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8.2: Understanding Communication

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    • vendetta-157703_960_720.png
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    Learning Objectives

    1. Define communication.
    2. Understand the communication process.

    Communication is vital to organizations—it’s how we coordinate actions and achieve goals. It is defined in Webster’s dictionary as a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior. We know that 50% to 90% of a manager’s time is spent communicating (Schnake et al., 1990), and communication ability is related to a manager’s performance (Penley et al., 1991). In most work environments, a miscommunication is an annoyance—it can interrupt workflow by causing delays and interpersonal strife. But, in some work arenas, like operating rooms and airplane cockpits, communication can be a matter of life and death.

    So, just how prevalent is miscommunication in the workplace? You may not be surprised to learn that the relationship between miscommunication and negative outcomes is very strong. Data suggest that deficient interpersonal communication was a causal factor in approximately 70% to 80% of all accidents over the last 20 years.[1]

    Men at NASA shaking hands
    Figure 8.2. At NASA, success depends on strong communication.. Wikimedia Commons – public domain.