Communication in a business plays an invaluable role and forms the very existence of business. Virtually, everything in the universe including inanimate things, do communicate. Communication is crucial in the sense that it is the very means by which individuals in a business enterprise do pass along their intentions. These intentions by a particular person could be directed towards another individual within the organization or outside the organization. In essence, communication in business is inevitable. Similarly, departments within a business entity do communicate at various times with respect to daily activities in the firm as well as in relation to the outside world. In particular, business organizations need to communicate with outside entities such as governments and other regulatory agencies as well as suppliers and similar businesses. Communication could take various shapes. It could be horizontal whereby persons or departments at the same level or rank do communicate. This is the case where members of staff engage in communication in the performance of a general goal. Communication may also be vertical or hierarchical where a junior employee communicates with a senior official. This may be the case where there is a communication of an order or directive, briefing of a meeting or supervision. Communication in business may also be formal as opposed to informal. In a regular mode of communication, the correspondence follows the official mode and this is usually the norm especially with respect to business meetings.
Significance of Communication within a firm
Whatever mode or means of communication employed by a business organization, there is a need to ensure that such communication takes place effectively and in good time. Any misunderstanding between the sender of the message and the recipient, results in communication breakdown which is often harmful to the business. It is also significant to take cognizance of the fact that communication in a business organization may be in the form of rumors or grapevine among members of staff. This portends the difficult and delicate nature of communication which needs to be carefully guarded to ensure that it fulfills its purpose. In fact, various roles of management in a business organization are not possible without effective communication. Some of the essential functions of management include planning, budgeting, monitoring, coordination, organizing, staffing, delegation and production. Other roles of management that cannot do without communication include marketing, purchasing, selling and research and development. All these functions are only achievable through communication. Further, the main essence of meetings that are at the epicenter of all business organizations, is communication. Indeed, members of a business organization get together in a meeting so as to communicate. In a meeting, the targets of a business are laid, the goals to be achieved are set and the means by which to achieve them are discussed. It, therefore, follows that communication of ideas in a meeting need be well understood default of which there will be a mess at the workplace as well as unmet objectives. Equally significant is the fact that both senders as well as the recipients of the message who are in communication need to have good communication skills so as to enable understanding.
In the same vein, communication is the kernel of any business organization whatever its size. A large multinational corporation with offices and staff in different countries need effective communication albeit in a larger scale, as is a small business entity. Owing on this premise that communication is such an essential feature for the thriving of business, it becomes imperative to examine communication breakdown that may result in an organization as well as the remedies that may be available. In addition, it will be crucial to explore the likely impact of communication breakdown in a business. A general communication breakdown occurs in a telephone call when an individual (in business) fails to take a telephone call thus causing a breakdown in communication. Indeed, the tendency to fail to take telephone calls either from other staff or customers puts a dent on the performance and integrity of a business. It is a mark of absence of general courtesy and professionalism to fail to pick telephone calls from whatever persons. The general trend of letting phone mails to respond to calls contributes to breakdown in communication. As a technological feature meant to improve communication, it has been used by persons to advance the very antithesis of its purpose. A solution to this breakdown in communication would be setting up an assistant to answer calls or checking the phone mail, for messages at least once a day and returning calls accordingly. While exploring communication breakdown in business, it is critical to examine the communication barriers that exist in communication as they constitute a key cause of communication breakdown.
Communication Barriers that Lead to Communication Breakdown
One of the barriers to communication that affect or interrupt the flow of communication thus resulting in breakdown of communication is individual perception as well as differences in language. This is crucial in modern day business and especially in multinational corporations where persons in business interact with other staff, customer and suppliers from different cultures and who have different perceptions and language about particular persons and things. Perception refers to the interpretation accorded by an individual to things and persons around him or her. Just like perception, language barrier may cause a breakdown in communication. For instance, a particular word may connote different meanings to an individual thus inhibiting the understanding of that particular person. Another barrier is that of information overload where managers and other business executives find themselves surrounded by large pools of information. In such an instance, if a manager is unable to control the flow of information, there is the danger that such information will be overlooked, forgotten or misconstrued thereby causing communication breakdown. Inattention is also a factor that acts as a barrier to effective communication which presents itself when a recipient of a message or information is not keen. An intended recipient may well listen to another but fail to capture the message conveyed for want of attentiveness. A case in point would be where a superior engrossed in a particular duty or paper is explained about a particular fact critical to the business by a subordinate but fails to get the message conveyed. There results a communication breakdown which could be costly to the business. Time constraints also pose a barrier to effective communication since most businesses work under tight deadlines and under pressure to deliver results expeditiously. In most of the cases, organizations are required to deliver results within a set period of time and in such delivery, meet targets as stipulated. It may happen that owing to the hastiness related to the need to meet deadlines, formal channels that are used in communication are evaded and messages are conveyed partially thereby inhibiting proper flow of communication. Such a move would have an adverse effect on the business as the customer would get substandard service thus tainting the name of the business and resulting in possible sanctions and loss of goodwill. Distraction and noise also stands as a barrier to communication causing breakdown. These distractions could be by way of physical distractions such as unhygienic room, poor lighting and uncomfortable sitting. Loudspeakers and other forms of public address systems interfere with communication.
Another barrier to communication that may lead to a breakdown in communication is poor retention of the human memory of the persons concerned. It is trite that human memory usually functions only to a set limit. A recipient who is disinterested with particular information may not retain it thus causing a misapprehension of the same. Communication breakdown in business could also come by way of complexity or bureaucracy in the structure of a business organization. A business which has several hierarchies or managerial levels avails many opportunities for the destruction or breakdown in communication which may result from distortion. Further, in most instances, persons at the top level of management in an organization envision the whole organization while persons at the lower level of an organization are usually familiar with their small area of jurisdiction. The emotional state of an individual at a particular point in time affects communication in the sense that an angry person may interpret information out of ill-will or malice and thus fail to construe its intended or real meaning.
As clearly evident, breakdown in communication causes financial losses to business and consequent loss of business besides inconveniencing customers, suppliers and other related parties. Without doubt, it is possible to avoid communication breakdown and consequently escape all the negative effects that come with it. Advancement in technology and the emergence of modern communication devices have enhanced communication as between and within business organizations. One of the ways of avoiding a breakdown in communication is the use of written communication to inform business stakeholders of developments and other crucial updates relating to business. This could happen by way of in house magazines, the intranet, a newsletter, email or text messaging. Written communication helps deal with the usual problem caused by oral modes of communication. In order to avoid a breakdown in communication, it is essential to avoid making assumptions of statements made as such is likely to impede the flow of information. Also, the role of non-verbal cues cannot be ignored since the manner in which an individual says or communicates usually has an effect on how such communication is received. In this respect, the tone of language used as well as the body language conveys a particular message which may be misconstrued if not taken within its context. Just like speaking a lot may cause a breakdown in communication, so can keeping silent. Remaining silent on the part of a party in a business organization probably due to a disagreement does not resolve a situation. This is regularly the case especially among staff or between a boss and workers thus creating a tense situation. Silent treatment on a party tends to build up resentment as between the parties thereby causing a bad atmosphere within an organization where effective communication cannot thrive. A back up plan to cater for breakdowns in machines and technology, which happens mostly by way of power failures, should also be put in place more so in institutions that are virtually dependent on technology.
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