Columnists Features

Please pull down those corporate communication barriers


COMMUNICATION gurus have spoken and written a great deal about communication. I am just a cog in the wheel of that procession and I can’t do any better than what these pundits have already done. There are certain facets that outline effective communication. There is the encoder or sender in layman language, the message, and then there is the decoder or receiver or interpreter of the said message. I want to dwell on the part that is deemed as noise in communication. This noise can drastically distort a message.
This noise is not necessarily sound but anything, be it concrete or abstract that tend to distort and becomes a barrier to a message. There are barriers not only at personal level but at corporate level as well. Some business entities through certain components of their advertisements have ended up distorting the very message they are trying to put across. This noise can be as a result of the choice of images, or words or medium used to convey the message.
Lately my thoughts have been on corporate communication and I am almost persuaded to read for it for my post graduate. And when I look around, two corporate entities come to mind; the banking sector and the post office.
Zampost has remained an intriguing case study for me for so many reasons about a business that has survived volatile business paradigm shifts. I have written about it together with the Zambia Daily Mail in that line. This time around when I went into the main Post Offices of Lusaka and Ndola, I discovered that those window panes that demarcated the teller booths have since been removed.
Whatever reasons the management had, I see it as positive action in line with corporate communication. The issue of having a window pane separating the teller and the client stand as barrier for rapport if not indeed a bad security motif. As much as there is always a security concern for most enterprises that do over-the-counter money transactions by barricading the tellers, I feel this does cause a serious business mistrust and miscommunication.
Maybe let’s start from a presentation point of view. Most will agree that the lecterns in most auditoriums have been reducing in size to almost nothing in some cases. As a professional communicator I always avoid to speak behind a lectern in whatever setup I find myself speaking. Is it the reason why some prolific world religious speakers like Thomas Dexter (TD) Jacks always avoid standing behind a lectern on the pulpit? Weather he does it purposefully or not, this has positive impact on the effectiveness of the delivery.
Coming back to the subject, what Zampost has done to remove that barrier should be a lesson to other corporations such as banks. If the bankers expect me to trust them with my monies as I stand in the queue for a deposit, why can’t they in turn trust me by removing that windowpane which distorts their message of trust?
Why should the removal of this barrier in the banks be for a privileged few in what they now dub ‘prestige banking? I am not a banker and I don’t know the logic behind this but I think for me as an African and a Zambian, blockaded over-the-counter money transactions remind me of the colonial masters’ way of thinking when they couldn’t trust the indigenous or ‘natives’ as they called us to transact within personal zone save a squared hole on the wall of separation.
And each time I am doing a deposit, I am so much put off to even converse with the person on the other side of the pane. He or she is like saying, ‘trust me with your money even when I don’t trust you.’
There is indeed nothing exciting about prestigious banking when only a special few are the only ones allowed to do their financial transaction in a private room and in in a relaxed atmosphere even as both the bank personnel and client sit facing each other without a physical burrier separating them. Isn’t that just serving a purpose of social clustering?
Each time I get to talk with my boss in his office, he does move away from his chair behind the executive mahogany desk and sits on the couch facing me. This action does a great deal in communication and helps in evaporating the elephant in the room.
The author is a Communication & Media Specialist, and pastoring the Seventh-Day Adventists in New Mukushi.

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