Communication has enabled us to organize-to work in groups; and through organization, we have been able to overcome barriers to our existence that we could not have subjugated individually. But we need not discuss further how communication has contributed to our development as human beings. Its role is understandable to all of us. We have to articulate that communication is vital to our success and well-being in enlightened civilization.

Effective and efficient working of an organisation depends upon effective communication system. It is possible for a manager to frame good plans, take good decisions, and follow excellent organisation structure only with the help of proper link or communication with the working force. Communication is one of the most important functions of management like planning, organising, directing, control etc. Management’s responsibility to get the things done by and through the people is just possible by communication.

“Communication is something so simple and difficult that we can never put it in simple words,” says T.S. Mathews.

Learn about:- 1. Introduction to Communication 2. Definition of Communication 3. Nature and Scope 4. Elements 5. Objectives 6. Functions 7. Factors 8. Essentials 9. Types 10. Importance 11. Models 12. Guidelines 13. Barriers 14. Methods of Overcoming the Barriers.

Communication: Introduction, Definition, What is Communication, Nature, Elements, Barriers, Objectives, Functions, Importance, Types, Models and More…   


  1. Introduction to Communication
  2. Definition of Communication
  3. Nature and Scope of Communication
  4. Elements of Communication
  5. Objectives of Communication
  6. Functions of Communication
  7. Factors of Communication
  8. Essentials of Communication
  9. Types of Communication
  10. Importance of Communication
  11. Models of Communication
  12. Guidelines of Communication
  13. Barriers of Communication
  14. Methods of Overcoming the Barriers of Communication


Communication – Introduction

If you are like the majority of us, you spend more time in communicating than doing anything else. Probably you spend a hefty part of each day in one-to-one speaking, writing and listening. When you are not talking or listening, you are presumably communicating in supplementary ways like-understanding, lettering, gesturing, and drawing. Or perhaps, you are just taking in information by seeing, feeling, or smelling. All of these activities are forms of communication and certainly you do them right through most of your time.

Obviously, such activity, which we are engrossed in so much, has to be significant. Perhaps, it is the most important of all our activities. It is easy to make out that communication is what has enabled us to develop the civilized society. It is one activity that we human beings clearly do better than the other creatures, and it basically explains our dominant role in this universe.

Communication has enabled us to organize-to work in groups; and through organization, we have been able to overcome barriers to our existence that we could not have subjugated individually. But we need not discuss further how communication has contributed to our development as human beings. Its role is understandable to all of us. We have to articulate that communication is vital to our success and well-being in enlightened civilization.

Effective and efficient working of an organisation depends upon effective communication system. It is possible for a manager to frame good plans, take good decisions, and follow excellent organisation structure only with the help of proper link or communication with the working force. Communication is one of the most important functions of management like planning, organising, directing, control etc. Management’s responsibility to get the things done by and through the people is just possible by communication.

All the working instructions, orders reach the required destination i.e. the implementers through effective communication. Similarly all the suggestions, ideas, problems, difficulties, necessities, demands of the employees also go to the management through the communication system only.

Therefore there must be a sound and effective communication network established by the top level of management. In the absence of communication in different levels of management nothing can be achieved. Someone has rightly said that effective directing involves effective communication. Communication system keeps the members informed about the things happening within and outside the business organisation.

Planning, organising, decisions instructions, feed backs etc., on paper are otherwise static unless that achieve dynamism and momentum. This dynamism and momentum is preached in these through communication. Entire organisation is activated and is put on wheels by the power and energy of communication. Communication system plays a vital role in an organisation like a nervous system in a human body. Therefore skill of communicating becomes an essential quality for every executive.

The word “communication” has its root in the Latin word “Communis” i.e. “common”. It denotes imparting a common idea or it refers to the sharing of ideas, facts, opinions, information and understanding. The term communication refers to transmission of some information and understanding from one person to another.

Communication – Definition: Suggested by T.S. Mathews, W.H. Newman and C.F. Summer Jr   

“Communication is something so simple and difficult that we can never put it in simple words,” says T.S. Mathews.

But we do need a definition to understand the term. In his book Communication in Business, Peter Little defines communication as follows-

“Communication is the process by which information is transmitted between individuals and /or organizations so that an understanding response results.”

Another very simple definition of ‘communication’ has been provided by W.H. Newman and C.F. Summer Jr.

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

‘Information’ is the keyword in the first definition communication consists in transmitting ‘information’. But this definition does not indicate the objects about which information is to be transmitted. This is precisely what is being done in the second definition. Communication transmits information not only about tangible facts and determinable ideas and opinions but also about emotions.

When a communicator passes on or transmits some information, he may also, either deliberately or unconsciously, be communicating his attitude or the frame of his mind. And sometimes the latter may be more relevant to the reality that is being communicated.

Often we may have come across words of high praise spoken in a scoffing tone. In such a case, the words signify nothing and the tone is the real thing. Similarly, high-sounding expressions of bravery may be only a mask to conceal a person’s timidity and cowardice that may be betrayed by his facial expressions.

The following definition offered by William Scott appears comprehensive and particularly satisfying to the students of ‘business communication’ since it touches all aspects of the communication process-

“Managerial communication is a process which involves the transmission and accurate replication of ideas ensured by feedback for the purpose of eliciting actions which will accomplish organizational goals.”

This definition highlights four imperative points:

1. The process of communication involves the communication of ideas.

2. The ideas should be accurately replicated (reproduced) in the receiver’s mind, i.e., the receiver should get exactly the same ideas as were transmitted. If the process of communication is perfect, there will be no dilution, exaggeration, or distortion of the ideas.

3. The transmitter is assured of the accurate replication of the ideas by feedback, i.e., by the receiver’s response, which is communicated, back to the transmitter. Here it is suggested that communication is a two-way process including transmission of feedback.

4. The purpose of all communication is to elicit action.

It is a fairly comprehensive definition and covers almost all aspects of communication.

But two comments can be made on it:

1. The concept of ideas should be adequately enlarged to include emotions also.

2. Even in administrative communication, the purpose may not always be to elicit action. Seeking information or persuading others to a certain point of view can be equally important objectives of communication.

Communication – Nature and Scope

The role of communication in organized activities is perhaps explained by a real-life illustration. By design, our illustration is both detailed and scant. It is detailed because it consists of examples of the minute and specific communication events that occur in business. It is scant because at best it covers only a sample of an almost infinite number of events.

For this review, we could select any organization, as communication is vital to every conceivable type. Our choice is the Typical Company, manufacturer of a line of quality what sits. The Typical Company is moderately large, with scores of departments and hundreds of workers doing a thousand and one tasks.

It employs crews of salespeople who sell the manufactured what sits to wholesalers all over the country. Like most companies in its field, Typical works to move its products from wholesaler to retailer and from retailer to the final consumer. And it works to keep the consumer happy with the purchase. The Typical Company is indeed typical.

Our review begins with the workday of Dan D. Worker, a clerk in Typical’s order department. (We could, of course, have selected any of Typical’s employees). Dan’s daily communication activities begin the moment he awakens. But for our purposes, we shall pick up Dan’s activities as he rides to work in a car pool with three co-workers. Of course, Dan and his car-pool companions communicate as they travel. Obviously, communication has a social use, and riding to work is a form of social occasion for Dan and his friends.

Most of their talk is about trivial matters. They talk primarily to entertain themselves and to while away the time. There is a joke or two, some comments about politics, a few words about an upcoming football game, and some talk about plans for a getaway weekend fishing trip. Such talk, of course, is of little direct concern to Typical, except perhaps as it affects the general happiness and welfare of the company’s workers.

In time, the conversation drifts to subjects more pertinent to Typical and its operations. Someone mentions a rumour about a proposed change in promotion policy. Then Dan and the others bring up their own collection of rumours, facts, and opinions on the subject. And in the process, they giving, receiving, or handling information. Nothing that he did directly involved making what sits, which, of course, is the Typical Company’s main reason for being. Yet the importance of his activities to Typical’s operations is unquestionable.

Obviously, Dan’s work assignment more directly involves communication than do many others at Typical. But there are many other communication-oriented assignments in the company, and every Typical employee’s workday is peppered with communication in one form or another. If we were to trace the workday of each Typical employee and combine our findings, we would come up with an infinitely complex picture of the communication that goes on at Typical. We would see that communication indeed plays a major role in Typical’s operations.

Communication is as necessary to an organisation as the blood-stream is to a person. It is a basic tool for motivation and an increase in the morale of the employees which largely depends upon the effectiveness of communication. Supervision and leadership are impossible without communication.

Communication is also a means of bringing about maximum production at the lowest cost by maintaining good human relations in the organisation, by encouraging suggestions and implementing them, whenever feasible. In fact it is impossible to have human relation without communication. Many conflicts and misunderstandings can be resolved to a great extent by a good communication skill on the part of the management. It becomes clear that communication has a very wide scope.

The scope of communication can be described as under:

1. One Way Communication:

In olden days that is before the industrial revolution, when the size of business organisation was limited, the scope of communication was also limited. At that time, one way communication was in existence. It was considered as a powerful tool in the hands of the management to get the things done through employees.

One way communication can be called as a downward communication, which usually provides no scope for the rank and file people to show their reaction or forward their opinions, point of views or suggestions to the top level people. In modern times one way communication has become outdated, obsolete, inefficient and ineffective.

In one way communication there is a transmission of ideas or information from executives to the subordinates, it is generally directive in the sense that it causes action to be initiated by subordinates. In today’s environment one way communication is not suitable at all.

2. Two Way Communication:

In the global business world two way communication is always welcomed. There is a wide scope for this type of communication. This upward and downward communication completes of circuit. In this circuit communication goes in upward and as well as in downward direction. The communicator and the receiver get an opportunity to interact with each other and exchange their ideas, opinions, viewpoints, suggestions and emotions etc.

Whenever the orders regarding work are issued by the top level to the bottom level of organisation under tow way communication the employees/workers get an opportunity to express and convey to the top level people, their reactions, feelings, opinion, ideas, suggestions etc. freely. It is the duty and responsibility of the supervisor to know, how and what to communicate to the higher executives.

Two way communication helps in building the mutual trust, co-operation, better understanding, mutual respect, between the management and employees which ultimately helps in improving industrial relations and peace. Last but not least, a good communication system should be like a two way traffic, and both the transmitter and the receiver have a joint role in making this communication effective.

3. Intra-Organisational (Internal) Communication:

In modern business organisation there are a number of departments established to perform the specialised business activities. Therefore it is necessary to integrate and co-ordinate the activities of these different departments for achieving the common objectives of the organisation.

It is necessary to establish intra-organisational /Internal/ interdepartmental/communication which helps in developing a link between various departments and brings in mutuality of interest, team spirit, team work, co-operative attitude among the personnel working in the organisation. This can be done either through formal or informal communication.

Intra-organisational communication may be called as intra-scalar communication. It is a communication from persons at one level in an organisation to others at the same level. It provides a means by which managers at the same level of an organisation co-ordinate their activities without referring all the matters to their superior, the main idea behind this is, that a lot of matters can be handle at the same level of an organisation which relieves superiors of necessary problems and they can devote their precious time to other important matters.

4. Extra-Organisational (External) Communication:

In the global business world, intra organisational communication is not sufficient and adequate. Every business organisation comes into contact with different segments of the society such as bankers, financial institutes, creditors, underwriters, shareholders, customers, solicitors, auditors, chartered accountants, traders, government authorities, suppliers, investors, community at large etc.

Therefore it becomes necessary to interact and communicate with these parties regularly to establish good rapport and relationship with them and thereby winning their trust and confidence. A Good extra organisational communication helps in enhancing the image and goodwill of the company. In simple words this extra-organisational communication is the communication between agencies outside the organisation and the people within it.

5 Key Elements of Communication Communication is a Process, Communication Involves Transmitting Information and Understanding and Many More…

After studying the various definitions of communication the following key elements of communication become clear:

Element # 1. Communication is a Process:

It is called as a process, because it consists of a series of steps. It is not an independent event. The steps in the process are emergence of ideas, placing them in some logical sequence and transmitting them through some media, received by someone at the other end, and the reaction of that person after receiving information or message and again reversing the journey, communication is thus, called a process.

Element # 2. Communication Involves Transmitting Information and Understanding:

It means that the information should not only be transmitted and received but also understood.

Element # 3. Information Sender and Receiver may be Human or Non-Human Objects:

The concept of communication is quite broader. It is wider field of human interchange of facts and opinions and not the media like telephone, telex, telegraph, radio and others.

Element # 4. Communication Requires Some Channel or Medium:

Communication i.e. transmission can be made orally or in writing. Thus the words and paper assumes the nature of transmission media. But these are not the only mediums of communication. Even a silence can communicate some message. Radios, Televisions, Telexes, Telephones, letters etc. are general media of communication. Apart from this, attitudes, behaviours, actions, gestures, and silence are also effective mediums of communications. Communication can be made directly, consciously or unconsciously.

Element # 5. Communication has Three Interlocking Circuits:

Transmitting information – (i) Upwards (ii) Downwards and (iii) Intra scaler. Upward circuit is aimed at knowing the idea, comments, actions, reactions, attitudes, reports, complains and grievances from the lower level. Such a circuit flows upwards.

Downward circuit is meant for transmitting flow of instructions, directions, clarifications, interpretations of rules, orders, policies and procedures, to lower level who has to implement them. Such a circuit has a downward flow. Intra scalar or cross contact circuit is for exchange of information between departmental heads, members, executives or between workers all of equal rank.

Redfierd has given the following elements of communication:

1. A communicator – A person who passes on the information.

2. Transmission – It is actual issuing of orders, instructions, directions or information.

3. Stimuli – It is a message, order, report or information

4. A communicate – A receiver of the information.

5. Response – A feedback or reaction of the receiver.

A manager should understand above basic key elements in order to make communication effective.

10 Main Objectives of Communication

Predetermined objectives of the business organisation can be achieved through communication network only. Company’s objectives, plans, policies, procedures, rules regulations, budgets, orders, instructions, directions, programmes, top management’s expectations etc. pass through communication only.

The following are the objectives of the communication:

1. To transmit information and develop understanding among working group, which is a must for group effort.

2. To develop positive attitude which is necessary for motivating the employees and gaining their co-operation and job satisfaction.

3. To strictly prohibit the misinformation, rumours gossip. This helps in reducing the emotional tensions of employees.

4. Workers can be made mentally prepared for changes by communicating such information in advance.

5. Another very important objective of communication is to motivate the employees for new ideas, suggestions, creative thinking, new methods of working, improvement in the product, working conditions, encouraging new methods, and thereby reducing time, wastages in production activity.

6. Communication develops, maintains and improves better worker and management relations.

7. Communication ensures free exchange of information and ideas so that all the employees understand and accept them by responding to the status and authority of everyone in the organisation.

8. Communication helps to satisfy employees’ basic needs such as self-respect, status, recognition, attachment, sense of belonging, and identity etc.

9. Communication helps to entertain and maintain social relations among the employees.

10. Communication ensures security and conformity of plans, policies and objectives of the business organisation.

Communication – 4 Main Functions: Communication Provides Information, Command and Instructions, Motivational Function and Integrative Functions

Actually importance and functions cannot easily be separated from each other. Importance of anything is derived and assessed on the basis of functions provided and how they are used for the benefit of management. This importance is further strengthened by the following functions which “Thayer” – a management thinker, has told.

1. Communication Provides Information:

Communication provides information about the needs of the employees individually, specially in respect of guidance in their performance. Along with this, the management is able to collect information about the desires of the employees and can just assess their effect on employee morale and ultimately on performance. Naturally communication enables the management to take full care of the employee.

2. Command and Instructions:

It is the communication network that conveys the commands and instructions to the employees and gets a feedback. Their obligations, duties and responsibilities are made known to the employees by communication. All these help in easy and effective attainment of the objectives.

3. The Motivational Function:

This function is also known as influence and persuasion function. It motivates the employees towards better performance and to exhibit a certain behaviour. Through communication management can convince the employees that their working actions should be organisationally beneficial.

4. The Integrative Functions:

This function facilitates to integrate the efforts and activities of the employees in such a way, that business organisation’s objectives can be achieved ultimately. This function is possible only through the effective communication.

9 Major Factors and Principles of Communication Clarity, Attention, Adequacy, Consistency, Integration, Timeliness, Informality, Feedback and Communication Network

The principles (factors) contributing to the effectiveness of communication are:

1. Clarity

2. Attention

3. Adequacy

4. Consistency

5. Integration

6. Timeliness

7. Informality

8. Feedback

9. Communication network

1. Clarity:

The main aim of communication is that the ideas communicated are understood by the person receiving it. Hence, there should not be any ambiguity. Apart from this, the language used in the message must be clear and convey the meaning intended. First of all, the sender must be clear, as to what he wants to communicate. The clarity, which is of paramount importance, develops in thought process of sender will lead to effective communication.

2. Attention:

In order to make the message effective, i.e., being understood by the receiver, attention of the recipient must be drawn to the idea of the message transmitted to him. It is a fact, that (human behaviour, emotion and attitude, etc.,) at the time of the receipt of message normally decide the degree of attention of the individual. Thus, the receiver’s attention is a vital factor that leads to proper action on the message.

3. Adequacy:

The information sent should be adequate in all respects, so as to enable the receiving end to take the desired action. Improper and incomplete information not only creates confusion but also leads to loss in the business activities.

4. Consistency:

This principle denotes that message should not be conflicting, whereas it should be consistent with the plans, policies and overall objectives of the organisation. Where the message itself is self-contradictory, it creates confusion and chaos. Thus, it defeats the very purpose of communication.

5. Integration:

Communication must promote cooperation amongst the people at work place so as to achieve its goal. It needs to be understood that communication is a means to an end and not the end in itself. The integration of various activities can be achieved through proper communication.

6. Timeliness:

Time factor is quite important in communication. A message meant to be acted upon at a particular time but happens to be received late, becomes a mere statement without any meaning whatsoever; since it has already lost its importance due to lapse of time.

7. Informality:

Formal communication is a vital line of organisational function. At the same time, the informal communication network has a prominent role in passing information, which is helpful for efficient management. Thus, the management must make best use of this system.

8. Feedback:

Feedback is essential for communication. Receipt of any message confirms the first part of communication. Whether a message has been understood by the receiver at the receiving end, as desired, is the next part. And a mandatory confirmation to this effect from the receiver, whether he agrees to the proposal needs to be informed to the originator of the message.

In an oral communication, the sender can get the feedback, which will be much earlier than a written communication. The sender immediately gets such a confirmation, moment the message is acknowledged. In written communication, the receiver may take a little time for his action, however, the confirmation needs to be sent forthwith on receipt of the message. Thus, the pace of oral communication is faster.

9. Communication Network:

This means the channel through which the communication reaches to the destination for which it is meant Management must take proper care in selecting the network system of communication according to its needs, reliability and effectiveness of the system. The organisation should figure out only such communication network which is user friendly and capable of contributing adequate encouragement to the users.

If transactional analysis in communication is followed properly, it can prevent barriers and make the communication effective. This will also minimize organisational problems and develop cooperation amongst the individuals.

10 Essentials of an Effective Communication – Two Way Communication, Mutual Trust, Clarity of Message, Timely Message, Channel of Communication and More…

Most of the communication become ineffective because many administrators are poor listeners.

This drawback can be removed by the management and listening ability can be developed in such administrators. Effectiveness of communication mostly depends upon the environment within the formal organisation structure. If lines of authority and channels of communication are not known to the concerned employees, then miscommunication, excessive communication or lack of communication takes place.

Communication tends to become more impersonal if the span is too wide. Establishment of ideal communication system requires planning, organising, cooperating and control. The test of successful communication is the manner of its reception and the action thereon and the awareness of the psychology and emotions of the parties involved. The effectiveness largely depends on reciprocal understanding, mutual exchange of ideas, facts etc.

The following are the essentials of an effective communication:

1. Two Way Communication:

In communication there must be two parties i.e. sender or transmitter and the receiver. Both have a joint role in making communication effective. It is a two way traffic. Mere transmission of facts, ideas, opinions etc., is not effective and meaningful communication. Channel must be open for knowing receivers views, opinions, ideas etc., then only effective communication can take place.

2. Mutual Trust:

For effective communication, there must be mutual understanding between the transmitter and the receiver of the message. Lack of mutual understanding between them signifies that there is a lacuna in the communication system. Presence of mutual trust between the superior and subordinates indicates healthy interpersonal relationship between them.

3. Clarity of Message:

First of all sender’s message must be clear to himself. He should thoroughly understand it. Feedback provision in the communication system is called a two-way traffic or process. Therefore the sender should also try to know the reaction of the receiver of the message.

In face to face communication it is easy to get feedback of the listener but in other cases the sender of the message has to do a lot get clues of the reactions of the receiver of the message. The feedback principle avoids the most likely errors in transmission of message and invokes effective participation of the subordinates.

4. Timely Message:

Time factor is the most important factor in good communication system. The message should be timely sent and received. Timeless communication is worse than no communication.

5. Completeness of Message:

Incomplete message requires repeated communications which ultimately results in delay in action and causes misunderstanding, unhealthily human relations, and inefficiency. The message to be communicated must be adequate and complete.

6. Consistency of Message:

The message to be communicated should always be consistent with the objectives, plans, policies and programmes of the enterprise.

7. Good Listener:

One of the essentials of effective communication is that the executives and supervisors must be good listeners. They must be attentive and patient when others are attempting to communicate.

8. More Emphasis on Feedback:

An effective communication is a two way process. Therefore it is required that the sender of the message allows the receiver to express his view or reaction in response to any message transmitted. More emphasis should be given on feedback from the receiver of the message.

9. Channel of Communication:

Effective communication depends mostly on selection of channel of transmission of message and the speed of transmission of message. But at the same time accuracy of message is also needed.

10. Continuing Process:

The goal of communication is complete understanding. Therefore, there should be a never-ending process of listening and reading. Communication should be constant, habitual and automatic.

Top 5 Types of Communications in Organisations (or Channels)

There are various forms or types of communications in organisations.

The important types or channels are as follows:

1. Oral, Written and Nonverbal Communication

2. Formal and Informal Communication

3. Downward and Upward Communication

4. Horizontal and Diagonal Communication

5. Internal and External Communication

Type # 1. Oral, Written and Nonverbal Communication:

Oral Communication:

It is the face to face communica­tion between individuals. It may be in the form of direct talk when persons are physically present at one place. It may also include informed conversations, group discus­sions, meetings, telephone calls, intercom system or formal speeches. It is the most effective and most fre­quently used tool of the manager to get his job done. It provides opportunity for the exchange of information, points of view, and instructions between the superior and his subordinates.

It is the powerful means of exchange of ideas because the receiver not only hears the message but also observes the physical gestures of the speaker. It is an effective way of changing attitudes, beliefs and feelings. Theo Haiman writes, “The human voice can impart the message with meaning and shading which even long pages of written words simply cannot convey”.

Written Communication:

It is a communication through written words. It is generally in the form of instructions, letters, memos, formal reports, rules, policy manuals, information bulle­tins, office notes, and notices and so on. It is more orderly and binding on subordinates. By written communication, it is possible to communication with several persons simulta­neously. Written communication is necessary when the action called for is complicated.

Non-Verbal Communication:

Non-verbal communication is not expressed orally or in writing. It is conveyed through human and environ­mental elements. Non-verbal expressions include facial expressions, clothes, posture, tone of voice, body move­ments etc. Our non-verbal messages can show anger, frustration, arrogance, shyness, fear, indifference, mis­chief or intimacy. Physical movements or body language is every effective in communicating message.

The important forms of non-verbal messages are – (1) sign language which includes signs or symbols such as flag, a nod of the head etc. It replaces words. (2) Action language, which consists of body movements, and (3) Object language which consists of physical items such as clothes, furniture or physical possessions that convey some messages.

Managers should be conscious of the nonverbal messages subordinates transmit to them whether inten­tionally or otherwise.

Type # 2. Formal and Informal Communication:

Formal Communication:

Formal communication refers to the flow of informa­tion through the formally established channels or chain of command. Formal channels of communication are planned and established by the organisation. The formal lines of communication most often follow the reporting relationships in the organisation.

It is official communi­cation and travels in three directions – downward, up­ward, and laterally. It is associated with the superior and subordinate relationships. It is hierarchical in nature. It is generally in writing and takes the form of orders, instructions, policy manuals, handbooks, formal direc­tives, reports etc. It is linked with formal status and positions. It is required to do one’s job.

Informal Communication – The Grapevine:

Informal communication refers to communication among people through informal contacts. It is also re­ferred to as “grapevine”, bush telegraph” or the “rumour mill”, it takes place without regard to hierarchical struc­ture. It is related to personal’ rather than positional’ matters. It does not follow the formal channels estab­lished by management.

In fact, informal communication arises due to informal relations. It is the result of social interaction of people. It takes place on account of natural desire of people communicate with each other. Herbert Simon writes, “The informal communication system is built around the social relationship of the members of the organisation.”

Informal communication is structureless, unofficial and unplanned. It is spontaneous network of personal contacts. It crosses the barriers of status and hierarchy. It often flows between friends and intimates. It does not follow formally delegated lines of authority and responsi­bility.

Type # 3. Downward and Upward Communication:

Downward Communication:

It flows from individuals at higher levels of the hierarchy to those at lower levels. It is from the superior to the subordinate. From the top management it filters down to workers through the vari­ous hierarchical levels in between. It follows the organisation’s formal chain of command from top to bottom. It reflects the authority-responsibility relation­ships shown in the organisation chart.

According to Megginson and Mosley, most downward communication involves information in one of the following categories:

(a) Information related to policies, rules, procedures, objectives, and other types of plans.

(b) Work assignments and directives.

(c) Feedback about performance

(d) General information about the organisation, such as its progress or status.

(e) Specific requests for information form lower levels.

(f) Efforts to encourage a sense of mission and dedication to the organisational goals.

Upward Communication:

It is a subordinate-initiated communication. It flows from subordinates to superiors and continues up the organisational hierarchy. It is primarily nondirective. It is usually found in participative and democratic environ­ments.

In general, the following types of information are involved with upward communication:

(a) Problems and issues faced by employees.

(b) The level of performance and achievement of employ­ees.

(c) Ideas and suggestions for improvement, in the organisation.

(d) Feelings of employees about their jobs, fellow employ­ees, and the organisation.

(e) Requests for assistance or information.

(f) Expression of employee attitudes, grievances and disputes that influence performance.

Type # 4. Horizontal and Diagonal Communication:

Horizontal and diagonal communications are known as cross-wise communications.

Horizontal Communication:

Horizontal or lateral com­munication refers to the flow of information- (a) among peers within the same work group or (b) between and among departments on the organizational level. This kind of communication does not follow the organisational hierarchy but cuts across the chain of command.

It is used to speed up message, to improve understanding, and to coordinate efforts. It is used not only to inform but to request support. It is essentially co-ordinative in na­ture and is the result of specialization in organisations. Horizontal communication is of three kinds- (a) intradepartmental problem solving (b) interdepartmental co-ordination and (c) staff advice to line departments.

Diagonal Communication:

When the flow of information is among persons at different levels who have no direct reporting relation­ships, it is called diagonal communication. It cuts diago­nally across an organisations chain of command. Most frequently, it occurs as a result of line and staff relation­ships. Thus, it cuts across functions and levels in organisation structure. For example, when a supervisor in the accounting department communicates directly with a regional advertising manager, he is engaged in diagonal communication.

It maintains efficiency and speed in working. It expedites action and prevents others from being used merely as conduits between senders and receivers. The main problem with this form of communication is that it departs from the normal chain of command.

Type # 5. Internal and External Communication:

Internal commutation is that which takes place within the organisation, among different managers, among different departments, between a superior and his subor­dinates. It includes vertical as well as horizontal commu­nication. It is meant for internal units of a concern. External communication means communication with outsiders, including suppliers, customers, professional bodies, the government and the public.

As the external environment has become more dynamic and turbulent, organisations are required to make a regular exchange of informations with outside groups and individuals. Szilagyi says, “Managers can no longer take an “avoidance” view, hoping that the problem will blow away with the next breeze. The issues of our times will need open and straightforward information and communication if they are to be solved.”

Importance of Communication

1. Without communication-

a. Employees cannot know what their associates are doing.

b. Management cannot receive information on inputs and outputs.

c. Management cannot give instructions.

d. Co-operation and coordination also become impossible.

e. People cannot express their feelings to others.

f. People cannot satisfy their social needs.

2. Effective communication tends to encourage better performance and job satisfaction.

3. People understand their jobs better and feel more involved with the environment through communication.

4. The manager’s main instrument for operating his affairs is information.

5. The management functions like planning, organising, leading and controlling are intimately involved with, and dependent on communication.

6. Communication is the key to effective teamwork, because both are based on the information, understanding, consultation and participation.

7. Communication skill is an essential skill at every level of organizational functions.

8. It is essential to communicate what the leader wants people to do, how to do, where to do and more important, why to do.

9. Communication provides the key to facilitate the exchange of ideas, information as well as meeting of minds. Hence it can aptly be described as the “ears and eyes” of the management.

10. It plays a vital role in planning. The making of a plan requires facts and figures, which can only be made available through effective communication.

11. It integrates the formal organizational structure.

12. It is responsible for holding the members of a primary social group together.

13. It also plays a pivotal role in rational decision-making, organizational control, as well as building and maintaining employee morale.

14. If organisation fails to provide careful attention to communication, a defensive climate will prevail.

7 Models of Communication Code Model, Inferential Model, Schramm Model, Lasswell Model, Katz-Lazarsfeld Model, Westley-MacLean Model and Berlo’s SMCR Model

1. Code Model of Communication:

The code model of communication, or the Shannon-Weaver model of communication, was developed in 1948 by Claude Shannon and popularized by Warren Weaver.

It is easy to understand the code model of communication if we understand how the Morse code is transmitted from the sender to the receiver.

Morse code, is a coding system in which a sender transmits to the receiver a message that comprises a combination of dots and dashes to represent numbers and alphabets. The receiver must then decode the message. For example, the sender encodes and sends the following message to the receiver – (dotdotdot/dashdashdash/dotdotdot). The receiver, who is familiar with the Morse code, would easily decode the message (SOS).

Therefore, encoding and decoding in the Morse code is said to be effective if the message sent is the same as the message received. Furthermore, the obstruction or noise can only occur in the communication channel.

Nobel laureate Claude Elwood Shannon was a mathematician and an electronics engineer. He was working on fire-control systems and cryptography at Bell Labs during World War II, when he first conceptualized the model in 1945 (in a classified memo). In 1948, he published his two-part article “A Mathematical Theory of Communication” and coauthored the book The Mathematical Theory of Communication with Weaver in 1949.

This model was based on two critical hypotheses:

1. The obstruction to communication (or noise) only occurred in the communication channel.

2. Communication was said to be effective if the recovered message was the same as the sent message.

Clearly, this model fell short on several factors. First, it assumed that the flow of information is direct and unidirectional, whereas that is not the case. Second, the model assumed that if the symbols of the sent message and the received message were the same, it was the sufficient and necessary condition to say that the communication was successful.

In other words, the model proposed that like the Morse code, every word would have the same meaning for both the sender and the receiver. This was clearly the biggest shortcoming of the model. That is why a need for a more advanced model was felt, which led to the development of subsequent models.

2. Inferential Model of Communication:

While we may like to think that communication is a straight-forward exchange, unfortunately, it is not. Take, for instance, the simple phrase –

Ravi, the door is open.

Can you derive a meaning from the phrase? The answer would obviously be yes. Now see how many meanings you can derive from this simple phrase. In fact, if you ask different people, chances are you will get several distinct inferences for the same phrase. So, how many different meanings were you able to derive in total?

This exercise demonstrates that the “drawn” inference varies from one individual to another. According to the model, the message that the sender constructs, travels through the medium and reaches the receiver, who then tries to deconstruct the message. However, this deconstructed message can never be identical to the original message.

The difference in the “sent” message and “received” message arises because the sender and the receiver are two distinct individuals with their own perceptions, beliefs, and understanding. As a result, even in an ideal scenario, the constructed and the deconstructed message will never be identical, owing to the cognitive differences between the two individuals.

For example, when the boss constructs the message (instruction), he/she uses his/her own judgment, based on his/her knowledge, perception, experience, beliefs, etc., to encode the message. However, the subordinates use their individual cognitive skills to decode the instructions. Therefore, this decoding will be different for each subordinate. As a result, some subordinates grasp the instructions better, while others do not.

3. Schramm Model of Communication:

The model proposed by Wilber Schramm (1954), also takes a linear view to the flow of communication. However, contrary to the Shannon—Weaver model, Schramm’s model talks about an overlapping area, which he denoted as the Field of Common Experience. According to Schramm, in order for communication to be effective, both the sender and the receiver must have a common frame of reference. In other words, communication is most effective when both the sender and the receiver have things in common, such as culture, language, beliefs, education, and attitudes.

Furthermore, while the Shannon—Weaver model lays more emphasis on the channel, the Schramm model lays more emphasis on the experiences of the sender and the receiver.

Schramm, along with Osgood, also proposed another model. The model, for the first time, viewed communication as circular, instead of linear. Therefore, according to this model, communication does not end with the sender sending a message and the receiver receiving that message. The receiver must then interpret the message and respond to it, thereby making it a circular flow of communication.

The circular model, which addressed bipartite communication, was clearly an improvement on the other existing models.

4. Lasswell Model of Communication:

The Lasswell model, along with the Shannon-Weaver model, is categorized as the transmission model. Lasswell’s model, proposed in 1948, describes the communication process in terms of the following five questions – Who? Says What? In Which Channel? To Whom? With What Effect? In other words, the sender says something using some channel to a receiver, which has an effect on the receiver. The model was put forth as a model for mass communication and is still popular in the propaganda studies.

5. Katz-Lazarsfeld Model of Communication:

The Katz—Lazarsfeld model, which was first conceptualized by Paul Lazarsfeld in 1944, was subsequently elaborated by Elihu Katz and Lazarsfeld in 1955 in the book Personal Influence. The model, while linear, gives a two-step flow of communication. The model hypothesizes that mass media messages first travel to opinion leaders, who then spread the message to passive, yet like-minded masses.

6. Westley-MacLean Model of Communication:

The Westley-MacLean model, proposed in 1957 by Bruce Westley and Malcolm MacLean, took a different view from that of the Katz—Lazarsfeld model’s two- step flow of communication. Instead of focusing on mass communication, it lays a greater emphasis on interpersonal communication. According to the Westley-MacLean model, the sender encodes a message and sends it to the receiver.

The receiver on his part decodes, interprets, and encodes the message again and sends it back either to the sender or to other individuals in a modified form. This is quite similar to the game of Chinese Whispers or the Broken Telephone, which we played as kids.

7. Berlo’s SMCR Model of Communication:

David Berlo, in 1960, gave us the Source-Message-Channel-Receiver (SMCR) model. Berlo, who was strongly influenced by the stimulus—response theory, used the concept of learning while developing the model, which considers several aspects within the Sender, the Message, the Channel, and the Receiver. Therefore, effective communication will depend on these sub points contained within SMCR.

While the components themselves were not new, what made the SMCR enduring were the subcomponents contained within the components of Sender-Message-Channel-Receiver. The model viewed communication as a process that was affected by the various subcomponents of SMCR.

According to Berlo’s model, the way the sender encoded a message was dependent on his/her communication skills, attitudes, knowledge, social system, and culture. Similarly, the receiver decoded the message using his/her communication skills, attitudes, knowledge, social system, and culture.

Guidelines to Overcome Communication Barriers

Effective communication is the responsibility of all persons in the organisation, managers as well as nonmanagers, who work toward a common aim. Whether communication is effective can be evaluated by the intended results.

The following guidelines can help overcome the barriers to communication:

1. Senders of messages must clarify in their minds what they want to communicate. This means that one of the first steps in communicating is to clarifying the purpose of the message and making a plan to achieve the intended end.

2. Effective communication requires that encoding and decoding be done with symbols that are familiar to the sender and the receiver of the message. Thus the manager should avoid unnecessary technical jargon, which is intelligible only to the experts in their particular field.

3. The planning of the communication should not be done in a vacuum. Instead, other people should be consulted and encouraged to participate to collect the facts, analyse the message, and select the appropriate media.

For example, a manager may ask a colleague to read an important memo before it is distributed throughout the organisation. The content of the message should fit the recipients’ level of knowledge and the organisational climate.

4. It is important to consult the needs of the receivers of the information. Whenever appropriate, one should communicate something that is of value of them, in the short run as well as in the more distant future.

At times, unpopular actions that affect employees in the short run may be more easily accepted if they are beneficial to them in the long run For instance, shortening the workweek may be more acceptable if it is made clear that this action will strengthen the competitive position of the company in the long run and avoid layoffs.

5. There is a saying that the tone makes the music. Similarly, in communication the tone of voice, the choice of language, and the congruency between what is said and how it is said influence the reactions of the receiver of the message.

An autocratic manager ordering subordinate supervisors to practice participative management will create a credibility gap that will be difficult to overcome.

6. Too often information is transmitted without communicating, since communication is complete only when the message is understood by the receiver. And one never knows whether communication is understood unless the sender gets feedback.

This is accomplished by asking questions, requesting a reply to a letter, and encouraging receivers to give their reactions to the message.

7. The function of communication is more than transmitting information. It also deals with emotions that are very important in interpersonal relationship between superiors, subordinates, and colleagues in an organisation.

Furthermore, communication is vital for creating an environment in which people are motivated to work toward the goals of the enterprise while they achieve their personal aims. Another function of communication is control. As explained in the discussion of management by objectives (MBO), control does not necessarily mean top-down control

Instead, the MBO philosophy emphasizes self-control, which demands clear communication with an understanding of the criteria against which performance is measured.

8. Effective communicating is the responsibility not only of the sender but also of the receiver of the information. Thus, listening is an aspect that needs additional comment.

15 Major Communication Barriers Lack of Planning, Unclarified Assumptions, Semantic Distortion, Poorly Expressed Messages and Many More…

Perceptive managers always look for the causes of communication problems instead of just dealing with symptoms. Barriers can exist in the sender, in the transmission of the message, in the receiver, or in the feedback.

Specific communication barriers are:

Barrier # 1. Lack of Planning:

Good communication seldom happens by chance. Giving the reasons for a directive, selecting the most appropriate channel, and choosing proper timing can greatly improve understanding and reduce resistance to change.

Barrier # 2. Unclarified Assumptions:

Often overlooked, yet very important, are the uncommunicated assumptions that underlie messages.

Unclarified assumptions may result in confusing and the loss of goodwill.

Barrier # 3. Semantic Distortion:

Another barrier to effective communication is semantic distortion, which can be deliberate or accidental. An advertisement that states ‘We sell for Less’ is deliberately ambiguous; it raises the question – ‘Less than what ‘ Again, words may evoke different responses, e.g., government, police etc.

Barrier # 4. Poorly Expressed Messages:

No matter how clear the idea in the mind of the sender of communication is, it may still be marked by porly chosen works, omissions, lack of coherence, poor organization of ideas, awkward sentence structure, platitudes, unnecessary jargon, and a failure to clarify the implications of the message. This lack of clarity and precision, which can be costly, can be avoided through greater care in encoding the message.

Barrier # 5. Communication Barriers in the International Environment:

Communication in the international environment becomes even more difficult because of languages, cultures and etiquettes.

Barrier # 6. Loss by Transmission and Poor Retention:

In a series of transmission from one person to the next, the message becomes less and less accurate. Poor retention of information is another serious problem. Thus, the necessity of repeating the message and using several channels is rather obvious.

Barrier # 7. Poor Listening and Premature Evaluation:

There are many talkers but few listeners. Listening demands full attention and self-discipline. It also requires that the listener avoids premature evaluation of what another person has to say. A common tendency is to judge to approve or disapprove what is being said- rather than trying to understand the speaker’s frame of reference. Yet listening without making hasty judgments can make the whole organization more effective and more efficient. Listening with sympathy, can reduce some of the daily frustrations in organized life and result in better communication.

Barrier # 8. Impersonal Communication:

Effective communication is more than simply transmitting information to employees. It requires face-to-face communication in an environment of openness and trust.

Barrier # 9. Distrust, Threat and Fear:

Distrust, threat and fear undermine communication. In a climate containing these forces, any message will be viewed with scepticism. Distrust can be the result of inconsistent behaviour by the superior, or it can be due to past experiences in which the subordinate was punished for honestly reporting unfavourable but true information to the boss. Similarly, in the light of threats – whether real or imaginary-people tend to tighten up, become defensive and distort information. What is needed is a climate of trust, which facilitates open and honest communication.

Barrier # 10. Insufficient Period for Adjustment to Change:

The purpose of communication is to effect change that may seriously concern employees; shifts in the time, place, type and order of work or shifts in group arrangements or skills to be used. For maximum efficiency, it is important not to force change before people can adjust to its implications.

Barrier # 11. Information Overload:

People respond to information overload in various ways. First, they may disregard certain information. Second, if they are overwhelmed with too much information, they make errors in processing it. Third, they may delay processing information either permanently or with the intention of catching up in the future. Fourth, they may filter information. Finally, they respond to information overload by simply escaping from the task of communication.

Barrier # 12. Selective Perception:

This is a tendency of people to perceive what they expect to perceive. In communication this means that they hear what they want to hear and ignore other relevant information.

Barrier # 13. Influence of Attitude:

Attitude is predisposition to act or not to act in a certain way. It is a mental position regarding facts, people, things or ideas. Clearly, if people have made their minds, they cannot objectively listen to what is said.

Barrier # 14. Difference in Status and Power:

Differences in status and power between the sender and the receiver of communication constitute other barrier. Also, when information has to pass through several levels in the organisation hierarchy, it tends to be distorted.

Barrier # 15. Secrecy:

There is tremendous amount of information which is withheld from people whom it concerns, ostensibly because it will cause jealousy or uncertainty. Atmosphere of secrecy creates a barrier and also adverse effect on communication effectiveness.

It is important to remember also that the effective reception of information is determined in part by the personality, habits, values and mental states of those for whom it is intended. Anger, frustration and fear tend to act as – “noise” which distorts reception, so that what has been designed as a simple, uncontroversial message may be transformed, within an unexpected context; into its opposite, arousing hostility and conflict. “The meanings of words are not in the words, they are in us”- incorrect decoding invariably produces distortion, the intensity and duration of which can destroy the effectiveness of communication.

Methods and Steps to Overcome Communication Barriers

Some managerial actions may minimise the effect of barriers to some extent. So the management should take necessary steps to overcome the barriers.

They are explained below:

1. The management should clearly define its policy to the employees. It should encourage the free flow of information. Then, the employees at all levels of management can realise the full significance of communication.

2. The management sets up a system through which only essential information could be applied. Besides, these are supplied in a prescribed manner.

3. All the information should be supplied through a proper channel. But, it should not be insisted upon always. The reason is that in the case of emergency, proper channel process may cause a delay in the supply of information. Proper channel system can be insisted on only for routine information.

4. Every person in the management shares the responsibility of good communication. Top management people should check from time to time whether there is any barrier or not in the free flow of information. It can be achieved only if there is strong support from the top management.

5. Adequate facilities should be provided by the management. In other words, the available communication facilities should be properly utilised.

6. Communication is an inter-personal process. Each person has confidence in another person. There should be mutual understanding. In large organisations, the disparity status pattern may be reduced through forming good friendship between the superior and the subordinates.

7. The communication should be in a known language for both the receiver and the communicator. Ambiguous words should be avoided while supplying the information.