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List the various functions of Communication?

List the various functions of Communication?


Communication is the process by which one person conveys meaning from one person to another. It is a two- way process which takes place in the relationship be­tween a sender and a receiver. It is a continuous and interpersonal process.

Function # 1. Information:

The first and foremost function of communication is to provide information. This function is performed in many ways. Before providing or passing an information, one has to receive, collect or sift information from various sources, both external and internal, and through various media, verbal or non-verbal, body language or paralanguage, sign language or audio-visual aids, books, journals, newspapers, advertisements, brochures etc.

The information thus gathered is of vital importance to individuals and groups. It helps them to make decisions by identifying, analysing and evaluating the data, and considering alternative choices. In other words, policy decisions can be taken only when information is available.

Education, research and development depend on information. Education is an ongoing process. No organi­zation can really grow unless the people vitally involved in it have some kind of ‘continuing education’. All senior managers now-a-days keep abreast of the latest developments in their respective areas.

It is also to be observed that no information is insular. In one way or another, directly or indirectly, all different areas of interest, especially in the business world, are interrelated. That is why almost all people in business, whether entrepreneurs or managers, organize and participate in seminars, conferences and refresher courses.

Proper transmission of information is also of great educational value to employees. Unless they are given useful information from time to time they are likely to remain ignorant, uncultivated, or inadequately equipped.

Information made available to the world outside the organisation also educates the public. Advertisements, special articles, information talks etc., play an important role in this regard.

Function # 2. Control:

The next very important function of communication is to control ‘member behaviour’ in several ways. Every organization has a hierarchical system and formal guidelines that the employees are supposed to follow.

When, for example, the employees are required to follow their job description or instructions, or to comply with company policies, communication is performing a control function. This very function also gives the employees their code of conduct. It is generally expected of the employees to first communicate their grievances or complaints to their immediate boss. They have, in this way, to follow the formal channel of communication.

But, at the same time, it must also be pointed out, informal communication also controls behaviour. By talking informally in groups the workers lay down the norms to be followed. It is not always necessary for the bosses to formally issue instructions, impose do’s and don’ts or chalk out norms of behaviour. In fact, it is now becoming more and more explicit that informal communication exercises greater control than formal communication.


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Function # 3. Motivation:

In the words of Robbins, “communication fosters motivation by clarifying to employees what is to be done, how well they are doing, and what can be done to improve performance if it’s subpar… The formation of specific goals, feedback on progress toward the goals, and reinforcement of desired behaviour all stimulate motivation and require communication.”

All business is goal-oriented. All possible efforts have to be made to achieve a target within a well thought-out framework of time. For this purpose it is necessary that the team of workers puts in their very best efforts. In other words they have to be motivated.

According to ‘Collins Cobuild Dictionary’, “If you are motivated to do something, you are caused to feel determined to achieve something and willing to work hard in order to succeed. So you have first got to motivate the children and then to teach them”. The same logic applies to the workers in an organization.

The employees/workers have first of all to be told what they are expected to do and how. And, then, merely telling is not enough.

Victor Kiam, a famous American entrepreneur and writer for the corporate world, puts this question to himself- “Am I willing to lead by example?” and goes on to answer thus- “You can’t ask your workers to give their all if your idea of a rough day is two hours in the office and six on the golf course. I never ask an employee to do something I’m not willing to do, and I work even harder than they do.” After all actions speak louder than words.

The concept of rewards and punishment immediately becomes relevant here. It, however, must be observed that rewards and incentives prove more effective and productive than punishments. If the workers are kept happy, given encouragement and suitably rewarded both in cash and kind, they ensure the success of the enterprise.

Every modern entrepreneur/manager knows the importance of positive attitude, empathic listening, words of encouragement and cash rewards, and rewards given in the form of holiday trips, furnishing allowances, quick promotions and so on. Many Indian as well as multinational companies in India are now taking their workers to holiday resorts and sending managers along with their families to Europe, Far East and such other scenic places.

All this is geared to motivate them to ‘earn’ their perks, bonuses and holidays. It enhances the value and the image of the organization.

Function # 4. Emotional Expression and Interdependence:

The work group is a primary source for social interaction. The communication that takes place within the group is of vital importance in the sense that it gives them the best opportunity to share their frustrations as well as feelings of satisfaction. Communication, in this way, provides them a release for their feelings, and that is the fulfillment of an important social need.

Communication is a social activity and every organisation is above all a social entity. The members of the group or organisation are human beings who have so much to share, gather, or pass on. Newman and summer point out that the content of communication is not just facts and figures, or objective ideas, but also feelings, attitudes and interpretations. An adequate understanding of this aspect of communication is of immense help to the management.

In this connection, it is worthwhile to take note of the term ‘Emotional Intelligence’ that is also the title of Daniel Goleman’s book on management. Emotional intelligence, according to Goleman, “is to do with how well we manage our own inner lives and get along with people”.

It is profoundly concerned with self-awareness, the ability to manage one’s own and other people’s emotions, self motivation and empathy. These characteristics or qualities enable one to climb higher in the corporate ranks than colleagues having superior IQs.

Everyone agrees that a good strategic planner/manager needs analytical skills, but the star performers among them have the ability to understand and empathise, persuade and build alliances, and are astute in reading organizational policies. While working at Harvard, Goleman examined students from hundreds of companies, mostly multinationals, and arrived at certain important conclusions.

He found that the really intelligent people are emotionally intelligent people because they can lead, adapt to change, give feedback on performance, empathise, motivate themselves and others, and have integrity.

Stephen Covey, one of the greatest management gurus today, says the same thing in a somewhat different manner. He uses the term ‘Emotional Bank Account’ as a metaphor to describe the amount of trust that has been built-up in a relationship. “It’s the feeling of safeness you have with another human being.” Dag Hammarskjold, past Secretary General of the United Nations, once said, “It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labour diligently for the salvation of the masses.”

Taking his cue from Hammarskjold, Stephen Covey says, “Creating the unity necessary to run an effective business or a family or a marriage requires great personal strength and courage. No amount of technical administrative skill in labouring for the masses can make up for lack of nobility of personal character in developing relationships. It is at a very essential, one-to-one level, that we live the primary laws of love and life.”


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