Effective communication demands that the parties involved in communication have a shared and clear appreciation of the various definitions and parameters about which information is being exchanged. According to Stefano Baldi and Ed Gelbstein (“Jargon, Protocols and Uniforms as barriers to effective communication”): Workplaces are witness to generally five types of communication relationships: Collaborative, Negotiative, Competitive, Conflictive and Non-recognition
The diagram below illustrates how these are connected to each other and how these relationships are potentially unstable and as a result of which a relationship can develop from one type to another either to improve the effectiveness of communication (the positive development path) or slide into a complete collapse of communication (the negative development path).
Non-recognition relationship blocks any meaningful exchange by refusing to acknowledge that one or more of the players in the desired exchange has no rights whatsoever.
Conflictual relationship is a situation in which the parties recognize each other but are no longer able to work towards a win-win result and resort to verbal abuse and physical violence instead.
These types of relationships present a fundamental obstacle to effective communication. The other three relationships are often of an unstable nature, in the sense that a change in the relationship can be triggered by a relatively minor event – even just one word that is inappropriate at the time – and this can happen very quickly.
In the collaborative relationship the needs and positions of all the parties are clearly defined and understood and everyone involved shares the will to succeed, as well as information, equipment, accommodation and logistic arrangements, for example.
The negotiative relationship has much in common with the collaborative scenario except that some needs and positions may not have been defined clearly enough and require discussion and trading to reach a mutually acceptable outcome.
Collaborative and negotiative relationships can quickly become competitive relationships when one of the players needs to (or decides to) play a role different from that which was originally agreed upon. This new role could also result in some form of overlap with the responsibilities of others. Another kind of competitive relationship occurs when a “new player” joins an established effort and expects to obtain rights, privileges and concessions from other players. Competitive relationships can, if not properly managed, quickly deteriorate into non-recognition, conflict and exclusion.