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An Essay on Communication in English Language

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 3985 words Published: 9th Jul 2021

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Communication has been defined as the transfer of information and understanding from one person to another through the use of common symbols. Communication can flow upward, downward, and laterally, that is, from subordinates to superiors, from superiors to subordinates and from peer to peer. Most people want to be understood; they want to understand others; and they want to gain acceptance of their ideas. Rarely would a person deliberately not want to be understood; but even so, misunderstandings, incorrect communications, and failure to communicate can create confusion on a regular basis.

Good communication is crucial to the success of both the individual and the organization. It doesn’t matter how good a worker you are or how much you understand about the business if you cannot communicate properly.

Objective 1. List the four main purposes of communication.

  1. we want to be understood
  2. we want to understand others
  3. we want to gain acceptance for ourselves and our ideas
  4. we want to produce action

What does the phrase: 'as soon as you can get to it” mean? Does it mean right now or as soon as you finish what you are doing right now or what? If your meaning and the other person’s meaning are not the same, you may have the makings of a communications breakdown.

Everything we say has at least three messages: 1. What we meant, 2. what we said, and 3. what the other person understood. Unfortunately, these three are not always congruent.

An accountant made a mistake and he apologized thusly: “I read 4, wrote 5, meant 6, and it should have been 7.”

Objective 2. Describe the six-step communication model and elaborate on each of its points.

There are many different models of communication and each has its particular value. The model you have on page 66 of DuBrin’s book (10th edition) is a good one, but I would like to use another model because it has several things that are really valuable as we look at communication. We will refer back to DuBrin’s model a little later on. The model I want to present to you has six steps:

  1. ideation
  2. encoding
  3. transmission
  4. receiving
  5. decoding
  6. action

Notice in the comic strip that communications must start with a concept, that is, an idea, thus the term “ideation.” This first step takes perhaps a fraction of a second; and we can almost ideate and speak at the same time. Ideation requires imagination and experience because the more of each you have, the easier it is to ideate a message.

The second step is encoding. This step requires putting the idea into some type of intelligible form so it can be transmitted. Writing a letter, framing a statement in your mind, determining (or even not determining) to communicate non-verbally-all these represent encoding. Consider the importance of education to encoding.

Transmission is the third step; and it is the most visible and recognizable aspect of communication. Speaking, writing, and even non-verbal communication are examples of this step.

The fourth step is receiving; and it is done by reading the letter, hearing the words, or sensing the non-verbal communication.

Decoding, the fifth step, is the counterpart of encoding except that it is done by the receiver. Decoding requires taking intelligence from the message as it is received. This step is responsible for the majority of communications problems.

The sixth step is action; if a message is received, then action of one sort or another must follow. Bear in mind that taking no action is one way of acting.

M2.1 will help you understand this concept.

Objective 3. Identify the different ways of communicating and list their advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s take the following means of communicating and discuss their advantages, disadvantages, and perhaps some suggestions for improving the communication in each medium. If you have additional contributions, we can discuss those as well.

  • Telephone
  • Written (memo, letter, instructions)
  • Telephone (including voice mail)
  • E-mail
  • Face-to-face

Objective 4. Explain the importance of non-verbal communication.

Just as regular communication can take a variety of forms, so can non-verbal communication. We can identify several different kinds of non-verbal communication and each one may have some sub-categories. Here are some of the more common types of non-verbal communication:

A local radio personality in Tyler, Texas, was hawking a used car lot and his statement was: “I bought my last car from them.” The obvious interpretation is that the last car he bought was from that dealer. What if he had put increasing emphasis on the last three words? Then it would sound like he would never buy another car from them.

There are two main types of non-verbal communication: paralanguage and kinesics.

Paralanguage is like language, that is, it communicates something, but not in words. It includes emphasis, vocalization, and pauses (or silence).

You already know how adding emphasis to a statement (or parts of a statement) can add urgency to the message or even change the meaning. For example, if someone says, “What do you think about it?” he is speaking emphatically to you.

Vocalization is an audible (or sometimes inaudible) component of a statement that carries meaning. For example, a laugh, a groan, or even clearing the throat can qualify as a vocalization if it carries meaning. A well placed pause can add a great deal to the message, such as when someone says, “I’m not saying he is dishonest, he is just (pause) creative in his dealings. Can you see the meaning the pause adds? Sometimes a question or a comment can be met with steely silence indicating displeasure with the message: “Dad, can I go over to Joe’s house and smoke some marijuana?”

Kinesics includes deliberate gestures and other movements which might not be deliberate, such as stroking the chin, slumping, facial expressions, eye movement or body language.

Please note that laughing, sighing, pausing, stroking the chin, or eye movement may be nothing other than what it seems. In order to be classified as non-verbal communication, the action must be a communication whether deliberate or non-deliberate.

Some gestures might be perfectly acceptable in one culture and highly offensive in another. A television mini-series in 1986 entitled, “On Wings of Eagles” showed the daring rescue of some EDS executives held hostages in Iran. The man responsible for getting them out of Teheran told them, “We need to get a ride, but do not stick out your thumb because that is an insulting gesture.” The “V” sign can mean victory (as from Winston Churchill; it can mean “peace,” as with the 1960’s peaceniks; or it can also be an insulting gesture in some European countries.

Shifty-eyed is a label we would put on some gangster or someone not to be trusted. You can probably identify a number of other kinesics examples that add meaning or contradict meaning.

Proxemics is communicating by space. Middle Eastern people prefer to get very close while communicating, but most westerners prefer a certain distance between themselves and the fellow communicator. Can you imagine what would happen if two people from these two cultures were trying to communicate and neither was aware of the proxemics preference of the other?

Objective 5. Describe several ways you can improve your communications through using or not using non-verbal means.

How Non-verbal Communication Helps

How important is facial expression and eye contact in communication? You probably have heard the phrase, “He can lie to you while he is looking you in the eye.” It implies that the person is a skilled liar and that normally if a person is lying, he won’t look you in the eye. Alternately, when someone says, “I looked him in the eye and told him what I thought,” that means he had the boldness to say what he really thought.

Looking people in the eye is important because it conveys honesty and openness.

Did you know that only 7% of your message is conveyed by words, while 38% is conveyed by your tone, and a whopping 55% is conveyed by body language.

Did you know you can’t turn your transmitter off? Even if you try not to communicate non-verbally, you are still communicating non-verbally.

Read the document entitled, “How to Understand Woman Talk.” This is a set of hilarious definitions about how women communicate with men with paralanguage. You don’t need to respond to this “assignment;” I just thought you would enjoy a good example of non-verbal communication.

Recall our discussion of emotional intelligence in Module 1. The same general principle applies to improving communication by being aware of our non-verbal communication. If you are aware of what messages you might be sending, you can correct, delete, strengthen, or alter the message to suit your needs. I have been challenged in a meeting by a colleague who said, “I can see by his facial expression that Tommy does not agree with this, but if he will hear me out, he may understand how my ideas will work.”

By the same thinking, if you can read non-verbal communication, you might know when to push or when to back off. Skilled negotiators know this very well, and you can gain an advantage in knowing what the other person is “saying” in addition to his words.

Objective 6. Describe various ways to improve communications with superiors, subordinates, and peers.

There is a concept called 3-D communication which describes how you communicate up, down, and sideways, that is, to superiors, subordinates, and peers. Consider the difference: Many people speak with a different style and a different tone depending on whether the receiver is a superior, subordinate, or peer. It seems reasonable to speak with respect to your superiors, but consider what would happen if you used the same degree of respect when you are communicating with subordinates

Some wise person has said that one of your jobs is to keep your boss’s boss off your boss’s back. That is true enough and it is good advice.

Here is a valuable tip that can enhance your relationship to your boss when you take a “problem” to your boss:

  1. State the problem.
  2. Provide some options.
  3. Make a recommendation about which option you recommend.
  4. Ask for his suggestions.

Look what this process does: It shows respect for the boss by keeping him informed about the situation. It “brags” on you because it shows you have done your homework and you are not just being a whiny baby complaining to the boss. It shows your insight regarding a possible solution and your assertiveness in recommending it. At the same time, it shows respect for the boss by acknowledging the possibility that he might have a better idea or preference.

Avoid Sarcasm

Don Rickles has made a fortune by being sarcastic, but aside from him, no one benefits from sarcasm. Sarcasm is designed to hurt the other person. It serves no useful purpose, but it does inhibit communication by straining relationships unnecessarily.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of respect and courtesy in communicating with others

Objective 7. Describe the importance of feedback and how to cultivate it.

DuBrin (10th edition, page 66) defines feedback as “…the message sent back from the receiver to the sender.” That is a good, workable definition, but it is also limited. Certainly the idea of feedback implies sending something back, but you can get feedback on the quality of your work or someone’s idea of a new procedure.

Even though different definitions exist about feedback, its importance cannot be denied.

How do you give and receive feedback?

Ask for it. This assumes that you have a relationship with the people from whom you are requesting feedback that they feel.

Provide for it and be sensitive to it. Sometimes feedback is subtle; an employee might not be as friendly and as open as normal and you may suspect that some feedback is lurking in there somewhere so you may have to go back to #1.

React honestly but diplomatically. “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard,” will probably not get you the Supervisor of the Year Award. Listen to the feedback. It may be dumb, but you should not allow the employee to know you think that.

Express appreciation and act on it. This does not mean that you must satisfy the employee’s desire, but it does mean you must do something and let the employee know. If you can’t do anything, then also let the employee know that as well.

Objective 8. Explain the term “grapevine” and distinguish it from rumor.

The grapevine is an informal communications network. As a manager, you should not try to kill the it because you can’t; and besides, it provides a good release of tension. Good or bad, grapevine is most active when formal communications are not forthcoming.

You have probably experienced the grapevine via your e-mail. A large number of interesting things are spread indiscriminately that may have some truth, but to a large extent are not nearly as wonderful or as catastrophic as they first appear. I saw one recently about a giant oil and gas reserve in western North Dakota that was supposed to solve our energy need for the next 40 years, but the environmentalists have blocked its development. It turns out there is a oil reserve there, but it is not nearly as expansive as the grapevine had it. It wasn’t a trillion barrels; it is more like 3-4 billion barrels and that amount would curtail imports for about one year./p>

Rumor is different from the grapevine. Rumor is unsubstantiated hearsay and it does get put on the grapevine. Rumor has several characteristics:

  • It is usually interesting
  • Its source not identifiable and it is unverifiable
  • It is somewhat ambiguous
  • It usually has an element of truth

What to do about a rumor?

  • Don’t pass it along.
  • Check it out.
  • Provide honest and open communication.


Susan Heathfield is a management consultant with strong credentials in corporate communications. She offers the following recommendations about rumor and gossip:

Expect a certain amount of gossip; people want to know what is going on in their workplace, and they like to discuss work issues. The key is to know when the gossip is out-of-hand. You need to act if the gossip is:

  • disrupting the work place and the business of work,
  • hurting employees’ feelings,
  • damaging interpersonal relationships, or
  • injuring employee motivation and morale.

If rumors and gossip seem to be rampant, you might want to look at them to see if there are recurring themes. It may be that you are not sharing enough information with them, or perhaps they don’t trust you and are afraid to ask about important topics.

Objective 9. Explain why listening is such a significant problem.

Hearing is a physiological process involving sound transmission, nerves, the ears, and the smallest bones in the body: the ossicles, comprised of the malleus (the hammer), the incus (the anvil), and the stapes (the stirrup).

Listening is a psychological process which requires focus as well as understanding, processing, and evaluation. Listening is work and many times we hear things, but we don’t listen to them.

You have heard the phrase, “…in one ear and out the other”? That is an example of hearing but not listening.

Most people think they are good listeners, but a study has shown that a 10% listening effectiveness rate is not rare at all; 25% is common; and anyone who thinks he listens at a 60% effectiveness rate is fooling himself.

Listening is the first thing children learn but it is the last thing taught, if at all. We emphasize reading and speaking in our schools, but listening skills traditionally have not been taught at all. That is changing somewhat because people are beginning to realize the importance of good listening skills.

Have you ever met someone and five minutes later you couldn’t remember his name? Sounds like a memory problem, doesn’t it? It is not a memory problem, it is a listening problem. You were so intent on presenting a pleasing personality and “putting the best foot forward” that you didn’t have any room left for listening. Actually, you do have the room, but you have to give it some concentration and focus on listening to the person’s name.

Discuss situations in which listening was not done properly and situations in which good listening skills paid off and report the best examples.

Poor listening skills is one of the biggest problems in business and industry today. Poor listening causes low productivity, low morale, broken relationships with peers, subordinates, and bosses.

Most of us listen at about a 25% level of effectiveness. That’s not very good. Even when we really try, the best we can do is about 60%. Listening is one of the most important things that any of us-workers, parents, bosses, whatever-can do to improve relationships and to get the job done.

Do you like people? Other than a few soreheads, most of us would say “yes.” If you like people, then you need to like to listen. Even though you may be rushed, even though you think you may not have time to listen, listening is absolutely vital to getting the job done and maintaining relationships with your co-workers.

Listening problems include the following:

  • Listening is work and most of us are somewhat lazy. If you don’t work at listening, you will not listen well. Having said that, you cannot work too hard or you will be concentrating so hard on listening that you will not listen well.
  • Listening implies passivity and compliance to many people and they want to be in control. Sometimes our “listening” consists of grudgingly remaining silent until we get our turn to speak.
  • Emotions get in the way of listening. When someone says something that pushes our hot button, we can become so charged up that we don’t listen.

Objective 10. Explain the process of active listening.

You may have heard the term “active listening” which is the same thing as reflective listening. This concept is a listening tool and a human relations tool. Reflective listening is based on the idea that if people keep talking, sooner or later they will see the solution to their own problems. In addition to that, it helps both speaker and listener to be sure that what was spoken was the same as what was heard.

The process works by the listener (the supervisor, perhaps?) listening carefully, then paraphrasing back to the speaker what he heard, or in some cases just asking for more information or clarification.

Here’s how it works: a team leader complains to the supervisor about his team’s failure to follow through on their assignments.

“That bunch of dipsticks; they never do anything right.”

“Sounds like you’re pretty upset with them.”

“You bet I am. I can’t get them to follow instructions.”

‘What I’m hearing is that they won’t do what you tell them, is that right?”

Sometimes using reflective listening makes the speaker compare the reflection with what he said. That may require the speaker to revise his statement to more accurately reflect what he meant.

Here are some typical reflective listening phrases:

'What I’m hearing you say is'

'It sounds like you think'

'So you’re just wondering if'

'You sound really disappointed'

Reflective listening should not be used to diagnose the problem or to offer solutions. Additionally the listener should not make interpretations as to what he thinks the speaker is saying. The only thing the listener should do is offer a paraphrase of what the speaker is saying.

Objective 11. Describe the keys to effective listening.

Find areas of interest. You should make a decision when you are listening to someone. Either that person has something to say that you need to know or perhaps you should leave if you can do it diplomatically.

Judge content not delivery. Sometimes people are not as articulate or as organized in their communications as they should be. It might be important to overlook the delivery shortcomings and focus on the message being sent.

Hold your fire. People can really set you off by pushing your hot buttons. As a disciplined listener, you can deliberately choose not to get angry and just continue to listen. That does not make you a doormat because you can deal with the issues in an assertive, yet tactful way when it comes your turn to speak.

Listen for ideas, not just information. Could the words be hiding something important? Later we will discuss the “hidden agenda;” and how you can deal with it.

Work at listening. As we discussed earlier, listening is work and we need to know how much work to put into the job of listening.

Remember that listening is faster than speech. Most people speak at about 150 words per minute (WPM). You can easily listen to speech at 450 WPM or even more with no loss in comprehension. That leaves a time differential that allows you to daydream and perhaps lose the train of thought or you can use the “extra time” to compare what the other person is saying to what you know, identify advantages and disadvantages, and identify the big picture and the supporting facts.

Share your experiences on listening in M2.2.

Objective 12. Describe why the concept of the “hidden agenda” is so important in communication.

A hidden agenda is a matter which a person cannot or will not bring up, but which is causes him to do certain things or not do certain things.

Examples of hidden agenda

President Bush has been accused of having a hidden agenda with respect to the Iraq war. His critics say the real agenda was his desire to invade Iraq and get rid of Saddam Hussein; or for some, the real agenda was to seize Iraq’s oil assets for the United States. The agenda he presented to the world was the imminent threat of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.

Con artists are masters of hidden agenda; they gain your confidence and try to convince you that they are your friend, that they want to help you, but the real agenda is to steal your money.

During the Vietnam War, a leader in the anti-war movement said, “If the Vietnam War did not exist, we would have had to invent it.” The hidden agenda here is, “We must have something to protest or we don’t exist.”

How should you handle a hidden agenda? First, you have to suspect it is there.

If there is evidence that what the person is telling you is not what they really want to tell you, you can “reflect back” what they are saying.


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