Research indicates that poor communication is probably the most frequently cited source of
interpersonal conflkt.2 Because individuals spend nearly 70 percent of their waking hours
communicating-writing, reading, speaking, listening-it seems reasonable to conclude that one of
the most inhibiting forces to successful group performance is a lack of effective communication.
No group can exist without communication: the transference of meaning among its members. It
is only through transmitting meaning from one person to another that information and ideas can
be conveyed. Communication, however, is more than merely imparting meaning. It must also be
understood. In a group in which one member speaks only German and the others do not know
German, the individual speaking German will not be fully understood. Therefore,
must include both the
transference and the understanding of meaning.
An idea, no matter how great, is useless until it is transmitted and understood by others. Perfect
communication, if there were such a thing, would exist when a thought or an idea was
transmitted so that the mental picture perceived by the receiver was exactly the same as that
envisioned by the sender. Although elementary in theory, perfect communication is never
achieved in practice, for reasons we shall expand on later in the chapter.
Before making too many generalizations concerning communication and problems in
communicating effectively, we need to review briefly the functions that communication performs
and describe the communication process.
FUNCTIONS OF COMMUNICATION
Communication serves four major functions within a group or organization: control, motivation,
emotional expression, and information. 3
Communication acts to
member behavior in several ways. Organizations have authority
hierarchies and formal guidelines that employees are required to follow. When employees, for
instance, are required to first communicate any job related grievance to their immediate boss, to
follow their job description, or to comply with company policies, communication is performing a
control function. But informal communication also controls behavior. When work groups tease
or harass a member who produces too much (and makes the rest of the group look bad), they are
informally communicating with, and controlling, the member's behavior.
by clarifying to employees what is to be done, how well they
are doing, and what can be done to improve performance if it's subpart. We saw this operating in
our review of goal-setting and reinforcement theories in Chapter 6. The formation of specific
goals, feedback on progress toward the goals, and reinforcement of desired behavior all stimulate
motivation and require communication.
For many employees, their work group is a primary source for social interaction. The