An Investigation of the Alliances Between Communication and the Workplace

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Communication is important in daily practices because it facilitates social harmony. Good contact is needed in the workplace not just for social reasons, but also to meet the goals that have been set (Turner, Qvarfordt, Biehl, Golovchinsky, & Back, 2010). It serves as a forum for critical organizational tasks such as providing orders, getting input, announcing success or crises, and interacting with coworkers (Conrad, 2014; de Vries, Bakker-Pieper, & Oostenveld, 2010; Wang, 2011). Workplaces are typically structured from the top down. Communication patterns are thus set by the management, whose communication style may either ruin or build comfort and trust in the workplace. The mapping of the information dissemination influences the productivity of the workplace (Conrad, 2014; Kinnick & Parton, 2005).

Research Questions

Seeing communication as a part of the success of a team, this study_x0092_s objectives will be to identify the existing communication process in the workplace, determine the factors that hinder it, and finally establish strategies that could be implemented to improve communication. In the process of achieving these objectives, this research will answer the following questions:

What are the effects of bad communication in the workplace?

How can communication be improved in the workplace?

Literature Review

Communication Process

Mallett-Hamer (2005) points out that since time immemorial, people have devised ways to get through and communicate to others, making communication _x0093_the fibre that ties together a society_x0094_. The workplace is in itself a group of individuals who congregate to achieve a common objective. Devising ways to communicate properly and efficiently is the stepping stone to the success of a workplace (Merz, 2014). Communication involves sending and receiving as well as understanding and transmitting feedback whenever necessary (Guo & Sanchez, 2005). According to Guo & Sanchez (2005), effective communication involves accurate decoding of a message and feedback, which are necessary to assess the process, elaborate the communication strategies and respond to changes. In view of competence in communication, Keyton et al. (2013) affirm that competent communicators should be in a position to effectively express negative emotions and organize their work around the observed communication behaviours.

Figure 1: The Communication Process (Ergen, 2010).

Communication Channels

Communication channels have been widely studied in the business and communication fields. According to Mallett-Hamer (2005), these channels take many forms in verbal communication like one-on-one conversations, telephoning, teleconferencing, etc.. However, nonverbal cues such as kinesics, facial expressions, proxemics, and paralanguage may pass even more information, and since their impact is higher compared to the spoken language, they are subject to accurate interpretation hence should be used carefully (Ergen, 2010).

As for the verbal communication, Ergen (2010) states that written language such as emailing, instant messaging, and social networking tools has become common in the formal settings. His sentiments coincide with those of Turner et al. (2010), who confirm that technology has positively impacted communication, creating flexibility and allowing creativity and better decision making. However, it does not eliminate face-to-face conversations for sharing ideas and solving problems (Wang, 2011). Emphasizing this, De Vries, Bakker-Pieper, & Oostenveld (2010) also add that information from personal and close sources is likely to be trusted and sought after rather than the one availed by technology such as the internet. Turner et al. indicate that face-to-face conversation is preferred because of both the verbal and non-verbal aspects involved as well. Apart from this, the disadvantage of phones is seen in the possibility of interrupting recipients_x0092_ business at the time. Emailing is a better and rather popular option in this case.

Like others, Keyton et al. (2013) iterate the importance of verbal communication in the workplace. Their assumption is that communication should be functional both conceptually and operationally to bring about an outcome. Verbal communication at the workplace should be seen as an interactive process for the realization of the collective goals. Verbal behaviours should be socially created, observable, and understandable. The conclusion provides the list of the most used workplace verbal behaviours: explaining, listening, discussing, sharing information, asking and answering questions, and seeking and giving feedback.

Barriers to Communication

According to Mallett-Hamer (2005), the communication can be hindered by differences in culture, age, gender, socioeconomic background, and hierarchy at the workplace. Managers are advised to try to harmonize communication between the different groups. Educating on cultural competence and communication differences between genders is the best way towards overcoming these barriers, building trust and integrity, and introducing reward to keep employees_x0092_ morale up (MacKenzie, 2010; Thomas, Zolin, & Hartman, 2009).

In agreement with Mallett-Hamer, Ergen (2010) groups the barriers into personal (like the ones mentioned above) and environmental (the characteristics within which the workplace is situated such as distance, managerial philosophy, absence of employee reward schemes and globalization resulting in a multicultural team). The author adds that allowing interaction with employees and managers from other organizations helps share knowledge and experience thus improving communication.

Delecta & Raman, (2015) and Carbaugh, (2007) also contribute to the studies that include cultural differences as a barrier to communication. They pay special attention to beliefs, norms, stereotyping, ethnocentrism, and misunderstanding as the major cultural barriers at work. Misunderstandings arise because of uncertainty and anxiety inflicted by cultural variation. It is imperative to be culturally competent in order to successfully interact with people (Carbaugh, 2007; Delecta & Raman, 2015). Stereotyping leads to labelling and judging based on assumptions which bar cross-cultural interactions and cause alienation. To overcome these barriers, language diversity should be embraced through teaching other languages, training on cross-cultural competence should be provided, and mutual benefit policies implemented (Merz, 2014).

Organisational Communication

The management style influences the communication standards (Ergen, 2010). Opening channels of communication cultivates trust and positive attitudes among employees letting them feel involved and later culminating into business growth (Thomas et al., 2009). Both formal and informal communication should be accommodated in an organization (Frohlich, Whittaker, & Jones, 1994).

Like many other researchers, Mallett-Hamer (2005) emphasizes that employees have always been free communicating with each other, a little restraint being observed among interdepartmental employees. This supports the notion of _x0093_grapevine_x0094_ identified by Ergen (2010) and Frohlich et al. (1994): between the management and employees, free and casual communication is almost non-existent, which breaks the communication channel as the one used only for business matters. When employees are not heard and listened to, slowdowns, absenteeism, delays, apathy, and carelessness in carrying out duties come as a result. Upward channels of communication should be considered to ensure employees are heard. Strategies such as creating room for criticism, listening carefully, reacting to the content rather than to the manner it is expressed, avoiding commanding, and targeting audience using words rather than nonverbal cues would lead to mutually rewarding work and social relationships (Conrad, 2014; Ergen, 2010; Mallett-Hamer, 2005).

Similarly, de Vries et al. (2010) point out the role of communication style adopted by leaders in holding together employees and establishing healthy relations. Their findings are supported by the studies of MacKenzie (2010) and Thomas et al. (2009). Friendly communication has been shown to yield satisfaction as opposed to dominant and aggressive communication styles.

The literature review outlines the communication process, highlights the communication styles common in organizations, identifies possible barriers, and suggests ways of overcoming them. However, previous research only gives general possibilities regarding poor communication. This paper will provide the details of chain reactions that are experienced due to bad communication. Since networks of people (which workplaces are) have their ways of handling communication and interactions, this paper will seek to present opinions of involved parties rather than of communication experts. It will present authentic and first-hand information different from solutions provided by people not involved in a situation.

Research Methodology


The research will assume a qualitative research methodology based on the nature of the data to be collected. Surveying will be used for data collection, where sheets with open-ended and multiple-choice questions will be used to retrieve information. The open-ended questions will give room for respondents to freely and openly express their opinion. Questionnaires served to different departments will slightly differ.

Direct interviews will be used to gather information randomly from employees and top management to know the structure of the workplace and the communication strategies deployed. The interview sessions will be recorded for analysis. Observation will also be used for data collection.


The management, employees, and associates of Synarc System constitute the sample for this research. Synarc Systems is an architectural firm which liaises with specialists such as quantity surveyors and engineers to complete their customers_x0092_ assignments. It also works with suppliers of the various building materials and recruits contractors who carry out on-the-ground-works with the help of contractual handymen.

Ethical Issues

Participants will be briefed and informed on the purpose and scope of research. Privacy and confidentiality of the information will be guaranteed, and participants will be required to leave out their names when answering the questions. The contents of interview transcripts or the answered forms will be made available on request from participants.

Time Scale

The research is planned to take a period of ten months beginning from June 2017 and ending in February 2018. Below is a table to show how the tasks will be distributed across the research period.






2017 OCT



2017 DEC

2017 JAN

2018 FEB

2018 Authorization from Synarc Familiarization

with the participants Observation of operations Questionnaire

issuing and collection Interviewing Data analysis Report write up Communicating results to Synarc/Vote of thanks Table 1: Schedule.


Table 2: Costs in £.


Carbaugh, D. (2007). Cultural discourse analysis: Communication practices and intercultural encounters. Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, 36(3), 167_x0096_182.

Conrad, D. (2014). Workplace communication problems: Inquiries by employees and applicable solutions. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly, 5(4), 105_x0096_116.

de Vries, R. E., Bakker-Pieper, A., & Oostenveld, W. (2010). Leadership = communication? The relations of leaders_x0092_ communication styles with leadership styles, knowledge sharing and leadership outcomes. Journal of Business and Psychology, 25(3), 367_x0096_380.

Delecta, J. R., & Raman, G. P. (2015). Cross-cultural communication barriers in workplace. International Journal of Management, 6(1), 976_x0096_6502.

Ergen, E. (2010, 26 Nov). Workplace communication: A case study on informal communication network within an organization.

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Keyton, J., Caputo, J. M., Ford, E. A., Fu, R., Leibowitz, S. A., Liu, T., _x0085_& Wu, C. (2013). Investigating verbal workplace communication behaviors. Journal of Business Communication, 50(2), 152_x0096_169.

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Thomas, G. F., Zolin, R., & Hartman, J. L. (2009). The central role of communication in developing trust and its effect on employee involvement. Journal of Business Communication, 46(3), 287_x0096_310.

Turner, T., Qvarfordt, P., Biehl, J. T., Golovchinsky, G., & Back, M. (2010). Exploring the Workplace Communication Ecology. CHI 2010, April 10_x0096_15, Atlanta, Georgia.

Wang, E. S. (2011). Communication in the workplace: Managers_x0092_ perception on productivity of virtual team compared to F2F teams. Gonzaga University, 1_x0096_42.

November 09, 2022

Sociology Economics


Communication Workforce

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