Effective Business Communication
Communication is neither transmission of message nor message itself. It is the mutual exchange of understanding, originating with the receiver. Communication needs to be effective in business. Communication is essence of management. The basic functions of management (Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Directing and Controlling) cannot be performed well without effective communication. Business communication involves constant flow of information. Feedback is integral part of business communication. Organizations these days are very large. It involves number of people. There are various levels of hierarchy in an organization. Greater the number of levels, the more difficult is the job of managing the organization.
Communication here plays a very important role in process of directing and controlling the people in the organization. Immediate feedback can be obtained and misunderstandings if any can be avoided. There should be effective communication between superiors and subordinated in an organization, between organization and society at large (for example between management and trade unions). It is essential for success and growth of an organization. Communication gaps should not occur in any organization. Business Communication is goal oriented. The rules, regulations and policies of a company have to be communicated to people within and outside the organization.
Business Communication is regulated by certain rules and norms. In early times, business communication was limited to paper-work, telephone calls etc. But now with advent of technology, we have cell phones, video conferencing, emails, satellite communication to support business communication. Effective business communication helps in building goodwill of an organization. Business communication skills are critical to the success of any organization despite its size, geographical location, and its mission.
Business communication is interlinked with internal culture and external image of any organization. So, it is the determining factor to communication inside the organization. Good business communication practices assist the organization in achieving its goal of informing, persuading, favorable relationship, and organizational goodwill. Organizations can only survive if they accept the rapidly changing global challenges and the communication processes are structured and delivered.
The present workforce is dynamic in nature so communication is a challenge when executed against the backdrop of culture, technology and competition. The success of any business to a large extent depends on efficient and effective communication. It takes place among business entities, in market and market places, within organizations and between various groups of employees, owners and employees, buyers and sellers, service providers and customers, sales persons and prospects and also between people within the organization and the press persons. All such communication impacts business. Done with care, such communication can promote business interests. Otherwise, it will portray the organization in poor light and may adversely affect the business interest. Communication is the life blood of any organization and its main purpose is to effect change to influence action. In any organization the main problem is of maintaining effective communication process.
The management problem generally results in poor communication. Serious mistakes are made because orders are misunderstood. The basic problem in communication is that the meaning which is actually understood may not be what the other intended to send. It must be realized that the speaker and the listener are two separate individuals having their own limitations and number of things may happen to distort the message that pass between them. When people within the organization communicate with each other, it is internal communication. They do so to work as a team and realize the common goals. It could be official or unofficial.
Modes of internal communication include face-to-face and written communication. Memos, reports, office order, circular, fax, video conferencing, meeting etc. are the examples of internal communication. When people in the organization communicate with anyone outside the organization it is called external communication. These people may be clients or customers, dealers or distributors, media, government, general public etc. are the examples of external communication.
This course will take approximately 6 weeks to complete. Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
- Describe communication;
- Identify competencies in interpersonal communication that occurs in organizations;
- Describe the interpersonal relationships between coworkers and their supervisors;
- Explain the differences between informal and formal messages;
- Understand the concept of information overload;
- List ethical concerns regarding business communication; and
- Many more.
SECTION 1: COMMUNICATION
Meaning of Communication
The word communication has been derived from the Latin word 'Communicare' that means ‘to share’. Communication may be defined as interchange of thought or information between two or more persons to bring about mutual understanding and desired action. It is the information exchange by words or symbols. It is the exchange of facts, ideas and viewpoints which bring about commonness of interest, purpose and efforts. Communication is simply the act of transferring information from one place, person or group to another. Every communication involves (at least) one sender, a message and a recipient. This may sound simple, but communication is actually a very complex subject. The transmission of the message from sender to recipient can be affected by a huge range of things. These include our emotions, the cultural situation, the medium used to communicate, and even our location.
The Communication Process
A message or communication is sent by the sender through a communication channel to a receiver, or to multiple receivers. The sender must encode the message (the information being conveyed) into a form that is appropriate to the communication channel, and the receiver(s) then decodes the message to understand its meaning and significance.
Channels of Communication
A breakdown in the communication channel leads to an inefficient flow of information. Employees are unaware of what the company expects of them. They are uninformed of what is going on in the company. This will cause them to become suspicious of motives and any changes in the company. Also, without effective communication, employees become department minded rather than company minded, and this affects their decision making and productivity in the workplace. Eventually, this harms the overall organizational objectives as well. Hence, in order for an organization to be run effectively, a good manager should be able to communicate to his/her employees what is expected of them, make sure they are fully aware of company policies and any upcoming changes. Therefore, an effective communication channel should be implemented by managers to optimize worker productivity to ensure the smooth running of the organization.
The Role of the Manager in Effective Business Communication
Business communication is no longer about how to write a letter, email or use effective writing skills. It has also extended to other areas in the business, for example, excellent relationships within the business. A manager should not only concentrate on successful communication with its external clients, customers and stakeholders. The employees of the business actually are internal clients and should also be treated with care. Many scholars refer to this as internal marketing, a very important feature of good business communication. Employees’ well-being and work satisfaction play a large role in their productivity and how loyal they will be towards the business. The role of the manager is to ensure good relationships with and among employees.
Barriers in Business Communication
For any kind of communication to be successful, it is essential that the receiver attributes the same meaning to the message as intended by the sender of the message. But all acts of communication are not perfect or successful. At times, some meaning is lost as the message encounters various barriers along its passage between the sender and the receiver. Such barriers may arise at any of the stages through which a message passes during the process of communication. This is also called miscommunication. Some of the common problems that lead to the failure of communication are: noise, cultural differences, complexity of subject matter, personal biases, semantic problems, socio-psychological barriers, filtering, information overload, poor retention, poor listening, goal conflicts, slanting, inferring, etc.
Filters in Business Communication
What is Filtering?
Filtering is altering the interpretation of the message by applying certain influences or biases. The receiver will filter the message according to their experience and as a result the interpretation of the message can be very different from what was intended. The consequence of filtering is that there can be misunderstanding which can lead to an unexpected response. For example, the project manager may ask a team member if the document has been completed. The team member may interpret this as asking whether it has been written, and not whether it has also been reviewed and signed off.
A good listener will listen not only to what is being said, but also to what is left unsaid or only partially said. Effective listening involves observing body language and noticing inconsistencies between verbal and non-verbal messages. For example, if someone tells you that they are happy with their life but through gritted teeth or with tears filling their eyes, you should consider that the verbal and non-verbal messages are in conflict, they maybe don't mean what they say. Listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages in the communication process. Listening is key to all effective communication, without the ability to listen effectively messages are easily misunderstood. Communication breaks down and the sender of the message can easily become frustrated or irritated.
Your voice can reveal as much about your personal history as your appearance. The sound of a voice and the content of speech can provide clues to an individual's emotional state and a dialect can indicate their geographic roots. The voice is unique to the person to whom it belongs. For instance, if self-esteem is low, it may be reflected by hesitancy in the voice, a shy person may have a quiet voice, but someone who is confident in themselves will be more likely to have command of their voice and clarity of speech. Effective speaking is being able to speak in a public context with confidence and clarity, whilst at the same time reflecting on your own personality.
Reading is purposeful. The way you read something will depend on your purpose. You read different texts in different ways. In everyday life, you usually know why you are reading, you have a question and you read to find the answer. You usually know your way around your favorite newspaper, so if you want to know the sports results, you go straight to the correct page, or if you want to know what is on television tonight, you go straight to the television page. You do not start on the first page. When you read a novel, it is different. You start at the beginning and slowly move towards the end. In academic reading, you need to be flexible when you read - you may need to read quickly to find relevant sections, then read carefully when you have found what you want.
Writing skills are an important part of communication. Good writing skills allow you to communicate your message with clarity and ease to a far larger audience than through face- to-face or telephone conversations. You might be called upon to write a report, plan or strategy at work; write a grant application or press release within a volunteering role; or you may fancy communicating your ideas online via a blog. And, of course, a well written CV with no spelling or grammatical mistakes is essential if you want a new job.
SECTION 2: CORPORATE COMMUNICATION
Introduction to Corporate Communication
Corporations are the most common form of business organization, and one which is chartered by a state and given many legal rights as an entity separate from its owners. This form of business is characterized by the limited liability of its owners, the issuance of shares of easily transferable stock, and existence as a going concern. Whereas a company could be any entity engaging in business, such as a proprietorship, partnership, or corporation. In this section we will understand corporate as any work sector where there is demand for good communication skills.
What is Crisis?
A sudden and unexpected event leading to major unrest amongst the individuals at the workplace is called as organization crisis. In other words, crisis is defined as any emergency situation which disturbs the employees as well as leads to instability in the organization. Crisis affects an individual, group, organization or society on the whole.
As we begin the next millennium, the importance of effective intercultural relations in both global and domestic contexts is well recognized. To be effective in another culture, people must be interested in other cultures, be sensitive enough to notice cultural differences, and then also be willing to modify their behavior as an indication of respect for the people of other cultures. We will use the term ‘‘intercultural sensitivity’’ to refer to the ability to discriminate and experience relevant cultural differences, and we will use the term ‘‘intercultural competence’’ to
A meeting is a formal or informal deliberative assembly of individuals called to debate certain issues and problems, and to take decisions. Formal meetings are held at definite times, at a definite place, and usually for a definite duration to follow an agreed upon agenda.
Types of Meetings
This kind of meeting is to bring everyone up to date on the state of the other peoples' portions of a project. The participants are those reporting progress and those hearing it. An agenda is required for this kind of meeting. It should last no more than fifteen minutes.
Communicating through Visuals
Is a picture really worth a thousand words? In this age of multimedia and mass communication, it often seems so. As humans, we are biologically wired to process the world visually. We understand images instantly—long before we learn the language to describe them. That is why visual communication is the most powerful medium for transferring volumes of information recent research supports the idea that visual communication
SECTION 3: TECHNICAL WRITING
Introduction to Technical Writing
Technical writing aims to convey complex information to a specific audience. It is a field of professional writing on technical subjects. Technical writing is a category of technical communications which is a broader field that involves documenting, sharing, interpreting, and/or publishing specialized scientific, technological, organizational and/or other information. Technical writers are typically responsible for assembling documents such as handbooks, field guides, textbooks, user manuals, catalogs, web pages, software or equipment instructions, and policies and
A report is written for a clear purpose and to a particular audience. Specific information and evidence are presented, analyzed and applied to a particular problem or issue. The information is presented in a clearly structured format making use of sections and headings so that the information is easy to locate and follow. The report brief may outline the purpose, audience and problem or issue that your report must address, together with any specific requirements for format or structure.
A business proposal is a written document sent to a prospective client in order to obtain a specific job. A business proposal is a written proposal presented from a vendor that is intended to elicit business from a prospective buyer. It differs from a business plan, which is primarily constructed to obtain start-up capital by detailing the organization and operational aspects of the business to demonstrate its profit potential. A business proposal is also unique because it contains much more than figures and statistics represented by pie charts and graphs. In fact, the former
Note making can be defined as a systematic method of writing down quickly, briefly and clearly the important points of reading a text. It is a productive skill which integrates both reading and writing skills.
Dynamics of Non-Verbal communication
Good communication is the foundation of successful relationships, both personally and professionally. But we communicate with much more than words. In fact, research shows that the majority of our communication is nonverbal. Nonverbal communication, or body language, includes our facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, posture, and even the tone of our voice.
Presenting a professional image, both in person and on the telephone, is very important in the Office Skills profession. Taking care of your customers over the telephone and making them feel well informed and appreciated is essential. Whether you are the front office receptionist or an executive secretary, the following phone tips should always be followed.
Communication Challenges in Today’s Workplace
Good communication practices are at the heart of every successful business. Without successful internal communications, work processes slow down or grind to a halt and customers are not served properly. When processes do break down, you'll more than likely find some common communication issues at the root of the problem for managers and employees alike.
Guidelines for Effective Network
In today’s marketplace, over 60 percent of jobs are secured through networking. Use these rules to build a solid network of professionals who can help you achieve your career objectives.
- Don’t Expect It to Be Easy
Connecting with the right people in the right way is challenging and time-consuming. It’s important to have realistic expectations when building your network; it will not be an easy or lackadaisical process and it will take motivation, perseverance and follow through. The opportunities and contacts are out there, but they won’t be found without research, time, persistence and a positive attitude.
SECTION 4: PRESENTATION SKILLS
Presenting information clearly and effectively is a key skill to get your message or opinion across and, today, presentation skills are required in almost every field. Whether you are a student, administrator or executive, if you wish to start up your own business, apply for a grant or stand for an elected position, you may very well be asked to make a presentation. This can be a very daunting prospect. This chapter is designed to help.
Making a presentation puts you on public display. An audience not only listens to your ideas, it also responds to the way you use your voice and your body. You need more than a well written presentation to make an impact. You will also need to deliver it in a lively, flexible and interesting way. In this leaflet we suggest many ideas for invoking energy in your presentation style.
Group discussions are now being used as an important step in the selection of candidates both in private and government organizations. Regarded as an effective tool in the recruitment process besides job interviews, a GD plays a pivotal role in selecting the best and most suitable candidates from many who apply for the same post. It is also used as a tool to study the behavioral and attitudinal responses of the participants.
Preparing Curriculum Vitae
Also called a CV or vita, the curriculum vitae is, as its name suggests, an overview of your life's accomplishments, most specifically those that are relevant to the academic realm. In the United States, the curriculum vitae is used almost exclusively when one is pursuing an academic job. The curriculum vitae is a living document, which will reflect the developments in a scholar/teacher's career, and thus should be updated frequently.
The covering letter or cover letter (as it covers or the first page attached with the CV) is vital to your CV. This is why it is the first page and not an addition. Your covering letter demonstrates your writing style better than your CV (which is usually more brief and factual).
Interviews are about presenting yourself in a positive and confident manner and we have interview skills and tips to help you. Many candidates are often worried that by "overselling" themselves they may appear arrogant and, as a result, they opt for mainstream answers which can sometimes appear fairly vague.
A telephone interview will usually be given to candidates who have passed the online application and/or psychometric test stage of the graduate recruitment process and are used to sift out applicants to be invited to a face-to-face interview or assessment center. You are more likely to have a telephone interview with one of the large corporate recruiters than with a small or medium sized company. Telephone interviews are used by all kinds of employers – banks, accountancy and law firms, consultancies, retailers, manufacturing companies etc
SECTION 5: BUSINESS LETTER
Now-a-days business operations are not restricted to any locality, state or nation. Today production takes place in one area but consumption takes place everywhere. Since the businessmen as well as customers live-in far-off places, they don’t have sufficient time to contact each other personally. Thus, there arises the need for writing letters.
A memo (or memorandum, meaning “reminder”) is normally used for communicating policies, procedures, or related official business within an organization. It is often written from a one-to-all perspective (like mass communication), broadcasting a message to an audience, rather than a one-on-one, interpersonal communication.
Notice and Circular
Notices: It is a form of intra departmental communication. Informational messages are transmitted to the members of an organization by putting them up as notices for everyone to read. It is generally displayed on the Notice Board of the organization and everyone is expected to go through its contents. In case of legal notice, it is sent by post.
Minutes of Meeting
Also known as protocol or note, minutes are the live written record of a meeting. They include the list of attendees, issues raised, related responses, and final decisions taken to address the issues. Their purpose is to record what actions have been assigned to whom, along with the achievements and the deadlines.
Seminars and Conferences
A seminar is a commercial program where attendees are given information or training about a specific topic. A seminar is usually held for groups of 10 to 50 individuals and frequently takes place at a hotel meeting space, an academic institution, or within an office conference room. Some common types of seminars in business focus on personal development or business strategies. Seminars, sometimes called conferences, are events sponsored by businesses or corporations with the intention of circulating knowledge, new techniques, or new practices to their employees. Seminars should not be confused with workshops.
E-mails and E-Filing
The abbreviated form of electronic mail is 'email'. Email is a system used for creating, sending/receiving and storing data in a digital format over a network of computers. Today's email technology uses the store-and-forward model. In this model, users send and receive information on their computer terminals. However, the computer is used only to connect to the email architecture. The creation, transmission and storage of email takes place only when connection with an email architecture is established.
Culture is a way of thinking and living whereby one picks up a set of attitudes, values, norms and beliefs that are taught and reinforced by other members in the group.This set of basic assumptions and solutions to the problems of the world is a shared system that is passed on from generation to generation to ensure survival. A culture consists of unwritten and written principles and laws that guide how an individual interacts with the outside world.