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Successful & Unsuccessful Communication Relating to Noises

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According to our e-text, communication is the process of sending and receiving messages with attached meanings (p. 190). The key elements in the communication process include a source, receiver, and a communication channel. The source encodes an intended meaning into a message and the receiver decodes the message into a perceived meaning in which it may or may not give feedback to the source. The communication channel is the pathway through which messages are communicated. But from what I have learned, the communication role when involving speaking, expressing through body language, facial looks, tone of voice and even through the smallest gestures will always communicate a message to the receiver. It is always important to know that when people communicate with each other, two things are at issue. One is the accuracy of communication, which is the issue of effectiveness. Effective communication occurs when the intended meaning of the source and the perceived meaning of the receiver are virtually the same. The other deals with cost, which is an issue of efficiency. Efficient communication occurs at minimum cost in terms of resources expended. These two issues have led to two different incidents at my company in which the outcome was both negative and positive.

Communication Process

Using the communication process model, the preceding example can be broken down as follows: New York generation power plants qualify as the source in this scenario since they provided the information to the Houston office, the receiver. The communication channel, or pathway that the message was communicated, was through an email that had to be translated from megawatts generated into the equivalent of unit of measurement applied to natural gas usage or Ccf, which represents a unit of volume equal to one hundred cubic feet. Some of the communication was lost in the translation due to software difficulties with several measurement units and conversion. Additionally, the analyst that received the email could not provide feedback due to the difficulty in contacting the plant director directly since he is located onsite and waiting for him to return a page is the only alternative. The absence of feedback, the differences in computer software language, and the inability to communicate directly with a senior executive (status effect), all provided the ‘noise’ that interfered with successful communication. This breakdown in the communication process could cost Energy East hundred of thousand dollars in lost sales revenue and lost end users due to poor relations.

This scenario is just a rare and isolated case in communication process failure at Energy East. Most of the time, steps are taken to ensure that communications between all parties are clear, concise, and successful in ensuring that the message is understood. One such example occurred between Energy East and Tennessee Gas Pipeline during the ten-day maintenance curtailment from transporting natural gas from Gulf Coast region up to the Northeast utilities. Since most of Energy East natural gas is provided from the Gulf Coast region, the maintenance curtailment severely impacted Energy East’s ability in meeting the demands of its customers. One of our largest national account, Osram-Sylvania, required that any back orders or missed orders resulting from instances that are outside of Energy East’s control, such a pipeline curtailment, be addressed in writing within two days of Energy East’s knowledge of any potential problems.

Having taken this into account, the operations manager and sales director took immediate steps and drafted a letter to Osram-Sylvania within hours of the announced maintenance on Tennessee Gas Pipeline. The letter was immediately sent to Osram-Sylvania via overnight courier to ensure that they received it before any problems arose. The letter was also followed with a phone call between the sales director at Energy East and the lead buyer at Osram-Sylvania to ensure that the letter was understood and if he had any questions. This immediate communication and follow-up prevented a potential loss of business and the important client relationship that would have affected future business opportunities.

Again, using the same communication process model as previously seen, the example of successful communications can be broken down to analyze the different elements. In this case, Energy East is the source of the communication as we notify Osram-Sylvania, the receiver, of the problems that would arise during the pipeline curtailment. The channels of communication in this example include a letter of explanation and a phone call to follow-up to answer any questions. Noise has been eliminated from the process by allowing immediate feedback between the two parties, ensuring that the intended meaning is the same as the perceived meaning without interference.


From these two examples, it can be determined that the noise interference can cause a tremendous amount of difficulty in understanding the true intent of the message. The email sent through conversion software between New York power plants and the Houston office was not as efficient as a letter and phone call that allowed feedback and questions. By taking away the barriers, such as lack of feedback, status effect, and technical problems, the message was clear, without any misunderstandings. This is not to say that email, as a form of communication, is inefficient; however, by adding the various noise factors as interference, the company could lose thousands of dollars as a result of poor communication.

From these two examples, management at Energy East has learned some important lessons in communicating with others, as well as ensuring that all messages are understood before actions are taken. Discussions with corporate office in New York regarding conversion software, telephone follow-ups and access to senior executives have led to a decrease in disastrous conflicts at Energy East. Occasionally, problems still arise when noise interferes with effective communication, but steps are immediately taken to determine the cause of communication breakdown and implement corrective actions to ensure that the failure is not repeated.


University of Phoenix (Ed). (2002). Organizational Behavior [University of Phoenix Custom Edition e-text]. New York: Wiley.

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