Advanced Business Communication
Paper Co-ordinator Dr Mingsheng Li
Discuss Why Perception is
Often the Root Cause
of Communication Problems
Jane Shannahan 02351412
A high-ranking US intelligence expert was in the UK in vital consultation with British counterparts. The American emerged from a crucial, lengthy meeting handing a vast sheaf of papers to a secretary with the instruction, “Burn this!” And that is exactly what she did – set a match to the lot (from 1980 training session I attended).
“Language is inherently ambiguous” (Clampitt, 2010, p.4). In English there are 500 common words with a total of 14,000 meanings (Clampitt, 2010). Dwyer says communication is “any behaviour – verbal, non-verbal or graphic – that is perceived by another” (2009, p.658). Communication becomes problematic when the meaning taken is not that which was intended by the transmitter.
In 1963, Kelly noted that “people do not respond directly to events; they respond to meaning they attach to events” cited in Hynes and Hill (2005, p.1). Meaning here can be translated to mean personal perception which will be deemed not only a barrier to clear communication, but also often the root cause of communication problems. Perception is learned behaviour, endowing everyone with their own unique perspective on reality formed by life experiences and human interactions. This discussion will examine how physical and normative perception acts and how these contribute to misinterpretations and misunderstandings for individuals, societies and organisations.
Sensory perception can malfunction. A test is to ask someone, on one reading, how many times f appears here. FINISHED FILES ARE THE RESULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC STUDY COMBINED WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF YEARS. The average reply is “two” or “three”, but the correct answer is six. Even when the evidence is clear, people will still make errors. But, we can also read the following quickly and correctly. Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde uinervtisy, it denos’t mttaer what oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteres are at the rghit pclae. (http://www.scribd.com/doc/7366101/Mystery-of-the-Scrambled-Words). However, I think that this seemingly advanced facility may actually explain why so many print errors arise even with the benefit of proofreading, ie, we can read the text – so it must be correct.
Noise and Barriers
In a transmission model, communication can break down due to “noise” which interrupts the message flow. Modern technology means that messages are travelling around minus non-verbal cues, or at the other extreme, too many people are involved in verbal transmission, eg, send reinforcements, we’re going to advance, transmogrified into send three-and-four-pence, we’re going to a dance.
There are also communication barriers such as inappropriate language/message/channel; lack or disallowance of, feedback; information deception/omission; differences in attitudes/values/culture - and perception (Dwyer, 2009). Sharpe observed that “the only message that matters is the one the other person perceives. Communication is effective to the extent that the perceived message matches the intended message” (1991, p.9).
Note the possible interpretations here: “I didn’t say you were stupid.” “I didn’t say you were stupid.” “I didn’t say you were stupid.” “I didn’t say you were stupid.” Another example: Jill needed to urgently complete a report by the end of the day and asked Paul to help by getting her some marketing statistics from the last three years. Paul said that was no problem. She had not heard from Paul by the afternoon and found he was out of the office but on returning he said she could have them in two days’ time as he had many off-site meetings. Only then did Jill say she needed them today...