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 Communication Studies at West Chester University

Chapter 1: The SMCR Model of Communication 

(also sometimes called the Shannon & Weaver Model)

What you need to know: You need to know the parts of the model and how they work. You need to be able to look at a real life situation and identify where the communication went wrong (and articulate how it went wrong using the model). You should be able to identify strategies for preventing the problem in the future.

IGNORE or gloss over the last part of the chapter where the authors cover numerous management theories at a very superficial level. These are useful for connecting this course to other management courses. They are also useful theories, but they are outside the scope of this course and are covered in other courses.


Sample Test Questions:

1.  Using the SMCR communication model (Figure 1.1) label the parts of the communication process in the following scenario: 

Oscar needed to let Martha know that the group was meeting in 409 Main hall tomorrow. So he called her on the phone and let her know. Mary thought that Oscar must really want her there if he went to the trouble to call her and promised she would be there. Unfortunately, she heard the room number wrong because her roommate was talking to her at the same time, so she never made it to the meeting.

2.  What is one cause of communication ineffectiveness in the previous scenario and what is one strategy to overcome ineffectiveness?

Check Answer

3. Because his child is sick, Randy is unable to attend the TravelCo staff meeting. He calls and talks to Laura afterwards and looks over the agenda. Since the group had decided to call customers with promotions, he gets on the phone as soon as he gets into the office, only to discover that someone else had already called the customers. He comes storming into your office angry that other travel agents are talking to his clients and alleging discrimination against him as a single parent.

Use SMCR theory to explain what has probably happened in this situation (there is more than one right answer).

4. Allenís computer was on the fritz so he grabbed his warrantee and receipt and took his computer down to the store. Marilyn, the repair desk clerk, asked if he had called the warrantee department. Marilyn explained that no work could be done until the warrantee department approved it. Allen borrowed Marilynís phone and sat on hold for 30 minutes waiting for a representative. After listening to Allenís description of the problem the warrantee representative authorized installing a new motherboard and wrote out a slip to have the part shipped. Allen gave the authorization number to Marilyn, who took his computer back to the technicians. Five days later, Allen called back to discover that the technicians could find nothing wrong with the computer and it was working again.

Using the SMCR theory, explain how this communication sequence could be improved for better customer service in future.

5. Imagine that you are working for a large Fortune 500 company and you have proven yourself to be a shrewd, flexible, and successful negotiator. Your boss is putting together a negotiating team to build a partnership with a computer-training firm to provide customer service and training on the technology products that your company produces. Once a potential partner company is chosen, the negotiating teams meet for months alternating between the companies for the meeting place. Between face-to-face meetings there are countless express mail packages, email messages, conference calls, and telephone calls as all of the terms of the deal are ironed out and the legal contracts established. Finally, the senior officers and the negotiating teams from both sides meet in a neutral location, your team has proposed going to the Superbowl, to sign the deal and celebrate the partnership. Your boss wants you to be one of the lead players on your negotiating team.

Use the SMCR theory to identify the possible obstacles to pulling off the deal that could arise from miscommunication or poor communication.

6. Imagine that you are a consultant for a well-known agency. Your specialty is business communication, and you are often brought in to resolve communication difficulties in corporations. The CEO at one of your client corporations couldnít seem to get her employees to listen. She had decided that employees would need new parking stickers so that they could more effectively monitor the company parking lot. She told her administrative assistant to have the webmaster put the information on the company Intranet. Later it was discovered that only 60% of employees have easy access to the Intranet at their workstation; 40% of employees found the message on the Intranet and read it; 20% followed the instructions. Use the SMCR theory to explain to your client why this communication effort failed.


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Last modified on Monday, 22 December 2003

Possible Answers

1.  Source = Oscar; Encoding = Process of putting into words his message on the phone; Message = our meeting is in 409 Main hall tomorrow; Channel = telephone; Decoding = process of understanding that Oscar really wants her to be at the meeting; Receiver = Mary; Feedback = promise to be there, other vocal sounds over the phone; Shared Meaning = only partial, that the meeting will occur tomorrow and one should attend; Noise = roommate talking at the same time
(information from lecture, chapter 1 pp. 6-10)

2.  There are several possible answers:

Possible answer 1:  message was ineffective because part of the message was not received due to background noise.  Strategy:  Oscar could have asked Mary to repeat the room location, or could himself have repeated the message.

Possible answer 2:  message was less effective because Mary read too much into purpose of the message than Oscar meant.  Strategy:  Oscar could have been clearer about his purpose at the beginning of the conversation and/or said that he was calling each member (not just Mary) to tell them the new location (stress location) of the meeting.
(information from chapter 1, pp. 10-15)