Friday, April 9, 2010

“Case Study on Communication Challenges” – Prof.M.S.Rao

There are several challenges in communication that take place in daily life. If we identify the challenges we can eliminate and ensure better understanding among the individuals. We shall take a case study on communication that helps in averting any misunderstanding among the people.

Ken worked in a research department for a year as a researcher and he was laid off as the entire department was closed due to recession. He decided to meet the CEO for a possible outplacement as the organization had several other departments to accommodate him. However the secretary of the CEO, Diana did not permit Ken to meet by saying that CEO was busy. Ken returned without meeting the CEO. He got better employment opportunity elsewhere and joined.

Ken, being a researcher, wrote an article for an international journal while working in the research department. It was published after 9 months and received complimentary copies from the publisher. Therefore, Ken wanted to share the successful publication with his former CEO and went to meet him to gift the book as a complimentary copy. Below was the conversation Ken had with the secretary of the CEO.

Ken: I would appreciate if you could arrange an appointment with CEO. I want….. (Secretary interrupted)

Secretary: Why did you come? We had already handed over your resume to Jim for outplacement. You may go now.

Ken: I did not come for employment opportunity. Don’t assume that people would come here for employment only. I have come to gift a complimentary copy where my article featured in international journal. The CEO would be glad to share the success.

Secretary: No, No, the CEO sees everything and knows everything as every article publication is known to him.

Ken: It is not departmental journal. It is a prestigious journal globally and I want to inform him and gift the book.

Secretary: “You will not get appointment. The CEO is busy” said firmly.

Ken: I anticipated that CEO would be busy and I have already written the details of my name over the complimentary copy.

Secretary: Okay, leave it and go. (She said impolitely and started looking here and there)

Ken handed over the complimentary copy to Secretary.

Ken: Fine, please hand over to CEO. I am leaving the place. However, I will send an email to CEO about my coming physically to gift the book. (Secretary probably worried as the Ken had already mentally prepared to send the email and keep the CEO informed. If Secretary had any intention to skip handing over the complimentary copy, CEO will know as Ken would send mail.)

Ken handed over the complimentary copy to Secretary and departed the office. He sent an email to his ex-CEO about his coming and he could not meet as the latter was busy with his schedules.

After 5 hours, the Secretary telephoned Ken and said firmly, “CEO told to return the book to you. You come and take the book back.”

Ken replied, “It is the complimentary copy meant for the CEO only”. Secretary insisted to take back the book immediately. Ken told Secretary to courier and he was about to give his address. Secretary interrupted Ken’s conversation and replied, “No we don’t send you through courier. You have to come and take.” Ken responded politely, “Right now, I am far away from that place. When I come to that area I would take back the book.”

The very next day, Ken received email from his ex-CEO congratulating Ken for the publication and thanked for coming all the way to gift the book. Ken felt excited that his ex-CEO was pleased with publication.


What were the communication challenges in the above case study?
Was the Secretary right in avoiding the Ken who came all the way from long distance to gift the complimentary copy?
Was it right for Secretary in insisting to come and take the complimentary copy back physically instead of couriering?
Was Secretary a good listener?
Did Secretary empathize with Ken?
What were the other challenges prevented smooth communication between Ken and Secretary?

Action to Take:

• It requires lot of clarity and persuasion in communicating in such situations.
• People need to break their pre-conceived notions and mindset.
• They should suspend their judgment that prevents from listening.
• They need to open up their minds and hearts for effective listening and better communication.
• In such situation the Ken should have waited for sometime till the secretary gets freed mentally to communicate.
• Inner dialogue or inner conservation that takes place among all human beings is often the culprit of communication. The Secretary had lot of inner conversation that prevented from listening.
• Sandwich feedback is essential to communicate and correct and exit smoothly from such a situation.
• The secretary had excessive ego that would have resulted into a conflict had Ken not exited smoothly after getting instructions to leave the place.


At times, the people those who work with higher officials try to create rift because of their excessive egoism which may arise out of their accessibility to higher officials or miscommunication or the inability to empathize, understand and appreciate others.

Sometimes preconceived notions prevent communication. When the reality goes against their pre-conceived notions, people start defending and stop observing the cues of others’ body language because of high ego.

There are barriers and filters that prevent smooth communication. Barriers are physical in nature such as external disturbances and distractions that prevent listening. Similarly filters are psychological in nature that take place within the mind such as biased thinking, inner conversation which might become noise while listening, pre-conceived notions, being pre-occupied with other activities and excessive ego. In this context the Secretary had filters rather barriers that prevented effective communication.

At times, the metal kettle that stores and serves tea is hotter than the tea itself. A few secretaries think too much bigger than their bosses. They become too big for their shoes.


priya said...


priya said...


shweta rana said...

dear sir
plz send the answers to the questions on my email id

Anonymous said...

Dear Prof M.S.Rao,
It was a very interesting case study on communication barriers, problems and challenges.
I really like it.

Unknown said...

hai sir canu send answers for this case study to my mail id pls..my mail id is sandy.acharaya05@gmail.com

Unknown said...

Hai sir canu send the answers for this case study pls..my mail id is sandy.acharaya05@gmail.com

Rajesh kumar said...

dear sir,
can i have solution for this case study please

C.J. said...

Dear Sir,

This a very interesting case to study, is it possible to receive solutions.
Thank you

avi jain said...

Dear Sir,

This a very interesting case to study, is it possible to receive solutions.
Thank you
Email id - gooners7@gmail.com

Gabrielle said...

Hello sir, is it possible for you to send the solutions to this?
Thank you so much sir.
Have a really good day!
email ID: gabriellish@yahoo.com

DodoZeda said...

Dear Prof.
Thank you for the comprehensive case,
Could you please email me with the answers for the questions,



Deblina Saha said...

Dear sir
it was a real help to find this case study.I am surely going to use it in my class.
Thanks a lot.
Deblina Saha

Tanvir Kaur said...

Very useful case study. I'm surely going to use this in my class.

If you may please share the response on my mail idkaur.tanvir15@gmail.com

Tanvir kaur

Anonymous said...

The grammar you used really needs improvement. REALLY.

Anonymous said...

if you may please share the response on my email jassusaggu@gmail.com
I Am very thankful to the sir

Samarendu Naskar said...

Dear Sir
Kindly send me the answers of this case study.
Samarendu Naskar

Fyza Feeyza said...

Dear sir,
can you sent answer for this case to my emel:


vignesh ravi said...

Sir,I Kindly request you to send the answer for the case study
email id: vigneshravi483@gmail.com

vignesh ravi said...

Sir, I kindly request you to send the answer for the case study
Email Id: vigneshravi483@gmail.com

Pradeep Kumar said...

Dear Prof M.S.Rao,
It was a very interesting case study on communication barriers, problems and challenges.
I really like it.can u send the answer for that questions to my mail id : pradeepkumar.050390@gmail.com

Mustafa Akbar said...

dear sir please help in this case study


it was a nice case study sir
learned very much
plz send the answer of this case study at my gmail id

Anonymous said...

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email id: jeonnifer.min@gmail.com

hamna said...

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hamna said...

Plz sir send me the solution of this case study on my email aazan.ashfaq@gmail.com