Chapter 2: Examining Communication Approaches

Chapter Summary

This chapter presents three approaches to analyze managerial communication:  the “Arrow,” “Circuit,” and “Dance” approaches.  The Arrow manager believes that “effective expression = effective communication” and views the receiver as a passive information processor. The Circuit manager assumes that “understanding = effective communication.” This manager believes that understanding will lead to agreement and that understanding should be the primary goal of communication. Both of these approaches simplify the communication process.  A preferred approach is to use the “dance” metaphor, which expresses the nuances and complexity of organizational communication. There are many similarities of communication to dance. In both activities, there are patterns that emerge and rules, written or unwritten, that govern behavior.




Case Study

Case 2.1:  The Consulting Contract

The purpose of this case is to learn how to communicate with different types of people while presenting a proper perspective on the nature of the communication process.

A software design firm that employs 500 people has hired your consulting team.  The firm’s senior management has determined that the six managers of the software development department and the six managers of the customer service department are “ineffective communicators.”  They have hired you to conduct a 2-hour introductory seminar on “Communicating for Managerial Effectiveness” for the twelve managers.  These managers have never participated in this kind of training and are unaware that the senior management views them as “ineffective”.  All the managers have college degrees and are under 35 years old.  The customer service managers have degrees in management and the software managers have degrees in computer science.  Top management has told you that if this initial training is successful, they will hire your firm for a major contract.  Your main contact is a 28-year old vice president who seems introspective.  There are a number of paintings by Claude Monet around the vice president’s precisely organized room. The initial meeting with the VP started and ended right on time.

Your objectives:

  1. Specify the precise material you would cover with each group of managers.
  2. Specify how you would present the material: a) to the vice president, and b) to the two groups of managers.
  3. Most importantly, provide a rationale for all your choices based on the material presented in the book.

Video Resources

Arrow Managers Video

  • What type of managerial communication skills does this clip illustrate?
  • What assumptions about effective communication does the clip make?
  • What communication skills are missing from the clip?

Circuit Managers Video

  • What type of managerial communication skills does this clip illustrate?
  • What assumptions about effective communication does the clip make?
  • What communication skills are missing from the clip?


Rules 1 Video

Rules 2 Video

  • What types of rules are illustrated in the clip(s)?
  • What organizational situations does the clip(s) remind you of?
  • Does a discussion of rules help or hinder organizational relationships? Explain.




Question #1: The Shannon and Weaver model of communication stresses the two-way dynamic nature of a communication event.

Question #2: Which management orientation is based on the assumption that “effective expression = effective communication”?

Question #3: Which statement is not an assumption of the Circuit manager?

Question #4: What type of manager would most likely say, “Effective communicators recognize that each communication event is unique and try to communicate with each person in the context of that unique relationship.”

Question #5: What is a strength of the Arrow Approach?

Question #6: The ability to sense another communicator’s cues and to be able to forecast with some accuracy the actions of others, their responses, and their interpretations best describes

Question #7: A Circuit manager might cite poor listening or “hidden agendas” as reasons for communication difficulties.

Question #8: Effective listeners often have a rule to initiate conversations with questions about unrisky topics. This is an example of a regulative rule, which is a communication rule that guides the on-going action of the communication event.

Question #9: To effectively communicate, it is more important to be attentive to regulative rules than interpretation rules.

Question #10: What type of manager would most likely say “Effective communicators are aware of the interaction patterns between people so they adapt their messages, as well as interpret them, in light of these patterns.”

Question #11: Martha Graham was a

Question #12: Credibility is something that a speaker possesses.

Question #13: Claude Shannon was a(n)

Question #14: According to your author, a “punctuation difficulty” is

Question #15: The Arrow manager looks at receivers as passive information processers.