Lesson15TheCaseForAmbiguousCommunication

Lesson15TheCaseForAmbiguousCommunication - Lesson:-15 The...

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Lesson:-15 The Case for Ambiguous Communication The argument for mutual understanding and openness, while honorable, is incredibly naive. It assumes that communicators actually want to achieve mutual understanding and that openness is the preferred means toward that end. Unfortunately, that argument overlooks a very basic fact: It's often in the sender's and/or receiver's best interest to keep communication ambiguous. “Lack of communication" has become the explanation for every problem in an organization. If the newly II empowered" workforce is unmotivated, it's a communication problem. If the quality-improvement program fails to garner the promised benefits, it's a communication problem. If employees ignore or abuse customers despite training that instructs them otherwise, it's a communication problem. We're continually hearing that problems would go away if we could “just communicate better." Some of the" basic assumptions underlying this view need to booked at carefully. One assumption is that better communication will necessarily reduce strife and conflict. But each individual's definition of better communication, like his or her definition of virtuous conduct, be- comes that of having the other party accept his or her views, which would reduce conflict at that party's expense. A better understanding of the situation might serve only to underline the differences rather than to resolve them. Indeed, many of the techniques thought of as poor communication were apparently developed with the aim of bypassing or avoiding confrontation. Another assumption that grows from this view is that when a conflict has existed for a long time and shows every sign of continuing, lack of communication must be one of the basic problems. Usually, if the situation is examined more carefully, plenty of communication will be found; the problem is, again, one of equating communication with agreement. Still a third assumption is that it is always in the interest of at least one of the parties to an interaction, and often of both, to attain maximum clarity as measured by some more or less objective standard. Aside from the difficulty of setting up this standard-whose standard? and doesn't this give him or her control of the situation?-there are some sequences, and perhaps many of them, in which it is in the interests of both parties to leave the situation as fuzzy and undefined as possible. This is notably true in culturally or personally sensitive and taboo areas involving prejudices, preconceptions, and so on, but it can also be true when the area is merely a new one that could be seriously distorted by using old definitions and old solutions. Too often we forget that keeping communications fuzzy cuts down on questions, permits faster decision making, minimizes objections, reduces opposition, makes it easier to deny one's earlier statements, preserves freedom to change one's mind, helps to preserve mystique and hide insecu- rities, allows one to say several things at the same time, permits one to say “No" diplomatically, and helps to avoid confrontation and anxiety.
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This note was uploaded on 05/20/2010 for the course BUSINESS Organizati taught by Professor N/a during the Spring '10 term at Open Uni..

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Lesson15TheCaseForAmbiguousCommunication - Lesson:-15 The...

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