Communication Processes and Principles - Describe two communication models; the different types of communication; and how self-concept influences communication.
The linear communication model describes communication as a one way process that occurs from a sender to a receiver. Adler (2005) describes the process as " a sender encodes a message, sending it through a channel to a receiver who decodes [it] while contending with noise" (pg. 9, ¶3). Noise in this case is defined as anything that can disrupt the message, distract the sender, or cause the intended meaning to be missed. An example of linear communication could be a student reading a textbook. The process involves one sender and one receiver, with the sender creating the message and sending or conveying it via the channel which is the textbook, to the receiver. The receiver retrieves the message for interpretation by reading the textbook, while dealing with any distractions that may exist.
The transactional model is expands on the linear model by illustrating the communication occurs in more than one direction, often at the same time and by different methods. It also takes into consideration the environment of each communicator, and the impact it has on the sending and receipt of the message. An example of transactional communication would be when I am talking to my sister about surprise plans for my mom's birthday. Living most of my life on the east coast, I talk rapidly and often skin over the details, while my sister has lived her whole life in Denver and is not accustomed to such styles of communication. As I talk, she might grimace or raise her eyebrows in question as she tries to receive the message. She might also ask me to slow down.
Types of Communication
Intentional communication is planned. It is meant to happen. A marriage proposal, a conversation with a child about sex or a resignation could all be considered intentional communication. Intentional communication is used consciously and with purpose, usually meaning to achieve a specific goal or result. Some possible goals or results could be to make someone do something, to make something happen, or to simply be heard or create understanding. The sender wants the receiver to receive and correctly interpret what they are communicating.
Unintentional communication occurs when we communicate something we did not mean to (Tubbs, 2004). It can occur in a number of ways, including when something is overheard or when a message is interpreted incorrectly. Unintentional communication often results in unintended, unwanted or unexpected results or consequences like offending someone or revealing a secret that was meant to be kept.
It is possible to send the same message using different techniques. The most obvious way is to vary the channel. For example, a supervisor can give direction to a subordinate verbally and in person, in writing via electronic mail or through another person.
Misconceptions about Communications in the Workplace
Three common misconceptions about communications in the workplace include: (1) the thought that the more communication, the better; (2) simply saying something means that it has been communicated; and (3) that everyone receives the same information the same way.
Communicating too much can cause receivers to become numb to the message. If they are hearing too much of the same information from the same person, they might tune out. In fact, too much communication can become noise itself. It becomes a burden on the receiver who must sift through all the words and find the salient information or message bottom line.
Equally problematic is the idea that just because a message has been delivered and perhaps even received by the receiver, that its true meaning has been interpreted. To avoid this type of situation, active communication where feedback is requested and receivers are queried regarding the message to make certain the intended meaning was received.
One of the most common misconceptions and potentially, the most difficult to manage is the idea that everyone hears and interprets communication the same way. The fact is that everyone hears and interprets differently. The way that they hear, listen, interpret and receive information is influenced by many things, some of which include their environment, the way that they were raised, there culture or ethnicity, their gender or perhaps their past experience in similar situations. Again, it is important to practice interactive communication, being sure to follow up, ask questions and solicit feedback to make sure that everyone is interpreting the sender's intended meaning.
Misconceptions about Human Relations in the Workplace
Workplace relationships are often as complex as relationships outside of the workplace. Failing to recognize this fact can lead to some misconceptions about human relations in the workplace.
One misconception could be that simply maintaining a professional demeanor absent of emotion in the workplace is an effective way to relate to others in the workplace. It is more effective to exhibit an appropriate level of emotion in the workplace, one that demonstrates humanity, caring and respect for co-workers. If someone is regarded as cold and unfeeling, they will be less likely to be effective communicators, and thus, less effective overall at their job.
Another misconception about human relations in the workplace is that the hierarchy is not important, and that everyone in the organization can be communicated with in the same manner. It is important to recognize that there is a chain of command and that it will often be necessary to communicate differently, often more formally and in a more prepared fashion, with members of leadership that with peers. It can be construed as disrespectful to do otherwise. Likewise with peers, it could be perceived just as negatively to communicate with them in the same manner as leadership.
Self-concept is how a person feels about the way they relate to others (Adler, 2003, p. 7, ¶2). In order to evaluate self-concept, a person must be able to regard themselves objectively and without delusion, properly consider information that contradicts current self-concepts and to have realistic expectations of themselves. Feedback from others is a major contributor to a person's self-concept. It is important however, that information received from others is appropriately considered and weighed before it should be allowed to affect the person's self-concept. If the information was given in anger, for instance, or comes from a jealous person, such information should be tempered or even disregarded altogether before it is incorporated in to the self-concept.
How Self-Concept Influences Communication with Others
"Knowing who we are is essential because without a self-concept it would be impossible to relate to the world" (Adler, 2003, pg. 4, ¶1). Self-concept influences communication with others in many ways. If someone has a positive self-concept, it is likely that they feel positively about their ability to communicate effectively. People who feel good about themselves have positive expectations about how they will communicate (Adler, 2003, ¶3). Simply approaching the act of communication in a positive manner, with confidence and openness increases the likelihood that it will be successful. The converse is also true. If someone feels negatively about how they communicate, that feeling will come through in their communications, often retarding their ability to communicate effectively.
Communication between humans is a complex subject. Those who take the time to understand the dynamics of communication and the things that can affect the accurate interpretation will be more effective communicators. Those who take the time to know themselves and to take an objective look at who they are and how they relate to others will also be more likely to communicate successfully.
Adler, R. B. (2003). Looking out / Looking in. Thomson Learning. Retrieved April 28, 2006 from University of Phoenix rEsource.
Tubbs, S. L. (2004). A systems approach to small group interaction. Eighth ed. McGraw-Hill Higher Education. Retrieved April 29, 2006 from http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0072862475/student_view0/glossary.html