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Organizational Theory

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Communication is a major and essential part of any business relationships. In today's business world communication and miscommunication can make or break an organization. Recently, Standard and Poor (S&P) made a serious error in its calculations and communicated wrong information to the world in regards to 612 mortgage securities. "Standard & Poor's admitted to making a nearly $5 billion blunder in correcting its own estimate for subprime securities it is reviewing for ratings cuts" (CNN.COM). " S&P corrected the volume of residential mortgage-backed securities it placed under review for downgrade on Tuesday to $7.35 billion from $12.1 billion" (CNN.COM). This error has cost hundreds of thousand s of dollars from potential investors. The errors communicated to the public by the well-respected S&P are socially irresponsible, but reveal how important accurate communication is.

People in organizations typically spend over 75% of their time in an interpersonal situation, thus it is no surprise to find that at the root of a large number of organizational problems is poor communication. Effective communication is an essential component of organizational success whether it is at the interpersonal, intergroup, intragroup, organizational, or external levels.

In order to be an effective manager in the work force today, one must have a very good understanding of the various ways in which people interact and communicate with one another. It is critical that good leaders display the ability to effectively communicate with their associates and subordinates as well as train and encourage others to demonstrate those same communication skills. By doing so, they will promote both a healthy and efficient work environment that everyone will be sure to enjoy.

The first challenge in effectively communicating with today's workforce is diversity. The work force today is more diverse than ever and is rapidly becoming even more diversified as time passes. Leaders are already facing differences from many levels of society to include cultural differences such as customs, beliefs, and expectations. All of this, as well as many other issues only further complicates the task of achieving effective communication on all levels.

Perhaps the first and most obvious difference in the work environment is the difference of the sexes. Women possess a tendency to be more subtle or convincing rather than shouting out demands. Studies have shown that women are more likely to construct their requests in the form of suggestions or leading questions rather than be more direct (Adult Learner's Guide, 1999). The conflict is evident if one considers the fact that males possess the complete opposite tendency. Men are often more direct and to the point. These two contrasting attributes are a fertile breeding ground for misunderstandings of all sorts.

Women also do not hesitate to mix business with personal talk where men are more anxious to get to the details of the business at hand. For women this seems to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the personal talk brings down some barriers and lets each one get to know the other so everyone is comfortable. This works in their favor in situations where they are meeting a group or individual for the first time. But on the other hand, after they become acquainted, women have trouble separating their personal feelings and allowing them to enter into their business talk as well as their daily business activities.

After the different sexes, different ethnic groups emerge as the next most noticeable distinguishing characteristics of individuals. People of different ethnicity have lived and worked together for many years but not without a fair share of challenges. The United States has long been labeled as the "Great Melting Pot", and with good reason. American culture is by far the most diverse culture in the world. Not only are Americans exposed to new and different ethnics groups more often, but different ethnic groups and cultures are experiencing each other for the first time in America as well.

As people become more mobile on an international level, they experience a vast array of behavior. These behaviors will vary as one moves across the country. Take for example the difference in the northern and southern states, and their preconceived notions each holds of the other. Their are people in northern states which believe people of the southern states do not wear shoes or have running water in their households. Because of this false image, they automatically assume southern people are of a lower intellect. Likewise, those residing in southern states tend to believe northerners are rude and uncaring which is also a misconception. These types of preconceived notions are present for every race and culture on the planet.

It is difficult, but important for today's leaders to put these preconceived notions to rest. One must remember, just because a person looks Korean, it is possible they have never even been to Korea. They could very well be a forth generation American and therefore hold the same values and views as other Americans (Adler & Elmhorst, 1999).

It is imperative that leaders treat their subordinates and co-workers based on merit rather than assumptions. A multicultural workforce is an asset only if each individual is treated equally and fair as the others. As team members witness their leader treating everyone with equality and fairness, they will be more inclined to emulate these actions with one another. This will in turn help the group to value diversity and develop creative problem solving skills (Pierce & Newstrom, 1996).

Understanding the nuances of managing different sexes and cultures are a few of the items leaders of today will have to struggle with. Effective listening is probably the single most important skill, which ensures clear communication. Studies have shown people spend well over one third of their time listening (Adler & Elmhorst, 1999). However, people tend to go into an automatic listening mode when they make conclusions based on assumptions. These individuals are constantly agreeing and disagreeing with a speaker's comments, based on their conclusions of preconceived agreements and disagreements (Pierce & Newstrom, 1996).

Leaders must possess the ability not only to hear exactly what the speaker is saying, but extracting what the speaker is trying to say. The manager must keep himself or herself from making any type of judgment until they are sure they understand the message the speaker is trying to convey. The manager must be able to separate the feelings of the speaker from the statement he/she is trying to get across. The best method for ensuring the message is clearly understood, is to paraphrase. Paraphrasing,



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