How to make Business Communication Effective

how is business communication unique and how to improve business communication using technology and how improve business communication
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Published Date:22-07-2017
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Part 1 Chapter 1 Business The Communication Foundations Chapter 2 Communication Multicultural and Global Communication Chapter 3 Environment Technological, Legal, and Ethical Considerations © StockbyteChapter 1 Business Communication Learning Foundations Objectives 1 Explain why business communication is important to individuals and organizations. LET ’S TALK BUSINESS 2 Communication permeates all aspects of our personal and profes- List and explain sional lives. It is the key to having positive interactions and to build- the goals of ing and maintaining favorable relationships.The ability to commu- business nicate and to have that message understood is vital in today’s Image not available due to copyright restrictions communication. world. The core principles apply, no matter how complex or advanced the technology becomes. 3 In marketing communication at 3M, knowing the objective Describe the of the communication and understanding the target audience patterns of are core principles, whether the communication is external or business internal. Being aware of the organizational climate, industry communication. trends, and customer preferences helps me create and deliver effective messages. The astute and skillful communicator 4 considers all these factors. Explain the Whether you are preparing e-mail, leading a meeting, writing a report, ironing out a mis- communication understanding with a coworker, or conveying the vision of an organization, your use of good, process. basic communication skills will give you confidence that your message will be effective. 5 Identify communication barriers and describe ways to remove them. 2Chapter 1: Business Communication Foundations 3 FIGURE 1.1 Key Ways in Which The Importance of Communicating Effectively Communicating Effectively • Getting Jobs You Want Effective commu- • Being Productive on the Job Work per- Is Important to You nication will make it possible for you to formance is enhanced by your ability to design a powerful résumé, compose a per- listen effectively, speak clearly, and write suasive application letter, interview with competently. poise and confidence, and get the job you • Relating Positively to Others Successful want. business and personal relationships depend • Gaining Promotions Moving ahead in your on mutual trust and respect; communicat- career depends on communicating your ing ethically, with concern and compassion, technical competence to others and main- is essential. taining effective relationships with them. • Assuring the Success of Your Organization • Providing Leadership Your ability to moti- Your organization will succeed only if it has vate and help others achieve rests on your the support of its constituencies—support understanding of human nature and on that comes from effectively communicating mastering communication skills. with customers or clients about the organi- zation’s products or services. As Diane Kiekhoefer notes in this chapter’s Let’s Talk Business feature, communica- tion is one of the most important skills you can develop. How well you read, listen, speak, and write will affect the quality of your personal relationships and, as shown in Figure 1.1, will help determine the progress you make in your career. Research with business professionals reveals that effective communication ranks LO 1 high among the skills necessary to succeed in business. The number and types of Explain why business work-related communication activities in which a person engages depend on his or communication is her field and level of responsibility. For example, telemarketers spend the majority important to individuals of their work hours placing calls to prospective customers; entry-level tax account- and organizations. ants focus on entering and manipulating data; public relations specialists gather information and write news releases; and human resource managers negotiate con- tracts, train employees, and prepare reports. NOTE 1.1 How and when you Businesses must have effective internal and external communication in order to communicate vary by field. succeed. Internal operations depend on the day-to-day exchange of information among employees. Performance objectives, job instructions, financial data, cus- tomer orders, inventory data, production problems and solutions, and employee production reports illustrate the range of internal communication exchanged in the course of doing business. Organizations accomplish long-range planning and strate- gic decision making by relying on research, reports, proposals, conferences, evalua- tions, and projections. External communication builds goodwill, brings in orders, and ensures contin- ued existence and growth. Day-to-day external communications include sales calls, product advertisements, news releases, employment notices, bank transactions, and periodic reports to governmental agencies. External communication that has a long- range impact includes new product announcements, plant expansion plans, contri- butions to community activities, and annual reports. As you can see from these examples, most business communication is transac- tional: It involves a give-and-take relationship between the sender and the receiver(s) in order to establish a common understanding. This interaction is the primary fea- ture that distinguishes business writing from journalistic or creative writing.4 Part 1: The Communication Environment communication note DEFINITION OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION The word “communication” comes from the Latin word com- among themselves. Business communication is the process of munis, which means common. When individuals communicate, establishing a common understanding between or among they try to establish a common understanding between or people within a business environment. NOTE 1.2 Effective communication is essential to both you and the organization for which Effective communication you work. The material in this book is designed to help you improve your ability to benefits you and the communicate. This chapter focuses on the goals, patterns, and process of communi- organization. cation. It also addresses communication barriers and ways to remove them. Later chapters provide more details about meeting the challenges of communicating in a business environment. Goals of Business Communication Effective business communication involves both the sender and the receiver, but the LO 2 sender must take responsibility for achieving the four basic goals of business commu- List and explain the nication: goals of business communication. 1. Receiver understanding 2. Receiver response 3. Favorable relationship NOTE 1.3 The sender has primary 4. Organizational goodwill responsibility for communication success. Receiver Understanding NOTE 1.4 The first goal of business communication, receiver understanding, is the most impor- First goal: Receiver tant. The message must be so clear that the receiver understands it as the sender understands message as means it to be understood. sender intended. For communication to be successful, the sender and receiver must achieve shared meaning. Suppose a supervisor sends an e-mail to a subordinate saying, “No one plans for a meeting like you do.” Should the worker react with pleasure or disap- pointment? Is the supervisor praising or criticizing the worker’s attention to detail? The message is too vague to guarantee receiver understanding. If one worker says to another, “Will you join me for lunch today?” the sender and receiver might have different ideas about who will pay for the receiver’s meal. It is a challenge for the sender to achieve the goal of receiver understanding. To develop a clear message, the sender must consider the following four issues, which are discussed in detail later in this chapter: • Receiver characteristics • Message form and content • Receiver feedback • Communication barriersChapter 1: Business Communication Foundations 5 Receiver Response The second goal of business communication is receiver response. The receiver NOTE 1.5 Second goal: Receiver response may be positive, neutral, or negative. It may be conveyed through words, provides necessary actions, or both. The situation will determine what is appropriate. If the chair of a response. committee distributes a memo announcing the time and date of a meeting, those who receive the memo may act in any of four ways. They may (a) notify the chair that they will attend, (b) notify the chair that they will be unable to attend, (c) attend without having notified the chair in advance, or (d) miss the meeting without pro- viding advance notice. The first three actions achieve the goal of receiver response; the fourth does not. Because this goal is achieved when the receiver demonstrates his or her under- NOTE 1.6 The sender should make it standing of the message by providing an appropriate response, a sender should easy for the receiver to assist the receiver to respond. The wording of the message should encourage respond. response. In a face-to-face conversation, the sender (speaker) can ask the receiver (listener) if he or she understands the message. Further, the sender can ask directly for a specific response. When written messages are used, the sender can encourage a response by asking questions, enclosing a reply envelope, including an e-mail address, asking the receiver to telephone, or using any one of many other possibilities. Favorable Relationship The third goal of business communication—favorable relationship—focuses on the NOTE 1.7 Third goal: Sender and people involved in the communication process. To establish a strong business rela- receiver have a favorable tionship, the sender and the receiver should relate to each other in three important relationship. ways: positively, personally, and professionally. They must create and maintain a favorable relationship. Both the sender and the receiver will benefit from a favorable relationship. If the sender manufactures goods or provides services, a favorable relationship might mean job satisfaction, increased sales, and more profits. If the sender is a customer, a favorable relationship could lead to a continued source of supply, better prices, and assistance if problems develop. The sender should assume primary responsibility for creating and maintaining a favorable relationship. Some of the ways the sender can do this include the following: • Stressing the receiver’s interests and benefits • Using positive wording • Doing more than is expected For example, suppose you have to refuse to work overtime on Wednesday. If you simply say “No,” you will do little to promote a favorable relationship with your supervisor. By offering to work overtime on Thursday or by finding someone who is willing to work Wednesday, however, you will have helped your supervisor, taken a positive approach, and done more than was expected. Organizational Goodwill NOTE 1.8 The fourth goal of business communication stresses benefit to the organization. The Fourth goal: Organizational goodwill of customers or clients is essential to any business or organization. If a goodwill.6 Part 1: The Communication Environment company has the goodwill of its customers, it has their con- fidence and often their continued business. The more good- will a company has, the more successful it can be. Message senders have a responsibility to try to increase goodwill for their organizations. They do so by ensuring that their communications reflect positively on the quality of the company’s products, services, and personnel. The way in which an employee handles a returned mer- chandise situation can be used as an example of how to build organizational goodwill. If store policy dictates that employees should accept returned merchandise even when the customer doesn’t have a receipt, the employee could say: “Would you prefer a refund or a replacement?” After the customer has chosen, the employee should complete the transaction quickly and courteously. Doing so might lead to repeat business for the company and enhance its reputa- tion. This behavior allows the employee to generate good- will for the store and achieve the fourth goal of business communication—organizational goodwill. Effective communication helps foster positive relationships between people Patterns of Business Communication and between organizations. As communicators strive to achieve the four goals of business communication, they LO 3 send and receive messages that are both internal and external to their organizations. Describe the patterns Some of these messages are formal; some are informal. Some messages are work of business related; others are personal. communication. Internal Communication Patterns NOTE 1.9 As shown in Figure 1.2, organizational communication can flow vertically, horizon- Organizational tally, or through a network. In vertical communication, messages flow upward or communication flows in all downward along a path referred to as the “chain of command.” Reports and pro- directions. posals commonly follow an upward path; policy statements, plans, directives, and instructions typically follow a downward path. Horizontal message flow occurs between workers or units of comparable status who need to share data or coordi- nate efforts. In network communication, information flows freely among those who have a link that goes beyond the participants’ role or unit within the organization. Members’ roles or status within the organization will generally have the greatest influ- ence in vertical communication and the least influence in network communication. NOTE 1.10 A network may be a planned part of the business operation or it may arise from Networks may be planned informal interactions. An example of a planned network is a project team formed or unplanned. to computerize a process. An informal network could consist of employees who share interests outside the workplace. Organization-based informal networks, such as company-sponsored softball teams, can be powerful. Members can discuss work- related issues outside the traditional communication structure and then combine efforts to influence the direction of the organization. Personal networks such as those consisting of friends and relatives, classmates and faculty, current and former employers, and current and former coworkers are important sources of professional and personal support. © Blend ImagesChapter 1: Business Communication Foundations 7 FIGURE 1.2 Business Communication Manager Patterns Supervisor A Supervisor B Supervisor C Assistant A Worker C Worker C Worker B 1 4 1 Worker C Worker C Worker A Worker B 2 5 1 2 Worker A Worker C Worker B 2 3 3 Worker A 3 Vertical communication Horizontal communication Network communication Regardless of the direction in which it flows, communication may have a for- mal, an informal, or a serial pattern. In this section, formal and informal refer to the nature of a communication, not the writing or speaking style used to convey a mes- sage. You’ll learn more about communication style in later chapters. FORMAL COMMUNICATION Formal communication is business related. It can be written (memo, report, policy) or NOTE 1.11 Formal communication is oral (speech, meeting). Most organizations keep written records of formal oral com- business related. munication—copies of speeches, minutes of meetings. Formal communication • Is planned by the organization. • Flows in all directions. • Is essential for the effective operation of the business. INFORMAL COMMUNICATION Informal communication—sometimes referred to as a grapevine—consists of both NOTE 1.12 Informal communication business-related and personal information. Rumors about company expansion and can be business related or discussion about a popular TV show are two examples. Most informal communica- personal. tion is oral, but widespread use of e-mail has made informal written communication more popular. Informal communication • Is not planned by the organization. • Flows in all directions. • Develops and maintains positive human relationships. The following Communication Note provides additional information about the advantages of cultivating an organizational grapevine. NOTE 1.13 SERIAL COMMUNICATION Serial communication is Much of the information flowing vertically and horizontally within an organization chain transmission of information. involves three or more individuals. For example, job instructions are developed by8 Part 1: The Communication Environment communication note A SWEET AND SOUR LOOK AT THE GRAPEVINE Every organization has a grapevine, but not every organization In order to take full advantage of the grapevine, managers uses it effectively. should When used to provide comprehensive, honest information to • be as open, honest, and complete as possible when com- employees in an easy-to-understand manner, the grapevine fills municating information gaps. Professionals who use the grapevine in this way • monitor the grapevine to learn whether formal messages will find it a useful resource that can help them assess the morale have been understood or need restating of the organization, understand employees’ anxieties, and evalu- • identify and work with those who are key purveyors of ate formal communication efforts. If an organization’s managers grapevine information ignore or attempt to suppress the grapevine, however, the likely • ask employees how they use the grapevine result will be low morale, low productivity, misinformation, and misunderstandings—factors that lead to worker resignations. —Lorenzo Sierra, Aon managers and transmitted to the supervisors who report to them. The supervisors, in turn, transmit the instructions to the workers under their direction. This commu- nication pattern is called serial communication. In serial communication, messages are usually changed—sometimes dramati- cally—as they are sent from one member of the chain to another. Because each sender may omit, modify, or add details to the message as he or she relays it, special precautions are necessary. Four techniques will assist in maintaining the accuracy of and achieving understanding with serial communication: Senders should Receivers should • Keep the message simple • Take notes • Request feedback • Repeat the message © Blondie—King Features SyndicateChapter 1: Business Communication Foundations 9 Although serial communication is typically oral, e-mail has increased its pres- NOTE 1.14 Serial communication may ence in written form. The ability to forward messages without paraphrasing them be oral or written. minimizes or eliminates the distortion customary in oral serial messages. This advantage is lost, however, when those who receive the message add to or comment on it before passing it along. Having to read the additional information can place a burden on the receiver. External Communication Patterns External communication flows between a business organization and the entities with NOTE 1.15 Organizations which it interacts. Companies have many external contacts such as customers, sup- communicate with many pliers, competitors, the media, governmental agencies, and the general public. These external publics. contacts may be domestic or international. The information that flows between a business and its external receivers can be either written or oral. Letters, reports, orders, invoices, and web pages illustrate external written communication; tele- phone calls and radio or television advertisements are examples of external oral communication. Although external communication is typically formal, it may occur informally NOTE 1.16 External communication as well. Whenever an employee comments about work-related matters to someone can be formal or informal. not affiliated with the organization, informal external communication occurs. The external audience could be a neighbor, a friend, someone to whom the worker has just been introduced at a party, or someone who accidentally overhears a conversa- tion. Employees represent their organizations both on and off the job; therefore, they should demonstrate good communication skills in their professional and social interactions. Literally thousands of formal and informal communications take place every day. Effective communication enhances both individual and organizational success. The Communication Process Understanding the communication process can help you become a better communi- LO 4 cator. The following sections focus on the components of the communication Explain the process model and ways to implement the model successfully. communication process. A Communication Process Model The best way to study the communication process is to analyze a model of it. An understanding of the communication process model shown in Figure 1.3 will strengthen your performance as a communicator. The communication process model operates in an environment that includes the sender, the message, the receiver, feedback, and communication barriers. The com- munication environment includes all things the participants perceive through their senses—sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. The communication environment is distracting and complex. Communicators NOTE 1.17 An organization’s culture must overcome distractions to achieve the goals of business communication. In affects its communication addition, they must recognize that each organization has its own culture, a person- environment. ality that affects the communication environment and the way the communication process is implemented. Leaders (past and present), traditions, attitudes, and10 Part 1: The Communication Environment FIGURE 1.3 A Communication Message Process Model Sender Receiver Feedback Barriers Barriers philosophies determine each organization’s culture. Some organizations are formal, as indicated by conservative clothing, limited access to leaders, and a preference for written communication. Other organizations are informal—casual dress, open-door policies, and a preference for oral communication. Other factors influencing the cul- ture are the organization’s values relating to diversity, seniority, friendliness, team- work, individuality, and ethics. An organization’s culture can be dynamic, changing with its size and leadership. Effective business communicators adapt to and posi- tively influence the development of their organizations’ cultures. Office politics is the name given to the competitive environment that exists within the corporate culture. The competition may be for tangibles such as equipment, pay NOTE 1.18 raises, promotions, or office space; it may also be for intangibles such as status or The office is a competitive influence. Any workplace action that represents an informal attempt to protect self- environment with its own politics. interest, meet personal needs, or advance personal goals could be termed negative office politics. Actions that establish effective relationships, recognize and meet oth- ers’ needs, build support for constructive ideas, and further the mission of the orga- nization represent constructive office politics. Written rules seldom address compet- itive strategies and, even when they do, bending and breaking occur. Consider the following example. Tony and Victor were assigned to work on an important project, one that could have major implications for their careers. They didn’t always agree on how to approach the task or on the best solution to the problem, but both were satisfied with the final product. When Tony and Victor presented their proposal to the five-member management team, it was not received well. Several weaknesses were cited, and the men were asked to remedy them. After the meeting, Tony made appointments with each man- ager to discuss his or her concerns. He acknowledged the report’s weaknesses, asked relevant questions, and gathered useful information. Victor looked for casual oppor- tunities to interact with the two managers he thought were most influential. He tried to distance himself from the proposal by suggesting that he wasn’t really happy with it but had been pressured to accept Tony’s solution. Both men were trying to main- tain or improve their professional status within the organization—one took a posi- tive political approach, the other a negative one. Because people are human and have emotions, politics exist in every organiza- tion. Ronna Lichtenberg, author of Work Would Be Great If It Weren’t for the People, contends that skill alone is insufficient for survival in today’s organizations; 1 people must be good at office politics, too. This view is shared by others, among 1 “Office Politics,” Executive Excellence, October 1998, p. 14.Chapter 1: Business Communication Foundations 11 them Rebecca Luhn Wolfe, author of Office Politics: Positive Results from Fair 2 Practices, who advocates practical, ethical choices based on five rules: 1. Understand your corporate culture. Follow policy unless you are in a position to change it. 2. Know when to hold and when to fold. Each is appropriate depending on the sit- uation; be flexible. 3. Believe in win-win situations. Being able to negotiate a solution can help you survive. 4. Play fair. Respect yourself and others. 5. Think first, act later. Results will be better if based on reason rather than emotion. You probably won’t be able to assess the political environment in an organiza- NOTE 1.19 Assess the political tion until you begin working there. If you find yourself working in an organization environment in the where the politics don’t match your beliefs or ability to play, you may benefit by organization. changing employers. Sender’s and Receiver’s Roles The sender and the receiver have important responsibilities in the communication NOTE 1.20 Both sender and receiver process. If both fulfill their roles, the communication will be successful. have important roles. SENDER’S ROLE In the communication process the sender initiates the message. The sender may be a writer, a speaker, or one who simply gestures. The sender’s role in the communica- tion process includes (a) selecting the type of message, (b) analyzing the receiver, (c) using the you–viewpoint, (d) encouraging feedback, and (e) removing communica- tion barriers. RECEIVER’S ROLE The receiver is the listener, reader, or observer in the communication process. The receiver’s role includes (a) listening or reading carefully, (b) being open to different types of senders and to new ideas, (c) making notes when necessary, (d) providing appropriate feedback to the sender, and (e) asking questions to clarify the message. Remember, the sender has a greater responsibility for the success of communi- cation than does the receiver. How you can successfully fulfill your role as the ini- tiator of the communication process is discussed in detail in the sections that follow. Communication Types and Channels Communication can occur verbally and nonverbally. Verbal communication uses NOTE 1.21 Messages may be words; nonverbal communication does not. Although many people associate the • Written term only with spoken words, verbal communication actually includes both written •Oral and oral messages. • Nonverbal All communication travels from the sender to the receiver(s) through channels. Written message channels include memos, letters, e-mail, web pages, notes, reports, telegrams, newsletters, and news releases. These items may include diagrams, draw- ings, charts, and tables. Oral message channels take many forms, including face-to- face conversations, telephone conversations, voice mail, in-person conferences, video conferences, and speeches. 2 Rebecca Luhn Wolfe, Office Politics: Positive Results from Fair Practices, Menlo Park, Calif.: Crisp Publications, Inc., 1997.12 Part 1: The Communication Environment tips and hints Selecting Message Type and Channel When selecting the type of message to be used and the channel Written communication works best when it is impractical through which it will pass, ask yourself the following questions: to bring receivers together or when the message doesn’t warrant the personal touch of face-to-face communication. • Do I need a permanent record of this communication? • Is the message long or complex? If yes, select written If yes, choose a letter (external audience), a memo (internal communication.The writer can draft and revise the mes- audience), an e-mail (either internal or external audience), sage before it is sent, and the receiver can refer to it as or a report (either internal or external audience). Written often as necessary to understand the message. Visual aids messages can have historic and legal value. may supplement the written text. • Will my receiver(s) readily accept the message? If yes, a • Is timeliness a factor? Do I need immediate feedback? written message is appropriate. If no, oral communication is Use face-to-face or telephone communication for urgent preferred.The ability to convey emotion and to react to messages or when immediate feedback is important. In feedback make face-to-face oral communication the best some circumstances, e-mail and fax may be viable format for persuading receivers or conveying bad news. alternatives. Letters or memos are often used to confirm The size of and distance from the audience must also be messages conveyed orally. considered. • Is credibility a concern? Written messages are perceived • Where and how large is the audience for the message? as being more credible than oral messages. E-mails have Face-to-face oral communication can be effective if the less credibility than documents displayed on an organiza- sender and receiver(s) are in the same location. A tele- tion’s letterhead or presented as a report. phone call may work if the number of receivers is small. Senders must consider several things as they prepare to select the type of mes- sage they will send and the channel through which they will send it. Answering the questions listed in the Tips and Hints above will help you make those choices. NOTE 1.22 Nonverbal messages can be conveyed by both people and objects. The human Nonverbal communication channels through which these messages pass include gestures and facial expressions. is powerful. Object-based nonverbal message channels include the appearance and layout of a document and the audio and visual clarity of a videotaped presentation. Nonverbal communication is a compelling complement to verbal communication. When there is a conflict between a speaker’s words and actions or between a document’s con- tents and appearance, the receiver will most likely believe the nonverbal message. The You–Viewpoint NOTE 1.23 Using the you–viewpoint means that the sender gives primary consideration to the The sender must analyze receiver’s point of view when composing and sending messages. This is the most the receiver when using powerful concept in business communication, the key to achieving common under- the you–viewpoint. standing. To use the you–viewpoint, you must first analyze your receiver. ANALYZING THE RECEIVER No two receivers are alike. You must learn as much as possible about how a partic- ular receiver or group of receivers thinks and feels, in general and with respect to the situation about which you will communicate. Specifically, you must analyze the receiver(s) in four areas—knowledge, interests, attitudes, and emotional reaction.Chapter 1: Business Communication Foundations 13 Knowledge. Begin the analysis with a review of each receiver’s education and expe- NOTE 1.24 Analyze the receiver’s rience. Some of the questions you might ask are these: knowledge. • What is my receiver’s highest level of education? • Does my receiver have education specifically related to the topic of my message? • How much work experience does my receiver have? • How much of my receiver’s work experience relates to the specific topic of my message? • Does the receiver have prior experience interacting with me? with my organization? Answers to these questions will help you decide the vocabulary level of your mes- sage, the extent to which you will be able to include technical terms, and the amount of detail the receiver will require. NOTE 1.25 Interests. Second, analyze the receiver’s interests. The sender will want to ask the Analyze the receiver’s following questions: interests. • What are the receiver’s concerns? needs? • Does the receiver have a particular motive? seek a particular outcome? A receiver’s position and level of authority may influence the nature of his or her NOTE 1.26 Position and level of interest in a situation. For example, an employee responsible for production will have authority affect interests. a greater interest in the technical details of machine repair than will the manager to whom he or she reports. The manager’s primary interests may be the timing and cost of the solution. A careful analysis of your receiver’s interest will help you determine what content to include in your message and the approach you take in organizing it. Attitudes. Third, examine the attitudes of the receiver. You’ll want to ask the fol- NOTE 1.27 Analyze the receiver’s lowing questions: attitudes. • What values, beliefs, biases, and viewpoints does the receiver have? • What words or symbols will make a positive impression on the receiver? a neg- ative impression? • What ideas can be used effectively to communicate with this receiver? Among the many attributes that can affect receiver attitudes are status, power, per- sonality, expectations, nationality, and culture. Emotional Reaction. Finally, anticipate the receiver’s emotional reaction to your mes- NOTE 1.28 Anticipate the receiver’s sage. Will the message make the receiver happy? make the receiver angry? leave the reaction to your message. receiver unaffected? As shown in the Tips and Hints on page 14, your assessment will assist you in determining whether you should use a direct or an indirect approach. Analyzing your receiver will assist you in every communication situation. It will enable you to make effective use of one of the most important concepts of business communication—the you–viewpoint. USING THE YOU–VIEWPOINT You can use your understanding of the receiver’s knowledge to influence the ideas NOTE 1.29 Use the you–viewpoint to you include and the amount of explanation you give. In addition, you will be able help achieve the goals of to use words the receiver will understand and accept. You can design the message business communication. to address the receiver’s concerns, needs, and motivations. Determining your receiver’s attitudes will assist you in avoiding or carefully handling negative situa- tions. Finally, anticipating your receiver’s emotional reaction will influence whether you use a direct or an indirect approach in your message.14 Part 1: The Communication Environment tips and hints Predicting Emotional Reactions • In most cultures, people will accept pleasant or neutral • If your supervisor, a customer, or other person with whom messages when you give the main point in your opening you communicate indicates that he or she prefers to have (direct approach). the main idea of the message presented before the details, • A message that could disappoint or anger a receiver might be sure to do so. gain greater acceptance if the sender offers an explanation, a reason, or other supporting information before giving the main point (indirect approach). NOTE 1.30 If you are sending the same message to a group of receivers and you want to Analyze group members achieve the business communication goals with every member of that group, each individually. individual in the group must be analyzed as fully as possible. Then, if the receivers are of equal importance to your goals, you must compose the message for the mem- ber(s) of the group with the least knowledge about, the least interest in, and the greatest emotional opposition to the subject. For example, web pages can be accessed by literally millions of people around the world, but those who develop materials for the Web will define, analyze, and write for their target audience, not all Internet users. NOTE 1.31 The opposite of the you–viewpoint is the I–viewpoint, which includes the me–, I–viewpoint messages are my–, our–, and we–viewpoints. The I–viewpoint means the sender composes messages rarely effective. from his or her point of view instead of the receiver’s point of view. Poor communi- cators use the I–viewpoint and choose message content based on their own knowl- edge, interests, attitudes, and emotional reaction. Only rarely will an I–viewpoint message achieve the goals of business communication. Examine these contrasting examples of sentences from opposite viewpoints: I–Viewpoint You–Viewpoint I think your report is excellent. You wrote an excellent report. You simply do not understand Perhaps an example will help make what I am saying. the instructions clearer. We offer three service plans. Choose the service plan that best meets your needs. NOTE 1.32 As these examples show, using the you–viewpoint means more than changing a Messages should be personal pronoun. It requires that the message be receiver-centered, not self-centered. receiver centered. It requires that you emphasize the receiver’s interests and benefits rather than your own. When you use the you–viewpoint, the receiver is apt to respond positively to both you and the content of your message. Although using the you–viewpoint may mean you sometimes write passively, the results are worth it. NOTE 1.33 The recommendation that you use the you–viewpoint in your messages does not Be honest and sincere suggest that you ignore basic values or compromise ethics. Complimenting someone when you communicate. just so he or she will do what you want is manipulative and inappropriate. Sincerity and honesty are basic to all successful business communication.Chapter 1: Business Communication Foundations 15 FIGURE 1.4 Interoffice Memo Written TO: Members of the Bell Company Community from Receiver’s Viewpoint FROM: Abbott Winthrop, HR Specialist AW DATE: August 23, 200- SUBJECT: Vacation Fund What would you do if you had to travel 1,000 miles to spend time with a critically ill family member but had no sick leave or vacation time from which to draw? As a Bell employee, you would probably request additional paid time from the Vacation Fund. Because the need for time off has been great over these past few months, however, the fund has been exhausted. Without additional time donations, current and future needs will go unmet. Please consider donating some of your unused vacation time to this important fund. A week, a day, or even a few hours can make a dramatic difference for a worker in need. Forms can be obtained from LeAnn Luther (lluther, x7008) or online ( LeAnn is also available to answer questions you have about the program. Thank you for your past and future donations to the fund. It will be helpful now to look at an example of a message written in the you–viewpoint. The goal of the message in Figure 1.4 is to persuade readers. Providing for Feedback The sender’s role in implementing the communication process includes providing for feedback from the receiver. Recall that appropriate receiver response is one of the goals of business communication. To achieve this goal, you can • Ask directly or indirectly for the response. • Assist the receiver in giving the response. When a job applicant submits a letter and a résumé to a company, he or she NOTE 1.34 Feedback is essential to wants the receiver to respond by extending an invitation to interview for a job. To confirm receiver make it easier for the receiver to respond, the sender should be sure the message understanding. clearly asks for an interview and includes a telephone number and address where the sender can be reached easily. In a written sales message, the sender should ask for the order and provide a toll-free telephone number, an e-mail address, or an easy-to-use order form. If the communication is oral, the sender can ask tactfully whether the receiver understands the message or has questions. In critical situations, the sender might ask the receiver to repeat the message and explain his or her under- standing of it. When speaking to a group, a sender can gain feedback by observing the audience, asking questions, or administering an evaluation. Because the most important goal of business communication is that the receiver understand the message, feedback from the receiver to the sender is essential to confirm that understanding. LO 5 Identify communication barriers and describe Potential Communication Barriers ways to remove them. Although knowledge of the communication process and skill in implementing it are NOTE 1.35 basic to effective communication, they will not guarantee success. The sender must also Barriers interfere with the minimize or eliminate barriers that could impede the process. A communication barrier communication process.16 Part 1: The Communication Environment is any factor that interferes with the success of the communication process (see Figure 1.3 on page 10). These barriers may occur between any two of the commu- nication process steps or may affect all the steps in the process. The most crucial barriers are discussed in the next sections. Word Choice NOTE 1.36 Choosing words that are too difficult, too technical, or too easy for your receiver Communication Barrier 1: can be a communication barrier. If words are too difficult or too technical, the Poor word choice. receiver may not understand them; if words are too simple, the reader could become bored or be insulted. In either case, the message falls short of meeting its goals. Senders must be careful to choose the correct words for their messages. Misusing a word (e.g., continuously rather than continually) can impair communication and will reflect poorly on the writer or speaker. Refer to Business English Seminar E for examples of words that are easily confused or frequently misused. Word choice is also a consideration when communicating with receivers for whom English is not the primary language. These receivers may not be familiar with colloquial English—the casual or informal way in which the language may be used. DENOTATIVE VERSUS CONNOTATIVE MEANING NOTE 1.37 A receiver and a sender may attach different meanings to the words used in a mes- Communication Barrier 2: sage. A denotation is the specific dictionary definition for a word. A connotation is Differing connotation. any other meaning a word suggests to a receiver based on his or her experiences, interests, attitudes, and emotions. Connotative meanings can also be the result of slang or sarcasm. Senders should analyze their receivers as thoroughly as possible to determine what connotations those receivers might attach to specific words. If you said to one of your subordinates, “Well, that certainly was fast work” you may have meant the work was completed in less time than you expected. The receiver, however, may attach a different meaning to the statement. Based on what he or she is thinking and feeling at the moment, the receiver may think you meant the work was slow, was done too quickly, or was done improperly. Other specific examples of connotations versus denotations include the following: Word Possible Meanings assertive energetic pushy compromise adjust give in equitable fair equal frugal thrifty cheap funny humorous unusual IDIOMS NOTE 1.38 An idiom is a multiword expression for which meaning cannot be determined from Communication Barrier 3: context. The following are examples of common general and business idioms: Unfamiliar idioms. General Idioms Business Idioms I’m in over my head. The bottom line is we can’t attend. Drop me a line. He is a captain of industry. You’re pulling my leg. It’s just a ballpark estimate. No way Will you crunch the numbers? Keep an eye out for Doug. Jebco is saddled with debt.Chapter 1: Business Communication Foundations 17 Receivers for whom English is not the primary language may have difficulty understanding frequently used idioms. Therefore, avoid using an idiom unless you are certain your receiver will understand it. IMPLICATIONS AND INFERENCES An implication is a meaning given through connotation rather than through specific NOTE 1.39 Communication Barrier 4: details. An inference is a conclusion drawn from connotation rather than from spe- Inappropriate implications cific details. Although inferences and implications need not occur as a set, a speaker and inferences. who implies something can cause a receiver to infer a meaning different from what was intended. For example, a person who says that his work is undervalued may mean to suggest that he doesn’t get enough positive feedback from his supervisor. Without specific detail, however, the receiver of the message might infer that the speaker believes his salary isn’t high enough. To guard against this communication barrier, senders should always use specific language, and receivers should clarify meaning by asking questions. Implications may be made and inferences may be drawn from actions as well as from words. For example, suppose that two employees laugh as their supervisor passes. The supervisor may infer that the workers are making fun of him or her. The workers, however, may have wanted to signal that their morale is high or, more likely, to signal nothing at all. In spite of the problems they can cause, inferences and implications play a role in workplace communication. Intelligent and appropriate inferences are essential to initiative and follow-through on the job; implying rather than directly stating bad news can soften its impact on the receiver. The challenge is to ensure that inferences and implications are appropriate. Carefully analyzing the receiver and situation will help you to meet this challenge. Grammar, Sentence Structure, Punctuation, and Spelling Incorrect grammar and poor sentence structure could hinder the receiver’s under- NOTE 1.40 Communication Barrier 5: standing of a spoken or written message. Punctuation and spelling errors may cre- Incorrect grammar, ate barriers to understanding a written message. As the number of errors increases, sentence structure, readers often stop reading for content and begin editing. The errors suggest that the punctuation, and spelling. person who sent the message either does not know the basics of the language or was too careless to correct the problems. Neither explanation creates a positive impres- sion of the person who sent the message. As a result, the sender could lose credibility. Type of Message Selecting a message type appropriate to the situation is essential to communication NOTE 1.41 Communication Barrier 6: success. For example, communicating complex job instructions orally will most Wrong type of message. likely fail because the receiver must rely solely on his or her memory of what was said—or perhaps memory plus sketchy notes. A written message to which the worker can refer as needed will achieve better results. An in-person oral message is desirable when resolving a conflict between employees. Both the sender and the receiver can take full advantage of the nonverbal cues that accompany the spoken words. If the message is a report on an evaluation of alternative manufacturing processes, the type of message will depend on who will receive it. The report may18 Part 1: The Communication Environment be written or oral, long or short, technical or simple; graphic aids might be used to support verbal content. Often, more than one type of message can be used for the same communication situation. Generally, the higher the level in an organization to which a message is sent, the more concise the message should be. Top managers view time as a precious com- modity; therefore, a brief summary may be more suitable than a long, detailed report. Managers who have greater involvement with operating procedures may derive more benefits from long, technical messages. Appearance of the Message NOTE 1.42 The appearance of a message affects its readability and influences a receiver’s accep- Communication Barrier 7: tance of its content. Smudges, sloppy corrections, light print, wrinkled paper, and Poor appearance of poor handwriting may distract the reader and become barriers to effective commu- written message. nication. Using emoticons and keying all text in uppercase letters can be barriers in e-mail. Senders should examine every document before it is sent to ensure that its appearance does not interfere with its potential for success. Appearance of the Sender NOTE 1.43 The credibility of an oral message can be reduced if the appearance of the sender is Communication Barrier 8: unattractive or unacceptable to the receiver. In addition, unintended nonverbal signals Poor appearance can distract a receiver and influence the way an oral message is received. For example, of speaker. if you smile when you sympathetically give bad news, your motives may be suspect. If the credibility of the message is questioned, the quality of the receiver’s under- standing, acceptance, and response will be reduced. For success in oral business communication, senders should be sure that their dress, cleanliness, and facial and body movements are appropriate to their professions and to the communication sit- uations they encounter. Wearing a tuxedo to a beach party is as inappropriate as wearing a swimsuit to the office. Environmental Factors NOTE 1.44 The environment in which communication occurs can interfere with the success of Communication Barrier 9: a message. A noisy machine in an area where a supervisor is trying to speak with an Distracting environmental employee can become a distracting environmental factor. A supervisor’s desk that factors. separates him or her from a worker during a meeting can intimidate the worker and limit his or her ability to respond to the message. Other examples of environmental factors that can be barriers to effective communication include room temperature, odor, light, color, and distance. The sender has the responsibility to eliminate environmental factors that are communication barriers. If the room in which an oral presentation is to be given is too warm, the sender should try to get the thermostat turned down or to have the windows opened. If the receiver cannot see to read a message because of limited light, the sender should arrange for more light. Environmental barriers can usually be eliminated or reduced, often before communication begins. Receiver’s Capability NOTE 1.45 Communication Barrier 10: If the receiver has a disability that causes a communication barrier, the sender can Receiver’s limited capability. remove or compensate for the barrier by carefully selecting the form of the messageChapter 1: Business Communication Foundations 19 tips and hints Enhance Your Multicultural Communication Skills Learn to enhance your multicultural communication skills by • Avoid hot buttons or blunders like ethnic jokes, sexual following these diversity action steps: expressions, racially based assumptions, inappropriate • Expect multicultural misunderstandings to occur sometimes. touching, and stereotyped job assignments. • Recognize that our best intentions may be undermined by • Use “we’re all in this together” language to express trust old assumptions. and to foster a spirit of goodwill and partnership. • Catch ourselves in these assumptions in order to commu- • Respond to the context and content of a person’s words nicate more clearly and fairly. and deeds, rather than assumed motives. • Learn about the cultural styles and values of different • Don’t be diverted by style, accent, grammar, or personal appearance; rather judge the merits of the statement or groups; understand and appreciate that individual differ- behavior. ences exist within groups. • Don’t generalize about individuals because of their particu- • Consciously seek out new multicultural relationships and lar culture; many individual differences exist within groups. challenges. From David P. Tulin,“Enhance Your Multi-cultural Communication Skills.” Reprinted with permission from Tulin DaversiTeam Associates, Wyncote, PA. and by providing for appropriate feedback mechanisms. Most of the solutions are clear choices. Increased volume, printed text, or a sign language interpreter can help overcome the potential barrier of a hearing impairment. When a visual impairment threatens the success of a written message, print can be enlarged or the message can be given orally. Effective communicators will focus on their receivers’ abilities and will work with receivers to ensure communication success. Ineffective Listening Skills Failure to listen is a common barrier to successful oral communication. Listening NOTE 1.46 Communication Barrier 11: effectively is not easy. One reason listening is challenging is that most people speak Poor listening. 150 to 200 words a minute but are capable of listening at 400 to 500 words a minute. This difference allows listeners’ minds to wander to topics other than the message. In addition, listeners may tune out a speaker and begin thinking about how they will respond to the message. Listening is a skill that can and must be learned. Senders can use several methods to overcome the barrier posed by a receiver’s poor listening skills. Including phrases such as “Take note of this next point; it is particularly important” alerts receivers to listen carefully. Asking questions period- ically will help determine the extent of the listener’s comprehension. In some circum- stances a poor listener may be encouraged to improve her or his listening skills. One of the most effective ways to remove poor listening as a barrier to communication is to improve the quality of the message and the way in which it is conveyed. Thoroughly analyzing the audience before designing the message will help a sender plan, organize, and deliver an appropriate oral message. Other Communication Barriers NOTE 1.47 Several of the most common communication barriers and ways to remove them Several other barriers can have been discussed in the preceding sections. In attempting to improve your arise.

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