Definitions and Strategies of Communication

Communication is the nervous system of an organisation. It keeps the members of the organisation informed about the internal and external happenings relevant to a task and of interest to the organisation. It co-ordinates the efforts of the members towards achieving organisational objectives. It is the process of influencing the action of a person or a group. It is a process of meaningful interaction among human beings to initiate, execute, accomplish, or prevent certain actions. Communication is, thus, the life blood of an organisation. Without communication, an organisation, an organisation is lifeless and its very existence is in danger.

The term communication has been derived from the Latin word ‘cmmunis’ that means ‘common’ and thus, if a person effects communication, he establishes a common ground of understanding. Literally, communication means to inform, to tell, to show, or to spread information. Thus, it may be interpreted as an interchange of thought or information to bring about understanding and confidence for good industrial relations. It brings about unity of purpose, interest, and efforts in an organisation.


  1. “Communication is the sum of all things, one person does when he wants to create understanding in the minds of another, it involves a systematic and continuous process of telling, listening and understanding.”

——-Allen Louis

  1. Communication has been defined “As the transfer of information from one person to another whether or not it elicits confidence.”

——-Koontz and O’Donell

  1. “Communication is an exchange of facts, ideas, opinions or emotions by two or more persons.”

——–George Terry

  1. Communication is defined as “the process of passing information and understanding from one person to another, it is essentially a bridge of meaning between people. By using the bridge of meaning a person can safely cross the river of misunderstanding.”

———Keith Davis

The analysis of the above definitions implies that the communication process should have the following characteristics:

).I A two – way traffic: Since communication is an exchange of views, opinions, directions etc., it is a two-way traffic, upward and downward. Messages, directives, opinions, etc., are communicated downward, from a higher level to a lower level in the hierarchy of management. Likewise, grievances, complaints, opinions feelings, points of view etc., are communicated upward along the line, from workers (lower level) to management (higher level). George Terry has rightly remarked, “Simply talking or writing without regard to the recipients’ response, is conducive to misunderstanding.” Thus, communication should be both ways.

).II Continuous process: Communication is a continuous process. More often than not, it is repeated to achieve the desired results. It is not a one time shot.

).III A short lived process: The process of communication is complete as soon as the message is received and understood by the receiver in the right perspective; hence, it is a short lived process.

).IV Needs proper understanding: There may be numerous media of communication but the main purpose of conveying the message is a proper understanding of the message by the other party. For this purpose, it should be clearly and concisely worded.

).V Leads achievement of the organizational objective: Effective communication does this by creating the sense of object orientation in the organization.

).VI Dispels misunderstanding: In this sense, it provides clear understanding between persons and thus builds a bridge of comradrie among people.


The following principles can be followed to make the communication system more effective:

().i Principle of clarity: The idea or the message to be transmitted should be clearly worded so that it may be interpreted by the receiver in the same sense in which it is communicated. There should be no ambiguity in the message. For this purpose, the idea to be communicated should be very clear in the mind of the sender. It should be kept in mind that the words do not speak themselves, but the speaker gives them meaning. If the message is clear, it would evoke an appropriate response from the other party. It is also necessary that the receiver must be conversant with the language, the inherent assumptions, and the mechanics of communication.

().ii Principle of integrity: Communication should be aimed at motivating people to take action as agreed upon. In this process, the superiors rely upon the subordinates and under assumption that their integrity is unimpeackable. It is because the integrity of the organisation is related to the level of integrity possessed by the subordinates. No communication may evoke a response from the subordinates if their integrity is doubted. The superiors should trust the subordinates, accept their view points and never doubt their intention, in executing the task entrusted to them.

().iii Principle of informality: Formal communication system is cornerstone of a formal organisation, and it leads to transmittal of messages. But, sometimes, formal communications prove ineffective in evoking the needed response from the subordinates. In such cases, the superiors should adopt the strategy of making use of informal channels of communication: they may contact, if necessary, the subordinates personally or through someone else to persuade them to translate their orders into action. Informal communication at times proves for more effective than formal communication.

().iv Principle of attention: In order to make the message effective, the recipient’s attention should be drawn to the message communicated. Each one is different in behaviour, sentiments and emotions, which determine the degree of attention. For this purpose, the superior must note that he himself should not expect from his subordinates what he himself does not practice. So, a manager cannot enforce punctuality if he himself is not punctual: “Actions speaks louder than words.”

().v Principle of consistency: This principle implies that communication should always be consistent with the policies, plans, programmes and objectives of the organisation, and not in conflict with them. Messages which are inconsistent with the policies and plans of the organisation create confusion in the minds of the subordinates about their implementation; and, such a situation may prove detrimental to the organisation’s health.

().vi Principle of adequacy: The information should be adequate and complete in all respects. Inadequate and incomplete information may delay action and destroy understanding, and create confusion. Inadequate information also affects the efficiency of the sender and the receiver of the communication.

().vii Principle of timeliness: All messages should be transmitted at the proper time. Any delay in communicating message serves no purpose except to make them merely historical document as it loses its importance after some time.

().viii Principle of feedback: One of the most important principles of communications is the principle of feedback. The communicator must have feedback information from the recipient to know whether the recipient has understood the message in the same sense in which the sender has meant it, or whether the subordinates agree or disagree with the contents of the message. It also helps in understanding attitude of the people.

().ix Principle of communications network: Communications network means the routes through which the communication travels to its destination, the person for whom it is meant. A number of such networks may exist in an organisation at a given point of time; but the management should consider the effectiveness of the communications network in the given situation and its effects on the behaviour of the recipient before it finally chooses the network.

The above principles if followed will make the communication effective. An effective system of communication should be installed in the organisation so as to promote better industrial relations.


Management of an organisation is effective only when its communication machinery is effective. The very existence of management depends upon an effective machinery of communication. Effective communication machinery is important because it communicates, and helps in implementing, the policies and objectives of the organisation on the one hand and also helps in understanding the nature and behaviour of the people at work.

Management communication is a two-way process. It means that the management must allow both the parties the management and the subordinates to convey their feelings, ideas, opinions, facts, grievances etc. to the other party. Communication is said to be a continuous process of exchange of views and ideas but it should be both ways down ward and upward. The communication machinery or process should not only provide the manager with a the privilege of communicating orders and directions to the workers to get the work done towards the achievement of organisational objectives as pleaded by the classical theory of organisation behaviour knows as Theory X by McGregor, but the workers also must be given a right to approach the management and communicate their complaints, grievances, opinions, facts, suggestions etc. which may be in response to the orders or directions received from the management, or in the interest of the organisation, contributing to the achievement of its objectives. This two-way traffic is advantageous to both the management and the workers. Managers, very often like that the subordinates must listen to them and follow their orders and directions whatsoever. On the other hand, managers are not prepared to listen to their subordinates regarding what they think about them and of their suggestions, ideas or direction. They are not bothered about their subordinates likes and dislikes and how they can contribute to the organisational objectives. Management in this way cannot be effective. Without giving subordinates an opportunity to be heard their feelings will remain suppressed and they may breakdown at any time.

A message can be interpreted by the recipient according to the image of the communicator in the mind of the recipient. If the image is bad the version of the massage may be distorted and interpreted differently. The bad image can be erased through proper communication from the other side which is possible only when there is two-way communication in the organisation.

Thus creation of organizational systems allowing two-way traffic will improve the morale of the workers on the one hand because they think that they have a say in the management and will improve the working of the organisation on the other hand because management worker relation develop in a cordial atmosphere. Thus two-way communication is necessary for effective management.

Communication is a process that allows organisms to exchange information by several methods. Communication requires that all parties understand a common language that is exchanged with each other. Exchange requires feedback. The word communication is also used in the context where little or no feedback is expected such as broadcasting, or where the feedback may be delayed as the sender or receiver use different methods, technologies, timing and means for feedback.

There are auditory means, such as speaking, singing and sometimes tone of voice, and nonverbal, physical means, such as body language, sign language, paralanguage, touch, eye contact, or the use of writing.

Communication happens at many levels (even for one single action), in many different ways, and for most beings, as well as certain machines. Several, if not all, fields of study dedicate a portion of attention to communication, so when speaking about communication it is very important to be sure about what aspects of communication one is speaking about. Definitions of communication range widely, some recognizing that animals can communicate with each other as well as human beings, and some are narrower, only including human beings within the parameters of human symbolic interaction.

Nonetheless, communication is usually described along a few major dimensions:

  • Content (what type of things are communicated)
  • Source/Emisor/Sender/Encoder (by whom)
  • Form (in which form)
  • Channel (through which medium)
  • Destination/Receiver/Target/Decoder (to whom)
  • Purpose/Pragmatic aspect (with what kind of results)


In this age of competition communication is the number one problem of the management. Competition, complex methods of production, large scale operations and specialisation in production functions have increased the importance of communication. Without effective communication a manager cannot perform his duties well. Communication is as essential to business as blood is to the human body. Success of the communication system affects the success of business. The following points will prove its importance in business:

1. Smooth Working of a Business Firm

Communication is necessary for the successful smooth and unrestricted working of an enterprise. All organisational interaction depends upon working of an enterprise. All organisational interaction depends upon communication. The manager co-ordinates the human and the physical elements of an organisation into an efficient and working unit that achieves common objectives. Be it an activity of purchase or sale or production or finance it is the process of communication that makes cooperative action possible. The internal and external communication process of an organisation decides the various activities to be done and various objectives to be achieved. “Communication is basic to an organisation’s existence from birth of the organisation through its continuing life when communication stops, organised activity ceases to exist.”

2. Basis of Managerial Function

Communication plays an important role in discharging the various functions of management. No function of management is possible without the communication process. Its importance in performing the various functions is as follows:

  1. Planning: Planning the most important among the functions of management, requires extensive communication among the executives and the other personnel. Communication is important in executing a planned programme and then controlling the activities of the personnel with the help of feedback information.
  2. Organisation: Organisation is the second important function of management which decides the various activities of an organisation, divides them into workable units, delegates authority to perform the. For this purpose, communication is a must because different persons, departments and group come to know their powers and jurisdiction only through an effective means of communication.
  3. Direction and Leadership: Direction and effective leadership requires an efficient system of communication in an organisation. A good leader can direct or lead his subordinates only when an efficient system of communication is present. It brings both the leader and the subordinates in close contact with each other and removes misunderstanding if any.
  4. Motivation: An efficient system of communication enables management to change the attitude of the subordinates and to motivate, influence and satisfy them. Most of the conflicts in business are not basic but are caused by misunderstood motives and ignorance of facts. Proper and timely communication between the interested parties, reduces the points of friction and minimises those that inevitably arise.
  5. Co-ordination: The present day big organisations, designed on the basis of specialisation and division of labour are constituted of a large number of people. In order to achieve the desired objective, it is very necessary to co-ordinate the efforts of labour engaged in the various activities of production and the organisation. Co-ordination requires mutual understanding about the organisational goals and the mode of their accomplishment; and the interrelationship between the works being performed by various individuals.
  6. Control: Communication aids in controlling the activities of the individuals department and groups. The facts standards and information are communicated to the concerned parties and they perform their respective obligations according to the standards set forth in the plan.

3. Maximum Production at Minimum Cost

Every organisation aims at getting the maximum output at the minimum cost and for this purpose it requires an effective internal and external communication system. In the external field, and efficient communication system helps in improving public opinion having contacts with government departments and getting market information in order to achieve the primary goals.

4. Prompt Decision and its Implementation

In order to make prompt decisions, fact collecting process is necessary. Information must be received before any meaningful decision and for this purpose communication is a primary requirement. Again to implement the decision effectively its communication to subordinates concerned is essential. Thus, decision-making and its implementation require and effective system of communication.

5. Building Human Relations

Man is the most active and effective factor of production and good human relations are the basis of cooperation and industrial peace that requires good working conditions and work-environment. As we have discussed earlier communication is a two-way traffic which helps promote cooperation and mutual understanding between the two partners of an organisation. Efficient downward communication helps the management to tell the subordinates what the organisation wants and how it can be performed. On the other hand upward communication helps the workers in putting their grievances and suggestions and reactions to the policies, before the management.

6. Job-satisfaction and Good Morale

Morale is the human element that motivates a man to work in the right spirit. Good communication removes the possibility of misunderstanding among the parties concerned. Workers know what they have to do and how it creates a sense of cooperation among them. It increases the morale of the workers and each worker will have job satisfaction.

7. Avoids Illusion

While passing through various stages information may be distorted by interested parties and many create illusion and misunderstanding among persons. Illusion is the great enemy of communication. An efficient system of communication aims at removing illusions and misunderstanding by communicating facts and figures.

8. Contacts with External Parties

Communication is essential not only for the internal management of the organisation but it also helps contacts with the outside world. Contact with outside agencies such as customers, associations, other manufacturers, advertisers, suppliers, trade unions, research councils and institutions, etc. are necessary for furthering the interests of the organisation. It increases the goodwill of the firm and helps in creating a favourable public attitude towards the organisation.

Answer 3. (a) Broad Categories of communication in an Organisation

Communication on the basis of organisation structure may be classified into two broad categories: Formal and Informal.

1. Formal Communication

Formal communication is closely associated with a formal organisational structure. The communication flows through formal channels, officially recognised positions along the line in the organisation. In the organisation the path along which a communication is to travel is deliberately created to regulate the flows of communication so as to make it orderly and thereby to ensure that the required information flows smoothly, accurately and timely to the points at which it is required. Very often we hear the term through proper channels which means communication through the channel prescribed in the organisation. It is the path of the line of authority linking two positions in the organisation. It is also known as the chain line of command.

Advantages of formal Communication:

  1. It helps in maintaining the authority of line executives over their subordinates who are responsible to get the work done by their subordinates and are answerable to their bosses. The responsibility of the subordinates for the activities carried out by them can easily be fixed.
  2. An immediate superior has direct contact with the subordinates; so, a better understanding is developed between them and communication is made more effective.
  3. Since an executive better informed about the organisation and its problems than the subordinates a better solution can possibly be found easily and good relations between the leader and his subordinates develop.

Disadvantages of formal Communication:

  1. Every happening in an organisation cannot be foreseen; hence action required for unforeseen events cannot be formalised.
  2. It increases the workload of the line superior because all communications are transmitted through tem. Thus, it leaves the superiors with little time to perform other organisational functions well.
  3. There are more chances of red-tapism and delay tactics in this method because executives generally overlook the interests of the subordinates. Any information upward or downward favouring subordinates is more often suppressed or delayed by the superiors.

(iv). In most of the big organisations contact between the top executive and the subordinates at the lowest level are far remote. Very often they do not recognise each other. This adversely affects the relations of executives and subordinates.

2.Informal Communication

Informal communication also known as the grapevine is not a planned or deliberately created channel of communication. It is free from all formalities. No formal organisational chart is followed to convey messages. It is based on the informal relations of the two persons, the sender and the receiver of communication. A general manager may develop contacts with a worker at the lowest level and communicate certain important information relating to him direct to the worker. It is an example of informal communication. It is the result of the natural desire of people to communicate with each other when they come into contact on a regular basis. When interaction takes place among them a small social groups emerges spontaneously and members of the group develop their own communication system known as an informal communication channel or the grapevine.

Advantages of informal communication:

  1. The communication travels at a faster speed because there is no formal line of communication.
  2. It is multi dimensional. As there is no channel of communication, communication may be made on any topic of interest to any person in the group irrespective of his position in the formal organisation. It may go to any extent all limits as to direction and degree of communication is self-impose.
  3. It is dynamic and reacts quickly because informal channels have their sanctions in the group and develop within the organisation.
  4. At times it may supplement the formal channel. Certain matters which are difficult to communicate through formal channels may be effectively communicated through informal channels. If properly utilised it may clarify the management’s points of view to the subordinates which otherwise may not be appealing or it may provide necessary feedback to managers on the possible effects of a decision or action of the management.

Disadvantages of informal communication:

  1. It very often carries half-truths, rumours and distorted facts at an alarming rate of speed. As there is no mechanism for authentication of the news and views, members of the organisation are likely to be misinformed and misled by informal communications.
  2. Sometimes the messages communicated through informal channels are so erratic that any action based on these cannot be taken and if taken it may lead to a difficult situation in the organisation because responsibility for erratic messages cannot be fixed.
  3. In informal communication, there are greater chances of distortion of messages. Each person conveying the message may add, subtract, or change the original message according to his motive or interest. There is a chance that by the time a message completes its complex journey, it may be completely distorted.

Answer 3. (b) Written Communication

Written communication is often resorted to by the management for messages that are lengthy and have to be made permanent. It is also undertaken when oral communication cannot reach each and every person concerned, either due to a large number of communications or duel to long geographical distances between the sender and the receiver. Written communication includes written words, graphs, charts, manuals, reports, diagrams, pictures, letters, circulars etc. Written communication is the most common form of communication used in an organisational set up to be effective, written communication must posse’s four important characteristics. It should be clear, complete, correct and to be intelligible.

Writing is the representation of language in a textual medium through the use of signs or symbols. It is distinguished from illustration, such as cave drawing and painting, and the recording of language via a non-textual medium such as magnetic tape audio.

Writing is also a distinctly human activity. It has been said that a monkey, randomly typing away on a typewriter (in the days when typewriters replaced the pen or plume as the preferred instrument of writing) could re-create Shakespeare– but only if it lived long enough (this is known as the infinite monkey theorem). Such writing has been speculatively designated as coincidental. It is also speculated that extra-terrestrial beings exist who may possess knowledge of writing. The fact is, however, that the only known writing is human writing.

Advantages of written communication: Written communication has the following advantages:

  1. Written communications possess the quality of being stored for future reference. Policy matters, service conditions, confidential orders and instructions and many other communications can be effectively and satisfactorily communicated only through written communication because they are necessary for future reference so that necessary action may be taken against the subordinates who fail to follow the communication. It can be used as evidence if any dispute about jurisdiction or bypassing etc. arises.
  2. When the sender and the receiver are at distant points, even beyond telephonic range written communication is the only means of communication.
  3. Written communication is the only way out in such cases where the message is too lengthy and meant for a large number of persons.
  4. Written communication gives more time to the receiver to think, analyse, and then decide upon the right course of action.
  5. Written communication is more orderly; and it is binding upon the subordinates and their superiors.
  6. Written communication becomes essential to pass on to others correct and accurate information. While writing a message superfluous words and all possible errors can be avoided to make it concise.

Answer 4. (a) Effective Communication Barriers

These barriers, obstructions and interruptions in communication may broadly be categorized into the following groups:

  1. External Barriers
  2. Organisational Barriers
  3. Personal Barriers

External barriers

External barriers are those caused by factors other than organisational and personal factors. Such external barriers may be (a) semantic barriers, (b) emotional or psychological barriers.

1. Semantic Barriers

Such barriers are obstructions caused in the process of receiving or understanding a message during the process of encoding or decoding it into words and ideas. The linguistic capacity of the two parties may have some limitations or the symbols used may be ambiguous. Symbols may have several meanings and unless the context is known to the receiver he is likely to take the meaning of the symbol according to his preconceived notion and misunderstand the communication. Symbols may be classified as language, picture or action.

(i). Language

In written or verbal communication, words used are important. A word used in the communication may have several meanings. In a face to face communication, it is easy to seek clarification of words used, if any doubt is encountered. In case of doubt feedback is required. Many words which we use informally may be taken literally in other contexts, non-friendly situations or in written communication.

(ii). Picture

Picture is another type of symbol. Pictures are visual aids worth thousands of words. An organisation makes extensive use of pictures like blueprints, charts, maps, graphs, films, three dimensional models and other similar devices. A viewer may come to understand the whole story when he sees them.

(iii). Action

Action is another type of symbol. We communicate by both by action or by lack of it. To do or not to do both have a meaning for the receiver. For example if a subordinate does a good job, patting and non-patting on his back by the superior both have a meaning. Patting may inspire him to do a better job again and non-patting may make him disappointed. In this sense we communicate all the times on the job whether we intend to do so or not. Action or non-action may influence the perception of the receiver.

2. Emotional or Psychological Barriers

Personal or emotional or psychological barriers arise from motives, attitudes judgement sentiments emotions and social values of participants. These create a psychological distance that hinders the communication or partly filters it out or causes misinterpretation.

The following are some emotional barriers:

(i). Premature evaluation

Premature evaluation is a tendency to evaluate a communication prematurely rather than keeping an open mind during the interchange. Such evaluation interferes with the transfer of information and begets a sense of futility in the sender.

(ii). Loss in transmission and retention

When communication passes through various levels in an organisation, successive transmissions of the same message are decreasingly accurate. A part of information is lost in transit it is said that about 30% of the information is lost in each transmission.

(iii). Distrust of communicator

The communicator is sometimes distrusted by his own subordinates. It happens when he lacks self-confidence or is less competent in his position. He frequently makes ill considered judgements or illogical decisions and then reviews his own decisions when he fails to implement them.

(iv). Failure to communicate

Sometimes manager do not communicate the needed messages to their subordinates. This might be because of laziness or procrastination on their part or they arbitrarily assume that everybody has got the information or they may hide information deliberately to embarrass the subordinate.

Organisation Barriers


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