By the end of the topic, the learner should be able to: a) explain the meaning and importance of communication b) describe the lines of communication c) explain the essence of effective communication d) discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each means of communication e) discuss the factors that influence the choice of an appropriate means of communication f) identify the barriers to effective communication g) discuss services that facilitate communication h) discuss trends in communication.
Meaning of communication
Note: The space between the sender (s) and the receiver (s) maybe as narrow as when people are talking to each other or as wide as between the North Pole and the South Pole.
Effective communication is vital/important for business in that it serves the following purposes.
Importance of communication (purposes)
To give and obtain information
For an organization to run smoothly, there should be a proper flow of information within the business and also between the firm and outsiders e.g. the manager may inform members of staff about a planned meeting. Similarly, the business may receive a letter of inquiry from a customer
To clarify issues and points
Through proper communication, the organization is able to clarify confusing issues from within and without the firm for example in cases where there are many managers. It would be necessary to clarify the responsibilities of each manager.
To enhance public relations
Good/efficient communication enables the business to create a more positive image and a favourable reputation of itself to outsiders and overcome prejudices and negative attitudes that people may have against the business.
To start and influence Action
Proper communication enables the business to get new ideas make plans and ensure that they are implemented in the desired way.
Communication is a process that involves an interchange of information and ideas between two or more people. Communication, therefore, is a circular process i.e communication may lead to some reaction which in turn may generate further communications or feedback. This flow can be illustrated as below:
Lines of communication
Communication can be classified according to either the levels of the communicating parties or according to the nature of the message.
According to levels-This can either be:
This is where messages are passed between a senior and her/his juniors in the same organizations
Vertical communication can be divided into two parts
-Downward communication-This is a communication process that starts from the top manager to her/his juniors. This can be informed of:
-Upward communication-This is a communication process that starts from the juniors to the seniors and maybe in the form of:
ii) Horizontal communication (lateral communication)
This is communication between people of the same level (rank) in the same organization e.g. departmental heads in an organization may communicate to achieve the following:
One of the major characteristics of this type of communication is that there are fewer inhibitions. The people involved are more open and free with each other than in the case of people with different ranks.
iii) Diagonal communication
This is communication between people of different levels in different departments or different organizations e.g. an accounts clerk may communicate with a sales manager of the same organization or of different organizations. Diagonal communication enhances teamwork.
b) According to the nature of the message
This can either be;
i) Formal communication
ii) Informal communication
This is the passing of messages or information using the approved and recognized way in an organization such as official meetings, memos and letters. This means that messages are passed to the right people following the right channels and in the right form.
Formal communication is also known as official communication as it is the passing of information meant for office purposes.
Formal systems of communication are consciously and deliberately established.
This is communication without following either the right channels or in the right form i.e. takes place when information is passed unofficially. It is usually used when passing information between friends and relatives hence it lacks formality.
Informal communication may also take the form of gossips and rumour-mongering.
Informal communication usually supplements formal communication as is based on social relations within the organization.
Note: Both formal and informal communication is necessary for effective communication in an organization.
Essentials of Effective communication
For communication to be effective it must be originated produced transmitted received understood and acted upon. The following are the main essentials to effective communications.
i) The sender/communicator
This is the person from whom the message originates. He/she encodes the message i.e. puts the message in the communicative form.
This is the information to be sent. It is the subject matter of communication and may contain words, symbols, pictures or some other forms which will make the receiver understand the message
iii) Encoding; This is the process of expressing ones ideas in form of words, symbols, gestures and signs to convey a message
iv)Medium/channel; This refers to the means used in communicating. This could be in the form of letters, telephones and emails among others.
v)The receiver; This is the person for whom the message is intended. The receiver decodes the message for proper understanding.
vi)Decoding; This is the process of interpreting or translating the encoded message to derive the meaning from the message
vii) Feedback; This refers to the reaction of the receiver of the message. This may be a reply /response which the receiver sends back to the sender.
The above can be represented in a diagram as shown below;
FORMS AND MEANS OF COMMUNICATION
Forms; These are channels or ways of passing on messages. The four main forms are:
i) Oral communication
ii) Written communication
iii )Audiovisual communication
iv) Visual communication
Means; This is the device used to pass on information e.g. messages, letters, telephones e.t.c
This is where information is conveyed by talking (word of mouth)
It is also known as verbal communication
Means of communication
i) Face-to-face conversation
This involves two or more people talking to each other. The parties are usually near each other as much as possible to ensure effective communication.
It is suitable where the subject matter of discussion requires convincing persuasion and immediate feedback.
It may be used during meetings, interviews, seminars, private discussions, classrooms e.t.c
It is the most common means of oral communication
Advantages of face-to-face communication
Disadvantages of face-to-face communication
This form of communication is commonly used in offices and homes. It is useful in sending messages quickly over short and long distances.
It is however not suitable for sending;
In Kenya, telephone services are mainly provided by Telkom Kenya Limited. The subscriber is required to purchase the telephone equipment from the post office or other authorized dealers before installation.
Installation is done on the application by the subscriber (applicant).He/she pays the installation fee in addition; the subscriber is sent a monthly bill with the charges for all the calls made during the month.
The charges for calls depend on the time spent time of the day of the week and distance of the recipient from the caller e.g. it is cheaper to call at night than during the day. It is also cheap to make calls during public holidays and weekends than on weekdays.
There are also mobile phones which have no physical line connection to exchange and may be fixed to a vehicle or carried in pockets. In Kenya, these services are provided by Safaricom, Airtel, orange and Yu mobile communications.
Advantages of Telephones
Disadvantages of Telephone
Reasons why mobile phones have become popular
This involves transmitting information by use of radio waves i.e. without connecting wires between the sender and the receiver
The device used is called a radiotelephone. It is commonly used in remote areas where normal telephone services are lacking or where telephone services are available but cannot be conveniently used e.g. policemen on patrol in different parts of a town
Radio transmission is a one-way communication system i.e. only one person can speak at a time. It is therefore necessary for the speaker to say over to signal the recipient that the communication is through so that the recipient can start talking. To end the conversation, the speaker says ‘over and out’
The radio calls are commonly used by the police, game rangers, researchers, foresters, ship owners and hotels situated in remote areas. They are also used for sending urgent messages such as calling for an ambulance and fire brigade
Note; Radio calls are not confidential since they use sound frequencies that can be tapped by any radio equipment that is tuned to that frequency
Advantages of Radio calls
Disadvantages of Radio calls
This is a means of communication used to locate staff or employers who are scattered in an organization or who are outside and need to be located urgently
When within the organization portable receivers, lighted signals, bells, loudspeakers etc are used
When outside the organization employees are contacted using portable receivers (pocket-size) used to send messages through SMS (short message services)
The paying system can only be used within a certain radius. When using a portable receiver, the caller will contact the subscriber by calling the post office which will then activate the pager.
The subscriber is then informed to contact the originator of the message.
Paging is mostly used in emerging cases
Usually, messages intended for a wide audience can be transmitted through a radio more quickly and economically than by using other forms of communication.;`
Radio is used for different reasons apart from advertising e.g for formal notices, and venue for activities
Advantages of oral/verbal communication
Disadvantages of oral/verbal communication
This involves the transmission of messages through writing. It is the most formal way of communication because the information is in recorded form and can be used for reference
Means of written communication
Letters are the most commonly used means of communication.
There are two categories of letters;
b) Informal letters
a)Formal letters; These include business letters and official letters.
Business letters are written to pass messages and information from businessmen to customers and vice versa e.g. letters of inquiry and acknowledgement notes.
It can also be used between employees and employers in an organization e.g. a complimentary note.
Official letters are letters between people in authority and others that touch on the activities of the organization e.g. an application letter for an advertised vacancy in an organization.
Formal letters have a salutation clause which usually starts with “Dear Madam “or “Dear Sir”. It also bears the addresses of both the sender and the recipient, a subject heading and a complimentary clause ending with “Yours faithfully”.
b) Informal Letters; These are letters between friends and relatives
They are also known as Personal letters
This is a means of communication provided by the post office. The sender obtains the telegram form from the post office and fills the message on it in capital letters and hand it over to the post office employees at the counter. Alternatively, the sender may use a telephone to read the message to the post office. The post office then transmits the message to the recipient post office.
The charges of a telegram are based on the number of words used, the more the words used the higher the charges. However, there is a standing charge.
Telegrams are used for sending urgent messages.
Note; Due to changing technology, telegrams have lost popularity. Short messages can now be sent by cell phones (mobile phones) using the short messages services (SMS)
This is a means of communication used to send short or detailed messages quickly by the use of a teleprinter. The service is provided by the post office on application.
A message is sent by use of two teleprinters one on the sender's end and another on the recipient's end. When sending information through a teleprinter which is a form of electric typewriter producing different electric signals, its keys are pressed and automatically the message is printed at the recipient’s machine.
Telex saves time for both the sender and recipient as the messages are brief precise and received immediately. However, it’s an expensive means of communication
iv) Facsimile (Fax)
This involves the transmission of information through a fax machine. Both the sender and the receiver must have a fax machine. These machines are connected using telephone lines
Fax is used to transmit printed messages such as letters, maps, diagrams and photographs. To send the information, one dials a fax number of the required destination and then the document is fed into the sender’s machine. The receiving machine reproduces the document immediately. It is used for long-distance photocopying service.
This is printed information for internal messages within an organization. It is normally used to pass information between departments or offices in an organization.
Memoranda have no salutation or complimentary clause. They are suitable for informing the officers within an organization of matters related to the firm.
A memo is pinned on the notice board of an organization if it is meant for everybody otherwise passed to the relevant staff.
This is a written communication used to inform a group or the public about past current or future events. It is usually brief and to the point. It can be placed on walls, in public places, on trees, in newspapers or on notice boards.
These are statements/within records of findings recommendations and conclusion of an investigation/research. A report is usually sent to someone who has asked for it for a specific purpose.
These are many copies of a single letter addressed to very many people when the message intended for each is the same.
This is an outline of the items to be discussed in a meeting. It is usually contained in a notice to a meeting sent in advance to all the participants of the meeting. The notice of the meeting contains;
These are records of the proceedings of a meeting. Keeping minutes of certain meetings is legal requirements e.g. companies
Keeping minutes for other meetings are for management purposes to ensure that decisions made at the meetings are implemented
Advantages of written communication
Disadvantages of written communication
3) Visual Communication
This is the process of passing information by use of diagrams, drawings pictures, signs, and gestures e.t.c
A photograph is an image (visual representation of an object as it appeared at the time when the photograph was taken
Photographs are self-explanatory and may not be accompanied by any narration or explanation. The recipient is able to get the message at a glance.
Refer to marks, symbols, drawings or gestures whose purpose is to inform the public about such things as directions, distances, dangers and ideas.
Examples; road signs, traffic lights and danger signs on electricity poles
This means of communication can only be effective if the meaning of the sign used is understood.
Graphs; These are used to show and illustrate statistical information
Charts; These are diagrams that show or illustrate the flow of an idea e.g. an organization chart illustrates the whole organization structure indicating the chain of command
Advantages of visual communication
The information may be obtained at once
Disadvantages of visual communication
4) Audio-Visual communication
This is a form of communication in which messages are sent through sounds and signs.
This form of communication ensures that the receiver gets the message instantly.
It is suitable where both the sender and the receiver know the meaning of specific sounds and signs.
Means of Audio-visual communication
Television can be a very suitable means of sending urgent messages especially when it gives live coverage of events.
Advantages of Audio-visual communication
Disadvantages of Audio-visual communication
This is when the message is transmitted through sounds. Examples include
Other methods of audio communication include drums, alarms, and bells among others
Advantages of Audio communication
Disadvantages of Audio communication
FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING MEANS OF COMMUNICATION
Paging and sirens are suitable for short distances. For long distances, fax letters, telephone, e-mail may be appropriate
BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION
Communication is said to be complete only when the recipient gets the message the way the sender intends it to be. When information is not received the way it was intended then it has been distorted. Distortion of a message is brought about by some communication barriers which may exists in the path of the message between the sender and the recipient. Some of these barriers are:
I. Language used:the language used by the sender should be known (understood) by the recipient so that communication can take place
II. Poor Listening: the effectiveness of communication will depend on the willingness of the recipient to listen keenly .listening require careful attention and concentration. It may however be the task of the sender of the message to attempt to gain the attention of the listener. Through his/her choice of words and expression among others.
III. Negative Attitude: Attitude refers to the feelings of the communicating parties towards each other. It is important that there exists a mutual feeling of trust and respect between the parties concerned in order to avoid bias . If there is mistrust and prejudice then there may be deliberate or unintentional misunderstanding of the message involved.
IV. Poor Timing: poor timing leads to a breakdown in communication, therefore for effective communication to take place the message must be sent and received at an appropriate time, eg a message sent when one is in a hurry may not be properly received or delivered
V. Wrong medium: the medium used to communicate must be appropriate for the message being conveyed otherwise there may breakdown in communication e.g. one may not convey a confidential message over the telephone effectively
VI. Prejudgment: our understanding of the message is often conditional by our earlier experiences and knowledge this may make one individual draw premature conclusion e.g. a student who always fail in a subject and this time round has improve may be failed by the teacher because he has always failed in the past .
VII. Ambiguities: it occurs when the sender express in a manner which leads to wrong interpretation. When the receiver interprets the message differently it automatically leads to communication breakdown.
VIII. Emotional responses: emotional responses such as those resulting from hunger or excitement may lead to distortion of message.
IX. Unclear System within the organization: if the channels of passing information in an organization are not clear then the message will not get to the right people for whom the messages intended
X. Noise: it refers to any disturbing sounds which interfere with concentration or listening ability of the recipient of the message the presence of noise may make it impossible for any message to be received in the right way.
XI. Unfamiliar Non-verbal signals: lack of understanding of non-verbal sign may be a barrier to effective communication.
SERVICE THAT FACILITATES COMMUNICATION
Services that facilitate communication include:
This refers to handling of letters and parcels. They are offered by organizations such as postal corporation of Kenya (P.C.K) securicorl courier and Document handling Limited (D.H.L)
Some of the services offered by the postal corporation include:
Speed post: This is service offered by the post office to send correspondence and parcels to a destination in the shortest time possible. The post office uses the quickest means of transport available to deliver the mail.
The sender pays the normal postage fee plus a fee for special service. An example of such a service is Expedited Mail Service(EMS) speed post
These include surface mail and airmail.
Surface Mail: These include letters and parcels delivered by road, rail, water and hand.
AirMail: This consists of letters and light parcels delivered by air.
An express mail is/must be presented at the post office counter by the sender and the envelope clearly addressed and a label with the word “express” affixed. Normal postage plus an extra fee (commission) is charged
The mail is delivered to the receivers nearest post office from where the post office makeS arrangements to deliver the mail to the receiver within the shortest time possible.
NOTE: For speed post special arrangements to deliver the mail start at the sender’s post office whereas express mail, the arrangements start at the addressers post office.
Under this arrangement when addressing the letter, the words poste Restante must be written on the envelope clearly. The addressee must identify himself/herself when collecting the correspondence from the post office.
There is no additional charge made apart from normal postage charges. This service can only be offered for three months in the same town
This service is offered by the post office for sending articles of value for which security handling is required. A registration fee and a commission is paid. The commission depends on the weight of the article and the nature of registration. The sender is required to draw a horizontal and a vertical line across the faces of the envelope.
A certificate of registration is given to the sender. In case of loss, the sender may be paid compensation on production of the certificate of registration.
A green card is sent to the recipient. The card bears his name and the post office at which the mail was registered. The recipient will be required to identify himself before being allowed to possess the mail.
Items that may be registered include jewels, certificate, land title deeds e.t.c.
Business Reply Service; This is a service offered by the post office to business firms on request. The firm pays some amount to the post office and an account is then opened from which posted charges are deducted.
The service is useful/more common with firms which would like to encourage their customers to reply their letters. Customers are issued with reply card envelopes (or envelopes marked ‘postage paid’)
They can send letters to the business by using these envelopes/the card. The customers then place the card/envelope in the post box and the firm's post office branch will deduct postage charges from the lump sum amount.
These are services where a service provider receives transports and delivers parcels or important documents to destinations specified by customers in return for payment of fees or charges.
Examples; Akamba bus service, Securicor courier services e.t.c
Telkom Kenya, through the post office, provides telephone services which offer direct contact between people who are far apart. It makes conversation between people at any distance possible, as long as there are transmission facilities between them. Urgent matters can be discussed and consultations can take place so that instant decision or actions are taken. The telephone assists organizations to establish a fast and convenient machinery for its internal and external communication network.
These are hand held telephones with digital links that use radio waves. They are sometimes called cell phones since they use power stored in a dry cell
In Kenya mobile phone services are provided by Safaricom Ltd.(a subsidiary of Telkom Kenya)and Airtel communications Ltd(formally Kencel Communication Ltd)which is a joint venture between a French company and a Kenyan company, yu mobile services and Orange mobile services . This sector therefore greatly benefits from foreign investment to improve services.
The use of this service is popular. Apart from the provision of telecommunication service, cell phones have different attractive features or services such as short messages service (SMS) whereby a caller can send a written message. Recent models of mobile phones enable the user to access the internet and send e-mail messages
iii) Broadcasting services
Communication Commission of Kenya is a regulatory body that receives applications and issues licences for radio and television broadcasting stations.
Radio broadcasting is a very important mode of giving news and information to people in the whole world.
The liberalization of the communications sector in Kenya in 1999, Kenya has witnessed a mushrooming of F.m. Stations which are owned by private sector operators e.g. Kiss Radio, Easy fm, Classic FM, Family FM, Kamemee. e t.c
They have helped to spread news and information countrywide. Before liberalization, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) radio was operating as a state-owned monopoly.
Television broadcasting (telecasting) does not reach as wide an audience as radio broadcasting in Kenya. It however serves the same purpose of relaying news and information to Kenyans. Both radio and television stations are widely used for advertising purposes.
The T.V subsector has been liberalized since 1999 and a number of privately owned stations have emerged e.g. Kenya Television Network (KTN) Nation Television, Family T.V etc. Prior to that time KBC television was in operation as a state-owned monopoly.
Other services that facilitate communication
Current trends and Emerging issues in communication
With the advancement of information technology (I.T) there has been a lot of revolution in communication.
The following are some of the current trends and emerging issues in communication;
These are privately owned kiosks where telephone services are sold. The owner of the kiosk must get authority from the service provider in order to run the bureau. The individual wishing to use the services of the bureau makes payments to the owner of the service. Other services offered by the bureau include selling of scratch cards for mobile telephones and credit cards for landline telephone services.
These are handheld telephones with digital links that use radio waves. They have become an important business and social tool. This is because most people and traders want some flexibility to be able to communicate whenever they are.
Other reasons that have led to the popularity of cell phones include:
This is a service provided through the internet for sending messages.
It is similar to sending a letter through the postal system only that it is done electronically.
-Messages can be sent to anyone on the network, anywhere in the world. For this to take place, computers have to be connected to each other to form a network.
-To communicate, one is required to have an email address e.g. raeform2@ yahoo.com. Messages arrive at the e – mail address immediately after they are sent.
-It is only the addressee of the message who can retrieve the message since a password is required to access the mailbox.
-Email can also be used to send documents and photographs like certificates by scanning and attaching.
- More and more businesses are using e-Mail to communicate with other businesses, their customers and suppliers.
* QUESTION: OUTLINE THE ADVANTAGES OF USING EMAIL AS A MEANS OF COMMUNICATION.
The internet links computers all over the world. Written and oral information is transmitted on the internet through the use of telephone wires, fibre- optic cables and wireless devices.
The internet has changed the way people communicate in the following ways;
Move towards a paperless office
The future office will rely largely on computers. Most of the communication will be done through computers. This may result in less use of paper, hence the use of the term “the paperless office”.
Vi ) Decline in the use of postal services
The decline in the use of postal services is a result of the impact of the internet. E-mail has become a popular and preferred mode of communication since it is fast and cheap. However, ordinary mail/ use of postal services may not be completely phased out since the government, businesses and people do not regard an e-mail as a binding or formal communication.
Vii) Transformation of language
The language used to pass and receive messages has evolved through time. e.g the youth have adopted the use of “sheng” in exchanging messages. such language is largely understood by its youthful users. There is also the use of cell phones to send short text messages; which are highly abbreviated and may use slang whose meaning is only known to the users e.g ‘av a gr8 day’.
COMMUNICATION REVISION QUESTIONS
1. Define the term communication
-Communication is the process by which information is passed from one person or place to another.
2. Outline the role played by communication in any given organization
3. Briefly explain the following levels of communication
(a) Vertical communication
Involves the flow of information either downwards or upwards, for example, from a senior employee to a junior employee
(b) Horizontal communication
Is also referred to as lateral communication which is the passing of information between people of the same rank or status, for example from one departmental manager to another departmental manager
(c) Diagonal communication
Is communication of different people in different levels of management or departments for example a receptionist communicating to a production manager?
4. Distinguish between formal and informal communication
Formal communication is official and documented and follows certain rules for example a worker writing an official letter to an organization’s seniors. Informal communication does not conform to any time, for example communicating to friends and relatives.
5. State the essential elements in communication.
6. Highlight the various types of verbal communication
7. State the advantages and disadvantages of verbal communication
8. Outline the various barriers to effective communication
9. Highlight reasons that would make an organization use cell phones for communication within and outside the organization.
10. State the various types of written communication.
11. State the reasons why an organization would use written communication instead of verbal communication.
12. State the disadvantages of written communication
13. Outline the various means of visual communication
14. State the advantages and disadvantages of audio-visual of communication
15. Outline the various service that facilitates communication
16. State the various trends in communication
17. Highlight the factors to be considered when choosing a means of communication.
18. Advice Mary Wakio why she should not use telex to communicate to her friends
19. State circumstances when sign language can be the most appropriate form of communication
20. Explain four factors that have led to the popularity of mobile phones as a means of communication.