One of the important parts of ISO 9001:2015 can be categorised as one word - communication.
We can never be sure that our messages are understood, even when dealing with work colleagues, so think how much harder it is when we talk to other organisations or the general public. The major assumption underlying this session is that all organisations and individuals need to communicate: to impart or exchange information in a meaningful, timely and clear way.
You will no doubt agree that communication is not straightforward. How can you tell whether your understanding matches what was intended? If will depend on a number of factors: the message, the vehicle and the type of person you are.
The vehicle or channel that is used to communicate might affect your interpretation of the message. For example, you may expect a suit to be more expensive if it is advertised in an exclusive magazine rather than in a widely distributed newspaper. An experiment a few years ago proved this.
Customers were asked to estimate the price of the same dress advertised in two different magazines. Those who were shown the advertisement in an exclusive magazine priced the dress at about 25 per cent more than those who saw it in the lower-priced, less exclusive one.
The situation in which a message is sent or received will have an effect as well. While this paragraph may have been written in a sunny study with a view of trees outside the window, you may be reading it on a commuter train after an exhausting day at work: the writer’s attention was focused on the message, your attention may be distracted by the ticket inspector or the headlines in your neighbour's newspaper.
What we are beginning to describe here is the classic model of communication.
All messages have a sender and a receiver. The sender seeks to transmit the message in such a way that the receiver understands it and acts on it as the sender intended. The sender, therefore, needs to encode the message and send it via a vehicle (the medium of transmission, or channel) so that it can be decoded by the receiver. The aim is for the message ‘as sent’ to be the same as the message ‘as received’, although in practice there will be a lot of noise and distortion.
The way a sender encodes a message depends on the content of the message, the abilities and mood of the sender, and the assumptions the sender makes about the receiver.
The message may be conveyed using a communication vehicle such as television, the newspaper, radio, e-mail, the Internet and so on. The communication vehicle itself may be carrying lots of other messages - for example advice, information, advertising - much of which will be background noise.
The audience will have to decode the message, and whether they do so will depend not only on their abilities but also on the amount of noise surrounding the message. We would expect some response from the audience once they have decoded the message: an expression of satisfaction, a purchase, or a request for more information.
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