Communicationis a process in which people reach mutual understanding through amedium (Knapp & Daly, 2011). Workplace interaction ought to beopen and results-oriented. It is also responsive to technologicalchanges as seen by the adoption of Internet-based channels. Todaymost organizations have adopted social media and email as thecornerstones of their communication strategies.Entities haveadapted to various forms of internet communications with email beingmost prevalent. (McShane,Steen & Tasa, 2015). Theseplans tend to promote the development of networks within the variouspeople in the organization as asserted by the network theory(Thurlow, Lengel & Tomic, 2004). Email has proven to be efficient, improved productivity andincreased information sharing amongst employees separated by time andspace. Thepopularity of email messaging in the organization further givesweight to the structuration theory that opines that groups within theorganization create social structures (Derks & Bakker, 2010). Onthe other side, it eliminates a crucial aspect of information in anyconversation. That includes the face-to-face interaction which humanbeings rely on to pass messages (McShane, Steen & Tasa, 2015). According to Forbes magazine, only 7% of communication is verbal.That means that over 90% of communication comprises of nonverbalcues.The kinesics theory influences negatively on the prevalence ofelectronic association in the society (Aryes & Heuett, 1997). Itfocuses on the effect of body movements in relaying information andan individual’s prowess in using body language. Traditionally,humanity has relied on non-verbal contact to pass information, andthe prevalence of electronic methods of social contact has led to areduction in its use. In his theory on Kinesics, Ray Birdwhistellobserves that non-verbal communication is central to the organizationgoal.
Non-verbalcommunication refers to the body language and a series of expressionsthat we portray whether consciously or subconsciously.
Fromour handshakes to the clothes we wear, nonverbal details reveal whowe are and influence how we relate to other people. Thenature and extent of gestures are irreplaceable (Derks, & Bakker,2010). However,there is an increasing use of social media and email platforms at theexpense of actual human interaction.Using strictly technology types of communication removes non-verbalcommunication from the equation and alters the orderliness andeffectiveness of social interactions found in "face-to-face"information exchange. (Hightower, Sayeed, Warkentin, & McHaney,1997). Most struggle to convey emotions over an email, texts ortweets and struggle to interpret the emotions of others.
Receiversoften misinterpret work emails as more emotionally negative orneutral than intended and can cause misunderstanding, poor workplacedecisions, and even damage relationships.( Knapp & Daly,2011). Suchreception is in opposition to a physical interaction where a personcan discern the unspoken body language. In this instance, a personcan add their warmth to the message by just communicating in words inaddition to the use of gestures. The emotional state of the messageis easy to discern as opposed to email communication.
Kinesicslike body postures and facial expressions help in interpretingpeople’s behavior (McShane, Steen & Tasa, 2015).Technologyhasalso standardized the expression of emotions, for instance, the useof emoticons, which therefore eliminates the uniqueness of non-verbalcommunication (Knapp & Daly, 2011).However, even in the face ofan existingand rich medium of communication namely, verbal and non-verbal, theuse of internet-based platforms is on the rise.Emailsand text messaging have taken a central role in the process of humaninteraction. Social media, on the other hand, does allow users to generate andinteractively share information.Social media helps to facilitate avirtual form of contact, creating a sense of community andencouraging information. (McShane, Steen & Tasa, 2015). Expertsagree that social media can be proactively put into control toproduce positive results including employee engagement. Somefindings provide experimental evidence that emotions can becontagious, even without direct interaction or nonverbal cues. (Ayres& Heuett, 1997).
Emotionalcontagion refers to the idea that various emotions can pass ontoother people without their knowledge.(McShane, Steen & Tasa,2015). Insocial media, this phenomenon happens when a particular mood likesadness or joy spreads among people by reading a post, tweets, blogs,and so forth magnifying the intensity of global emotional synchrony,which can be made to benefit or influence in an organization.(Hightower, Sayeed,Warkentin, &McHaney, 1997). Thiscontagion is, therefore, responsible for the increasing use ofemoticons especially in social media to display emotions and expresssolidarity with other people`s feelings. However, none of this beatsthe actual physical communication involving spoken word andnon-verbal language (Waller, & Ragsdell, 2012).
Finally,when considering a typical business or work environment, employeesare often called upon to complete complex tasks as a group. Thesejobs require individuals with different skill sets to communicate andwork effectively and efficiently together. Determining how effectiveteams can complete complex tasks is a good indicator on whichcommunication method to be used. This efficiency makes us ask whetherbetween technology or face-to-face communication is more useful. Themore "complex a communication task, the richer the medium isneeded” (Thurlow,Lengel & Tomic, 2004, ).
Theuse of e-mail within an organization as the chief form ofcommunication is becoming wider spread (Waller, & Ragsdell,2012). As globalization, satellite offices, telecommunicating and theneed for information immediately increases so does the use of e-mailas the primary form of communication within an organization (Derks, &Bakker, 2010). The use of e-mail within an organization allows forcheap, easy and quick communication inside and outside theorganization (McShane, Steen, & Tasa, 2015). However, despite themany benefits of using e-mail as the primary medium of expression,there are adverse effects and situations in which e-mail is not anappropriate method of communication. (McShane, et al., 2015). Assuch, email communication should not remain as the only medium ofchoice, but rather its use should be under the dictates of theprevailing situation.
The use of e-mail as the primary medium of communication within anorganization can depend on the social acceptance within the group,and the preference of electronic mail (McShane, et al., 2015). Socialacceptance is the level in which e-mail is approved and supported bythe organization, teams and individuals involved (McShane, etal.,2015). When social acceptance of e-mail is high, then the use ofit as the primary medium of communication will be more successfulthan if it is not supported (McShane, et al., 2015). E-mail shouldnot be used as the primary method of communication when anorganization social acceptance of it is minimal (McShane, et al.,2015).
Usinge-mail as the primary medium of communication is highly beneficialwhen an organization has a high degree of globalization, satelliteoffices and use of telecommunicating (Derks, & Bakker, 2010). Inaddition to the convenience, e-mail is a beneficial way ofcommunicating documents, presentations and reports to employees(Weller, & Ragsdell, 2012). However, with these benefits can comesome negatives in the form of information overload (McShane, et al.,2015). Due to the ease of sending e-mail, employees can be bombardedwith immense amounts of e-mails and become unable to review andunderstand all the information provided to them in the e-mails(McShane, et al., 2015). Hence,email communication is not a substitute for other forms of humaninteraction. It is just one medium among other hence should beutilized only when it is the best choice.
Usinge-mail as the primary medium of communication is not appropriate whenproviding ambiguous, complex or novel information (McShane, et al.,2015). This type of information often gets misconstrued ormisunderstood in e-mail (McShane, et al., 2015). The interpretationof an e-mails meaning is subjective to the recipient, so often theactual meaning of an e-mail can be missed (Derks, & Bakker,2010).
Anotherrestriction of using e-mail as the primary medium of communication isthat non-verbal cues are absent (McShane, et al., 2015). Theyinclude the use of body parts to relay information. This sharingcould be through facial expression, gestures or even a person’sbody demeanor. In any interaction process, body language is essentialin establishing trust among different people. It represents a betterplatform to judge the genuineness of a person than using writtenwords to determine the same. Nonverbalcues are a form of communication that help individuals conveyinformation to one another (McShane, et al.,2015). In a situationwhere nonverbal cues are essential to sending information then,e-mail becomes an inappropriate method of communication (Derks, &Bakker, 2010). Often nonverbal cues help express the importance,urgency, or emotional aspect of the information and e-mails cannottransmit this information (Derks, & Bakker, 2010).
Havinge-mail as the primary medium of communication within an organizationcan be beneficial for the quick sharing and receiving of information.This precise aspect of e-mail as a primary medium of communicationshas both benefits and disadvantages (Waller, & Ragsdell, 2012).Using Smartphones and the internet employees can access and respondto their e-mails anywhere. This availability essentially meansemployees will need to work and respond to this communicationanyplace, and this is creating a work-life balance problem foremployees (Waller, & Ragsdell, 2012). This overload is a reasonto take caution when determining to use e-mail as a primary medium ofcommunication because it can create work-life balance difficultiesfor employees (Waller, & Ragsdell, 2012). Also,the use of email in official communication provides the opportunityto store the conversations for posterity. Such a feature is notavailable in the use of non-verbal communication. This platform makesa conversation more official, and its use provides an opportunity tohold the participants into account due to its written nature.
Evenif an organization chooses to use e-mail as their primary medium ofexpression, there are the unique situations where the use of e-mailfor communicating information is inappropriate (Waller, &Ragsdell, 2012). It is best practice for an employee to learn abouttheir termination through face-to-face communication and not throughe-mail (Waller, & Ragsdell, 2012). As well as it can be dangerousor improper to put certain information into an e-mail (Hornug, 2005).Information like personal beliefs, biases and personal informationshould be put in e-mails with caution because e-mails create anelectric footprint that can be revisited in the case of conflict(Hornug, 2005). As well, the use of sensitive organizational businessstrategy and employee information in e-mails should be underrestrictions, as these e-mails can be shared inappropriately orleaked (Hornug, 2005).
Withrates of globalization increasing within an organization, it is astrategic and cost-effective move to make the primary medium ofcommunication e-mail (Derks, Bakker, 2010). Communicating throughe-mail has many benefits including reducing stereotypes and biases,the communication is recorded and has an electronic footprint andinformation can be shared quickly with many people (Hornug, 2005).However despite its many benefits using e-mail as the primary mediumof communication is not always an appropriate method ofcommunication. Often e-mails are seen as less personal and can bemisunderstood very easily (McShane, et al.,2015). It is important toexercise discretion when determining if information should beconveyed in an e-mail even if the primary method of communicating ise-mail.
Besides,the use of emails to relay personal and confidential information isdiscouraged in support of a more interactive approach to relayinginformation. A face-to-face meeting and a letter are fit for such anexercise. Thesame applies in the case of bad news.Ifone is involved in a negotiation, a physical meeting is moredesirable than using electronic mails (Derks & Baker, 2010). Itgives both parties the opportunity to gauge each other, establishrapport through verbal and non-verbal communication.
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