communication Definition; What is Communication?


communication Definition; What is Communication?

In the simplest terms, communication is the act of transferring information from one place to another. However, when defined from the perspective of its processes, it becomes more complex. It can be said to be the activity of conveying information by the exchange of thoughts, information, and messages by speech, signals, visuals, writing or behaviour.

Communication can be verbal or non-verbal. Verbal communication, also referred to as spoken communication can be in form of a face to face encounter, over the telephone, via television, radio or any other medium that transmits a spoken form of message.non-verbal communication includes the use of gestures, body languages, the dressing code and even the scent. All these convey very significant information which at times speaks even louder than the verbal communication.

There are certain issues that individuals may fear communicating verbally due to intimidation or they just may not want to be hard speaking them out yet their actions can fundamentally convey aspects of the information. This is where non-verbal communication’s effectiveness comes in. there is also the written communication which may be in the form of letters, memos, reports, minutes, books, emails, internet and magazines. Another form of communication is the use of visuals such as graphs, maps, logos, charts among others. In all these forms, there must be a message being transmitted, the medium through which the information is transmitted, the information sender and the receiver.


  Elements of communication within an organization

The key elements of communication include the message, sender, receiver, encoding, decoding, the medium of transmission, and feedback. The message is the information that is being transmitted. For the communication to be effective, the message has to be very accurate, clear and correct. The central idea ought to be necessarily communicated very clearly so that the receiver is able to understand and utilize the content of the message.

The sender is the person who is transmitting the message. He is the one to determine the medium to use in sending the information. The sender is therefore very important in the process of communication since he is able to determine the success or failure of the communication. If the sender uses a wrong channel, the information may not reach the intended audience. Similarly, if he does not embrace the clarity of the ideas that are to be communicated, the information may get distorted and therefore not serve its intended purpose.

Encoding refers to the process of making the information understandable to the medium of communication and therefore the receiver. The sender has to encode the message so that it can be used effectively to serve its purpose by the receiver. All messages have to be encoded into a form which can easily be conveyed via the channel of communication that the sender chose.

This is an everyday activity that nearly everyone engages in this activity in everyday life as they transfer abstract thoughts to the spoken or written texts. Effective communicators do encode their messages with their intended receivers and the communication channel in mind.  For this to happen, there must be appropriateness in the use of language, conveyance of information simply and clearly, expecting and stamping out the possible causes of confusion or misunderstanding, and anticipating the receiver’s ability to decode the message. Successful encoding of the message is a very fundamental skill in effective communication.

The medium refers to the channel through which the message is transmitted to the receiver. The information could be transmitted through channels such as radio, the internet, and television. All these involve the use of a medium of communication. The channel of communication is also very significant in ensuring the effectiveness of the communication process. If the wrong channel is used, the communication is likely to fail.

Another key element is the receiver. This is the person to who the message is intended. His ability to decode the information easily and successfully determines the success of the communication. The sender should have this consideration in mind before sending the information. The receiver can also be referred to as the audience. If he cannot be able to decode and send feedback, the entire communication is a failure.

Decoding is the process whereby the receiver tries to understand the contents of the message. Once the message has been received, the receivers should decode it. Successful decoding is also a very vital skill.  Individuals usually decode and understand messages in various ways based on any barriers to effective communication which may be present, their experience and also the understanding of the message context, their psychological state, the time and place of receipt and many other potential factors at:

Another element is feedback. No communication is complete without the feedback. This is an acknowledgement that the message has been received and moving forward to exercise what the information requires.  The receiver of the message is likely to provide feedback on how he has understood the messages through both the verbal and the non-verbal reactions.

Effective communicators always pay close attention to the feedback since it the only way to find out whether the message has been understood as intended. It allows any confusion in the process of communication to be corrected promptly.  The extent and forms of feedback usually vary with the communication channel that has been utilized. For instance, the feedback involving a face to face or telephone conversation is prompt and very immediate. The feedback on messages conveyed by the radio or the television may be delayed and indirect or even transmitted through the other media, for instance, the internet.

Importance of communication at the workplace

Communication is very essential in the workplace. Without effective communication in an organization, several problems are bound to arise. As such, for any organization to realize its objectives effectively there ought to be effective communication.

Effective Communication is significant for managers in the organizations so as to perform the basic functions of management for instance planning, leading, organizing, and controlling. Communication assists managers in the performance of their jobs and responsibilities. Communication functions as a foundation for the process of planning. All the critical information has to be communicated to the managers who then must communicate the plans in order for them to be implemented. Organizing also needs effective communication with other people on issues regarding their job task. In the same vein, managers have to communicate effectively with subordinates for them to achieve organizational goals.

Controlling cannot be possible without either written or oral communication. Managers devote a lot of time in communication. They spend a wealth of time on the telephone or face-to-face communication with superiors, colleagues, suppliers and clients. They also use written communication in the form of reports, letters, memos in case oral communication is not possible. This is because they have acknowledged, understood and appreciated the fundamental role of communication to the realization of the organizational goals and objectives. Effective communication is indeed the building block of a successful organization or one that aspires to succeed. It acts as the lifeblood of the workplace.

Communication enhances motivation among employees in the workplace. Through communication, employees are able to be informed. The clarification of the tasks that they are supposed to perform in order to achieve the organizational set goals and objectives is also ensured by effective communication. The employees are also able to get information on how to improve their performance through the process of communication.

As a result, communication leads to motivated employees who are able, ready and willing to effectively discharge their duties and responsibilities effectively in order to meet the organizational goals and objectives. There is nothing as bad as demoralized employees in the workplace. With effective communication, this demoralization is effectively discouraged.

Communication provides information to the workers in the organization and other stakeholders on the decision making processes. This help in determining the alternative courses of action. As a result, the organization’s managers are able to make effective and informed decisions based on what can be considered as the best alternative among the various options. In addition, the decisions that have been made by the management at all levels are communicated to the stakeholders through communication whether through the use of emails, letters, and memos and even at meetings. This eliminates resistance and conflicts that may arise at the workplace if the information is not effectively communicated to all the stakeholders involved.

Communication plays an increasingly fundamental role in shaping the individual’s attitude in an organization. With effective communication, the employees are able to inculcate in themselves positive attitudes which can then propel the organization to greater heights of success. The use of organizational magazines, meetings, journals and other forms of written or oral communication are very crucial at altering the attitudes of the employees. They create in them the desire to identify with the organization. This fosters a very positive organizational culture which is a recipe for the attainment of the set goals and objectives of the organization.

Communication also aids in socialization among the members of the workplace. The presence of another individual fosters communication. The extent of socialization among the members of the workforce determines the type of culture that lies in that organization. Where there is little or no socialization, the staff tends to have a negative culture of neglecting each other. But where there are effective communications characterized by a lot of socialization, the staffs are likely to develop a positive work culture that involves love, peaceful coexistence and positive and sustainable social relationship among themselves.

Communication also plays a fundamental role in the process of controlling. It helps in controlling organizational member’s behaviours in several ways. There exist various levels of hierarchy and certain guidelines and principles which employees have to follow in an organization. They also have to comply with the policies of the organization, perform their jobs efficiently and also communicate any work problem or grievances to the managers.

Forms of communication

There are various forms of communication that can be adopted by an organization to transmit information among the internal clients including the employees and managers and the external clients, customers and other stakeholders including the government and the mass media.

First and foremost, there is the oral communication that involves the use of the word of mouth. Oral communication can exist in the form of face to face encounter where both the communicators are in close contact with each other and are able to easily and effectively clarify any form of ambiguity in the communication. Oral communication may also involve the use of a telephone where the communicators are distant.

The advantage of oral communication whether face-to-face or over the telephone is the fact that the feedback is prompt. The sender of the message is able to effectively gauge whether the receiver understands the contents of the information and make clarifications just in case there is no understanding. Oral communication may also result from the use of radio or television. In this case, the feedback may be indirect and delayed.

Another very significant form of communication is non-verbal communications. Non-verbal cues can be used solely or in combination with verbal communication. Non-verbal communication tends to be even more effective than verbal communication. It is able to express emotions that may be concealed in words. This form of communication makes use of gestures, body languages, facial expression, dressing and even the scent. Sometimes, just by seeing how someone is dressed, a communication occurs.

For example in an organization, when one sees individuals dressed in security uniforms, he knows without words that the person is part of the security personnel in that organization. In other words, the dressing code is able to communicate the roles of various members of the organization. Use of facial expressions can effectively communicate emotions that could otherwise be hidden in words. As such, non-verbal communication tends to be very effective and revealing much more than written and verbal communication can espouse.

Written communication can also be very important in an organization. Depending on the type of information to be communicated and the urgency of the communication, managers and other employees are able to make use of letters, reports, memos so as to communicate decisions and other management processes that should happen in the organization. In case there is a crisis, the organization can organize for a crisis meeting.

The best way of getting this information to the members of the organization is through writing either letters or memos inviting them to the meeting. Currently, the use of emails has been adopted by most organization. The information can be circulated quickly and cheaply through the use of electronic mails to the wider members of the organization including the stakeholders.

Use of visuals is yet another fundamental form of communication. In an organizational setup, charts can effectively be used to communicate complex processes and procedures in the performance of tasks. Maps can also be used to communicate the direction. This is particularly important especially for the potential clients who may wish to visit the organization. Graphs can be used to communicate the mathematical presentations and analysis of the tasks, efficiency, profits and other significant data that can be quantified in the organization. Organizational logos are very important trademarks with which the organization can uniquely and successfully market itself. They identify the organization uniquely setting it apart from other organizations that could be providing similar services and products.

Barriers to effective human communication

There are several actual and potential barriers to effective communication in organizations. These barriers can retard and distort the message or its intention resulting in a complete failure of the entire communication process. It may also lead to effects that might be very undesirable and not anticipated.

These include selective perception, filtering, information overload, language, emotions, gender differences, communication apprehension, and political correctness. Also involved here is lack of appropriate expression of knowledge in communication due to the use of ambiguous terms, medical jargon, complex legal terms and description of circumstances, situations and environments that the recipient is not well versed with The following barriers can lead to communication failure or breakdown

 Physical barriers

The physical barriers to communication are normally as a result of the nature of the environment under which the communication occurs. For example, the barrier may be natural in the sense that the staff of the organization may be located at different places and in different buildings. Furthermore, poor, and outdated equipment arising from the lack of goodwill on the management to introduce modern technology to aid in communication can also pose significant communication barriers.

The shortage of staff is yet another case of physical communication barrier. When the staffs are not adequate, there is the frequency of communication difficulty in the organization. Other significant physical barriers include the cases of background noise, poor lighting, and the temperatures of the environment, especially where it is too hot or too cold. These entire have the potential to distract the attention of the people involved in the communication process thereby fundamentally reducing their concentration.

System design faults

In a technology-intensive organization where information and communication technologies are effectively used for communication, the system design faults can cause serious barriers to the communication process. These faults refer to problems that affect the structures or systems established in an organization. For instance, an organizational structure that is unclear can make it confusing to ascertain who should be communicated to. Inefficient and inappropriate information systems in place, lack of training and supervision and inadequate clarity on the roles and responsibilities can breed staffs that are not sure of what is expected of them

Attitudinal barriers

These barriers have to do with the problems that face the staff of the organization. They may be brought about by issues such as poor management and leadership styles that make the staff demoralized. When the staff is not motivated, there result in significant problems with communication. They lose focus, get easily irritated and rarely concentrate on the organizational goals and objectives. This becomes a very huge blow to the process of communication in the organization.

As a result, they start developing very negative attitudes towards the organization. When the management makes a decision without consulting the staff, for instance, the communication of such decisions is likely to be met with the wrong attitude and may fail as a result. Personal problems involving the employees themselves can also be a fundamental communication barrier within the organization. Besides, the dissatisfaction of employees resulting from inadequate training and orientation can also make them develop very negative attitudes towards the organization thereby interfering with the process of communication a great deal.

The ambiguity of words or phrases

Sometimes, when words that sound the same are used, the intended meaning in a communication process becomes distorted. Again, using phrases that may mean more than one concept may also mislead the recipient. This leads to feedbacks that are not anticipated since the process of communication has been impaired.  The communicator, therefore, has the initiative to ensure that the recipient receives the right and the intended information. The best option in such circumstances is to avoid ambiguous words and replacing them with alternatives that are able to preserve the intended meaning of the communication. Otherwise, when such ambiguous words are constantly used, they pose serious barriers that interfere with the message.

Individual linguistic ability

Individual linguistic ability can prove to be a very serious barrier to communication, especially where verbal communication is used. The use of difficult jargon or inappropriate words in communication can thwart the understandability of the information. When the message is poorly explained due to language barriers and poor linguistic skills, confusion is very likely to occur. This becomes a very effective barrier in the process of communication.

 Physiological barriers

Psychological barriers can result from an individual’s personal discomfort. This may be caused by illnesses, poor eyesight especially where non-verbal communication is involved and the recipient cannot be able to see the gestures, facial expressions. Hearing disabilities can also interfere with face-to-face communication, television or radio communications and that which is done over the telephone.

Reasons for communication breakdown

Communication breakdown often occurs in organizations due to a number of factors. Firstly, the breakdown can come as a result of the difference in perceptions of the members of the organization. Every employee has a unique personality and therefore unique kind of perceptions. The way the employees and other stakeholders of an organization see themselves and how they perceive each other can cause a breakdown in communication. When a certain group of workers feel less valued by another department, they are likely to have communication with that department. Conflicting views over issues in the organization may also cause significant problems in communication especially in a situation where both the groups involved fail to reach a compromise. These breakdowns disrupt the business of the organization.

Another cause of communication breakdown is a distraction in the workplace. Distractions may be caused by loud traffics, bad lightings, and even radio. These aspects hamper the communication process by impairing the concentration of the parties involved in the communication process. They cause inadequate attention which may ultimately lead to misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the conveyed message. Requests and needs of the communication can also be easily forgotten or lost in the shuffle.

Communication breakdown may also result from complex organizational structures. This is even more evident where there are tall structures that lead to high hierarchies and numerous layers of management. The results of such complexity are very disastrous to the effectiveness of communication. Flattened structures are better when it comes to effectiveness and efficiency in organizational communication.

Stress or emotional environment can also be a fundamental cause of the breakdown of communication in an organization. This is because where emotions fly high and the environment is engulfed in constantly stressing circumstances and situations, the relationships and interactions between the workers become strained. As a result, the communication is dealt a major blow.

Furthermore, the lack of a clear, effective business plan for events and other circumstances that could be considered extraordinary may create problems with employee communication when unaccepted events occur. The employees may not know how to respond to such disasters. This hinders communication a great deal.

Application of communication in conflict resolution

In any organization, there will always be problems leading to conflicts between the various employees. This could result from the pursuance of different interests. Conflict resolution strategies should, therefore, be established so that such scenarios can be effectively dealt with when they occur. Whether or not the conflicts will be solved soundly, successfully and amicably, depend on the communication and its effectiveness in the organization.

The conflict must be communicated to the parties that are trying to find ways to the solution. The solution to the conflict may also depend on options that can only be obtained with efficient communication. The conflicting parties within the organization must also be informed about the approaches to resolving the conflict and why it is important that the conflict is resolved. All the information involved must be communicated.

In fact, effective communication in an organization is a tool to even prevent conflicts from occurring. However, even when they occur, it is only communication that can help resolve them. Since communication is able to shape the perceptions of people, establish good social relationships, it can fundamentally be used to bring conflicting groups into a sustainable and healthy social relationship again. It can alter the notions that bring about the conflict thereby amicably addressing and solving the conflict that may threaten the peaceful and harmonious existence of the organization.

Realization of the organizational goals and objectives is absolutely difficult when the organization is constantly ravaged by conflicts and misunderstanding. Effective measures must, therefore, be put in place to ensure that the voices of conflict do not tear the organization apart.


Information is power. Communication ensures that this power is distributed to individual, groups and societies. Whether verbal, non-verbal, written or visualized, communication is the most fundamental tool that an organization aspiring to succeed can have. In management, staff motivation and all the aspects of the organization, communication plays a role. Planning, controlling, organizing and controlling are absolutely impossible in an organization without effective communication.

Owing to the great importance of communication in an organization, the message sender must be very careful to ensure that the right information is sent to the right person at the right time using the right medium. The recipient ought to successfully decode the message and send feedback to the sender to complete the process of this significant tool in an organization. The information ought to be very accurate and relevant. It should be reliable and in line with the objectives of the organization.

The barriers to effective communication in an organization such as system design faults, physical barriers and all the issues that may cause a breakdown in organizational communication should be effectively dealt with. Organizations should establish reliable and efficient information systems to minimize the system faults that could minimize communication. The management should also be keen on ensuring that the employees do not feel undervalued thereby eliminating any negative attitudes that are likely to interfere with organizational communication. Choice of words should be such that it discourages the possibility of ambiguity thereby making the recipient get the right information and acting on the basis of such information.

The role of communication in conflict resolution in organizations cannot be underestimated. As such effective strategies to fostering efficient and effective communication among the various stakeholders should be ensured so that any disagreements and conflicts can be dealt with appropriately and promptly.

Managers have to appreciate the increasing role of communication in organizations and take the opportunity to enhance the strategies that make it effective so that the numerous benefits are reaped at all levels of management. Communication is perhaps the only way to revive an organization that is declining in terms of market size or reputation. It can be used to market such an organization and bring it back to relevance. In contemporary society, no organization can succeed without communication.


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