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is being symbolised (the meaning). Thus, to express their opinions openly and to our department. Group interaction should
a message may be received very differently participate in important decision-making facilitate and expedite problem solutions.”
from what was intended. For example, an activities. In these firms, the climate is By eliminating the jargon and words of
office supervisor tells a worker to “Duplicate one of mutual trust and respect between many syllables, the manager could have
this two-page report.” Is the worker to management and employees. As a result, sent the following memo, which would be
retype the two pages; reproduce the report even very controversial messages can be clearly understood by all workers: “At our
on an office copier; or prepare offset masters easily transmitted. On the other hand, some next meeting we will discuss different ways
and run copies on the office duplicator? In managers are authoritarian and discourage for quickly solving the problems in our
selecting words, the office manager must the participation of employees and their department.”
carefully consider the receiver of the message freedom of expression. As might be
and the likely interpretation of the words expected, the messages transmitted in these
Spoken and written messages are also
being used. organisations are highly diluted and slanted.
misunderstood if they contain words
In both types of organisations, managers
of many syllables or use long, complex
Barrier 3 - Differences in Status
at all levels exert considerable influence on
sentences. A loss in mental perception
Status, or the level of individuals in
communication by the kind of climate they
and acuity is less likely to transpire if the
the organisation structure, influences the
materials presented have no deficiencies
in grammatical expression and structural
quality of communication. Differences in
Barrier 6 - Business Jargon cohesiveness that might contribute to a
status create communication barriers, since
diminution of clarity. Through training
generally it is easier for persons of equal rank Ineffective oral and written
and experience in plain speaking and
to share information and their feelings, than communication is often caused by the use
writing, the office manager can convert the
for a supervisor and a subordinate. of jargon. Jargon consists of technical terms
previous sentence into something like this:
and idioms that are peculiar to a special
When communicating downward, some
“Misunderstanding is less likely to occur
group or activity, such as business. When
managers believe that the subordinates
when the materials presented are clear.”
the receivers of messages containing business
should not receive all information.
jargon do not recognise and understand
Therefore, the managers “dilute” the
For further information contact
the terms, the messages become merely a
messages. In other cases, subordinates may
collection of words that are confusing and
be given information that is not relevant
unintelligible. Here is a memo sent by a
to their needs or is not received in time
Caribbean Union Bank
manager to the employees: “It is anticipated
to be useful. The office manager should
Research and Publications
that our forthcoming meeting will provide
make every effort to reduce any unnecessary
PO Box W2010
considerable opportunities to generate
dilution of downward communication so
Friar’s Hill Road, St John’s
viable alternatives and sufficient interface for
that subordinates receive as much timely
Antigua, West Indies
resolving the continuing conflict existent in
information as possible.
Tel. 481-8278
In upward communication, subordinates
often dilute messages by giving their
superiors only partial information.
Subordinates may also colour or distort
events in order to conceal news that may be
unpleasant. The conscious manipulation
of facts in order to distort events is called
slanting. A subordinate often slants
communication in order to appear
competent in the eyes of the superior.
At the highest status level in the
organisation, managers are often
faced with another barrier to effective
communication—information overload.
Information overload is the communication
of an excessive number of details about
company operations and personnel activities.
Top-level managers must decide what is
really needed for decision making and how
often that information must be updated.
However, in their programmes of reducing
information overload, managers must make
certain that all crucial messages get through.
Barrier 5 - Differences in Organisation
Some organisations encourage workers
68 | BusinessFocus • August/September 2008
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