Patterns of Communication UNIT 2

  • Published on

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)


To help students to improve their communication skills


UNIT 2 Patterns of Communication

UNIT 2Patterns of Communication

Communication means transferring messages from one to another and it has several forms such as intrapersonal, interpersonal, group and mass communication.

While it comes to group communication it has a certain patterns in its own. Few patterns are popular in mainstream communication studies.

Such as: CircleChainYWheelAll communication patterns all have certain problems with each other.

In circle, Chain and Y patterns all group members cannot directly communicate with the group leader.

They can communicate to leader only through group members.

In Wheel, all the group members can communicate directly with the group leader.

Group Leader Group Members

In Circle pattern, the sender (Group Leader) can communicate with the receivers (group members) who presents next to him/her.

No others group members cannot receive the senders message directly and they receive messages from the other group members who shares the message from the sender.

In this pattern of communication the sender messages travels all over the group through sharing by its members which will take time to reach the sender again.

In Chain pattern, the same problems appears as in the circle pattern.

The worst part in the pattern is the last member receives the modified messages from the leader.

In this case the leader cannot find out whether the last member receives the correct information or not because there is no feedback to identify the message distortion.

In the Y pattern, its a more complicated pattern and also has the communication problem which appears in both circle and chain pattern.

The group is separated into three and the group members can communicate with the other members group through the leader only.

In Wheel pattern, one of the best patterns in comparison to the other three types.

The leader has direct contact with all the group members and there are no communication problems, time issues and feedback from the group members.

But all the group members cannot connect with one another.

Formal & informal Communication Networks

Networks - structural means (patterns of interaction) that allow messages to flow within organizations. May include two people, small groups of people, or large numbers that flow outside the organization.

Typically people are involved with multiple organizational networks.

Message Flow DirectionsUpward - subordinates to managers.

There is always the tendency of positive distortion from employees.

No one really wants to make a bad impression on their supervisors and it is very human to put a positive spin in issues even when there is little to offer in that light.

Downward - managers to subordinates. Try to provide rationale for decisions when possible.

Studies show that employees feel better about the organization when they know why they are doing things or why change is occurring.

Horizontal - communication between employees or departments of the same status.

This may become overly competitive for organizational resources like budgets, awards, recognition and so on.

This may not be a problem but it is top managements job to ensure the competition does not become counter-productive.

Formal Networks - Officially sanctioned; the organizational flow chart; company newsletters; memos; managers meetings and so on

Informal Networks - arise due to the situation employees are in; emerge out of a need; not permanent structure; may be faster than formal networks; a spontaneous flow of information that may or may not be correct.


FORMAL COMMUNICATION NETWORKSThis is the blue print of how communication flows within any organization. Carries task-oriented messages (specific job instructions; performance reviews)

Carries maintenance-oriented messages (more generally-based policies and procedures on how to accomplish tasks)

Carries human messages (keys on employee needs like new health care benefits; vacation schedules and so on.)

Network Structures - decentralized networks tend to be more efficient when involved in complex tasks; centralized ones often create higher worker dissatisfaction (feeling only marginally involved in the communication process)

Circle, Chain, Y and Wheel previously discussed.

Network Roles The communication roles we perform within organizations.

Liaisons - employees who connect two groups without belonging to either one of them.

Often an influential and experienced person.

Bridges - employees who belong to at least two groups and connect each group to clique to the other, distortion may occur.

Gatekeepers - employees who control the information flow.

Secretaries are often key gatekeepers; may be others who have power to give or withhold information.

Isolates - employees who have minimal contact with others; either by choice or because others try to avoid them.

Boundary Spanners - sometimes called cosmopolites; those who connect the organization to its relevant environment.

Common roles are sales and customer service reps, public relations workers and so on.

Network Descriptors - patterns of behavior that help reveal how communication flows within the organization networks.

Dominance - how equal employees are to one another, High versus Low dominance.

High dominance requires communication be directed to a single or few key members who then disseminate information to others.

Low dominance suggests that employees are roughly equal to one another.

Centrality - centralized networks (wheel, Y, chain) require this; is there a key employee through whom communication flows...or not?

Flexibility - how strictly organizations follow rules for communicating with others.

High flex - allow variations; low flex would be very strict on how to communicate.

Reachability - How many people must the message pass through before reaching its final destination? Low reachability has fewer intermediaries; high reachability has potential for greater distortion since many people are involved in the process.

Strength - frequency and duration of communication are the keys. Strong network would be frequent and thorough communication with and among employees; weak network would be rare and brief communication.

Reciprocity - the degree to which employees and bosses agree on the nature of their relationship.

High reciprocity would exist when both see their relationship essentially the same; low reciprocity would exist when one perceives the relationship quite differently than the other

Symmetry - the degree of sharing information between bosses and workers.

When communication flows upward and downward you have a symmetrical relationship; just downward would be asymmetrical.

Openness - how open or connected the organization is to the outside environment. Some businesses are very dependent to the outside environment; others less so.


People networks; unpredictable in how they operate; the communication is often spontaneous and situationally derived; employees may choose to use these or not.

Whether we do or not is often dependent upon (a) our proximity to the sender; and (b) whether we think the person is reliable and knowledgeable (do we trust them?).

Management may use the grapevine (even though we tend to think of it as being an employees network) to tap into employee sentiment; to send up trail balloons and then either distance themselves or embrace the ideas depending upon employee reactions.

Research suggest that the grapevine is:fast....very fast!!generally accurate...though varies from company to indicator of employee attitudes or sentiment usually travels by clusters

Grapevine participants - No real gender differences regarding who uses it more often.

Secretaries are often key players in the grapevine - being bridges between workers and management.

Managers may use the grapevine for trial balloon or as thermometer, messages as mentioned earlier.

Effects of grapevine activity on the organization - if formal networks dont provide employees with information; the grapevine will step in and rumors persist.

Morale can be affected adversely.

Factors involved in rumor dispersion--why do rumors exist? What keeps them alive? Such reasons are (a) the importance of the message; (b) the ambiguity of the message; (c) the need for information in crisis times; (d) credibility of the person sending the rumor; (e) who is the focus of the rumor; and (f) the age of the rumor.

Putman, M. (2014). Formal and informal communication networks. The University of Texas Arlington. Department of Communications

4.Factors that contribute the grapevine message distortion--(a)messages get condensed or shortened; stuff gets left out(b)certain information gets highlighted; other gets less attention; depends of the needs of the sender(c)messages may be added to; have gaps filled in as they move along(d)selective perceptive--we may only hear what we want to hear and disregard the rest5.Grapevine transmission patterns--(a) single-strand chain--I tell you a rumor and then you pass it along to another person, who then tells another, and on-and-on.... (pretty rare)(b)gossip chain--I tell the class a rumor and you pass it along to others(c)cluster transmission--most common; I tell two or more employees and you repeat this transmission process to others.6.Types of Organizational Rumors--(A)Anxiety rumors--reflect an uneasiness in employees (impending bad news on the horizon)(B)Wish-fulfillment rumors--good news may be on the horizon (as a group or for an individual)(C)Wedge-driving rumors--creates dissension; an us vs. them attitude in an organization.(D)Social rumors--juicy gossip about people; no direct company link.7.Suggestions for how an organization can manage or control the grapevine--Managers should or could..(A)be sensitive to employee reactions; respond to high anxiety cases.(B)be open, honest and quick to respond (when possible) with employees.(C)seek out key gatekeepers in employee ranks for information dissemination.(D)take a proactive stance; keep employees updates via bulletins, meetings, newsletters, etc.==========================================================METHODS OF ANALYZING FORMAL AND INFORMAL COMMUNICATION NETWORKS(1)Residential analysis--go to the organization and observe activity over an extended period of time. Whats good and bad about this?(2)Distribute questionnaires to employees--(how honest do you think employees will be here?)(3)Communication Diary--(same comment as you speak the truth or tell the researchers what they want to hear?)(4)ECCO--requires employee assistance in looking for patterns of transmitted messages (how they learned and from whom)


The majority of managerial communication time is spent speaking and listening, it is clear that in a leadership role, one must have excellent interpersonal communication skills.

These are perhaps the most critical leadership skills.

The nurseleader communicates with clients, colleagues, superiors, and subordinates.

(Marquis & Huston, 2014)

In addition, because nursing practice tends to be group-oriented, interpersonal communication among group members is necessary for continuity and productivity.

The leader is responsible for developing a cohesive team to meet organizational goals.

To do this, the leader must articulate issues and concerns so workers will not become confused about priorities.

The ability to communicate effectively often determines success as a leadermanager.

(Marquis & Huston, 2014)

The Communication Process

Chitty (2001) defines communication as the complex exchange of thoughts, ideas, or information on at least two levels: verbal and nonverbal.

Thus, communication begins the moment two or more people become aware of each others presence.

An internal and an external climate also exist in communication.

(Marquis & Huston, 2014)

The internal climate includes the values, feelings, temperament, and stress levels of the sender and the receiver. Weather conditions, temperature, timing, and the organizational climate itself are parts of the external climate.

The external climate also includes status, power, and authority as barriers to managersubordinate communication.

Both the sender and the receiver must be sensitive to the internal and external climate, because the perception of the message is altered greatly depending on the climate that existed at the time the message was sent or received.

For example, an insecure manager who is called to meet with superiors during a period of stringent layoffs will probably view the message with more trepidation than a manager who is secure in his or her role.(Marquis & Huston, 2014)

SenderSource & encoderMessageWhat is actually said/written, body languageHow words are transmitted channelReceiverListener decoder perception of intentionResponse Feedback

Verbal Communication

Pace and intonationSimplicityClarity and brevityCongruenceTiming and relevanceAdaptabilityCredibilityHumor

Non-Verbal CommunicationBody languageGestures, movements, use of touchEssential skills: observation, interpretationPersonal appearancePosture and gaitFacial expression of self, others; eye contactGesturesCultural component


Variables Affecting CommunicationJackson (1984) identified the following characteristics of large organizations make communication particularly problematic:

1. Spatial distance within an organization can be a barrier to communication.

2. Different subgroups or subcultures within the organization have their own value systems and identities.

Members within that subgroup form an allegiance to their own members.

This results in different translations of messages from management, depending on the significance of the message to the things the subgroup values and is striving to accomplish.

3. People are structured into different systems of relationships in organizations.

A work structure exists in which certain people are expected to complete tasks with other people.

An authority structure exists when some workers are in charge of supervising others.

A status structure determines which people have rights and privileges.

A prestige structure allows some people to expect deferential treatment from others.

The friendship structure encourages interpersonal trust.

All of these systems influence who should communicate with whom and in what manner.

4. Organizations are in a constant state of flux.

Relationships (subgroups or subcultures) and geographical l...