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Which communication theories that you have researched and applied, provide most insight into understanding the dynamics of the observed event?
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For human beings, communication is vital for life, without which survival is questionable. Communication is needed for the transmittal of information and knowledge as well as to build society through relationships. In this context, what one says, how it is said and what it means are important (Vertino 2014). As a resultant of the developments in globalisation, there is a growing significance of interpersonal communication as there is a shift among countries from industrialised economies to service-based economic development. Communication forms the crux in building and sustaining business in a competitive landscape (Ramaraju 2012). It would reduce stress, improve well-being and the quality of life strategies in both personal and professional life. This essay analyses a communication event occurred in a popular retail store between a buyer and the store’s salesperson. The importance of effective interpersonal communication in the retail sector is identified through the application of communication theories.
The observed event occurred in a popular clothing retail store between a new shopper and its salesperson. The store is known for its branded and designer women's clothing lines and a pleasant ambience. The shopper was welcomed cordially at the entrance, and she was directed to the aisle of casual wear as requested. A salesperson came for her assistance with greetings and began to explain the line of cloths in-stock and current offers on sale. After trying on a selected dress, she informed the salesperson that the fit was not perfect and that she wanted to try some other models. However, the salesperson began to repeatedly insist her on buying the same that it is the most suitable dress available for her in the store. This annoyed her, and she hurriedly left the shop when the salesperson sarcastically told that she finds her choice in nearby shops as a closing note.
Communication is defined as a process of information transmission between individuals through a medium and having a mutual understanding of each other (Adu-Oppong & Agyin-Birikorang 2014). In the event at the retail store, the shopper was the sender of information, whereas the salesperson was the receiver who received the message to show a specific size of the dress. The response was negative as the receiver insisted on selling the incorrect one. The sender gave negative feedback by leaving the store without purchasing. During the event, the information flow between the sender and receiver were verbal and non-verbal. Applying discourse theory on this event shows that this communication process was manipulated by the personal attributes of participants and their social and emotional interests.
Both intentional and non-intentional communication was visible throughout the event. More than words used, non-verbal communication played a crucial role in the event (Gabbott & Hogg 2000). For instance, the meet and greet staff boasted a wide smile, welcoming note, pleasing appearance and cordial tone. The shopper showed her interest through a smile portraying her acceptance. During most of their conversation, both the shopper and the salesperson maintained eye contact, which showed their interest in continuing the interaction and revealed their attentiveness to the conversation. Both the participants used kinesics to express the size and quality of dress to be bought. To prove the Mehrabian theory (1995), visual and voice cues were adopted by both parties in expressing their dissatisfaction over each other.
To justify the fact that actions are articulated louder than voice, the use of paralanguage throughout the event was observed (Pennycook 1985). When the interaction commenced, the salesperson was highly articulating about the store and its offerings in a clear, concise and steady pitch which was easily understandable. He gave a space of a few minutes for the shopper to think and make her decision. Surroundings of this communication event were aesthetically designed, well-lighted and had a well-furnished layout. The employees were clothed in the retail store brand, which showed the outlets image as a high-end fashion provider. Inspite of these, the event was a failure as the message conveyed was not received properly resulting in an incorrect response and negative feedback.
One of the main reasons for communication failures is the presence of noise which hinders the clarity and understanding of the message conveyed (Lunenberg 2010). In this event, the noise was observed with the receiver due to selective listening, which created a misunderstanding with the message sent. Though the sender specified her requirements and explained about her intention to buy, the presence of noise affected the information flow.
Attribution error was observed during this event wherein the shopper and salesperson did not confirm the message shared. As the primary rule of retailing is customer is king, this error is the complete responsibility of the store and its salesperson (Talking Retail 2015). This shows how an observer emphasises the behavioural attributes of people rather than the situation (Maruna & Mann 2006).
The success of communication not only depends on the conversation but also on the listening capabilities of the participants. Listening helps to strengthen a longstanding relationship, manage conflicts, ensure trustworthiness and build a reputation (Bodie 2012). The failure of this event is attributed to the lack of listening ability of the salesperson. Though the communication process was smooth, distraction arose due to the passive listening of the salesperson. As the salesperson failed to accommodate the shopper’s ideas, miscommunication ensued resulting in a negative impression about the store for the shopper, which is likely to impact her future purchase plans.