Communication Two Way Process Information Management Essay

Communication is a two way process of sharing or transferring information. This information can be formal as in business meetings and presentations, and can be informal as talking about daily lives, opinions, suggestions etc. Whether communication is formal or informal, verbal or non verbal, it helps in mutual understanding and helps people to improve their knowledge about certain things. So it should be clear, concise and meaningful. Communication is not restricted to word of mouth only; there are many more ways to communicate. Broadly communication is of two types; verbal and non verbal (Davies & Ikeno, 2002). However, verbal communication is far easier to interpret and respond than the nonverbal. According to a research by Fernando(2002), both types of communication occur simultaneously and about two third meaning of communication Is understood by non verbal jesters

According to latest research by Dr Loewy And Guffey(2010), the young generation that is ready to enter to the market, lacks communication skills due to extensive use of new technology as a mode of communication. They emphasized that the use of mobiles, emails and computers has made them addicted to the use of slang language and hence reduced their ability to communicate in a professional manner. Writing skills to communicate effectively should be given importance to write business reports and proposals that can have a good impact on stakeholders.

Today, the work place is changing its processes and means of communication. In order to cope with the changing life styles, managers need to hire people having strong and professional communication skills, as using an email at home to contact a friend is far different than using emails at work place to contact suppliers and businesses.

According to Albert Mehrabian(1971) “Words spoken have four times more influence, than the non verbal communication”.

Silence is an essential but often ignored and misinterpreted part of non verbal communication. Silence does not always means lack of expression or words, it may play an important part while communication (Kushal, 2005) because the speakers have to be silent on occasions to let the other one speak and give his opinion.

“Listening to silences can be just as instructive as listening to voices even more so”(Losey,1997:191)

In organizational setup, strong communication is of vital importance (Blalock,web1)because if people fail to communicate about the things they can offer through their business, they will loose business. Business would fail to explain what their product is all about and how the product suits the need of customers. In today’s changing life style trends, it is very crucial for businesses to capture their customers through strong and effective communication. Not only customers, businesses need to communicate effectively with suppliers, manufacturers, buyers, retailers, employees and stake holders in order to perform competitively. This is the reason why organizations demand excellent communication skills from their employees (shah,2006)and those who fail to communicate their skills, are not even hired anymore.

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Silence is a part of non verbal communication, and silence has a different meaning each time it is observed. Sometimes it shows anger, sometimes it shows thoughtfulness and concentration, and at the others it may show lack of knowledge or interest. Unlike other types of communications, silence is complicated to interpret and hence often leads misunderstandings and miscommunication. According to Kushal(2006) “Silence is appropriate at sometimes and inappropriate at other depending upon the situations”. During a presentation, managers might use silence cleverly and win projects as silence helps gaining attention if used properly (Brown,1978)

For a manager, there are certain responsibilities including the projects he would win from other companies, If he is unable to communicate effectively what he can offer to them, he will lose businesses. Grossman argued that from managerial point of view, it is very important to use the correct level of verbal and non verbal communication in order to convince his suppliers and create a good picture of his organization in others heads.

According to Cohen(2002), silence is necessary to listen what other is talking about in order to end up in a healthy agreement. Or it may be used to show disagreement in a decent manner. For managers, it is not possible usually to walk away if they don’t like a certain proposal. However, Cohen emphasized on the use of silence at appropriate occasions and in a careful manner so as others find the exact meaning to it as silence is often misleading. Silence is considered to be the basic skill required for counseling interviews according to Singh(2007), silences during the interviews may be interpreted as uneasiness and discomfort and anxiousness of clients so they should be used carefully. John Akres (2004) argues the importance of remaining silent during business proposals in order to think clearly about it and showing some body jesters to indicate ones mental presence in the conversation such as eye contact, occasional nodding, signaling, forward movement and leaning

The interpretation of silence in some cultures may vary from that of the others. According to Karsten(2006), in American culture, silence means awkwardness, lack of interest, rejection and discomfort. This may vary if applied to Asian or other cultures. Hispanic managers often take more time in responding and hence use silence more casually than others. Japanese culture uses silence as an important means of communication both formally and informally during their daily lives, still it indicates a lot of things and people from other cultures misunderstood the usually. In Japanese culture, silence indicates modesty, sympathy, patience, embarrassment, resentment, lack of forgiveness and empathy (Davies & Ikeno,2002) Since silence has no defined set of interpretations, the use of silence must be avoided during important communication to be clearer. Silence during a group discussion at workplace is usually interpreted as hesitation to communicate smoothly, but it certainly does not mean that the silent persons have no ideas. They may not be able to say everything that they are thinking at the moment due to fear of being highlighted among others. Even in cultures that promotes silence at work places, it creates huge amount of misunderstandings because the expressions alone cannot be judged accurately and in the same way by everyone and usually leads to waste of time to clarify what the silent person actually means by his expressions.

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Silence sometimes may be the result of the fear to offend or disagree with someone who is dominant in a situation, for instance when managers are delivering a speech, employees might disagree at some point but remain silent due to the obvious dominant position of their managers and they don’t want to offend their managers. The argument is elaborated by Greenberg & Edward(2009), when they conducted research upon the relationship of silence and power influence. According to them, many a times, employees use language of silence in front of managers as a result of power distance between them. The power distance in any organization in addition to the organizational culture clearly encourages or discourages the use of verbal communication in it.

Silence is often associated with power and in many cultures, managers use silence as a powerful tool to force some act upon his employees. This type of silence may be used when some important information is not to be disclosed to the employees or at the time of imposition of any decision upon them without their consultation. This type of silence is discussed by Thiesmeyer in 2003 in many of his essays (Nakane, 2007). Greenberg & Edward (2009) highlighted the issue of relevance of silence with power by depicting the example of the plane crash that occurred as a result of low fuel level, which was not communicated to the captain by the junior staff. The book also referred to the tragic accident of Columbia space shuttle in 2003 as a result of highest level of power distance observed in the organizational structure of NASA. These and the various other incidents reported in the book had one thing in common and that was the silence of employees due to power distance between management and it is evident that silence at workplace can cause severe consequences. The presences of many levels in the organizational structures helps increasing the power distance and hence reduce the confidence in employees to communicate their opinions and suggestions. Managers influence the decision making quality in employees by encouraging their silence. In the above examples the subordinates must have a single confusion in mind ‘whether to tell the manager about the situation or not’? these type of confusions that create hesitation and discouragement in direct communication of employees to their managers, are aroused due to high power distance and centralized decision making in organizations.

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Buss’s framework(1961) on aggressive employee behavior(cited by Greenberg & Edward;2009)contributed the idea of silence used by employees to explain their negative work place behavior caused due to work load or work pressure. Employees tend to ignore their duties by remaining silent upon issues that can be resolved and the conditions can be improved if they would have used voice. They also cited other researches by Keashley, Tott & Maclean in 1994, that indicates silent behaviors and isolation at workplace by a boss or a co worker may be caused due to job stress, depression etc. the management in these work places might think the silence of employees as their agreement to the work place policies. However, the scenario according to research is entirely opposite and surprisingly fearful. When employees do not feel their responsibility to transfer some information to management that might be useful for the organization, they are not being loyal to the organization (Greenberg,2009) and would leave as soon as they get a better opportunity. The point to ponder is, managers must not advocate such behaviors and must seek reasons behind silent behavior of employees at work place. Edward & Greenberg are of the strong view to believe the use of silence by employees as the cause of some workplace abuse. The silent behavior of employees at work place is strongly related to their psychological state of minds and sometimes they are just aware of the fact their voice would not be heard and nothing would be changed by their contribution, so they remain silent.

Edward(2009)cited the work of Ashford that argued on organizational climate and the role the top managers play in encouraging the perceptions of use of voice to discuss the adverse situations at workplace. Ashford suggested the silence behavior in front of managers is due to fear of punishment and to be viewed negatively at workplace. The climate in organizations reveals either speaking up is dangerous, risky, or be taken friendly (Morisson, 2002). The idea of working silently in an office is given other meanings by other authors who create ambiguity in researches done earlier. The use of silence is interpreted as means of satisfaction (Sudan&Naveen,2004) with work when used at work places.

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