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Unsuccessful Communication Example 1: Intern at the Book Café

Identify examples (three at most) of successful and/or unsuccessful communication exchanges/processes you have experienced in the workplace (or other situations if you have not worked in an organisation) and analyse these situations by applying elements of communication modelling to demonstrate and evaluate these communication attempts.

Business communication is an extremely important issue with the work environment becoming more diverse. The given essay describes to such situations where the communication was unsuccessful (Chaney and Martin 2013). A detailed analysis of the scenario has been done thereby explaining what went wrong. The applicable communication model has also been given, the application of which would have made the communication in the situation successful.

The first scenario is a situation that took place while I was working as an intern manager at the book café in 2016. During my experience there, I was assigned with the responsibility of managing five interns who were working part time during the summers. These interns had to work under my guidance and it was my responsibility to make sure that these people would work properly. I used to conduct weekly meetings whereby I used to specify certain tasks for each intern and provide them with targets as to what had to be done. All the interns were responsible and innovative when it came to fulfilling the needs of the customer. During the summers, the tourist footfall is extremely high in the city and hence, the number of visits visiting the café is very high. However, one of the interns was not as responsible as the others were and behaved in a clumsy manner by not listening to my instructions and not good at adhering to the needs of the consumers, he used to drop the coffee and was unable to remember the customer requests.


One evening, I conducted a meeting once again and asked them to work hard and try and not be clumsy. These interns listened properly and paid attention except the clumsy one who seemed inattentive. During the meeting, I had assigned specific tables for all the interns that they would be catering to (Bovee, Thill and Raina 2016). The clumsy intern John, did not listen which tables were assigned to him and this lead to a lot of confusion among the customers and other members alike. He was intervening in the business of other interns as well, which was spoiling their impression in front of the customers as well. Hence, it could be said that this was a situation of unsuccessful communication whereby as a team leader I failed to encourage the intern to perform well and as a team member, even he failed to take my orders and to perform well. The next section analysis the situation.

The message, which was sent, was about the tables, which had to be taken care of by the intern. Due to inattentiveness and lack of interest, the intern did not listen to the message and failed to decode it. The interference was caused by the lack of interest from the side of the intern. The meeting took place during the lean hours and therefore no noise caused the distraction (Adler, Elmhorst and Lucas 2012). The message, which was sent across to the student, was consistent with the leadership and management communication in the café as it was conveyed during a proper weekly meeting, which is of high importance.

Analysis of Unsuccessful Communication Example 1

One of the elements of communication that might be absent in the scene could have been the lack of physical evidence. Had I as a team leader, would have conveyed the message to the intern along with providing him a physical paper message which described the table allotment then I believe the communication would have been more successful (Guffey and Loewy 2012).  There were no cultural issues involved in the particular communication, as the intern was a resident off the city and accustomed to the way of life.

According to me, the communication process failed because the intern was unable to take in the information that was given to him because of barriers like unable to pay attention. The intern was unable to pay attention and did not think that the information was relevant enough. He misjudged the information and that lead to a failure. The coming section applies the communication model to the situation.


The Process Model can be applied in the situation. Let us first understand what this model is all about. The process model states that two-way communication is extremely important in any process. The sender of the message sends the message to the receiver via a particular medium, which then is perceived, by the receiver of the message. The receiver of the message needs to apply his or her perception while decoding the particular message (Bovée and Thill 2013). This is where the problems begin. The way a receiver decodes a message plays an important message. The receiver then has to provide a feedback to the sender. This completes the process model. However, the process model of communication is interrupted by various barriers. When these barriers are present, the communication often becomes a failure. These barriers can be anything that causes a barrier in communication like of attention and so on (Meredith 2012). Had this model been applied in the particular situation, the receiver of the message would have had to give a feedback to the sender then maybe the intern would have responded to the leader and the leader would have understood about the barrier, which would have then led to a successful communication process.

The next situation took place when I was leading a team in my college. During college, various projects are given out to the students. Various teams are formed whereby the students belong to diverse backgrounds and cultures. One such group was formed where the members belonged to different departments and different cultures as well. There were five students each from a different company like Singapore, China, India, Australia and England. These students were unaware of one another but had to work together for a project (Gibson 2015). The backgrounds of the culture were bound to affect the situation. The leader of the team was an Indian student. One such event happened where the Indian student brought gifts for us, which he had bought the earlier day from a shop. Giving out gifts in the Indian culture is often considered as a sign of respect and friendship. He had given these gifts out to us as a token of friendship. He gave us the instructions for the project and thereby teased us that now we need to work better and listen to him more often. The team leader meant it as a joke and was teasing us (Cobley and Schulz  2013).

Communication Model Application to Unsuccessful Communication Example 1


However, this kind of behaviour is unacceptable in other cultures like China. The student from China considered it to be professional project thereby was very conservative in his mannerism. When the team leader gave out the gift, the Chinese student felt that it was disrespect because gift taking is considered to be unethical in China (Ainsworth 2013). The student did not want to bring any friendship in this project, as he took it as a serious affair. Hence, he went and complained to the lecturer who then changed his group. The following section critically analysis the situation.

The reason why this situation took place was the cultural background of the student. The Chinese culture is very different from the culture of the other nations and there exist different norms and rules pertaining to the particular country. In China, gift taking is considered to be unethical and therefore, the student preferred to back out from the group because he preferred not to indulge in this activity, which was unethical according to him. Hence, the communication process between the team leader and the team members failed. The reason behind this failure can be contributed to the cultural difference between the two given cultures.

 In India, as mentioned earlier gift taking and other activities is taken to be a sign of respect but in China these behaviour is considered to be unethical. Therefore, the leader should have understood the situation before conducting an activity, which was not considered good by the person in the group and joked about the gifts, which further triggered the situation (McQuail and Windahl 2015). It is the responsibility of the leader to understand the mindset and culture of the people in his team. The coming section applies the communication model in the situation.


The cultural model can be applied in the given situation. The cultural model states that as the society has become more diverse people from different backgrounds and cultures have become closer. However, each person carries their own culture with them and for some people the culture value of the other person might conflict with their own cultural belief. Hence, it is due to this that the communication process between different people has become more complex (Alberts, Nakayama and Martin 2015). Different groups involved have a different meaning of certain terms and behaviour involved.

Hence, this model suggests that while in a professional communication context, the parties at communication should be more considerate about the beliefs, values and culture of the sender and be aware of the same components of a receiver. This model suggests that the parties at communication should be more aware of the other person`s interpretation (Sharifian and Jamarani 2013). The leader when giving out a message should reflect and understand that the recovery will not be able to understand the contest behind the message at one goes. This belief will help the sender to understand that he needs to dominate the message accordingly.

In the given situation, the Indian team leader should have understood the background of the Chinese student before gifting him and joking about it. In the same way the Chinese student should have also understood the background behind the Indian student`s motive before acting in this manner. If this model were followed, the communication would not have failed.

Reference List

Adler, R., Elmhorst, J.M. and Lucas, K., 2012. Communicating at work: Principles and practices for business and the professions. McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Ainsworth, J., 2013. Business languages for intercultural and international business communication: A Canadian case study. Business Communication Quarterly, 76(1), pp.28-50.

Alberts, J.K., Nakayama, T.K. and Martin, J.N., 2015. Human communication in society. Pearson.

Bovée, C.L. and Thill, J.V., 2013. Business communication essentials. Pearson Higher Ed.

Bovee, C.L., Thill, J.V. and Raina, R.L., 2016. Business communication today. Pearson Education India.

Chaney, L. and Martin, J., 2013. Intercultural business communication. Pearson Higher Ed.

Cobley, P. and Schulz, P.J. eds., 2013. Theories and models of communication (Vol. 1). Walter de Gruyter.

Gibson, R., 2015. Intercultural business communication. TESL-EJ, 9(1).

Guffey, M.E. and Loewy, D., 2012. Essentials of business communication. Cengage Learning.

McQuail, D. and Windahl, S., 2015. Communication models for the study of mass communications. Routledge.

Meredith, M.J., 2012. Strategic communication and social media: An MBA course from a business communication perspective. Business Communication Quarterly, 75(1), pp.89-95.

Sharifian, F. and Jamarani, M. eds., 2013. Language and intercultural communication in the new era. Routledge.

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