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Five Concepts Important for Successful Communication in an Organization

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    Successful communication is one of the most important aspects of an organization. Without it, nothing can be accomplished. There are many concepts of communication that must happen within the workplace. In this paper, I will discuss the five concepts that I feel are the most important for successful communication within an organizational setting. I will discuss how to practice active listening, the importance of organizational culture, how to resolve conflict, the key principles of human communication, and the process of formal and informal communication.

    I will address why they are necessary for successful communication and how best to implement them within your organization. The first concept that is important to successful communication in an organization is active listening. “Active listening means being fully engaged in paying attention to your relational partner’s communication with you” (Krebs, 2011). Some people may think that hearing what the other person is saying is enough, but just hearing a person does not guarantee that the person’s message is being interpreted as they intend it.

    The keyword is active; the listener has to have an active role in the conversation. This means that the listener must receive and understand the message in order for the communication to be effective. In order to do so, the listener must take into consideration the sender’s point of view and personal perspective of the subject being discussed. Active listeners should also make it obvious that they are fully engaged in the conversation. There are many ways to be an active listener. Some ways include asking questions, repeating what the speaker said, and eye contact.

    When someone is communicating with you, you should ask questions relative to what the speaker is saying. For example, if an employee comes to you and complains about a lack of supplies he or she needs to do his or her job, you should ask what he or she needs in order to be more successful. Repeating what the speaker says is very important as well. You could say something like “So you’re saying that you need more supplies. ” Providing eye contact will show the speaker that you are really taking in everything he or she says to you.

    Giving feedback is also essential. Give non-verbal signs to show that you are listening. Ask for clarity and elaboration if needed. Review what has been said along the way, and eventually summarize the speaker’s key points (Training and Development Journal, 1989). An active listener would never let something interrupt the speaker unless it is more important than what is being communicated. As an active listener, you should never show that you’re in a rush, look around or at other people, look at or pick up the telephone if it rings, or change the subject.

    These examples of things you should not do would give the speaker the impression that you have other things on your mind, and they will be able to tell that you are not actively listening. Organizational culture is also an important concept of successful communication. “Organizational culture refers to the collectively held underlying beliefs, logics, and legends concerning organizational life that organizational participants learn and use to guide their behavior” (Krebs, 2011). Just like people have culture that helps shape and define them, organizations have the same.

    An organization’s culture identifies beliefs, logics, and legends to members and non-members and show’s members how to properly represent the organization. Organizations with strong organizational culture have well-developed identity, a clearly defined history, committed members, and powerful organizational values (Krebs, 2011). In strong organizational cultures, most people within the organization have shared underlying beliefs and morals, at least as far as the organization is concerned. Most members all feel a bond with each other because of this culture.

    Organizational culture creates jargon and a common language, a value system, and visions and goals for the organization (Krebs, 2011). Conflict in an organization is inevitable, but that is not necessarily a negative thing. Knowing how to resolve and manage conflict is essential in successful communication within an organization. Conflict that is handled effectively can actually lead to better group decision making and better group cohesiveness. Tim Scudder, coauthor of the book Have a Nice Conflict, says that managing and resolving conflict is in knowing that it could happen.

    You need to be able to identify conflict so that when it inevitably does happen, you know (youtube. com). From that point, a resolution can be made. People have different opinions, experiences, and perspectives. This is what causes conflict in the workplace. This conflict can be good and healthy in a number of ways. For example, if the conflict is handled correctly, the conflict could share information that can provide different views and perspectives to the group. Arguing can help the group members find and identify different courses of action and solutions.

    Believe it or not, conflict can actually improve the organization’s camaraderie and pride. Conflict can be turned into a positive thing by encouraging open minds, promoting fair fighting as opposed to fair fighting, and encouraging compromise (Krebs, 2011). If an organization wants to completely resolve conflict, there are seven skills it must follow. First, identify the need to negotiate a solution that is fair for everyone involved (win/win). Second, each member must take control of his or her thoughts so he or she can respond properly to the conflict. Next, the group should build empathy with each other.

    Everyone should behave assertively and handle power constructively. Members should acknowledge, express, and deal with emotions. Finally, a resolution should be facilitated (Hodgson, 2002). In order for group decisions to be made and work to get done, group members must understand these differences and find common ground. If conflict is not resolved, group performance quickly suffers. Another concept that is important to successful communication in organizations is the knowing the key principles of human communication. I will discuss the four most important.

    Principle one is that communication is a process. This is perhaps the most important principle, and it means that communication never starts or stops, but it is “continuous, dynamic, ongoing, and cumulative” (Krebs, 2011). Even if we don’t realize it, we are always communicating. Our messages never end; they might just take a break. Principle 2 is that communication is irreversible. You can never take back what you say. You can apologize, or say that you meant something in a way other than what was portrayed, but the initial words will forever be engraved in the receiver’s mind.

    When we communicate, we understand messages by mixing new information with information we learned from previous communication. Even if something is “taken back” from the previous communication, it is still in our minds and we refer back to it when we communicate in the present and the future. A common example of this is shown in fights between any type of relationship. When we fight with someone we care about, we seem to be harsher then when arguing with an acquaintance. We say things that we do not mean in order to try and hurt the other person only for the sake of winning the fight.

    When the fight is resolved, both parties might try and forget what was said, but inevitably when the next argument arises, the hurtful comments will be brought up. This is why it is important to remember that communication is irreversible. Communication is transactional is the third principle. This means that communication is never one way. By definition, communication is a two-way process because it involves a sender and a receiver. Even if the receiver does not respond, or acts like they didn’t hear the message, something was still communicated.

    This also means that all parties must take into account that there are many factors that influence communication and the process. Finally, the fourth principle is that communication includes both content and relationship dimensions. The content aspect is the ideas and facts we communicate and send to other. The relationship aspect is about the meanings, or what the message says about our relationship. Knowing and understanding these key principles of human communication will help feed successful communication in the organization (Krebs, 2011).

    The fifth and final concept of successful communication that I will discuss is formal and informal communication. In formal communication a hierarchy of power within the organization is followed. In informal communication, this does not always occur. Formal communication has many different patterns. Downward communication happens when information is passed from the top of the hierarchy down to subordinates. Upward communication is the opposite, and it’s usually workers’ feedback. Horizontal communication is when messages are passed between workers on similar levels.

    Informal communication does not follow a pattern, and can be between anyone (Krebs, 2011). As you can see, there are many important concepts to successful communication in an organization. If the organization understands and practices active listening, embraces its organizational culture, learns conflict resolution, keeps the key principles of human communication in mind, and follows the rules of formal and informal communication, then it will be able to achieve successful communication within the workplace.


    Kreps, G. L. (2011). Communication in organizations. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. Retrieved from https://content. ashford. edu (2011). Tim Scudder Interview. Retrieved from http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=P_E7YVkjJQ0 The art of active listening. (1989). Training and Development Journal, 43(7), 21-21. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/227019773? accountid=32521 Hodgson, J. (2002). How to resolve conflict in the workplace. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 23(5), 352-352. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/226924260? ccountid=32521 Saunders, D. M. , & Leck, J. D. (1993). Formal upward communication procedures: Organizational and employee perspectives. Revue Canadienne Des Sciences De l’Administration, 10(3), 255-268. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/204883980? accountid=32521 Fay, M. J. (2007). Informal communication practices between peers in the remote work context. The Ohio State University). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 273-273 p. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/304835512? accountid=32521. (304835512).

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