South-Western - Management  
We’ve Got Failure to Communicate
Topic Communication
Key Words Barriers to communication, communication breakdown
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News Story

Communication breakdown can happen in many ways. Here are six potential breakdowns and ways that they can be handled more effectively.

  1. Evading responsibility: it should be a rule in every company that each person is responsible for resolving an issue or problem he or she comes across, even if it is “not my job.”
  2. Making assumptions: jargon and acronyms may be second nature to you, but they may not be clear to everyone else. People that are new on the job should be taught to always ask for clarification when they don’t understand something. Pretending to understand, when we don’t is human nature and can have devastating effects.
  3. Using “I think so.” People should take the extra steps to verify something if it is important.
  4. Things don’t really register until they are in writing. Company policies and procedures, especially, need to be in writing. Once written, the document needs to be passed out. A policy that is buried in an employee manual that is kept high on a shelf won’t help anyone implement it.
  5. Lack of follow through: it is important to get into the habit of confirming appointments, following up on important paperwork and documenting meetings.
  6. Imprecision: vagueness wastes time. The person who receives the message has to go back and ask for clarification, and sometimes the person won’t clarify and will just attempt to respond to what they think the message sender is asking for, just compounding the confusion.

Questions
1.

Name four organizational barriers to communication and describe them.

2.

In today’s global business environment, it is likely that you will find yourself communicating with someone who is not a native speaker of your language. Name at least three strategies that you can use to overcome this particular communication barrier.

3.

Name at least three things that managers can do to improve communication in the workplace.

Source “We’ve Got Failure to Communicate,” Snips, August 2007, v76 i8 p96(1).
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