The Importance of Communication

by Mateusz Kuczera

Published June 19, 2023

As Roland opens up Teams for an online management meeting several minutes late, he notices that Donald, his boss, as well as Mika, the dispatcher, are talking about their weekend.

“Morning,” says Roland. “Sorry for being late.”

Donald stays silent and immobile for a few seconds, then says “did you get the invoice ready?”

“Uhm, okay,” replies Roland. “That was dry.”

“What?” says Donald as he frowns, pauses, and shakes his head. “Roland, did you or did you not do that invoice?”

“Relax, Donald,” says Roland as he grows increasingly flustered. “No, I haven’t done it yet,” he finally says. “It’ll be done today.”

“You sure? You’ve been saying this for two weeks now…”

By the time Roland finished saying “yeah, I’m sure,” he was disconnected. He pushed himself away from his desk and after only a minute of discussion asked “can I go?”

“What? No, of course not, we have plenty of things to talk about,” replies Donald.

“But not my weekend, right?”

“What’s this about, Ronald? Why are you upset?”

“When I connected, you didn’t even ask me how my weekend was…”

Donald’s eyes open wide as he says “But I did!” He then pauses, frowns again, and continues “wait, wait, wait… Did my computer freeze again?”

Communication, especially in the age of overwhelming digitalization, is becoming more and more difficult to conduct. Not only are there barriers inherent to culture and language, but digital communication systems introduce ever more variability to the communication. This article will provide an overview of communication theory before emphasizing the importance of communication in managing a small business.

Communication Theory

Although there are several different theories of communication, the elements of most accepted ones include a message, sender, and encoder, a channel, a decoder and a receiver, all of it basked in noise. When the sender encodes a message, the message does not always represent exactly what the sender means. This encoded message then goes through a channel, which introduces noise before being decoded with the receiver’s bias. Ultimately, what the sender wants to send isn’t always what the receiver receives. Because of this disconnect, a feedback loop is always required to ensure the communication is well done. But even with a feedback loop, which is subject to the same noise as the forward loop, rephrasing in one’s own words is paramount to ensure the communication was successfully transmitted.

Encoding and Sending the Message

The first few steps when sending a communication is of course to send a message to a receiver. Before the message can be sent however, it must be encoded in a form that can be transmitted. And while forms include spoken, written or non-verbal, most forms in business and management include a strong spoken or written component. The visual component such as images may also be used depending on the context.

If verbal or written form is used as an example, it is very important to ensure that the message to be communicated is encoded with accurate words and is clear, concise and not too long. With a limited vocabulary, encoding complex topics may be difficult. If such is the case, it is usually recommended to stick with short simple words everyone can understand.

The first level of distortion or noise occurs at the encoding level. Distortion at the encoding level includes how well the sender knows the code, or language, being used, but also includes anything that slightly twists the meaning attributed to some words. Meaning can be shifted by things such as emotions, upbringing, values, culture, education, and possibly other languages known to the sender. Being aware of such sources of distortion can allow the sender to more easily identify the reasons for the meaning of his message being misinterpreted by the receiver.

Choosing the Appropriate Channel

With technologies having evolved over time to facility connection between distant lands, the channels available to communicate between people have also become more numerous. Prior the invention of electronic communication methods, people communicated face-to-face or through letters and books. Nowadays, videoconferencing, virtual reality, chat, and text messaging are widespread. Even telephone calls are becoming less popular. Depending of the importance of communication, some channels are better than others at clearly getting a message across.

For day-to-day communication regarding operations management or simple technical questions, chat, forums or text messaging are a very good choice. Most younger business owners use these methods on a regular basis. But it goes without saying that real-time written channels have limits.

For more complex topics or coordination between multiple parties, it is recommended to use at the very least teleconferencing including a video feed. The verbal aspect of communication will enable some of the message to be well communicated, but having a visual component increases the level of trust between people and highly improves most discussions.

When comes the time to talk about sensitive or confidential matters, it is recommended to hold good old face to face meetings. Having full verbal and non-verbal communication will permit the communication to be most complete. And while even complex and sensitive may not always be successfully resolved with even face-to-face, it will most certainty increase the chances for success.

Noise in the Channel

From chat to face-to-face, the level of distortion and noise varies. But as a general rule, the simple the method, the higher the level of distortion. This is due simply to the fact that the lowest level of communication includes the least amount of information and nuance. For instance, chat provides tremendous room for misinterpretation of tone and emotion, which in turn significantly twists the meaning of the message. It is also the slowest form of communication (other than email), making feedback more difficult. As we’ve seen with Donald and Roland, even some level of unreliability in videoconferencing introduces the risk for significant misunderstandings as well. And while noise is also introduced at the face-to-face level, it is generally lower than digital forms of communication.

Receiving and Decoding the Message

When receiving the message, additional levels of distortion are introduced. They are however very similar to the encoding noise and include mastery of the language being used as well as values and culture, amongst others. If misinterpreted, emotions can amplify the wrong perception of the message. It is particularly important to pay attention to ones own emotional reactions to a message being received. Being mindful and controlling emotions during communication is paramount to enabling correct interpretation of the message.

Rephrasing the Message Through Feedback

Finally, to ensure that the message has been well interpreted, rephrasing in one’s own words and feeding it back to the original sender is necessary. When feeding back, it is important to remember that all of the above elements will be involved in the feedback communication, including all possible distortions. But even with noise and distortion, the communication feedback loop is a critical component of successful communication.


Although communication cannot be summarized in a few pages, some insights provided in this article, if applied correctly, will tremendously improve communication within the management team. To learn how to conduct effective meetings, read more about communication in the upcoming article Communication in Management.

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