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Chapter 4. Communication: The Lifeblood ... > You Think You're Communicating—But A... - Pg. 45

Communication: The Lifeblood of Team Success 45 Channels: The Static Between Sender and Receiver In communication the major source of interference and distortion is the path the message takes from sender to receiver. In many large organizations, communication must flow through set chan- nels. The more extensive the channels, the more likely that distortion will occur. This can be illus- trated in the popular party game where one person tells an incident to his or her neighbor, who repeats it to the next person, and this continues around the room. By the time it is retold to the originator, the story is completely different. It is not unusual for a piece of information passed orally "through channels" to be distorted at each station, so that what the receiver receives is not at all what the sender sent. One way to alleviate this difficulty is to use written communications. Writing is more difficult to distort, though interpretation of what is written may vary from station to station. Even so, writing has certain disadvantages: Many matters can't or shouldn't be communicated in writing. Writing is time con- suming. For rush matters and matters of transient interest, writing is not appropriate. A more effective way is to shorten channels and allow for bypassing where feasible. The fewer stations along the way, the less chance for distortion. The main reason for channels is to ensure that people who are responsible for a project are kept aware of everything that applies to it. This makes sense, but it is usually overdone. If a matter involves policy decisions or major areas of activity, channels are important. But a great portion of the communication in companies concerns routine matters. Using channels for these not only may distort the message but will slow down the work. The Feedback Loop The sender must always be sensitive to how the receiver receives and accepts the message. One