Types of communication problems

Many writers do not identify the communicating functions as a separate managerial process; all emphasize controlling a distinguishable function. In this article we are discussing the communicating functions because they are, in fact, closely related. Both distinguishable function and communicating function are also closely related to the emerging importance of managing information and computers.


Managers spend major percentage of their time transmitting ideas to others, orally and in writing. They most often use the symbols of their language but also employ mathematical symbols, code, sign their ideas. Other managerial functions, especially controlling and organizing, involve communication problems. Communication serves as a link process by which parts of a system are tied together. The subject has received the attention of many specialists, including the technical communications engineer, the linguist, the psychologist, the sociologist, and the organization theorists.

Communicating as used in this article is a managerial function because it represents a basic human characteristic required by all managers in performing their jobs. In fact all managerial functions involve human element. Today managing information is centered on computers and non-human devices and thus is distinguished from communicating and other managerial functions. The interface between human beings and computers is an intriguing issue for the present, we assume that managers will continue to manage computers rather than be managed by computers.

Types of Communication Problems:

All communication problems can be treated in three basic groups:

1. The technical problem of how accurately the symbols can be transmitted.
2. The semantic problem of how the symbols convey the desired meaning.
3. The effectiveness problem of how meaning affects the desired results.

Cybernetics has contributed new insights into answers to the first group of problems. The terms in this new discipline have precise meaning to the communication engineer but may be confusing to the manager. Several important distinctions made by the communications engineer will provide an introduction to this interesting subject and will hint at some fundamental ideas of use to manager in transmitting messages.

In cybernetics information has nothing to do with the meaning (the subject of the second group of problems). It is quantitative measure of the amount of order in a system and is related not to what you do say but what you can say about a matter. If the system is highly disorganized, a message can say a great deal. Information is a measure of one’s freedom of choice when one selects a message. If there is no freedom of choice there is no information. If “Q” is always followed by a “U” in a language, “U” is perfectly predictable and, therefore, no information is added. The more probable is the message, the less information it gives. If a subordinate always sends his superior a message “Things are fine”, the superior can predict the message before he receives it and thus receives no information. The more disordered the situation is, the more information is required to describe it completely.

The idea of noise in information includes the undesirable uncertainties in the transmission process. “Snow” on television, “static” on the radio, or any interference in the receipt of a message increases uncertainty. Redundancy is used to help combat noise and insure against mistakes. Redundancy is anything that makes the transmission more predictable. Redundancy provides some structure (the opposite of randomness) that will increase the probability that the message will be received. Because all transmission of message is subject to the “loss of information” through noise the sender of the message should be conscious of the need for redundancy and the minimization of the number of times that the message is to be retransmitted. —

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