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Running Head: COMMUNICATING KNOWLEDGE 1 Communicating Knowledge about Communication Kerry Vault BUS 600: Management Communications with Technology Tools Professor BarbaraLeigh Tonelli Ashford University April 6, 2015 COMMUNICATING KNOWLEDGE THROUGH COMMUNICATION 2 Introduction Communication begins with the premise of delivering a message from one party to another, the decoding of that message to properly understand the intent, and employing sufficient feedback to complete the process and aid in improving future communications. In a business setting, there are many factors that contribute to effective communication, among them are avoiding barriers, remaining professional, and avoiding highly emotional settings. Specific forms of communication include interpersonal communication and group communication, with each having its own set of guidelines and outcome potential. With interpersonal communication, the outcome is for both parties to feel empathy for the other, while group communication is more often geared toward alerting others of instructions and progress toward a goal. Often, communication is necessary with people from other countries and cultures, and the ability to realize the differences and adjust accordingly is crucial for management communication in foreign settings. Without these adjustments, the chance of encountering conflict is high, and the resolution of conflict is critical to any effective communication process. Communication is possible through many facets, including verbal, nonverbal, and written communication – which all have their own specific nuances and guidelines for managers to follow. Importantly, public engagement is one of the many factors that are required in presenting visual written materials to an audience, requiring the speaker to know the audience and interact with them accordingly. With all of the various factors affecting communication, it is critical for a manager to continuously learn proper methods and tools to become – and remain – an effective communicator. By knowing the audience, knowing the message, and requiring feedback, a COMMUNICATING KNOWLEDGE THROUGH COMMUNICATION 3 communicator is in constant growth employing checks and balances to improve communication. Effective Communication Communication is an important factor that can determine how well, or poorly, an interaction between two parties will be. In fact, the very basis of good communication stems from how well the speaker and listener know each other – or in the very least, the message content that is being produced. For example, Baack (2012) states that many obstacles occur during communication, and only by overcoming those barriers will communication be successful. This is especially important in a business setting, which more often demands clear, concise, and professional communication to ensure an efficient environment. Most often, this communication environment is also required to be managed in a fashion that is effective – preventing unnecessary misrepresentation of meaning or miscommunication of intent. Effective communication requires minimization of communication barriers, which can include transmission barriers, individual differences, or situational factors all of which require the sender to determine the best course of action before communicating. Once the barriers have been overcome, the sender of the message should be expecting feedback from the audience to ensure the message is communicated properly. This is one step in the threepart process of encoding, decoding, and feedback that is necessary to create effective communication. A common mistake that can easily be avoided through proper communication techniques is the lack of requiring feedback when communicating a message. For example, my boss told me that we were having dinner with prospective clients, and to dress appropriately. What he failed to mention was that we were eating at an upscale establishment where coats and ties were required, COMMUNICATING KNOWLEDGE THROUGH COMMUNICATION 4 and I failed to provide feedback to him requesting the definition of dressing appropriately. This simple lack of circular communication caused an embarrassing situation for all of us, and could have been avoided if my boss encoded the message properly – knowing I didn’t have the same idea about appropriate dress as he did – and if I would have decoded the message, knowing that my experience in business attire was lacking compared to his. The norm in business communication typically involves professional, courteous, and succinct messages being delivered to the appropriate personnel – in an appropriate manner. This involves the knowledge of the audience, how to empathize with them, and even how to remain objective in the event the speaker and audience don’t care for each other. Additionally, the speaker and audience should be cognizant of any emotional barriers that exist – recognizing that highly emotional conversations can present significant challenges with proper communication. According to a video about how to properly deal with conflict, the message in Managing Conflict Resolution (n.d.), recommends using calm yet assertive energy – as opposed to highly energized aggressive tones to accomplish clear messages. In a business setting the expectation is to avoid any negatively emotional interactions, relying more on calm and professional settings for communication. One specific instance in my career led to an emotionally charged encounter where I felt ganged up against and put into a corner, raising my emotional status to highly agitated – and finally having an outburst in a conference room. Since anger is an emotion that tends to cloud judgment and lead to things being said that weren’t intentional (Baack, 2012), I can look back on that situation and realize that I should have been aware of my emotions and adjusted my communication style accordingly. Not only did the shortterm affects of my outburst create a negative viewpoint of COMMUNICATING KNOWLEDGE THROUGH COMMUNICATION 5 my professionalism, the long term affects included the memory of this outburst in the mind of management when I had my employee appraisal. This instance helped me, however, once I became a manager and was responsible for creating an environment to deny emotionally charged communication. Interpersonal Communication Interpersonal communication is considered any communication between two people, or one person and a group. This type of communication is prevalent in the workplace, primarily accounting for communication between management and subordinates, peer to peer, and subordinate to boss. Each of these types of scenarios are a bit different in how communication is performed, primarily because the motives in communication are different. For example, a boss will most likely want the subordinate to feel comfortable and at ease while delivering a message that leaves no room for interpretation. Reversing those roles, the subordinate will want to attempt to appear knowledgeable and eager to please the boss likely creating an environment that is more tense and uncomfortable. In the third instance of peertopeer interactions, there is more likely to be an informal communication style occurring – introducing more instances of slang and inclusionary language that an outsider may not know. Inclusionary language can represent one of the many communication barriers that exist, such as transmission barriers. One type of transmission barrier could include the use of slang, or similes from one person that the other doesn’t understand – perhaps due to a major age difference or cultural dissimilarities. For example, I once had a manager who was attempting to train me in a new position, and he liked to use movie references – which I did not know to describe why it was COMMUNICATING KNOWLEDGE THROUGH COMMUNICATION 6 important to perform certain functions in the workplace. In this obvious example of an individual difference acting as a communication barrier, my manager thought he could teach better by using references to visual and audio representations of how I a situation should be handled – unbeknownst to him that I was more confused and frustrated at the lack of understanding. It was obvious that my role in this communication instance was that of the listener, or receiver of the message – and with this role comes the responsibility to be an active listener and engage in the conversation. Just as important as sending a message properly, avoiding any barriers and able to empathize with the receiver, the ability to decode a message and properly understand the sender is critical to communication. A way that I overcame the barrier that was presented by my supervisor, hoping to accomplish a proper communication environment, was to provide feedback to my supervisor indicating my inability to understand him. This type of feedback also creates a rich environment for communication, leading to the ability to communicate more effectively as well as learning how to best interact in the future. Cultural Communication The ability to communicate in a business setting is very important, both for the company that is communicating the message, and the company that is receiving it. The ability to communicate becomes even more difficult than usual when the two parties are from different countries or cultures. One tool from the Hofstede Centre is available for those wishing to perform business, therefore needing to communicate with other cultures or countries, called the cultural dimension tool. This tool analyzes key factors in social interactions, including power COMMUNICATING KNOWLEDGE THROUGH COMMUNICATION 7 distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, longterm orientation, and indulgence (The Hofstede Centre, n.d.). These factors all determine how compatible each society will be with another, or better yet, how to best go about communicating with the other party after knowing these factors. An additional key to communicating crossculturally is for the individual to be aware of their own cultural competence. This includes the ability to know which factors, such as eye contact, language and slang, directness of address, and when to speak versus listen (Baack, 2012), the person may need to adjust or change based on the differences with the other party. Should the person not have a good grasp on these factors, or not have the ability to identify which factors are different, the use of a cultural assimilator may be necessary. Cultural assimilators have analyze cultural differences through messages, and will prepare the person in need for how to act and what communication methods to use (Baack, 2012). They have typically undergone some type of cultural awareness and sensitivity training, allowing them to best understand the host party and any differences in communication styles that are perhaps unknown to the foreign party. In today’s business world, with the advent of technological advances and intercontinental travel, the necessity for management and key sales employees to be aware of their own cultural competence as well as the potential customer’s cultural environment. Although many companies may consider themselves to be immune to the need to incorporate international business, the need to pool resources and think more globally is becoming increasingly important. To that end, a computer software company may find that test markets are necessary in other countries, fueling the need to educate themselves on how to carry on with foreign cultures. . According to The COMMUNICATING KNOWLEDGE THROUGH COMMUNICATION 8 Hofstede Centre (nd.), “...what may be an effective and efficient way of coordination in one country may prove to be ineffective, inefficient, or even counterproductive in another” (Applications of National Culture, para. 9). This knowledge is becoming increasingly important as the world seems to become closer together and more broadly cultured. Verbal and Nonverbal Management Communication Management communication is usually affiliated with the type of communication that is happening in a business setting, with a clear and concise message being conveyed in an effective and efficient manner. This type of communication, being that it is usually necessary to be as efficient as possible, consists of many types of media – from written, spoken, formal and informal, as well as nonverbal body cues. Of all these types of communication, the important factor for the speaker and receiver to key in on is the nonverbal body cues – which of course are not readily available through written communication. This is why verbal communication is important when specific nuances need to be observed, which also include body language and other nonverbal communication forms. Nonverbal communication allows the parties involved to discover unwritten or unspoken messages by paying attention to things such as posture, eye movements, and inattentiveness. These cues will tell a speaker that the message is not getting through, is confusing, or that there are too many distractions in the environment. This scenario is a perfect example of why the COMMUNICATING KNOWLEDGE THROUGH COMMUNICATION 9 receiver of the message should be aware of his or her nonverbal cues, paying particular attention to body posture and remaining focused on the speaker at all times. Not only does the speaker gain confidence that his or her message is being received, it also allows the listener to remain focused and actively listen to the message. The same holds true for management, who should be careful to show attentiveness and empathy when a subordinate is communicating with them, showing that they are listening and able to understand the issue that is being communicated. This comes into play especially when the manager is required to confront a subordinate with bad news, which is similar to the necessity of doctors to establish the ability to pickup on their patients body language to truly understand the symptoms that plague them (Molinuevo, Escorihuela, Fernández.Teruel, Tobeña, & Torrubia, 2011). This type of attentiveness allows the manager to establish a rapport with, and hopefully a relationship of trust and comfort – leading to a more productive environment. Verbal communication is probably the most effective form of communication when the message is more complex and a facetoface interaction is necessary. Since complexity plays a huge role in how readily a message can be decoded (Baack, 2012), the speaker should be aware that certain items may require the use of visual aids, as well as supporting documentation, as in instances such as presentations. Otherwise, in facetoface interactions such as a meeting or discussion, it is wise to prepare notes during the discussion. This note preparation allows for further regurgitation of the information at a later time, as well as providing a guideline for the follow up written communication that should take place. In regard to management communication, the ability to discuss complex, or extremely sensitive issues with others in the company, followed by preparing a written account of the discussion not only sets up an COMMUNICATING KNOWLEDGE THROUGH COMMUNICATION 10 environment that aids in communication effectiveness, but also allows for an archived record of the communication. Verbal communication also serves to establish abolish boundaries that written communication may create. In the instance of delivering bad news to someone, especially with the introduction of new technology in communication, it may become easy for management to communicate bad news in a written manner. In a previous job I held, I was told over the phone that my computer needed to be sent back to the home office for refurbishing and updating. Once the computer was received at my home office, I was notified in written form, via email, that my position was no longer necessary within the company. While being fired over email was infuriating, it wasn’t nearly as maddening as my follow up verbal requests to clarify the email. Since my immediate supervisor dodged my phone calls, I reached out directly to the president of the company. This type of avoidance is clearly described by Dibble, Wisner, Dobbins, Cacal, Taniguchi, Peyton, & ... Kubulins, 2015), stating that “Choosing words for a bad news message takes longer than choosing words for a good news message because the news is negative and that creates an inherently greater cognitive load (p. 214). This summarizes the idea that bad news is harder to receive, and probably harder to deliver, necessitating a written message that can be carefully written as well as studiously read. Either way, the need for verbal and written communication most likely go hand in hand. Effective Written Management Communication All written communication is traceable, yet fails to convey the emotion and intent behind some words or grouping of words sometimes leading to miscommunication or misinterpretation COMMUNICATING KNOWLEDGE THROUGH COMMUNICATION 11 of meaning. Written communication is used effectively when the message being communicated is less complex, or when more time is needed to study the message. This is why written communication takes on various styles, from quick informal messages over text messaging or social media, to more thorough emailed messages, to indepth written reports. Of these, the text message is probably the most inappropriate form, due to its informal and unprofessional format. Email is an important tool for managers to use when communicating with bosses, subordinates, peers, clients and potential clients, or even vendors. When the necessity to communicate to multiple people at one time is apparent, yet those people are not all available at the same time, an email outlining the message is a clear and concise way to communicate. The emailed message can be checked for accuracy and grammar – or even tone – prior to being sent, and can be archived in case it is necessary to backtrack prior communications. As in all other written forms of communication, the emailed message should be carefully planned out and not written under duress of strong emotions. Since this form of communication is void of any verbal or nonverbal cues, it is extremely difficult and unlikely that the receiver will appropriately gauge any emotion that should be attached to the message. Just as likely, some emailed messages can be inadvertently construed as emotionally charged, leading to a whole host of communication problems. Another form of written communication that is utilized by management is the use of reports and presentations. These forms of communication are typically used in instances where leaner channels of communication are acceptable – such as when the complexity of the message is low and verbal cues are not necessary (Baack, 2012). Such instances require the manager to be acutely aware of the message they are transmitting through the report, and to be as descriptive COMMUNICATING KNOWLEDGE THROUGH COMMUNICATION 12 as possible so as not to leave any confusion or miscommunication in the report. Although reports can, and are often, reviewed for accuracy and require feedback to determine consistency in the message, more likely reports contain fact and are less open to interpretation. This form of communication is utilized primarily for the collection and compilation of figures such as sales reports and other financial needs. Even so, it is important for management to ensure that barriers are removed from this form of communication, often needing to describe some ideas in detail to allow the reader to understand the message fully. Public Engagement A presentation given in a public setting should contain various components to be a successful method to communicate to many people at once. These components include storytelling, audience engagement, and visual design (Bennett, 2015). It is very important to provide the audience with visual aids to keep them occupied and engaged while the presentation is occurring. These visual aids should be bright in color and provide the audience with something to focus on, as eyes tend to wander and the more items the audience has to focus on during the presentation will give them a better chance to absorb the message. Additionally, storytelling allows the audience to feel more comforted by the message, seemingly becoming part of the story by being included in some side note story that brings the story down to earth. In this way, the speaker can appear to personalize the message and assimilate him or herself to the audience. The most important part of the components necessary to engage in public speaking must be audience engagement. It is important to gain rapport with the audience, typically through COMMUNICATING KNOWLEDGE THROUGH COMMUNICATION 13 engaging with them through eye contact and vocal techniques. By keeping a clear, loud, and dynamic voice throughout the presentation, the audience is allowed to receive the message being sent while having their attention sustained. On one hand, it is important for the speaker to know the audience well, able to empathize with them by customizing the message by curtailing the length or expanding the visual cues. On the other hand, it is just as important to be knowledgeable of the content being presented – dissuading any nervous or uneasy feelings that may occur from an audience that feels they are being spoken to without authority. For example, the last public presentation I attended included one speaker who used various filler words and pauses, acting frantic while not seeming to have a clear vision of the material he wanted to present. In this instance, it was uncomfortable for me to be on the receiving end, as I felt as though the speaker may not have put enough effort into the presentation – sending a negative message to the audience. Conflict Resolution Conflict is considered to be a natural occurrence during communication, though most people are unable to deal with conflict in a constructive manner. Since there will inevitably be conflicting points of views, and more often than not those conflicting views may be involved with high running emotions, the necessity and ability to resolve conflict is an important part of communicating. There are various ways to approach the resolution of conflict, and it is important for the management of a company to know the difference between functional and dysfunctional conflict. Functional conflict, otherwise known as constructive conflict, is what a COMMUNICATING KNOWLEDGE THROUGH COMMUNICATION 14 company uses to improve upon certain facets of the company – as if by a trial and error type of process (Baack, 2012). Dysfunctional conflict, however, is what occurs when one individual intentionally harms another – through actions that introduce dysfunction into a company and burden the effectiveness of the company. Resolving conflict comes with some difficulty yet can be accomplished with some ease. Through understanding, patience, and empathy, each party can understand the other – thereby gaining some traction in meeting the goals of the company. According to Baack (2012), the concern one has for the other’s outcome will greatly affect the level of resolution that is accomplished. For example, when there is a low concern for others, there is either competition or avoidance of the other; yet when a high concern for others is found, the two parties are accommodating and collaborate together (Baack, 2012). This is another example of why management should be empathetic and actively listen to their subordinates and peers, creating the ability to have a high concern for their outcomes and thereby making collaboration possible. In the very least, compromise can be made by each party, allowing the company to remain productive and efficient. Group Settings Since group communication differs from individual communication, primarily because the communication in a group is typically concerned with the outcome of the message, which includes tactics such as brainstorming and conflict. When communicating in a group, it is important for management to deduce if the group is formal or informal – work group, committee, or project team. Informal groups communicate much less formally than formal groups, given COMMUNICATING KNOWLEDGE THROUGH COMMUNICATION 15 that these groups are primarily consisted of social and friendshipbased relationships. Given the nature of these groups, the communication is mostly found to be gossipbased, inperson, and wrought with rumors (Baack, 2012). Since this is the case, it is assumedly an atmosphere that creates the propensity for group members to establish cliques, leading to some unethical forms of communication such as exclusivity. Formal groups, on the other hand, tend to follow more stringent guidelines and take a more carefully planned approach. In a work group, the manager is communicating directly with subordinates, and subordinates are all communicating with each other. It is important for the manager to provide communication that is clear and concise – leaving no room for confusion. Committees are another type of formal group, and typically require additional written communication in the form of notes depicting what was discussed within the group. As such, it is important for managers to be prepared in their communication, requesting to study the notes of their peers’ communication to better understand the workings of the entire company. This mentality also follows the workings of a project team, formed as a formal group for specific projects – requiring periodic progress checks to make sure the group is on track with performance goals. Conclusion Communication is a process that requires all parties to be aware of the others’ intent, and to continuously learn about how to improve the skills they have learned about how to convey a message. Once the speaker has an idea of who the audience is, he or she can appropriately address them – empathizing with them and customizing the message as needed. The use of COMMUNICATING KNOWLEDGE THROUGH COMMUNICATION 16 written, verbal, and nonverbal communication is necessary to put together a sufficient array of tools to provide proper messages from one party to another. During communication with parties from one culture to another, it is important to know the differences in communication practices, allowing for adjustments in techniques as needed. The tools found to be necessary to effectively communicate are ever present when the message is to be in a public format, speaking a single message to a vast audience. Through empathizing with the audience, listening to feedback, and being prepared with the message, a speaker can engage with the audience to make sure the message is effectively delivered. References Baack, D. (2012). Management communication. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/books/AUBUS600.12.2 COMMUNICATING KNOWLEDGE THROUGH COMMUNICATION 17 Bennett, B. (2015, January 20). Toastmasters Podcast #088: Jonathan Li, The Expressive Leader. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from http://www.toastmasterspodcast.com/index.php/rss feed/114toastmasterspodcast088jonathanlitheexpressiveleader Dibble, J. L., Wisner, A. M., Dobbins, L., Cacal, M., Taniguchi, E., Peyton, A., & ... Kubulins, A. (2015). Hesitation to Share Bad News: ByProduct of Verbal Message Planning or Functional Communication Behavior?. Communication Research, 42(2), 213236. doi:10.1177/0093650212469401 Managing Conflict Resolution (n.d.). [Video file]. Retrieved from http://digital.films.com/PortalViewVideo.aspx?xtid=42092&loid=107356) Molinuevo, B., Escorihuela, R. M., Fernández.Teruel, A., Tobeña, A., & Torrubia, R. (2011). How we train undergraduate medical students in decoding patients' nonverbal clues. Medical Teacher, 33(10), 804807. doi:10.3109/0142159X.2011.588737 THE HOFSTEDE CENTRE. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://geerthofstede.com/unitedstates.html Wiedmer, T. L. (2010). Workplace bullying: Costly and preventable. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 77(2), 3541. Retrieved from the ProQuest database
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