Chapter 31. The Communication Climate Inventory
James I. Costigan and Martha A. Schmeidler
The communication climate in any organization is a key determinant of its effectiveness. Organizations with supportive environments encourage worker participation, free and open exchange of information, and constructive conflict resolution. In organizations with defensive climates, employees keep things to themselves, make only guarded statements, and suffer from reduced morale.
Gibb (1961) identified six characteristics of a "supportive environment" and six characteristics of a "defensive one." Gibb affirmed that employees are influenced by the communication climate in the organization. He characterized a supportive climate as one having description, problem orientation, spontaneity, empathy, equality, and provisionalism and a defensive climate as having evaluation, control, strategy, neutrality, superiority, and certainty. These items are paired opposites. Capsule definitions of the terms follow:
Characteristics of a Defensive Climate
Evaluation—The supervisor is critical and judgmental and will not accept explanations from subordinates.
Control—The supervisor consistently directs in an authoritarian manner and attempts to change other people.
Strategy—The supervisor manipulates subordinates and often misinterprets or twists and distorts what is said.
Neutrality—The supervisor offers minimal personal support for and remains aloof from employees' personal problems and conflicts.