Chapter Twelve
Communicating in the
Internet Age
Chapter Objectives
• Identify each major link in the communication
process.
• Explain the concept of media richness and the
Lengel-Daft contingency model of media
selection.
• Identify the five communication strategies and
specify guidelines for using them.
• Discuss why it is important for managers to know
about grapevine and nonverbal communication.
• Explain ways in which management can
encourage upward communication.
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Chapter Twelve | 2
Chapter Objectives (cont’d)
• Identify and describe four barriers to
communication.
• List two practical tips for each of the three modern
communication technologies (e-mail, cell phones,
and videoconferences) and summarize the pros
and cons of telecommuting.
• List at least three practical tips for improving each
of the following communication skills: listening,
writing, and running a meeting.
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Chapter Twelve | 3
The Communication Process
• Communication
– The interpersonal transfer of information and
understanding from one person to another
• A linked social process of sender, encoding, medium,
decoding, receiver, and feedback
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Chapter Twelve | 4
Figure 12.1: The Basic
Communication Process
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Chapter Twelve | 5
Encoding
• Translating internal thought patterns into a
language or code the intended receiver of the
message will likely understand and/or pay
attention to
– Choice of words, gestures, or other symbols for
encoding depends on the nature of the message.
• Technical or nontechnical
• Emotional or factual
• Visual or auditory
– Cultural diversity can create encoding challenges.
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Chapter Twelve | 6
Selecting a Medium
– Face-to-face
conversations
– Telephone calls
– E-mails
– Memorandums
– Letters
– Computer reports
– Photographs
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• Bulletin boards
• Meetings
• Organizational
publications
• News releases
• Press conferences
• Advertising
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Selecting a Medium (cont’d)
• Moving between low- and high-context cultures
can create appropriate media selection problems.
– In low-context cultures, the verbal content of the
message is more important than the medium through
which it is delivered.
– In high-context cultures, the context (setting) in which
the message is delivered is more important than the
literal words of the message.
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A Contingency Approach (Lengel and Daft)
• Media richness: A given medium’s capacity to
convey information and promote learning
• Characteristics of rich mediums
– Provide simultaneous multiple information cues
– Facilitate immediate feedback
– Have a personal focus
• Characteristics of lean mediums
– Convey limited information (few cues)
– Provide no immediate feedback
– Impersonal by nature
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Chapter Twelve | 9
Figure 12.2: The Lengel-Daft
Contingency Model of Media Selection
Source: Robert H. Lengel and Richard L. Daft, “The Selection of Communication Media as an Executive Skill,” Academy of Management
Executive, 2 (August 1988): 226, 227, exhibits 1 and 2. Reprinted by permission.
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Chapter Twelve | 10
Decoding
• Successful decoding depends on the receiver
having:
– A willingness to receive the message
– Knowledge of the language and terminology used in the
message
– An understanding of the sender’s purpose and
background situation
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Chapter Twelve | 11
Feedback
• The choice factors for the form to provide
feedback are the same factors governing the
encoding process.
• Feedback affects the form and content of followup communication.
• Effective feedback is timely, relevant, and
personal.
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Chapter Twelve | 12
Noise
• Noise is any interference with the normal flow of
communication.
• Understanding decreases as noise increases.
• To deal with noise:
– Make messages more understandable.
– Minimize and neutralize sources of interference.
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Chapter Twelve | 13
Figure 12.3: Clampitt’s
Communication Process
Source: Philip G. Clampitt, Robert J. DeKoch, and Thomas Cashman, "A Strategy for Communicating about Uncertainty,"
ACADEMY OF MANAGEMENT EXECUTIVE, 14 (November 2000): 48. Copyright 2000 by Academy of Management.
Reproduced with permission of Academy of Management in the format Textbook via Copyright Clearance Center.
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Chapter Twelve | 14
Communication Strategies
• Spray & Pray
– Impersonal and one-way communications (lectures)
• Tell & Sell
– A restricted set of messages with explanations for their
importance and relevance
• Underscore & Explore
– Information and issues that are keys to organizational
success are discussed and explained.
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Communication Strategies (cont’d)
• Identify & Reply
– Responding to employee concerns about prior
organizational communications
• Withhold & Uphold
– Telling employees only what they need to know when
you think they need to know it
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Chapter Twelve | 16
Communication Strategies (cont’d)
• Seeking a Middle-Ground Communication
Strategy
– Avoid Spray & Pray and Withhold & Uphold.
– Use Tell & Sell and Identify & Reply sparingly.
– Use Underscore & Explore as much as possible.
• Merging Communication Strategies and Media
Richness
– Managers need to select the richest medium possible
when employing Tell & Sell, Identify & Reply, and
Underscore & Explore strategies.
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Chapter Twelve | 17
The Grapevine
• The grapevine is the unofficial and informal
communication system in an organization.
• Words of Caution About the E-Grapevine and
“Blogs”
– Web logs (“blogs,” or online diaries) vastly and instantly
extend the reach of the grapevine.
– Writers of blogs and senders of e-gossip leave
electronic trails that may prove embarrassing or worse
at a later date.
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The Grapevine (cont’d)
• Managerial Attitudes Toward the Grapevine
– Managers have predominately negative feelings about
the grapevine.
– The grapevine is more prevalent at lower levels of the
managerial hierarchy.
– The grapevine is likely to be more influential in larger
organizations.
– The grapevine can help managers learn how
employees truly feel about policies and programs.
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Chapter Twelve | 19
The Grapevine (cont’d)
• Coping with the Grapevine
– The grapevine cannot be extinguished.
– Attempts to stifle the grapevine are likely to stimulate it
instead.
– Monitoring and officially correcting grapevine
information is perhaps the best strategy for coping with
the grapevine.
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Chapter Twelve | 20
Nonverbal Communication
• Body Language
– Nonverbal communication based on facial expressions,
posture, and appearance
• Types of Body Language
– Facial
– Gestural
– Postural
• Receiving Nonverbal Communication
– Awareness of nonverbal cues can give insight into
deep-seated emotions.
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Chapter Twelve | 22
Nonverbal Communication (cont’d)
• Giving Nonverbal Feedback
– Nonverbal feedback from authority figures significantly
affects employee behavior.
– Positive feedback builds good interpersonal relations.
– Sensitivity and cross-cultural training can reduce
nonverbal errors when working with individuals from
other cultures.
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Chapter Twelve | 23
Upward Communication
• Upward Communication
– The process of encouraging employees to share their
feelings and ideas with management.
– Options for improving upward communication:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Formal grievance procedures
Employee attitude and opinion surveys
Suggestion systems
Open-door policy
Informal meetings
Internet chat rooms
Exit interviews
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Chapter Twelve | 24
Barriers to Communication
• Process Barriers
–
–
–
–
–
–
Sender barrier
Encoding barrier
Medium barrier
Decoding barrier
Receiver barrier
Feedback barrier
• Physical Barriers
– Devices and distance
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Chapter Twelve | 25
Barriers to Communication (cont’d)
• Semantic Barriers
– Misinterpretation of the meaning of words and phrases
by individuals
• Specialized occupational languages can create communication
problems with outsiders.
• Psychosocial Barriers
– Differing backgrounds, perceptions, values, biases,
needs, and expectations of individuals can block
communications.
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Chapter Twelve | 26
Barriers to Communication (cont’d)
• Sexist and Racist Communication
– Progressive and ethical managers are weeding sexist
and racist language out of their vocabularies and
correspondence to eliminate the demeaning of women
and racial minorities.
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Chapter Twelve | 27
Communicating in the Online Workplace
• Getting a Handle on E-Mail and Instant
Messaging
– Put short messages in the subject line.
– Be sparse with graphics and attachments.
• Hello! Can We Talk Cell Phone Etiquette?
– Advantages = mobility and convenience
– Disadvantages = distracted drivers and disturbing calls
in public places, with the risk of disclosing private
information
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Communicating in the Online Workplace
(cont’d)
• Videoconferences
– A live television exchange between people in different
locations
– Can reduce costly and possibly dangerous travel time
• Telecommuting
– Sending work to and from one’s office via a computer
modem while working at home
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Becoming a Better Communicator
• Effective Listening
– Tolerate silence; keep listening.
– Ask stimulating, open-ended questions.
– Encourage the speaker with attentive eye contact, alert
posture, and verbal encouragers.
– Paraphrase what you have just heard.
– Show emotion to show your sympathy with the speaker.
– Know your biases and prejudices.
– Avoid premature judgments.
– Summarize by reiterating what the speaker said.
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Chapter Twelve | 33
Becoming a Better
Communicator (cont’d)
• Effective Writing
–
–
–
–
Keep words simple.
Don’t sacrifice communication to rules of composition.
Write concisely.
Be specific.
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Chapter Twelve | 34
Becoming a Better
Communicator (cont’d)
• Purposes of Meetings
– Find facts.
– Solve problems.
– Pass along information.
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• Categories of
Meetings
–
–
–
–
Daily check-in
Weekly tactical
Monthly strategic
Quarterly off-site
Chapter Twelve | 35
Becoming a Better
Communicator (cont’d)
• Conducting Meetings
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
Meet for a specific purpose.
Distribute the agenda in advance of the meeting.
Communicate preparation expectations to attendees.
Limit attendance to essential personnel.
Open with a brief overview; review important items first.
Encourage participation but keep to the agenda.
Limit use of visual aids.
Clarify after-meeting action items.
Follow a specific start and end time and follow up.
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Chapter Twelve | 36
Terms to Understand
•
•
•
•
•
Communication
Media richness
Noise
Grapevine
Body language
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• Upward
communication
• Exit interview
• Semantics
• Videoconference
• Telecommuting
Chapter Twelve | 37
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