What are the errors in communication? How are errors in communication made even when speaking to someone face to face? Errors in communication are sometimes called noise or bias. Examples of communication errors include conveying too little information to a receiver or even things like technology issues that can create communication errors. The lesson commentary defines technology issues that contribute to errors in communication as the character limit allowed on a text message, or a wrong cell signal during a phone conversation (PSU WC, L4, 2020).
Effective communication is a must-have skill for any leader, but equally as important in our everyday relationships with our significant others, children, family, friends, and acquaintances. So why do we have such a hard time communicating in a way that will be understood in the way we would like to be perceived? Let’s take, for instance, our relationships with our partners. I’ve been in my relationship for over fifteen years, and to think that communication gets easier has been one of the greatest misconceptions of my adult life. I think we are met with the reality that we all change and, more specifically, change over our lifetimes to meet others’ expectations of us. Perhaps, this is the beginning of our issues with the errors in communication we face with our everyday relationships at home, in the office, or just in general.
As significant others, we are expected to be in a monogamous, understanding, respectful, loving, and supportive role. As parents, we are expected to be responsible, dependable, financially stable, a provider, caretaker, fun maker with endless amounts of energy. As a family member, we are expected to jump in whenever needed by our family members, to participate in every birthday, anniversary, reunion, or maybe that’s my family of which is ridiculously large. As for being a friend, the expectation is to make time for our friends between school plays, soccer games, work deadlines or events, and family. But people grow, change, and so do their expectations of each other.
As a leader, one is expected to understand and know the differences within and between teams or groups to lead and influence them towards a single goal effectively. In an article by Overall & McNulty (2017), there are many reasons why communication errors occur in relationships with our partners, coworkers, followers, family, and even children. The authors of this article discuss communication errors or issues between partners; however, I feel strongly that these issues can be applied to any and all the relationships listed above. So, let’s discuss the issues that may lead to these communication errors. Things like expectations or better yet those expectations that were unmet, preferences or preferences that changed overtime, lack of intimacy or time spent together, financial problems, parenting, family responsibilities, and even things like bad habits. Like all relationships, personal or professional, the answer is effective communication. So again, why is it so tricky to communicate effectively in any of these relationships or about any of the issues listed? It’s our inability to identify what constitutes effective communication (p. 1). This, unfortunately, leads to errors in transmission, where the sender may not be familiar with the best way to communicate.
Let’s throw in cultural differences and imagine how much more challenging communication becomes in this context, especially when we tend to experience communication errors in our language. This is where we discuss ethnocentrism as a potential communication error in that the less we know about other cultures and how those cultures communicate, the more likely we are to misunderstand communications in a global context (PSU WC, L4, 2020). Moran, Remington Abramson & Moran (2014), state that we are the most comfortable communicating with those who are the most similar to us. The more differences there are between us, the more the comfort level of communication decreases, and therefore communication errors increase.
In conclusion, communication errors result from differences within and between groups. Those differences happen to be about culture, gender, age, education, beliefs, and religion. If we learn to open our minds to understand these differences, perhaps we will be well on our way to being more effective communicators.
Moran, R., Remington Abramson, N., & Moran, S. (2014). Managing Cultural Differences (9th ed.). New York: Routledge.
Niler, A., Asencio, R., & DeChurch, L. (2019). Solidarity in STEM: How Gender Composition Affects Women’s Experience in Work Teams. Sex Roles, 82(3-4), 142-154. doi: 10.1007/s11199-019-01046-8
Overall, N., & McNulty, J. (2017). What type of communication during conflict is beneficial for intimate relationships? Current Opinion In Psychology, 13, 1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2016.03.002
Pennsylvania State University. (2020). Lesson 4: Leadership in Global Context. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/2041071/modules/items/27977839