Although there are several problems that can diminish the effectiveness of interpersonal communication, some tactics can be used in order to minimize these failures in communication. A recent visit to a hotel sparked a perfect example of this communication opportunity between a patron and the hotel's front desk employee.
First of all, the history of the confrontation between the patron and the hotel's front desk employee was clouded with expectations and assumptions. For example, the patron made a reservation for a room by using the hotel chain's national reservation center. This center, in turn, is obligated to give the information to the individual hotels so that the hotels can then honor the reservations accordingly. Unfortunately in this example, the patron's request and approval for a king bed was not relayed from the reservation center to the hotel. As a result, the hotel employee did not have the information that the patron assumed he had received. This assumption resulted in a breakdown in communication between the hotel employee and the patron, which then created hostility on the part of the patron and defensiveness on the part of the employee. The hostility felt by the patron was partly due to past experiences with hotel employees and the negative outcomes of those experiences (Pfeiffer 12). These past experiences created a situation where the patron did not really listen to what the employee was saying (Pfeiffer 13). Instead, he only heard that there was a problem ("just like there was last time"). The employee's defensiveness was due to his assumption that this particular patron has the same problem that past patrons have had: The patron simply made a mistake with the reservation (DeVito 9). The employee also became defensive because of his rank in the situation and the status differences between a guest of a high-end hotel and a hotel employee (Pfeiffer 14). He knew that he needed to be absolutely correct or else the patron would be...
References: Bolton, Robert (1979), People Skills, Simon & Schuster, New York.
Boyle, Dr. William (1999), Getting Connected: How To Improve All Your Relationships, William Boyle and Associates, Illinois.
DeVito, Joseph A. (2002), The Interpersonal Communication Reader, Allyn & Bacon: A Pearson Education Company, New York.
Pfeiffer, J.W. (1973), Conditions Which Hinder Effective Communication excerpt from The 1973 Annual Handbook for Group Facilitators, Pfeiffer and Company, California.
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