in common. In other words, it is the transmission and interaction of facts, ideas, opinions, feelings or attitudes. Communication is the essence of management. The basic function of management (planning, organising, staffing, directing and controlling) cannot be performed well without effective communication.

In short, Communication is the process of passing ideas, views, facts, information and understanding from one person to another. This process is necessary for making the subordinates understand what the management expects from them.

Communication cannot take place without two parties – receiver and the sender. The information which is sent by the sender must be understandable to the receiver.

Communication is as old as human civilization. The common need for protection led to group life. As group life developed, forms of communication also developed. Communication was in the forms of codes, indications, signals and expressions. Gradually with the increase in population, division of labour, exchange economy, etc., necessitated the development of language. In the present day world, communication is vital need of every Step in any industrial or commercial activity.

The term communication has been derived from the Latin word, ‘communis’, which means common. Literally, communication means, to tell, show, spread the information and inform. The term communication is used to signify the process of transferring ideas or receiving it by any means such as word of mouth, telephone, telegram, letter, message, etc. Thus, communication stands for sharing of information, imparting or conveying ideas and knowledge.

Following are some of the important definitions of communication:

Communication may be defined as “the transfer of information and understanding from one person to another.”

According to Koontz and O’Donnel, Communication may be understood “as the exchange of information at least between two persons with a view to create an understanding in the mind of the other, whether or not it gives rise to conflict.”

Newman and Summer- “Communication is an exchange of facts, ideas, opinions or emotions by two or more persons.”

‘Communication is the sum of all things a person does when he wants to create an understanding in the mind of another’. – Louis A. Allen

‘It is the process of passing information and understanding from one person to another. It is essentially a bridge of meaning between people. By using this bridge of meaning, a person can safely cross the river of misunderstanding that separates all the people’. – Keith Davis

What is Communication – Concept

‘Information’ and ‘Communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through. Communication is the exchange and flow of information and ideas from one person to another; it involves a sender transmitting an idea, information, or feeling to a receiver. Effective communication occurs only if the receiver understands the exact information or idea that the sender intended to transmit.

“Sending, giving or exchanging information and ideas”, is defined by Webster’s Dictio­nary.

Business Communication:

Business Communication is communication that promotes a product, service, marketing, or organization; relays information within a business; or functions as an official statement from a company. It is important to acquire the skills of effective writing and speaking. It is also common for prestigious companies to insist upon excellent communication skills as a requirement at the time of recruitment.

Medium of Communication:

As rightly said by novelist; Salman Rushdie, “The language of a politician obscures the truth. The language of an artist reveals it”.

Medium are the storage and transmission channels or tools used to store and deliver information or data. At times we may even prefer to use signs and gestures. It’s important to exchange thoughts and ideas with others if we have to play a meaningful role in society.

Need for Improving English Skills:

It has been well said by Narayan Sehgal that “English has become the global language for business and finance”. To carry out business, we need to interact with a large number of people.

“Colleges teach the one thing that is perhaps most valuable for the future employees to know and that is to express ideas in writing and speaking”. – Peter Drucker.

The USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of Business Communication is its clarity and simplicity. Business English should reveal complete meaning without ambiguity.

What is Communication – Objectives

The primary objective of communication in management is to convey information—instructions, policies, procedures, decisions, etc., so the listener will hear, read, understand what is said, agree and accept the message, and react as intended by the manager or sender of communication.

In addition, the manager will probably desire to influence or persuade the employee in a way that will help maintain favourable relationships. Other motivating goals or objectives of managerial communication may be social interchange, per­sonal advancement, self-expression. Conversely the employee also has similar goals of communication in an organisation. Role of Communication in Organisation

Decision-making is the core of management process. The relationship of communication and decision-making is insepa­rable since decisioning must rely on information. Decision is the triggering mechanism of communication. Decision cen­tres also become communication centres. The manager is a decision-maker. But all decisions are now based on commu­nication of information to the management.

Management information system has assumed unique importance in modern management. Then again we need effective communication for passing on decisions to those involved in executing them. Communication enables a group to think together, to see together, and to act together.

In fact, without communi­cation, there could be no organisation. People would be link­ed by a chain of command but they would be acting without a chain of understanding. Poor communication leads to poor co-ordination. Similarly, cooperation itself depends upon communication.

Management is getting things done through others. Hence, all management acts must pass through the bottleneck of communication. Managerial ideas, plans and decisions are put into effect through communication. A management may have the best business plans, but until they can be communi­cated, they are worthless.

Management communication in the organisation has two purposes:

i. Provision of informa­tion and understanding needed for group effort.

ii. Provi­sion of attitudes needed for motivation, co-operation and job satisfaction.

The first purpose assures the skill to work, while the second purpose assures the will to work. The two toge­ther will give us teamwork. Thus better communication gets better job performance and more work satisfaction. Each managerial position is a centre of communication.

The flow of information and understanding may be secured by various devices of communication, e.g., words, letters, symbols or messages. Information and understanding are passed to the receiver, and knowledge of its effect is passed back to the sender in the form of feedback.

Motivation and direction both depend on effective com­munication. Every aspect of management requires good communication. As the transfer of information, communi­cation must be understandable to the receiver. It is the sum total of all the things one person does when he wants to create understanding in the mind of another. It is a bridge between meaning and understanding.

It involves a systematic and continuous process of telling, listening and understand­ing. Communication is the chain of understanding that binds an enterprise from top to bottom and from side to side. No organisation can accomplish anything without a chain of understanding to support its chain of command.

The orga­nisation chart may establish the chain of command, but it is extremely difficult to establish and maintain an effective chain of understanding, i.e., the best system of communication. Successful motivation and delegation depend on the flow of understanding through the various techniques of communi­cation.

Management should place greater reliance on the face-to-face communication. It is very effective in terms of employee response and interest. Information flow downward is usually assured by the chain of command under the Scalar or line organisation.

But conscious efforts are necessary to ensure free flow of upward communication from the bottom to the top and this feedback information system is absolutely essential for smooth management of a big business. From recruitment to retirement of employees we need effective net-work of communication.

What is Communication – Characteristics

The characteristics of communication are as follows:

(i) At least two persons – Communication involves at least two persons—the sender and the receiver. The sender sends the message and the receiver receives the message. There is an exchange of information between two or more persons.

(ii) Two-way process – Communication is essentially a two-way process. It does not merely means sending and receiving messages. It is not complete unless and until the message has been understood by the receiver in the same sense.

(iii) Form of communication – Communication may take several forms, e.g., order, instruction, report, queries, etc. It may be verbal or written. It may be formal or informal.

(iv) Scope – Communication is present in all human relationships. It is essential in all types of organisations and at all levels of management. It has a very wide scope.

(v) Dynamic process – Communication is influenced by the mood and thinking of the sender and receiver. It keeps on changing depending upon the Level of understanding of the sender and receiver.

(vi) Goal-oriented – Communication is goal-oriented and is effective only when there is a congruence of goals of the sender and the receiver.

(vii) Interdisciplinary – Communication derives knowledge from several sciences like anthropology (study of body language), sociology (study of human behaviour), psychology (study of human), etc. The linking between these sciences makes communication effective.

(viii) Interpersonal relations – The main purpose of communication is to influence the human behaviour which creates interpersonal relations.

(ix) Circular process – There is circular flow of information in the communication process. After the feedback, the receiver of the original message is required to transmit another message. The response indicates the success of the communication.

What is Communication – Importance and Guidelines for Effective Communication

(i) Increase in Size:

With the large scale of operation in business firm, the need for effective communication has been largely felt.

(ii) Growing Specialization:

Increase in departments has led to the requirement of specialization inside the organisation. Sound communication is essential for ensuring mutual co-operation and understanding between different departments for smooth functioning of the organisation.

(iii) Cut-Throat Competition:

Due to liberalization and globalization, severe competition has resulted in between private, public sectors and foreign banks. Communication through mass media, newspaper, advertisement etc. has become important to survive in the race.

(iv) Trade Union Movement:

Trade unions are very strong and powerful. Regular exchange of information, consulting union leader’s etc. helps to maintain healthy relations between them.

(v) Human Relations:

To develop mutual trust and confidence, it is necessary for management and employees to communicate with each other. Participation of employ­ees in the management process has bought in a sense of belonging and loyalty towards the organisation.

(vi) Public Relations:

Every organisation needs to keep its customers, stakeholders, government and other sections of the society informed about its product and contribu­tion to the society. Public relation helps in building goodwill for the organisation.

(vii) Personal Asset:

Communication skill is essential for every successful job. Managers are required to speak to public at large on various occasions. The ability to communicate effectively is equally essential for promotion in career.

Guidelines for Effective Communication are:

1. Choose the Right Means and Mode:

The right means and mode of communication is chosen after considering various factors like cost, resources, organisation size and policy etc.

2. Own Your Message:

It is very important to take responsibility for what we say. Personal pronoun should be used to lend credibility to the message.

3. Offer Complete and Relevant Information:

Message should never be left incomplete. It may create a huge barrier in communication if messages are incomplete. For effective communication, message should be relevant and complete. It should be supported by facts and observations. It should be well planned and organized. No assumptions should be made by the receiver.

4. Obtain Feedback:

Whether the message sent by the sender is understood in same terms by the receiver or not can be judged by the feedback received. The feedback should be timely and in personal. It should be specific rather than general.

5. Think of the Recipient:

Empathy with the listeners is essential for effective verbal communication. The speaker should step into the shoes of the listener and be sensitive to their needs and emotions. This way he can understand things from their perspective and make communication more effective.

6. Verbal and Non-Verbal Congruence:

Meanings are usually communicated in more than one way. For example while saying ‘yes’ our head should always nod up to down. This shows the verbal and non-verbal congruence.

7. Repeat if Necessary:

Repetition is generally avoided but in many cases message should be repeated for confirmation and feedback and to check whether the important part of the message has not been lost.

8. Do not Judge:

Judgments are usually based on one’s own perception. Unfavourable judgments and remarks should be avoided.

9. Rely on facts:

Facts are the best way to persuade the listener in agreeing with the message. An incomplete message with assumptions holds no value. While sending a message, sender should always try to state the facts to support his message.

What is Communication – Components of Communication Process

Communication is the process by which one person conveys meaning from one person to another. It is a two- way process which takes place in the relationship be­tween a sender and a receiver. It is a continuous and interpersonal process.

The communication process has following components:

1. Sender or communicator – Sender is an employee with ideas, intentions, information, and a purpose for communicating. He is the source, or initiator of the communication. He has something with a meaning to communicate. Communication begins when a sender identifies the need to send a message based on certain reasons.

2. Message – The sender encodes meaning into a message that can be transmitted. The message repre­sents the meaning the source is trying to convey.

3. Encoding – The function of encoding is to provide a form in which ideas and purpose can be expressed as a message. The result of the encoding process is the mes­sage. Encoding involves translating the sender’s intent or ideas into a systematic set of symbols or gestures.

4. Channel or medium – The channel is the carrier of the message. It is the link that connects the source and the receiver. In organisations, the channel or medium can take the form of such components as face-to-face commu­nication, telephone calls, meetings, or other written re­ports.

5. Receiver – The receiver is the individual whose senses perceive the sender’s message. There may be one or many receivers. If the message does not reach the receiver, communication is not completed.

6. Decoding – Decoding is the process by which the receiver interprets the message and translates it into meaningful information. Decoding is a two-step process – (a) the receiver must first perceive the message; and (b) the receiver must then interpret it. Decoding process is very much affacted by some factors such as the receiver’s need, status, past experience, situational factors etc.

7. Communication noise – In communication, noise can be thought of as those factors that disturb or distort the intended message. Noise may occur in each of the elements of communication. “Noise” hinders communica­tion.

It includes the following factors:

(a) Factors which hinder the development of a clear thought.

(b) Faulty encoding due to ambiguous symbols.

(c) Defects in channel.

(d) Inattentive reception.

(e) Faulty decoding due to prejudices, wrong under­standing, personal outlook, wrong meaning of words and symbols.

Noise can result in miscommunication. Hence the important point is to realize all these possibilities of noise and to minimize them.

8. Feedback – A feedback provides a link or channel for the communicator to know the receiver’s response and to determine whether the message has been received and has produced the intended change. Feedback may come in many ways. In face-to-face communication, feedback comes through facial expressions of the receiver. Some indirect means of feedback are such factors as declines in productivity, poor quality of production, lack of coordina­tion, absenteeism etc. Feedback may cause the sender to modify his future communication.

What is Communication – Functions: Information, Control, Motivation and Emotional Expression and Interdependence

Function # 1. Information:

The first and foremost function of communication is to provide information. This function is performed in many ways. Before providing or passing an information, one has to receive, collect or sift information from various sources, both external and internal, and through various media, verbal or non-verbal, body language or paralanguage, sign language or audio-visual aids, books, journals, newspapers, advertisements, brochures etc.

The information thus gathered is of vital importance to individuals and groups. It helps them to make decisions by identifying, analysing and evaluating the data, and considering alternative choices. In other words, policy decisions can be taken only when information is available.

Education, research and development depend on information. Education is an ongoing process. No organi­zation can really grow unless the people vitally involved in it have some kind of ‘continuing education’. All senior managers now-a-days keep abreast of the latest developments in their respective areas.

It is also to be observed that no information is insular. In one way or another, directly or indirectly, all different areas of interest, especially in the business world, are interrelated. That is why almost all people in business, whether entrepreneurs or managers, organize and participate in seminars, conferences and refresher courses.

Proper transmission of information is also of great educational value to employees. Unless they are given useful information from time to time they are likely to remain ignorant, uncultivated, or inadequately equipped.

Information made available to the world outside the organisation also educates the public. Advertisements, special articles, information talks etc., play an important role in this regard.

Function # 2. Control:

The next very important function of communication is to control ‘member behaviour’ in several ways. Every organization has a hierarchical system and formal guidelines that the employees are supposed to follow.

When, for example, the employees are required to follow their job description or instructions, or to comply with company policies, communication is performing a control function. This very function also gives the employees their code of conduct. It is generally expected of the employees to first communicate their grievances or complaints to their immediate boss. They have, in this way, to follow the formal channel of communication.

But, at the same time, it must also be pointed out, informal communication also controls behaviour. By talking informally in groups the workers lay down the norms to be followed. It is not always necessary for the bosses to formally issue instructions, impose do’s and don’ts or chalk out norms of behaviour. In fact, it is now becoming more and more explicit that informal communication exercises greater control than formal communication.

Function # 3. Motivation:

In the words of Robbins, “communication fosters motivation by clarifying to employees what is to be done, how well they are doing, and what can be done to improve performance if it’s subpar… The formation of specific goals, feedback on progress toward the goals, and reinforcement of desired behaviour all stimulate motivation and require communication.”

All business is goal-oriented. All possible efforts have to be made to achieve a target within a well thought-out framework of time. For this purpose it is necessary that the team of workers puts in their very best efforts. In other words they have to be motivated.

According to ‘Collins Cobuild Dictionary’, “If you are motivated to do something, you are caused to feel determined to achieve something and willing to work hard in order to succeed. So you have first got to motivate the children and then to teach them”. The same logic applies to the workers in an organization.

The employees/workers have first of all to be told what they are expected to do and how. And, then, merely telling is not enough.

Victor Kiam, a famous American entrepreneur and writer for the corporate world, puts this question to himself- “Am I willing to lead by example?” and goes on to answer thus- “You can’t ask your workers to give their all if your idea of a rough day is two hours in the office and six on the golf course. I never ask an employee to do something I’m not willing to do, and I work even harder than they do.” After all actions speak louder than words.

The concept of rewards and punishment immediately becomes relevant here. It, however, must be observed that rewards and incentives prove more effective and productive than punishments. If the workers are kept happy, given encouragement and suitably rewarded both in cash and kind, they ensure the success of the enterprise.

Every modern entrepreneur/manager knows the importance of positive attitude, empathic listening, words of encouragement and cash rewards, and rewards given in the form of holiday trips, furnishing allowances, quick promotions and so on. Many Indian as well as multinational companies in India are now taking their workers to holiday resorts and sending managers along with their families to Europe, Far East and such other scenic places.

All this is geared to motivate them to ‘earn’ their perks, bonuses and holidays. It enhances the value and the image of the organization.

Function # 4. Emotional Expression and Interdependence:

The work group is a primary source for social interaction. The communication that takes place within the group is of vital importance in the sense that it gives them the best opportunity to share their frustrations as well as feelings of satisfaction. Communication, in this way, provides them a release for their feelings, and that is the fulfillment of an important social need.

Communication is a social activity and every organisation is above all a social entity. The members of the group or organisation are human beings who have so much to share, gather, or pass on. Newman and summer point out that the content of communication is not just facts and figures, or objective ideas, but also feelings, attitudes and interpretations. An adequate understanding of this aspect of communication is of immense help to the management.

In this connection, it is worthwhile to take note of the term ‘Emotional Intelligence’ that is also the title of Daniel Goleman’s book on management. Emotional intelligence, according to Goleman, “is to do with how well we manage our own inner lives and get along with people”.

It is profoundly concerned with self-awareness, the ability to manage one’s own and other people’s emotions, self motivation and empathy. These characteristics or qualities enable one to climb higher in the corporate ranks than colleagues having superior IQs.

Everyone agrees that a good strategic planner/manager needs analytical skills, but the star performers among them have the ability to understand and empathise, persuade and build alliances, and are astute in reading organizational policies. While working at Harvard, Goleman examined students from hundreds of companies, mostly multinationals, and arrived at certain important conclusions.

He found that the really intelligent people are emotionally intelligent people because they can lead, adapt to change, give feedback on performance, empathise, motivate themselves and others, and have integrity.

Stephen Covey, one of the greatest management gurus today, says the same thing in a somewhat different manner. He uses the term ‘Emotional Bank Account’ as a metaphor to describe the amount of trust that has been built-up in a relationship. “It’s the feeling of safeness you have with another human being.” Dag Hammarskjold, past Secretary General of the United Nations, once said, “It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labour diligently for the salvation of the masses.”

Taking his cue from Hammarskjold, Stephen Covey says, “Creating the unity necessary to run an effective business or a family or a marriage requires great personal strength and courage. No amount of technical administrative skill in labouring for the masses can make up for lack of nobility of personal character in developing relationships. It is at a very essential, one-to-one level, that we live the primary laws of love and life.”


Information, control, motivation, and emotional expression and interdependence – these are the four main functions of communication. All of them are equally important. No one of them can be seen or understood in isolation from others. In any group or organization, we need to maintain some firm control, stimulate or motivate the members to perform, provide a means for emotional expression and interdependence and make decision choices on the basis of information.

Any communication interaction taking place in a group or organization performs at least one or more of these functions. More often they are more than one, simply because these functions are interdependent. Only a proper understanding of these basic functions of communication can make an organization work effectively.

What is CommunicationGood Communication Gateways

As a manager, your main responsibility is to get things done through people wil­lingly. However sound your ideas or well-reasoned your deci­sions, they become effective only as they are transmitted to others and achieve the desired result- action or reaction. Com­munication is, therefore, your most vital management tool.

You communicate not only with words but through your ap­parent attitudes and your actions. How well you manage de­pends upon how well you communicate in this broad sense. The ten guidelines or commandments can help you to improve your skills as a manager by improving your skills of commu­nication with superiors, subordinates and associates.

(1) Seek to clarify your ideas before communicating.

(2) Examine the true purpose of each communication.

(3) Consider the total physical setting (when you com­municate in -private) and human setting or social climate that pervades work relationships. Consider also custom and past practice. Like all living things, communication must be capa­ble of adapting to its environment.

(4) Consult with others, where necessary, in planning communication. Such participation and consultation helps to lend additional insight and objectivity to your message. Besides participation in planning, communication secures active support of others.

(5) Be mindful while you communicate, of the overtones as well as the basic contents of your message. Your tone of voice, your expression, your sensitivity to others—all have tremendous impact on those you wish to reach. Your choice of language is also important.

(6) Take the opportunity, when it arises, to convey some­thing of help or value to the receiver. People on the job are most responsive to the manager whose messages take their own interests and needs into account.

(7) Follow up your communication by asking questions, encouraging the receiver to express his reactions, by follow- up contacts, by subsequent review of performance. Every im­portant communication must have feedback information- so that complete understanding and proper action result.

(8) Communicate for tomorrow as well as today. While communications may be aimed at meeting the demands of today, they must be consistent with long-range goals and in­terests. For example, it is difficult to communicate about poor performance or shortcomings of a loyal subordinate frankly. But postponing disagreeable communications makes them more difficult in the long-run and is really unfair to your company.

(9) Be sure your actions support your communications. In the final analysis, the most persuasive communication is not what you say but what you do.

(10) Lastly, but by no means the least, seek not only to be understood but to understand be a good listener. Listen­ing is one of the most important, most difficult and most neglected skills in communication. Listening with the inner ear will help you to know the inner man.

Concentrate on the implicit meanings, unspoken words, and undertones of another person. Listening with understanding is the other side of communication coin. As a manager try to develop empathic understanding. Empathy, refers to the ability to take on another’s role and thus become aware of his feelings, as well as his motives his attitudes, values and beliefs.

It is the abi­lity that requires sensitive awareness. Try to see the expres­sed idea and attitude from the other person’s point of view, to sense how it feels to him, to achieve his frame of menta­lity and so on. Sensitivity to others helps a lot in effective communication.

If you can listen to what he can tell you, if you can understand how it seems to him, if you can see its personal meaning for him, if you can sense the emotional flavour which it has for him, then only you will be releasing potent forces of change in him.

Such an approach alone can improve your relationships and your communications with others. In essence, real communication occurs when you listen with understanding and it is a two-way traffic. Effective communication depends basically upon knowing clearly what you want to convey, understanding the other party, and speaking and writing his language.

What is CommunicationOrganisational Communication

People in the organisation constantly interact through downward, upward and horizontal communications. Upward communication programme can meet the growing demand for participation on the part of managers (at lower level) and employees (at the operating level).

People need information, so that they can understand what is going on and why; and they need action on things that trouble them. They also want to participate in decision-making oh problems in which they are vitally interested.

Thus upward communica­tion enables employees to satisfy their higher level egoistic needs. The success of an upward communication programme is governed by the firm commitment and sincerity of top mana­gement in letter as well as in spirit.

The package approach of an upward communication programme may include:

i. Speak up or feedback concept (questions-answers);

ii. Spe­cial management councils of managers and or employees to discuss their problems;

iii. Employee annual meeting;’

iv. Junior boards;

v. A corps of counsellors or ombudsmen acting as listening boards and redressers of complaints;

vi. Task teams of employees to study a problem, and make a recommendation to management;

vii. Suggestion schemes;

viii. Periodical atti­tude research to determine the issues that most concern the work force; and

ix. Grievance procedures.

Upward communication enables the subordinate to report to his boss about himself, his performance, and about others (working under him) and their problems. He can report to his boss about organisational practices and policies. He can seek clarification about general goals and specific directives.

Horizontal Communication- Formal organisation usually emphasizes downward and upward communication in the or­ganisation hierarchy. Horizontal communication has been under-emphasized in formal structure. Ideally, formal horizon­tal communication channels should supplement and work well with vertical channels.

In fact, when formal vertical chan­nels are not open, the informal horizontal channels are almost sure to thrive as a good substitute. Often these substitute horizontal channels take the form of grapevine. Horizontal communication among peers provides, for co-ordination and maintenance of the system. It builds a spirit of co-operation.

What is CommunicationEssentials of Communication

In all types of communication, the communicator must keep in view the following essential points:

1. Clarity of Thought:

For good communication the idea to be transmitted must be absolutely clear in the mind of the communicator. The process of communication to be complete must spring out from a ‘clear’ head. The academic level of the workers, their power of grasping things, etc., should also be taken into account, otherwise the communication is likely to go waste.

It is especially essential for a country like India, where the multiplicity of languages roughens the flow of communication. It should always be remembered that employee communication should never be in abstract terms.

2. Attach Importance to Actions Rather than Words:

In all communications, actions are more significant than words. A departmental head who professes ‘we’ feeling in words but always uses ‘I’ when it comes to taking the credit, cannot succeed in establishing proper communication spirit and is bound to be mistrusted and misunderstood. Such examples can be multiplied in thousands and hence the golden rule that actions take priority in all communications need always be remembered in practice.

3. Participation:

Communicator and the recipient should participate in the communication. It is common complaint of the workers that “proper and patient head is not given to their voice”. Listening plays a very fundamental part in oral communication because it is listening only which leads to sharing, participation and understanding in oral communication. But this listening is not merely passive hearing. It is smart which is to be perfected with practice based on sound knowledge of principles of human nature.

4. Transmission:

In this connection the communicator must plan carefully what to communicate and how to communicate. How can the executive communicate with the workers when they themselves do not know or cannot understand all facts about the new wage incentive plan or bonus system or the union contract? Further delegation of authority without responsibility breaks down the spirit of communication.

5. Keep the System Always Alive:

The system of communication should be kept open and alive all the year round. It is only by honest attempts that good communication relations can be developed.

6. Cordial Men-Boss Relations:

Hand and glove kinship between the superior and the subordinates is also an essential precondition for the success of any system of communication. Effective communication requires a quality of relationship between people immediately connected with each other. It requires sound industrial relation policies and practices an all-round atmosphere of friendly cooperation and a feeling of trust and confidence throughout the organisation right from the top management, down to the humblest worker.

Under such conditions only the meaning of communication is grasped quickly and correctly. In short, communication is not a substitute for good management but it requires good management to operate it effectively and efficiently.

What is Communication – The Fundamentals of Communication 

Man is a social being, he has to cooperate with others and engage himself will socially useful activities. Communication weaves together the totality of individual experiences. Through communication man avoids the frustrating loneliness of isolation and finds a way of satisfying his needs and wants.

It is usually a two-way process involving stimulation and response among organisms and it is both reciprocal and alternating. The response evoked by one communiqué in turn becomes a stimulus in its own right. In this way in a series of communications each may be by both response and stimulus.

Mead (1934) has evolved a communication theory which is named as “Symbolic Internationalism”. The essence of Mead’s theory lies in his conception of the individual as communicating with himself from the point of view of the society. “The human self-arises through its ability to take the attitude of the groups to which he belongs” — because he can talk to himself in terms of the community to which he belongs. “It is this ability to enter into the attitude of others” which makes complex human society possible.

(a) Communication is Reciprocal:

A constant reversal of roles takes place in communication. In a conversation the communicant becomes the communicator and the latter in turn becomes the communicant and both are equally important.

This raises for consideration the criteria for the success or effectiveness of communication. It might very simple be stated that communication takes place successfully when the effect produced by the communiqué is that intended by the communicator. If the communicator is designed to instigate action or to persuade, it is successful if the outcome suffices for the purposes of the communicator.

If the latter seeks to transmit an experience or to share an idea, the communication may be considered successful if there is evidence of at least approximate understanding by the recipient. It is obvious that the criteria for success in communication are fairly gross. This, however, cannot be avoided since it is often impossible to convey with complete exactness the inner experience of communicator or to involve in the recipient precisely the state sought by the initiator.

(b) Communication and Expression:

The originator of a communication has a purpose in initiating the process. The purpose may be varied of multiple but an intention of creating some sort of effect on another person or persons is always present. One may, however, witness the product of stimuli resembling communication, stimuli that lacks the intention of communication.

Under such conditions the originator of the stimuli may be expressing something but he will not intentionally be communicating anything. The infant cries because of an internal state of feeling and not because of any desire to produce an effect. Only after this cry has been repeatedly followed by gratifying effects can it be regarded as being used as a communication device.

Lecturers in college classes sometimes give the impression that they are talking because of the need to talk rather than to communicate with their hearers. Exclamation of pain, grimaces, posture attitudes, writings, paintings, drawings, sculptures, musical composition all these may be merely expressions or reflections of internal state. Only when they are intended to produce effects or when they succeed in producing effects, may they be considered forms of communication.

Desai (1969) has spelt out the following points relating to communication effectiveness:

(i) It must be clear in purpose and intention;

(ii) It must be lucid and should be based on felt need;

(iii) The communicator should build up proper rapport with the communicate by accepting his feelings;

(iv) The communicator should help the communicate to listen, to participate and to cooperate; and

(v) Language must be understandable.

(c) Learning Theory:

The psychology of learning offers a number of versions of the mechanisms and processes of human learning and in doing so provides one basic form of a theory of communicator. Despite the differences of approach, and especially the varying emphasis as between cognitive and behavioural elements, virtually all theory in the psychology of learning gives an important place to association as the underlying principle of effective communication.

Briefly, the relationship between stimulus and response is seen to provide the key to both learning and communication (in the sense of teaching). Different theorists have emphasized different elements in the learning process; for instance, Hull (1948) stresses drives, Thorndike (1932) reward, Tolman (1932) the cognitive clement, Skinner (1957), reinforcement, but all seem to share a general framework of concepts, which is also a framework for understanding how communication works.

Every action may be conceived of, as a response, which presumes a preceding stimulus. The response behaviour “triggered off” or otherwise caused by any stimulus, has consequences which are ultimately accountable in term of a reduction of tension, a return to equilibrium or stasis which is the “normal” state of the organism and of the larger system of which it forms part.

Human communication, in this view, is that process which links individuals to each other and to their environment. Communication, whereas transmission or reception originates in an experience of tension and should be explained in terms of its function, actual or anticipated, in reducing the state of tension.

People enter into communication relationships, as a result of an experience of tension, within a shared environment, some prior stimulus exerts pressure on them to transmit information or to respond to information, which comes to their attention. The communication situation is interpreted as one where the needs of the participants are satisfied in a calculable way.

The relationship between participants is a functional and mechanistic one, either useful or unavoidable. The sender relates to the receiver either instrumentally to achieve some planned and predictable response and effect, or out of necessity. Similarly, the receiver attends because it is useful or because he is conditioned to do so.

(d) Information Theory:

Information theory is a formal mathematical theory based on probability and without any value for empirical prediction, or need for empirical validation (Frick, 1959). In many man-made systems, the transmission medium consists of electrical impulses the basic elements being few and simple. Nowadays the basis of most long range communication system is the conversion of language into an agreed electrical or typographical code.

During the Second World War designs of many communication systems were put forward. Shannon’s problem was to decide, what sort of signal to send, so as to convey message of a given type in the best manner. How could such messages be coded so as to secure the fastest, error-free transmission, over a given circuit? This is the central problem of information theory and to answer it with precision, it is necessary to find mathematical expression for the characteristics in terms of which different systems can be compared.

For example, if two systems for the transmission of English text have been advanced, one would be based on the idea of coding each word by letter, the second on that of assigning a symbol to each word and coding it directly. Information theory enables comparison of the two systems.

The broad purpose of information theory is to supply a mathematical technique, which helps the designer of a system to strike an acceptable balance between the demands of the message source, the capacity of the channel and the expectation of noise. A successful System is one, where the differences between signals sent and signals received is very small.

Information theory implies that the relationship between sender and receiver is essentially an instrumental one and is consistent with although distinct from that which is implicit in the perspective of behavioural learning.

(e) Voluntary and Involuntary Communication:

Whenever an observer reacts to the expressional activity of another individual in a way that indicates the observer’s awareness of the internal state of the originator of the stimulus a communication has taken place. He may look sympathetic or do something to help the originator or he may merely register internally — for instance “He looks worried” — but as long as his reaction is congruent with the state of the individual he is observing, he may be considered a communicator.

When, however, his reaction has no relevance to the state of the latter although he may have perceived and responded to the emitted stimulus, no communication can be said to have occurred. The carrying of an infant may cause a nearby child to strike it or cause an adult to leave the room.

In these situations, while the infant has expressed a state of feeling and while the observer has reacted to the form of the expression, no communication voluntary or involuntary has taken place; since the reaction has no relevance to the internal state of the communicator.

It should now be obvious that the study of the communication process can be very complicated. However, when one is proficient in the mechanics of communication and continuous in overcoming the obstacles to communication, the process of communication could be caused to that extent.

What is Communication – The Mechanics of Communication 

A critical perspective on the technological extension of the communicative process cannot be derived from narrow basis. Social and cultural theories, behavioural scientists, medical practitioners, philosophers and artists all contribute to our understanding. Beyond the technical proficiency of the science of communication, however is the social impact of the art of communication.

Four factors are necessary for the communication process to function. There must be the communication. There must be the recipient. There must be the communication content and there is ultimately the question of effect of communication. “Who says what to whom and with what effect” is a classic description of the communication process.

Researchers in communication have identified varying number of factors or elements in communication.

The total communication effect does not produce the desired pay-off because its three components — face-to-face communication, traditional communication and the mass-media tend to function independently without any meaningful effort at coordination or integration.

Interpersonal communication explicates the meaning of messages in the traditional cultural framework and idiom. In the process meanings can change, resulting in significant goal transfers. Distortion in meaning can be avoided if close links with those who occupy key positions could be maintained.

The best mix for successful communication therefore appears to be a combination of the mass media, local extension organisation with subject matter specialization as key opinion leaders who can contribute significantly towards moulding the people’s modes of thought and action.

What is Communication – Few Barriers to Communication

A person at times wants to communicate one thing; but actually he communicates something else which he never intended. This type of event in communication behaviour is known as “The Arc of Distortion”.

Distortion could be due to some defect in any of the mechanisms of communication. These obstructions to communication are also known as “barriers”.

The following are a few barriers to communication:

1. Lack of a proper style, of feedback.

2. Content irrelevant to the needs of the clientele.

3. Failure to maintain a two-way flow of communication.

4. Unsuited climate.

5. Lack of provision for horizontal flow of ideas.

6. Non-availability of technical consultants.

7. Semantic difficulties.

8. Lack of leadership.

9. Lack of motivation.

10. Lack of support from the heads of institution.

Any barrier to communication could be overcome or distortion reduced through a well organised system of feedback. The feedback is of critical importance in testing the success of any attempt at communication for only by some such device is it possible to observe its effect. If the communicator is to face with the communicant it is possible for him to judge the success of the communication by the latter’s reaction.

When the communication gives direction is or persuades to a conduct it is easier to gauge its success than when it involves the transmission of an experience or the sharing of an idea. In the first instance, A can estimate whether he has “put over” what he intended by what B does. In the second instance, however, A has no way of knowing that he has conveyed to B, unless B responds with a communication of his own.

It is not sufficient for ‘A’ to ask “Do you understand me?” for even if B says “Certainly I do”, this does not necessarily mean that the desired effect has been achieved for the reason that A has no way of knowing what B thinks A has wanted him to understand.

This absence of immediate “feedback” is precisely what concerns those who are initiators of innovation. Realising this difficulty Havelock (1969) recommends the involvement of the clientele in the process of the innovation right from the planning stage. Rogers (1971) also gives due importance to a good system of feedback in his model for communication.

Other Barriers to Communication:

1. Lack of Planning:

Good communication seldom happens by chance. Too often people start talking and writing without first thinking, planning and stating the purpose of message. Furthermore the personality and attributes of the person who is receiving the message also matters cause no matter how nicely the message has been delivered the receiver should be that intelligent to read it correctly.

2. Ambiguity:

Clearly, language and linguistic ability may act as a barrier to communication. If the message sent is not clear and is ambiguous then it may act as a barrier.

3. False Assumptions:

Often overlooked, yet very important, are the un-communicated assumptions that underlie messages. Whenever message is sent it should be checked that there are no assumptions, if something is required from receivers end then it should be mentioned in the message for example A customer may send a note stating that he will visit a vendor’s plant. Then he may assume that the vendor will meet her at the airport. Such assumptions create confusion.

4. Distortions:

Another barrier to effective communication is distortion, which can be accidental or deliberate. Sender must have sent the message but the receiver was too busy to register it. Thus on sender’s end message has been sent but actually receiver has not taken a note of it.

5. Implied Meaning:

Sometimes the message may not be clear and straight forward thus does not give true idea of the message.

6. Passing Judgements:

Sometimes the message gives a judgement against, the receiver which acts as a barrier to communication.

7. Lack of Trust:

If the sender and receiver do not trust each other than the communication may lose its true meaning.

What is Communication Guidelines for Effective Communication

If we have a reasonably good understanding of the process of communication and its problems, barriers and breakdowns it should not be difficult to make our communication effective. It must, however, be made clear that ideal communication is rarely achieved. Perhaps it does not exist.

But we can, and should, strive to acquire all those skills and take care of all those aspects that make communication effective. As somebody has very well said, “Ideals are like stars. We may never reach them, but they keep guiding our path”. So is the case with communication.

Given below are some guidelines that must help us communicate effectively:

1. Clarity of Purpose:

In the first place we must make a careful analysis of what exactly we wish to communicate. As is often the case in business, we may not be able to clarify the issue completely, unless it is by nature very simple. But any effort made in this direction proves to be fruitful. Hence it is absolutely necessary to understand the purpose of our message.

And this requires careful planning. Lack of planning becomes the first major barrier in communication. Communication does not just take place. We have to make all possible efforts to understand the why’s and how’s, the when and where, and above all the ‘what’ of our message. As George Bernard Shaw says, “The major mistake in communication is to believe that it happens”.

2. Shared Activity:

Let us not forget that effective communication is the responsibility of all persons in the organization. They may be at any level-managerial or non-managerial. They are all working towards a common goal. It means that all of them have a share, directly or indirectly, in many different ways, in the process of communication.

Whether communication is effective can be judged on the basis of the intended results. And the results are the responsibility of the entire organization.

It has, therefore, to be group-responsibility. Managers are advised to consult with others whenever necessary. Often it is necessary to seek the authority to communicate before a message is sent, or someone is to be kept in the picture in regard to the action intended. It is, therefore, useful to remember the headings ‘For Action’ and ‘For Information’ when communications are being planned.

3. Common Set of Symbols:

The encoding and decoding of the message should be done with symbols that are familiar to the sender and the receiver. It is an immutable condition of communication that the code or set of symbols be mutually understood/intelligible. That is why managers, and especially the specialist staff, are advised to avoid unnecessary technical jargon which is intelligible only to the experts in their respective fields.

Quite often communication becomes ineffective if the specialists/technical experts, who are accustomed to using a special kind of vocabulary and phraseology among themselves, use their particular variety of language even with the administrative or accounts section of the organization. They must remember that, beyond their jargon, there is a common core of language.

4. Focus the Needs of the Receiver:

Whenever we communicate we must keep in mind the needs of the receivers of the message/information. It should be our endeavour to see that whatever we communicate should be of value to the receiver, both in the short run and in the distant future. Our awareness of the needs of the receiver will make him more receptive.

5. ‘Use Feedback’:

‘Use feedback’, exhorts Stephen Robbins, a renowned authority on organizational behaviour. Communication is complete only when the message is understood by the receiver. And we can never know whether communication/message is understood unless the sender gets feedback.

Many communication problems arise because of misunder­standings and inaccuracies. They are less likely to occur if we make sure that the ‘feedback loop is utilized in the communication process’. We can achieve this target by asking questions, requesting a reply to a letter, and encouraging the receiver to give his reactions to the message/information.

6. Active Listening:

Active or ‘participative’ listening is as important as any other element in the process of communication. It shows, again, that communication is a joint responsibility of both the sender and the receiver.

7. Controlling Emotions:

Emotions play an important role in interpersonal relationships between superiors, subordinates and col­leagues in an organization. It should, be therefore, an important aim of communication to create an environment in which people are motivated to work toward the desired goals of the enterprise while they achieve their personal goals.

There must be generated a healthy climate of involvement and synergistic growth. It must also be remembered that an important function of communication is control-not just top-down control but also self control. It means that a successful communicator must learn/train himself to exercise restraint on his emotions, especially anger.

The truth is that we do not always communicate in a fully rational manner. Our reasoning is often clouded with negative feelings/emotions. And that leads to all sort of misunderstandings owing to emotion loaded encoding of the message of misinterpretation of the incoming message. That is why the MBO (Management by Objectives) philosophy emphasizes self-control.

8. Politeness:

This leads us to the tonal aspect of communication. There is a saying, “The tone makes the music”. In the same way, in communication, the tone of voice, the choice of language and the congruency or logical connection between what is said and how it is said influence the reactions of the receiver.

That is why managers are advised to shun authoritarianism, or in other words, to exercise authority with grace. Everybody knows that politeness pays, and it is reflected so very ‘loudly’ both in words and actions. Moreover, in an organization, politeness encourages participative communication involving people at all levels, leading to lateral and diagonal communication from the conventional, hierarchically – structured downward communication.

9. Eliminate Noise:

Every possible effort must be made to eliminate the element of noise that distorts communication at the transmission stage. It becomes especially important in the wake of modern technological advancement. Anything going wrong with the equipment or any disturbance in the transmission line is bound to defeat the very purpose of communication.

10. Clarify Assumptions:

No effective communication can be based on assumptions. The sender of the message must first clarify his assumptions and then go ahead with proper encoding of the message.

11. Avoiding Connotations and Ambiguities:

Semantic problems can be solved by using simple language and avoiding connotations. Care must be taken to see that the receiver of the message does not have to go beyond the text of the message. A sender should, therefore, use denotative words and expressions in preference to connotative ones. It is also necessary to avoid all ambiguity that means using words with double meaning.

12. Socio-Psychological Aspect:

As communication is a two-way process involving both the sender and the receiver, both should make conscious efforts to understand each other’s cultural and socio-psychological background. As a golden rule for effective communication one must remember, “First understand, then be understood”. An effective communicator is an informed communicator.

13. Completeness:

One must also endeavour to send a complete message, furnishing all necessary facts and figures. Incomplete communication annoys the receiver as a result of which proper feedback will not come. The message should be so organized that the receiver is not left in doubt about any aspect of the message.

14. Conciseness:

Completeness does not mean inclusion of unnecessary details or diversions. An effective communication is concise and crisp. The sender should be clear headed and properly focused in his vision.

15. Proper Use of Body Language:

Proper use of body language is of paramount importance, especially in oral communication. No oral communication can be successful or effective if we do not take care of our body language. In the first place there must be good eye-contact with the person to whom we are speaking.

The movement of our hands and feet must be graceful. Every listener observes carefully how we walk and how we talk. Our gait says a lot about us. A warm handshake can do wonders. Holding our head straight on our shoulders shows confidence. In fact, our overall appearance can really make or mar our communication.