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Business Communication

Introduction:

To live is to communicate. Every facet of existence needs communication. Business being one of the facets of human existence requires communication. The term “communication” comes from the Latin word communicare , which means ‘to impart’ or ‘participate’. In the course of day-to-day living, we need to participate with other human beings and also with things around us During the course of participation it becomes necessary to receive as well as to give. This process of participation can take different forms, such as talking, writing, interacting, etc. All of this means communication. In business people from all walks of life come together to perform tasks that requires interaction with one another. Such a work situation makes communication necessary and imperative. The business world today has become global, which makes communication even more complex. Communication across borders and cultures requires communication skills that would enable people from different lands to interact with each other so as to achieve some common objective. Hence, it is necessary to develop good communication skills. However, one of the neglected areas of human development is communication. Peter Drucker has made these observations about communication. “Colleges teach the one thing that is perhaps most valuable for the future employee to know. But very few students bother to learn it. This one basic skill is the ability to organize and express ideas in writing and speaking. As soon as you move one step from the bottom, your effectiveness depends on your ability to reach others through the spoken or the written word. And the further away your job is from manual work, the larger the organization of which you are an employee, the more important it will be that you know how to convey your thoughts in writing or speaking. In the very large organization this ability to express oneself is perhaps the most important of all skills a person can possess.”

Dimensions of communication:

To understand the nature of communication it is important to know its various dimensions. Communication has five dimensions. They are as follows

1. Communication can be Intentional or Unintentional. Words are used to express ideas

and are intended to have a particular meaning. Sometimes these words communicate

other than what is intended –they have an unintentional meaning.

2. Communication can be Verbal or Nonverbal. Human communication is often more

nonverbal, involving the body and other objects and actions, than verbal, involving words

alone. Even when we do not speak, the way we walk, stand, and sit communicates a

message to others. It is told about Stalin that he worked on his gestures that were so threatening and commanding that just a movement of his finger was enough to pass death sentence on someone. Other forms of nonverbal communication include letters, memos, arrangements of office furniture, and style and condition of clothing.

3. Communication can be Internal or External. Internal or intrapersonal communication

is the way we talk to ourselves, i.e. without putting thoughts into words. This involves

talking that takes place within ourselves without speaking out the words aloud. But the words that are actually written or spoken are external communication. Nonverbal objects that are chosen to express are also considered to be external communication.

4. Communication can involve Humans, Machines or Animals. Communication

obviously involves humans. It also involves machines – for example, computer. Humans use computers to improve communication between them. We also need to learn how animals communicate, because the nonverbal behavior of humans and animals is quite

similar.

5. Communication can take place between two people as well as within a group. A

conversation between two people is called interpersonal communication. Communication

within groups is classified as either small communication or mass communication.

Importance of business communication:

Because communication is so important in business, organizations want and need people with good communication skills. Several surveys have indicated that communication is important to business. Typical of such surveys is one conducted by Robert Half International of the 1000 largest employers in the U.S. this study found that 96% of the executives reported that today’s employees must have good communication skills to get ahead. Furthermore, in a survey of deans of 90 management programmes, conducted by the Jones Graduate School of Management of Rice University, indicated that one of the greatest teaching priorities of an MBA programme is the subject on Communication.

Unfortunately, the need for employers with good communication skills is often not fulfilled in the business world. A recent study also indicates that there is a correlation between communication and income. Another study conducted, concluded that good writing and speaking skills, along with proper etiquettes and listening skills - determines career and thus, monetary gains in terms of income.

The use of technology in communication makes the skills to communicate more obvious. For instance, Email often displays one’s written communication skills or use of language to different people simultaneously, while audio and video will reveal one’s verbal caliber and diplomacy strength as well.

Over the years, many authors have recognized the importance of communication in an organization. Chester Barnard, for instance, viewed communication as the means by which people are linked together in an organization to achieve a common purpose. This is still the fundamental function of communication. Group activity is impossible without communication, because coordination and change cannot be effected.

Henry Mintzberg’s observation of chief executive officers showed them to spend 78% of their time on communication-related activities involving direct contact with others, scheduled and unscheduled meetings, telephone calls, etc.

Mintzberg also found that managers considered activities involving direct communication with others, to be more interesting and valuable than more routine activities

The skills that require attention, according to 100 randomly selected Fortune 500 executives are, oral presentations, memo writing, basic grammar, information report writing, and analytical report writing. Developing communication skills amounts to developing visual skills, spoken skills, and reading skills.

Objectives of business communication:

The basic objective of all human communication is to obtain an understanding response. Every large and small business house is successful or unsuccessful, depending on how well it can communicate internally and externally. Peter Drucker states: “Objectives are needed in every area where performance and result directly and vitally affect the survival and prosperity of a business.” Hence, we shall consider some of the major objectives of business communication

1. Information: The objective of business is to inform, which means to transfer

knowledge to another person or group. Transfer of knowledge is the most fundamental objective of communication. Information can be given in writing, speaking or any other system of signals or signs. Businesses thrive on information relevant to their business activity. They must know what the demand for their goods or services is; how their competitors are doing in business; what are the terms of credit available in the market; how to deal with government rules and regulations; how to affect economies in production, transport and distribution; how to expand their business, etc. Successful businessmen are concerned not with maximum information but rather, pertinent information. In order to expand or secure a place in a highly competitive market the businessman needs information for planning the future. Information for planning can be of five kinds:

a) Environmental Information – Information pertaining to the geography, climate,

political, and socio-economic conditions.

b) Internal Information – Information about the strength and weakness of the company

with respect to capital, production, and sales capacity, degree of training of the workers, their efficiency, etc.

c) External Information – Information about sources of credits, availability of raw

material, power, and the latest rules and regulations made by the government or local authorities.

d) Competitive Information – Information relating to the strength and weakness of the

competitors and their past and present performance in the market

e) New Development Information – Information concerning the latest research,

upgradation of the product, and availability of raw materials or substitutes.

Before accepting any information the successful business house will ensure that the information is reliable, complete, and recent. Obtaining information has become so vital to the world of business that in developed countries industrial espionage has become quite common, and highly paid spies are sent to find out the secrets of their rivals.

Businessmen have no difficulty in obtaining information from old files, magazines, internet, library research, chamber of commerce, trade fairs and exhibitions, etc. However, as the worldwide web gets complex, it is becoming more and more difficult for business houses to surf through the maze of information. So, the problem is not lack of information, but of immense quantity of information. To help the businessmen out of this problem a number of organizations have taken the role of infomediaries.

Infomediaries are like intermediaries or middlemen, only they do not deal with goods but with information. They perform variety of functions like delivering select information, bringing together scattered professionals, maintaining statistical data on economy, industry, commerce, commodities, demographics, stocks, mutual funds, finance and investments. Just as business organization receives information; it also has to provide information both to the outside world and, to workers within the organization.

The progress and profitability of the company has to be made known, which could

be done through advertising, organizing seminars, conferences, and exhibitions. Public should be informed about the quality of products, the facilities provided to workers, the research conducted, social services rendered to the community and country.

Business organization also needs to communicate information internally to its workers, such as:

i. Information relating to job assignments and procedures

governing them.

ii. Information concerning exact designations of the officers and

their decision-making powers.

iii. Information, which gives a clear understanding of authority.

iv. Information, which will make possible better reception of

instruction.

.

In India, with the coming of liberalization and increased competition, receiving and

giving information has become more important today.

In earlier days, the amount of information available was directly proportional to the worker’s power within an organization. In most modern organization power is getting increasingly decentralized and with it there is an increase in the give and take of information at all levels.

2. Motivation: To motivate means, “to cause to act”. It has been defined as “that inner

state that energizes, activates, or moves and which directs or channels behavior towards

certain goal.

In an organization, when workers are motivated they work eagerly, willingly and often without supervision. Another objective of communication is to increase motivation among workers.

Organization use communication process to overcome motivation problem. Following aspects of the problem of motivation could be considered.

a) Emotional Climate. The management should use communication in such a manner

that the right emotional climate for motivation is created. This can be done by fostering

healthy competition among workers and also by recognizing and giving publicity to achievement.

b) Setting goals or objectives. Set definite objectives working towards and they can

enjoy a sense of satisfaction when objective has been attained. This will mean informing

them of the plan that the management has in mind and the detailed working of the plan.

c) Organization Information. With the help of house journals, direct talks or training

programmes the management should give much information to the employees as possible about the organization for which they are working. Creating a favorable image of the organization in the minds of the workers will give them a sense of pride in working for

the organization.

d) Participation in Decision-making. When subordinates are encouraged to report

directly to their superiors or give suggestions to improve the working of the organization

they will experience a powerful sense of belonging to the organization. One management

writer states that “the higher the degree of participation the stronger will be the resulting inclination to cooperate with company plans”.

e) Establishing Human Relations. When supervisory and junior staff can meet in an

atmosphere of informality and exchange views, when supervisory staff uses tact in communicating orders, admonitions and warnings to the junior staff, and when the staff is encouraged to think out and take the initiative in minor matters, there is less friction and resentment and the organization functions smoothly.

3. Raising Morale: In war it is not the number of soldiers that matters, but their morale

that makes the big difference between losing and winning. Napolean even went so far as to assert that morale “makes up three-quarters of the game; the relative balance of manpower accounts for the remaining quarter”. In a business organization the morale of the workers can seriously affect the success of the business. One of the objectives of communication is to keep the morale of the workers high so that they work with vigour and confidence as a team.

Low morale is often the result of lack of confidence in the management on account of its poor communication skills. The usual characteristics of low morale are lack of discipline, no appreciation or reward for good work well done, bad relations between the supervisors and the workers and sometimes among the workers themselves. When the morale is low, unfound rumors about the state of the company and the caliber of the management usually circulate among the workers.

It should be remembered that high or low morale is not a permanent feature of a company. The same organization could have a high morale among its workers one year and find the workers have lost their morale the next year. It is like a disease that requires immediate attention and diagnosis and cure. Management can keep high morale through communication.

4.

Order and Instruction: An order is an oral or written communication directing the

starting, terminating or modifying of an activity. It is a form of communication by which management directs its subordinates and employees and seeks to achieve its objectives. It is communication that is peculiar to the internal organization of a business house, because superiors can issue orders to their subordinates. Before issuing an order there should be proper planning by the order issuing person. There should be a plan of action prepared in consultation with other managers so that there is no confusion or conflict.

Orders may be oral or written. Written orders are given when the nature of the work is very important or when the person being ordered is far away. Care should be taken to keep a copy of the order so that follow-up action can be taken. Oral orders are given when the work is of an urgent nature or when the person being given the oral order is nearby. In both the cases it is necessary to follow up and find out whether the order has been properly executed. This is called the stage of appraisal.

Instructions are oral or written on a recommended manner in which the work is to be done. For instance, the office superintendent will instruct a new clerk on the manner in which letters are to be filed and the manner in which the outgoing mail is to be entered in the register. In both the cases the clerk has been shown how the work has to be done. The instruction carries and implied order – i.e. the clerk is expected to follow that particular method of doing the assigned work and no other method. From this we may conclude that while all instruction contains an implied order, all orders are not instructions.

5. Education and Training: Communication in business can be used to widen the ever-

widening circle of knowledge. Process of education that takes place in the business world is a part of its activity. Business communication can achieve the objective of Education at three levels of management, of employees and of general public.

a) Education for succession: This means training junior persons in the organization to

handle important assignments involving responsibility so that they are trained to succeed their seniors in executive and managerial positions. These trainees may not go through a formal course in staff training but may be opportunities to work in different departments under the guidance of senior executive. They may also be asked to attend conferences and meetings in order to watch the decision making process. The purpose behind this is to develop a quality of excellence among the future managers of the organization.

b) Education for Promotion: it has been found that the most senior managers are behind

the times. They employ management techniques and control systems that are outdated. Seniority is an important factor in promotion. However, if the seniors are not competent than their promotion is in question. To overcome this problem it is necessary for these seniors to undergo special training, refresher and orientation courses, before they can be considered for promotion.

c) Education during Induction: When new personnel join an organization are inducted

by educating them in the culture of the company, code of discipline, and methods of manufacturing, etc. This is done through training programme or orientation programme.

It not only acquaints the new recruits with organizational functioning but also gives them an idea of the organization they are going to work in.

d) Educating the Public: Educating the outside public usually takes the form of advertising, informative talks, publication in newspaper and journals. This is done to inform the general public as well as the professionals about the product, functioning of the company, and various schemes offered by the company.

Besides these objectives there are other objectives communication such as:

e)Counseling

f) Advice

g) Persuasion

h) Altering behaviour

i) Effecting change

j) Promoting the image of the company

k) Increasing productivity

l) Establishing better relations

m) Influencing potential customer

TECHNOLOGY AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Technology is developing so rapidly that what is new today become common place tomorrow and outdated the day after. The cha nges brought about by new technology are leading to an exciting new information age in which more people will have faster and broader access to data than ever before. Most developments in computer technology

make us more productive, so we can perform our jobs more effectively with less effort. Following are some of the major technologies that are being used in the world of business:

1. Telephones and Voice Mail: Telephones are not new, but new technology has

extended the value of telephones. Voice mail is a computerized message system, a more sophisticated version of an answering machine. It allows people to communicate by phone even when they cannot connect directly.

Given this development, it has become necessary to examine the use of telephones more carefully. Many companies have realized that each employee’s telephone skills contribute to the image of the company, thereby affecting its ability to sell its products and services. The first impression people receives of a company comes from the telephone. Therefore, telephone skills are among the most important technological skills to be developed.

2. Computer Network: Only a few years ago, each desktop computer stood alone, and

data were transferred on disks. However, today desktop computers can communicate directly via computer networks, allowing information to be shared effortlessly. There are

two types of networks: the local area network [LAN] that links users in a single office and the wide area network [WAN] that links remote users. Such networks now allow workers to share files easily among offices in nearby buildings and in some instances across the country. The “information superhighways” which are such a popular topic these days, are huge computer networks. At present, the Internet is the only network big enough to be called an information superhighway. Internet users can exchange messages with other internet users, access electronic databases, and subscribe to electronic “newsletters” on thousands of topics. The system was originally developed to serve scientists and then it expanded to researchers, professors, and students. It is now expanding quickly into the business and public arena. Many business enterprises are networked through commercial providers of data. Specialization networks are being developed to provide specific information.

3. Electronic Mail: Electronic mail (e-mail), the electronic transmission of messages

from one person to another using computers, has become commonplace in business. E- mail system has a significant influence on business communication. One of the advantages of the e-mail system is that it keeps the expenses of communication low. Many firms program their computers to send external e-mail at night, when the telephones rates are lower and most business telephones are not in use. E-mail seems to have an interesting effect on organization that use it for communication among employees. In such organization employees tend to send more messages to their co-workers and superior than those organizations that do not use e-mail system. The result of encouraging the use of e-mail system is a healthy leveling of organizational hierarchy. In low-tech organizations, people tend to believe that they are permitted to communicate only as per the formal communication chart established by the management. In business organization with electronic-mail facilities and capabilities, employees are more likely to contact those at the top with their ideas and comments and bypass their immediate supervisors. Making those at the top more accessible has given many employees a greater feeling of involvement in their organization. As a result, more ideas and suggestions are coming to the attention of decision makers, resulting in improved operations, services, and products.

4. Electronic Bulletin Board: Electronic bulletin boards are computer systems that

allow the posting of information so it may be accessed and read by many other people. They disseminate information within a company to a broader audience. With a modern, someone with a computer can call up the bulletin board and seek information. Others who read the notice and question mat respond directly on the board. One can even post information in the same space on the bulletin by the help of a modem. Companies are using electronic bulletin boards to keep their employees informed about all kinds of things. Employees also use this facility to inform everyone about a vexing technical problem.

5. Teleconferencing and Videoconferencing: Teleconferencing allows groups who are

geographically separated to meet via telephone and discuss issues. This is substituting the use of telephone to call a meeting. Since most of the executives spend at least half their

time in meetings and travelling for meetings, teleconferencing enables discussion over the telephone, which is more convenient and less expensive. Videoconferencing is used for more formal meetings, especially in companies that have this facility. This type of conference is done via the video camera. It enables people to have the conference being in different geographical locations and yet seeing each other. After an environmental disaster, one large company was able to get solution to its cleanup problems by videoconferencing with an 84-year-old Swedish expert whose health did not permit him to travel to the site of problem.

6. Telecommuting and Home Offices: As technology makes it easier to communicate

with people in other locations, some employees have begun working from their homes. They may visit the home office periodically or send the product of their labor to their

employers or clients electronically.

Companies that downsize may contract, with individuals who are not employed, to undertake projects that the company’s remaining workers do not have time to do. Telecommuters and home workers are often regarded as essential and dependable members of the corporate world. One advantage is that widely dispersed employees can be called on to react quickly during emergencies or to reach distant clients. Concerns about traffic congestion, parking problem, office space, and personal preferences all contribute to the decision to allow telecommuting and home office. Communication is participating in the process of informing and being informal. This process is becoming more complex with business becoming global. However, one of the inadequacies of the business world is lack of development of communication skills. With the globalization of business there is a felt need to emphasize development of communication skills. Communication is seen in its various dimensions – such as its nature of being verbal or nonverbal, intentional or unintentional, internal or external; having characteristics of involving humans, machines and animals; and occurring between two people or groups of people. Communication is important to business because of its nature and objectives. It is used in business to achieve the objective of an organization such as motivation, disseminating information, raising morale, educating the employees, and training and development. Communication activity in an organization takes three forms – i.e. the internal- operational, external-operational, and personal. These forms of communication have their own functions and usefulness in an organization. In an organization the flow of information takes place through a network. For the purpose of smooth functioning of an organization there is a formal network, which is designed by the management. However, communication cannot be controlled by the formal network, but also flow in an informal manner. This informal network is known as the grapevine, which can be destructive, but efficient management could use it to their benefit. Communication has been influenced by the development of technology, which has made communication in the business organization simple, efficient and faster.

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1.1 INTRODUCTION

To live is to communicate. Every facet of existence needs communication. Business being one of the facets of human existence requires communication. The term "communication" comes from the Latin word communicare, which means 'to impart' or 'participate'. In the course of our day-to-day living, we need to participate with other human beings and also with things around us.

During the course of participation it becomes necessary to receive as well as to give. This process of participation can take different forms, such as talking, writing, interacting, etc. All of this means communication. In business people from all walks of life come together to perform tasks that requires interaction with one another. Such a work situation makes communication necessary and imperative.

The business world today has become global, which make communication even more complex. Communicating across borders and cultures requires communication skills that would enable people from different lands to interact with each other so as to achieve some common objective. Hence, it is necessary to develop good communication skills.

However, one of the neglected areas of human development is communication. Peter Drucker has made these observations about communication:

"Colleges teach the one thing that is perhaps most valuable for the future employees to know. But very few students bother to learn it. This one basic skill is the ability to organize and express ideas in writing and speaking.

As soon as you move one step from the bottom, your effectiveness depends on your ability to reach others through the spoken or the written word. And the further away your job is from manual work, the larger the organization of which you are an employee, the more important it will be that you know how to convey your thoughts in writing or

speaking. In the very large organization

most important of all the skills a person can possess."

this ability to express oneself is perhaps the

1.2 DIMENSIONS OF COMMUNICATION

To understand the nature of communication it is important to know its various dimensions. Communication has five dimensions. They are as follows:

1. Communication can be Intentional or Unintentional. Words are used to express ideas and are intended to have a particular meaning. Sometimes these words

Unit 1

Communication in Business

communicate something other than what is intended - they have an unintentional meaning.

e) Communication can be Verbal or Nonverbal. Human communication is often more nonverbal, involving the body and other objects and actions, than verbal, involving words alone. Even when we do not speak, the way we walk, stand, and sit communicates a message to others. It is told about Stalin that he worked on his gestures that were so threatening and commanding that just a movement of his finger was enough to pass death sentence on someone. Other forms of nonverbal communication include letters, memos, arrangement of office furniture, and style and condition of clothing. * ~~

f) Communication can be Internal or External. Internal, or intrapersonal communication is the way we talk to ourselves, i.e. without putting thoughts into words. This involves talking that takes place within our selves without speaking out the words aloud. But the words that are actually written andspoken are external communication. Nonverbal objects that are chosen to express something are also considered to be external communication.

g) Communication can involve Humans, Machines or Animals. Communication obviously involves humans. It also involves machines - for example, computers. Humans use computers to improve communication between them. We also need to learn how animals communicate, because the nonverbal behaviour of humans and animals is quite similar.

h) Communication can take place between Two People as well as within Group.

A conversation between two people is called interpersonal communication. Communication within groups is classified as either small communication or mass communication

& Activity A:

Identify the different forms of communication that you employ in your daily life and conversation.

Business Communication

1.3 IMPORTANCE OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION

Because communication is so important in business, organizations want and need people with good communication skills. Several surveys have indicated that communication is important to business. Typical of such surveys is one conducted by Robert Half International of the 1000 largest employers in the US. This study found that 96% of the executives reported that today's employees must have good communication skills to get ahead. Furthermore, in a survey of deans of 90 management programmes, conducted by the Jones Graduate School of Management of Rice University, indicated that one of the greatest teaching priorities of an MBA programme is the subject on Communication.

Unfortunately, the need for employees with good communication skills is often not fulfilled in the business world. A recent study also indicates that there is a correlation between communication and income. Another study conducted, concluded that good writing and speaking skills, along with proper etiquettes and listening skills - determines career success. In other words, having good communication skills would result in advancement of career and thus, monetary gains in terms of income.

The use of technology in communication makes the skills to communicate more obvious. For instance, Email often displays one's written communication skills or use of language to different people simultaneously, while audio and video will reveal one's verbal calibre and diplomacy strength as well.

Over the years, many authors have recognized the importance of communication in an organization. Chester Barnard, for instance, viewed communication as the means by which people are linked together in an organization to achieve a common purpose. This is still the fundamental function of communication. Group activity is impossible without communication, because coordination and change cannot be effected.

Henry Mintzberg's observation of chief executive officers showed them to spend 78% of their time on communication-related activities involving direct contact with others, scheduled and unscheduled meetings, telephone calls, etc.

Mintzberg also found that managers considered activities involving direct communication with others, to be more interesting and valuable than more routine activities.

The skills that require attention, according to 100 randomly selected Fortune 500 executives are, oral presentations, memo writing, basic grammar, informational report writing, and analytical report writing. Developing communication skills amounts to developing visual skills, written skills, spoken skills, and reading skills.

Table 1.1 presents chronology of management views of communication from early in the 20 th century.

Unit 1 Communication in Business

Table 1.1: Chronology of Management Views of Communication

Management's View of Communication

Year

Person

Observation

1916

Fayol

Managerial work is a set of composite functions that includes communication.

 

1930s

Gulick

and reporting (which include communication).

1938

Barnard

The first executive function is providing a system of communication.

1957

Simon

The administrative process cannot influence the decisions of the individual without communi

1966

Katz &

The exchange of information and transmission of meaning are the very essence of an organiz

Kahn

1973

Mintzberg

Managerial jobs have ten working roles; communication and interpersonal relations are found

1974

Drucker

Communication is one of five basic management functions.

1982

Peters &

Open, informal communication is one of eight characteristics of the best-run American comp

Waterm

an

1983

Kanter

The most common roadblock for managers to overcome is poor communication.

1991

Blanchard

Communication is a basic skill for the effective one-minute manager.

1995

Gates

Communication is the new revolution; the information superhighway is part of it.

Source: John M. Penrose, R. W. Rasberry & R.J. Myers. 'Advanced Business Communication'.

Business Communication

Activity B:

Search for and write one sentence (that is not found in this book) on "importance of business communication" from any book on Business Communication:

1.4 OBJECTIVES OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION

The basic objective of all human communication is to obtain an understanding response. Here, we shall consider certain definite objectives that the commercial world is concerned with. Every large and small business house is successful or unsuccessful, depending on how well it can communicate internally and externally. Peter Drucker states: "Objectives are needed in every area where performance and result directly and vitally affect the survival and prosperity of abusiness." Hence, we shall consider some of the major objectives of business communication.

1. Information : The objective of business is to inform, which means to transfer knowledge to another person or group. Transfer of knowledge is the most fundamental objective of communication. Information can be given in writing, speaking or any other system of signals or signs.

Businessmen thrive on information relevant to their business activities. They must know what the demand for their goods or services is; how their competitors are doing in business; what are the terms of credit available in the market; how to deal with government rules and regulations; how to affect economies in production, transport and distribution; how to expand their business, etc. Successful businessmen are concerned not with maximum information but rather, pertinent information.

In order to expand or secure a place in a highly competitive market the businessman needs information for planning the future. Information for planning can be of five kinds:

a) Environmental Information - information pertaining to the geography, climate, political, and socio-economic conditions.

Unitl

Communication in Business

n) Internal Information - information about the strength and weakness^ofthe company with respect to capital, production, and sales capacity, degree of training 7>tth^workers, their efficiency, etc.

o) External Information - information about sources of credit, availability of jgwjnaterial^Dower, andjhe latest rules and regulations made by the government or local authorities.

1. Competitive Information - information relating to the strength and weakness of the competitors and their past and present performance in the market. '

2. New Development Information - information concerning the fetest research, upgradation of the product, and availability of raw materials or substitutes.

«~ •' ~ ~~ -

Before accepting any information the successful business house will ensure that the information is reliable, complete, and recent. Obtaining information has become so vital to the world of business that in developed countries industrial espionage has become quite common, and highly paid spies are sent to find out the secrets of their rivals. Businessmen have no difficulty in obtaining information from old files, magazines, internet, library research, chamber of commerce, trade fairs and exhibitions, etc.

However, as the worldwide web gets complex, it is becoming more and more difficult for business houses to surf through the maze of information. So the problem is not of lack of information, but of immense quantity of information. To help the businessmen out of this problem a number of organizations have taken the role of infomediaries.

Infomediaries are like intermediaries or middlemen, only they do not deal with goods but with information.

They perform variety of functions like delivering select information, bringing together scattered professionals, maintaining statistical data on economy, industry, commerce, commodities, demographics, stocks, mutual funds, finance and investments.

Just as business organization receives information, it also has to provide information both to the outside world and, to workers within the organization.

The progress and profitability of the company has to be made known, which could be done through advertising, organizing seminars, conferences, and exhibitions. Public should be informed about the quality of products, the facilities provided to workers, the research conducted, social services rendered to the community and country.

Business Communication

Business organization also needs to communicate information internally to its workers, such as:

i Information relating to job assignments and procedures governing them.

ii Information concerning exact designations of the officers and their decision-making powers.

iii Information, which gives a clear understanding of authority

iv. Information, which will make possible better reception of instruction.

In India, with the coming of liberalization and increased competition, receiving and giving information has become more important today.

In earlier days, the amount of information available was directly proportionate to the worker's power within an organization. In most modern organizations power is getting increasingly decentralised and with it there is an increase in the give and take of information at all levels.

2. Motivation : To motivate means, "to cause to act". It has been defined as "that inner state that energizes, activates, or moves and which directs or channels behaviour towards certain goals."

In an organization, when workers are motivated they work eagerly, willingly and often

without supervision. Another objective of communication is to increase motivation among workers.

Organizations use communication process to overcome motivation problem. Following aspects of the problem of motivation could be considered:

9. Emotional Climate. The management should use communication in such a manner that the right emotional climate for motivation is created. This can be done by fostering healthy competition among workers and also by recognizing and giving publicity to achievement.

10. Setting Goals or Objectives. Set definite objectives before the workers so that they know what they are working towards and they can enjoy a sense of satisfaction when objective has been attained. This will mean informing them of the plan that the management has in mind and the detailed working of the plan.

Unit 1 Communication in Business

3.

7. Organizational Information. With the help of house journals, direct talks or training programmes the management should give much information to the employees as possible about the organization for which they are working. Creating a favourable image of the organization in the minds of the workers will give them a sense of pride in working for the organization.

8. Participation in Decision-making. When subordinates are encouraged to report directly to their superiors or give suggestions to improve the working of the organization they will experience a powerful sense of belonging to the organization. One management writer states that "the higher the degree of participation the stronger will be the resulting inclination to cooperate with company plans".

9. Establishing Human Relations. When supervisory and junior staff can meet in an atmosphere of informality and exchange views, when supervisory staff uses tact in communicating orders, admonitions and warnings to the junior staff, and when the staff is encouraged to think out and take the initiative in minor matters, there is less friction and resentment and the organization functions smoothly.

Raising Morale : In war it is not the number of soldiers that matters, but their morale that makes the big difference between losing and winning. Napoleon even went so far as to assert that morale "makes up three-quarters of the game; the relative balance of manpower accounts for the remaining quarter". In a business organization the morale of the workers can seriously affect the success of the business. One of the objectives of communication [internal] is to keep the morale of the workers high so that they work with vigour and confidence as a team.

Low morale is often theresult of lack of confidence in the management on account of its poor communication skills. The usual characteristics of low morale are lack of discipfineTno appreciation or reward for good work well done, bad relations between the supervisors and the workers and sometimes among the workers themselves. When the morale is low, unfound rumours about the state of the company and the calibre of the management usually circulate among the workers.

It should be remembered that high or low morale is not a permanent feature of a company. The same organization could have a high morale among its workers one year and find that the workers have lost their morale the next year.

Business Communication

It is like a disease that requires immediate attention and diagnosis and cure. Management can keep high morale through communication by:

11. Maintaining a steady stream of communication between workers, their supervisors and top executives.

12. Permitting open discussion of problems affecting the workers and their families.

13. Employing communication devices such as employees' conferences, audio-visual aid, employee-get-togethers, etc.

14. Keeping a watch on the grapevine and not allowing harmful rumours to circulate.

15. Stopping false rumours about favouritism, strikes, retrenchment or lock outs.]

16. Giving fair hearing to employee grievances and accepting their suggestions, thereby giving them a sense of participation in management.

17. Expressing appreciation for good work done and rewarding it.

h) Introducing changes gradually so that the workers are not mentally upset by sudden and abrupt changes in staff or working conditions.

Since morale is like a barometer, which indicates the well being of an organization, some business houses study morale periodically. This is done by:

11. Informal meetings at which the workers are encouraged to speak freely.

12. Collecting information through the different channels and

13. Circulating specially prepared questionnaires.

4. Order and Instruction: An order is an oral or written communication directing the starting, terminating or modifying of aiT^tiyity. It is a form of cCTmnumcatioiTby which management directs its subordinates and employees and seeks to achieve its objectives. It is communication that is peculiar to the internal organization of a business house, because superiors can issue orders to their subordinates. Before issuing an order there should be proper planning by the order issuing person. There should be a plan of action prepared in consultation with other managers so that there is no confusion or conflict.

Unit 1

Communication in Business

Orders may be oral or written. Written orders are given when the nature of the work is very important or when the person being ordered is far away. Care should be taken to keep a copy of the order so that follow-up action can be taken.

Oral orders are given when the work is of an urgent nature or when the person being given the oral order is nearby. In both the cases it is necessary to follow up and find out whether the order has been properly executed. This is called the stage of appraisal.

Instructions

or written orders on a recommended manner in which the

work is to be done. For instance, the office superintendent will instruct a new clerk on the manner in which letters are to be filed and the manner in which the outgoing mail is to be entered in the register. In both the cases the clerk has been shown how the work has to be done. The instruction carries and implied order - i.e. the clerk is expected to follow that particular method of doing the assigned work and no other method. From this we may conclude that while all instructions contain an implied order, all orders are not instructions.

(Note: It should be remembered that order also refers to the request to supply goods. Here the term order is with reference to operations / performing work).

5. Education and Training : Communication in business can be used to widen the ever- widening circle of knowledge. Process of education that takes place in the business world is apart of its activity.

Business communication can achieve the objective of Education at three levels of management, of employees and of general public.

14. Educationfor Succession : This means training junior persons in the organization to handle important assignments involving responsibility so that they are trained to succeed their seniors in executive and managerial positions. These trainees may not go through a formal course in staff training but may be opportunities to work in different departments under the guidance of senior executive. They may also be asked to attend conferences and meetings in order to watch the decision making process. The purpose behind this is to develop a quality of excellence among the future managers of the organization.

15. Educationfor Promotion : It has been found that most senior managers are behind the times. They employ management techniques and control systems that are outdated. Seniority is an important factor in promotion. However, if the seniors are not competent then their promotion is in question. To overcome this

11

Business Communication

problem it is necessary for these seniors to undergo special training, refresher and orientation courses, before they can be considered for promotion.

21.

Education during Induction: When new personnel join an organization they are inducted by educating them in the culture of the company, code of discipline, and methods of manufacturing, etc. This is done through training programme or orientation programme. It not only acquaints the new recruits with organizational functioning but also gives them an idea of the organization they are going to work in.

22.

Educating the Public: Educating the outside public usually takes the form of advertising, informative talks, publication in newspaper and journals. This is done to inform the general public as well as the professionals about the product, functioning of the company, and various schemes offered by the company.

Besides these objectives there are other objectives of business communication such as:

24.

Counselling

25.

Advice

26.

Persuasion

h)

Altering Behaviour

i)

Effecting Change

j)

Promoting the Image of the Company

k)

Increasing Productivity

1)

Establishing Better Relations

m) Influencing Potential Customer

JSf Activity C:

a) State the type of objectives of communication for the following instances:

i. Insubordination

ii Animosity

b) Give an example of an organization which you feel communicates well with the external public:

Unitl

Communication in Business

1.5 FORMS AND FUNCTIONS OF COMMUNICATION

The importance of communication in business becomes more obvious when we consider the communication activities that go on in an organization. Communication in an organization takes three main forms. They are:

26. Internal-Operational Communication

27. External-Operational Communication

28. Personal Communication

1. Internal-Operational Communication.

All the communication that takes place within an organization, during the process of work, is known as internal-operational communication. This is the form of communication among the employees that is done during the implementation of the business-operating plan.

The term operating plan means the procedure that an organization has developed to perform a particular task - i.e. manufacturing a specific product, providing a particular service, etc.

Internal-operational communication takes many forms. It includes the orders and instructions that supervisors give workers, as well as oral exchange among workers about work matters.

It includes report that workers prepare concerning sales, production, inventories, finance, maintenance, and so on. It also includes e-mail messages that workers write in order to carry out their assignments. Much of this internal-operational communication is performed on computer network.

Communication is essential for the internal functioning of enterprises, because it integrates the managerial functions. Internal-operational communication is especially needed to:

28. Establish and disseminate goals of an organization

29. Develop plans for their achievement

30. Organize human and other resources in the most effective and efficient way

31. Select, develop, and appraise members of the organization

32. Lead, direct, motivate, and create a climate in which people want to contribute

33. Control performance.

Business Communication

2. External-Operational Communication.

The work-related communicating that a business does with people and groups outside the organization is external-operational communication.

This is the communication activity of a business with its public - i.e. suppliers, customers, service companies, stockholders, Government, and the general public.

External-operational communication includes all the efforts of business in direct selling, such as descriptive brochures, telephone calls, follow-up service calls, and so on. It also includes the advertising that the business does, which is one of the ways of communication.

Radio, television messages, newspaper and magazine advertising, website advertising, and point- of-purchase display material play a role in business's plan to achieve its work objective.

Also in this category is all that a business does to improve its public relations, including its planned publicity, the community service of its employees, and the environmental friendliness of its products and facilities.

An important aspect of external-operational communication is that it displays a company's image and its etiquette with respect to the external environment and public. Business messages do more than communicate information.

They take the place of human contact, and thus, they have the effect of human contact. The clarity, warmth, and understanding they display also send a message.

The positiveness of this message is what is called as good business etiquette. And good

business etiquette contributes to the image of the company.

External-operational communication facilitates managerial functions. It is through information exchange that the managers:

1. Become aware of the needs of customers

2. The availability of suppliers

3. The claims of stockholders

4. The regulations of government

5. The concerns of the community.

Unit 1

Communication in Business

It is through communication that any organization becomes an open system interacting with its environment.

3. Personal Communication.

Not all communication that occurs in a business organization is operational - dealing with operation of the business objectives. In fact, much of the personal communication within an organization has no connection with the operating plan of business. Such communication is called as personal communication.

Personal communication is the exchange of information and feelings in which human beings engage whenever they come together. Since human beings are social animals, there is a need to communicate, even when there is nothing to say.

We spend much time with friends in communication. Even total strangers are likely to communicate when they are placed together, as on an airplane flight, in a waiting room, or at a party. Such personal communication also occurs in workplace, and it is a part of the communication activity of any business. Although not a part of operational plan of business, personal communication can have a significant effect on the fulfilment and success of any business operation. This effect is a result of the influence that personal communication can have on the attitudes of the employees.

The employees' attitudes toward the business, each other, and their assignments directly affect their productivity. The nature of personal communication or conversation in a work place affects the attitude of a worker, which then affects his/her performance. In a work situation there are often heated words and tempers, the employees will not come out with their best efforts. However, a situation where there is constant joking and laughing will also have equally bad effect on productivity. Somewhere between these extreme situations lies the ideal productive attitude.

Furthermore, the extent to which personal communication is permitted within an organization can also affect the attitude of the employees. Absolute denial of personal communication could upset the emotions of the employees, because the very need of human beings to communicate is denied. On the other hand, excessive personal communication could cause interference with work. Again, the middle path is probably the best.

Personal communication does have its value in an organization. It has an emotive function. In other words, personal communication permits the expression of feelings and satisfaction of social needs. It may also help vent frustrations.

tf;

Business Communication

1.6 COMMUNICATION NETWORK OF THE ORGANIZATION

All the forms of communication [internal, external, and personal] indicate an extremely complex network of information flow. It shows an organization feeding on a continuous supply of information. In today's world of business, information must flow faster than before.

Another important element is the amount of information, which has greatly increased over the years, frequently causing an information overload. What is needed is not more information but relevant information.

It is necessary to determine what kind of information the manager needs to have for effective

decision-making. To be effective, the manager needs information necessary to carry out managerial functions and activities. Obtaining such information frequently requires getting information from superiors and subordinates and also from departments and people elsewhere within shortest period of time.

Communication channels, for the flow of information, may be linked in a variety of way to form

a communication networks. These networks are used to structure the information flows among

the network members. Business organizations have well-established channels of information flow. These are the formal channels - i.e. the main lines of operational communication. There is another type of network of communication that is more personal in nature than operational. This is the informal network of communication.

Thus, there are basically two types of communication network in an organization:

31. The Formal Network

32. The Informal Network.

1. The Formal Network: As stated above the formal communication network has to do with operational communication (communication that is required to perform a specific organizational task).

In an effective organization, communication flows in the following directions: Downward, Upward and Crosswise Communication.

a) Downward Communication: This is the flow of communication form people at higher level to those at the lowerlevel in the organizational hierarchy. This "Rind of communicaflon implies the auuiOTitarian structure of an organization. It is

used for such purposes as giving instructions, providing information about policies

Unit 1 Communication in Business

and procedures, giving feedback about performance, and indoctrinating or motivating.

The kinds of media used for downward ^^communication include instructions, speeches, meetings, the telephone, and even the grapevine. Downwardwritten communication takes the form of merhos, letters, handbooks,pamphlets, policy statements, manuals, ancTsb on.

Unfortunately, information is often lost or distorted as it comes down the chain of command. Although some companies make a point of letting management decision be known, many employees are dissatisfied with both quality and quantity of information. In fact, many directives are not understood or even read.

The real problem may lie in the differing communication priorities of top management and lower level workers. Employees are particularly interested in things that pertain to them directly. For instance, they want to know how secure their jobs are, how their salary is determined, and when they will get a raise. Often, this is the type of information that management prefers to keep confidential.

Furthermore, downward flow of information through the different levels of organization is time-consuming. Delays may be so frustrating that some top managers insist that information be sent directly to the concerned person or group.

Upward Communication: This type of communication travels from subordinates to superiors and continues up the organizational hierarchy. Unfortunately, managers in the communication chain, who filter the information -especially unfavourable messages - to their superiors, often hinder this flow. Companies try to guard against this by creating reporting system that requires employees to furnish vital information on a routine basis.

To solve problems and make intelligent decisions, management must learn what is going on in the organization. Because they cannot be everywhere at the same time, executives depend on lower-level employees to furnish them with accurate and timely report. Upward flow of communication is also useful in providing ideas for improvement of activities, and information about feelings on work.

Upward communication is primarily nondirective and is usually found in participative and democratic organizational environment. Techniques for upward communication - besides the chain of command - are suggestion system, appeal and grievance procedures, complaint system, counselling sessions, joint setting

17

Business Communication

of objectives, the grapevine, group meetings, the practice of open-door policy, morale questionnaire, exit interviews, and attitude survey.

In recent years, many companies have also set up systems that give employees a confidential way to get a message to top management outside the normal chain of command. If an employee has a problem or an idea that might be difficult to discuss with the person's immediate superior, he or she can talk to a neutral third party [sometimes called an ombudsman] who will consider the issue and see that appropriate action is takln without putting the employee in an awkward position.

Effective upward communication requires an environment in which subordinates feel free to communicate. Since the organizational climate is greatly influenced by upper management, the responsibility for creating a free flow of upward communication rests, to a large extent, with the superiors.

c) Crosswise Communication: This form of communication includes the .^ horizontal flow of information [arnongpeople onjhesame or similar^ ^^ organizational levels] and the diagonal flow

of information [among persons at aGHercnTotganizational levels who have no direct reporting

relationships].

This type of communication is used to speed information flow, to improve understanding, and to coordinate activities for the achievement of organizational objectives.

A great deal of communication does not follow the organizational hierarchy but.cuts across the

chain of command. As organizations become more diversified and individual tasks become more specialized, the need for crosswise communication increases.

The organizational environment provides many occasions for crosswise oral communication. They range from informal meetings of lunch hours that employees spend together to more formal conferences and committee and board meetings. This kind of communication occurs when individual members of different departments are grouped into task teams or project organization. This also occurs when staffs with functional or advisory authority interacts with line managers in different departments.

In addition, crosswise written communication keeps people informed about the organization.

These written forms include the company newspaper, magazine, or bulletin boards. Modern enterprises use many kinds of oral and written crosswise communication patterns to supplement the vertical flow of information.

Unit 1

Communication in Business

Because information may not follow the normal chain of command, proper safeguard need to be taken to prevent potential problems. Specifically, crosswise communication should rest on the nnderstandin g that a) crosswise relationships will be encouraged wherever they are appropriate, b) subordinates will refrain from making commitments beyond their authority, and c) subordinates will keep superiors informed of important interdepartmental activities.

2. The Informal Network: Formal organizational chart illustrates how information is supposed to flow. However, in actual practice, chart cannot prevent people from talking with one another. This is the informal communication network that is found within any organization. In the management language it is called as "grapevine". Just as the grapevine has no definite or orderly path of growth, so"also the informal communication has no definite path in its flow as the formal communication.

The informal network is not a single network but a complex relationship of smaller networks consisting of groups of people. The relationship is made even more complex by the fact that these people mat belong to more that one group and that group memberships and the links between and among groups are continually changing.

As people go about their work, they have casual conversations with their friends in the office. They joke around and talk of many things besides their work. Although many of the conversations deal with personal matters, business matters are also discussed. In fact, 80% of the information that travels along the grapevine pertains to business. Furthermore, many employees rely on the grapevine as their main source of information about the organization. Grapevine usually carries far more information than the formal communication system. In every organization, certain people seem to know everything, regardless of the position they officially hold. As a result, their role in the company's informal communication network is an active one.

Despite the fact that the grapevine usually carries information and sometimes rumours that could be harmful, the management to its advantage uses it. Wise managers recognize the presence of grapevine and give the talk-leader the information that will do most good to the organization.

In a situation where two individuals from different departments have to work together to accomplish a task, it is often efficient for them to talk directly to each other rather than passing the message through the formal network. In an era when mergers, acquisitions, and reorganization are the norm, the informal communication network often plays a particularly vital role. Keith Davis states: "People cannot resist the grapevine. It offers the latest news, and usually that news is reasonably accurate.

19

Business Communication

Much of the news is about people, such as their friendship, conflicts, and experiences. Since formal communication carries very little of this type of information, we must listen to the grapevine in order to be fully informed. In addition, much of the grapevine occurs by person-to-person contact, which helps us become a part of social groups and receive social satisfaction."

Activity D ;

a) Give an example of crosswise communication in your department.

b) Give an example of horizontal communication in your organization.

1.7 TECHNOLOGY AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION

Technology is developing so rapidly that what is new today become commonplace tomorrow and outdated the day after. The changes brought about by new technology are leading to an exciting new information age in which more people will have faster and broader access to data than ever before. Most developments in computer technology make us more productive, so we can perform our jobs more effectively with less effort.

Following are some of the major technologies that are being used in the world of business:

1. Telephones and Voice Mail: Telephones are not new, but new technology has extended the value of telephones. Voice mail is a computerized message system, a more sophisticated version of an answering machine. It allows people to communicate by phone even when they cannot connect directly.

Given this development, it has become necessary to examine the use of telephones more carefully. Many companies have realized that each employee's telephone skills contribute to the image of the company, thereby affecting its ability to sell its products and services. The first impression people receive of a company comes form the

Communication in Business

telephone. Therefore, telephone skills are among the most important technological skills to be developed.

3.

Computer Network: Only a few years ago, each desktop computer stood alone, and data were transferred on disks. However, today desktop computers can communicate directly via computer networks, allowing information to be shared effortlessly. There are two types of networks: the local area network [LAN] that links users in a single office; and the wide area network [WAN] that links remote users. Such networks now allow workers to share files easily among offices in nearby buildings and in some instances across the country.

The "information superhighways" which are such a popular topic these days, are huge computer networks. At present, the Internet is the only network big enough to be called an information superhighway. Internet users can exchange messages with other Internet users, access electronic databases, and subscribe to electronic "newsletters" on thousands of topics. The system was originally developed to serve scientists and then it expanded to researchers, professors, and students. It is now expanding quickly into the business and public arena. Many business enterprises are networked through commercial providers of data. Specialized networks are being developed to provide specific information.

Electronic Mail : Electronic mail (e-mail), the electronic transmission of messages from one person to another using computers, has become commonplace in business. E-mail system has a significant influence on business communication. One of the advantages of the e-mail system is that it keeps the expenses of communication low. Many firms program their computers to send external e-mail at night, when the telephones rates are lower and most business telephones are not in use.

E-mail seems to have an interesting effect on organizations that use it for communication among employees. In such organizations employees tend to send more messages to their co-workers and superiors than those organization that do not use e-mail system. The result of encouraging the use of e-mail system is a healthy levelling of organizational hierarchy. In low-tech organizations, people tend to believe that they are permitted to communicate only as per the formal communication chart established by the management.

In business organizations with electronic-mail facilities and capabilities, employees are more likely to contact those at the top with their ideas and comments and bypass their immediate supervisors. Making those at the top more accessible has given many

Business Communication

employees a greater feeling of involvement in their organization. As a result, more new ideas and suggestions are coming to the attention of decision makers, resulting in improved operations, services, and products.

4. Electronic Bulletin Board: Electronic bulletin boards are computer systems that allow the posting of information so it may be accessed and read by many other people. They disseminate information within a company to a broader audience. With a modem, someone with a computer can call up the bulletin board and seek information. Others who read the notice and question mat respond directly if a telephone number is displayed on the board. One can even post information in the same space on the bulletin by the help of a modem.

Companies are using electronic bulletin boards to keep their employees informed about all kinds of things. Employees also use this facility to inform everyone about a vexing technical problem.

5. Teleconferencing and Videoconferencing: Teleconferencing allows groups who are geographically separated to meet via telephone and discuss issues. This is substituting the use of telephone to call a meeting. Since most of the executives spend at least half their time in meetings and travelling for meetings, teleconferencing enables discussion over the telephone, which is more convenient and less expensive.

Videoconferencing is used for more formal meetings, especially in companies that have this facility. This type of conferencing is done via the video camera. It enables people to have the conference being in different geographical locations and yet seeing each other. After an environmental disaster, one large company was able to get solution to its cleanup problems by videoconferencing with an 84-year-old Swedish expert whose health did not permit him to travel to the site of problem.

6. Telecommuting and Home Offices: As technology makes it easier to communicate with people in other locations, some employees have begun working from their homes. They may visit the home office periodically or send the product of their labour to their employers or clients electronically.

Many companies are providing workers with computers and other equipment that enables them to work more efficiently at home.

Companies that downsize may contract, with individuals who are not employed, to undertake projects that the company's remaining workers do not have time to do. Telecommuters and home workers are often regarded as essential and dependable members of the corporate world.

Unit 1 Communication in Business

One advantage is that widely dispersed employees can be called on to react quickly during emergencies or to reach distant clients.

Concerns about traffic congestion, parking problem, office space, and personal preferences all contribute to the decision to allow telecommuting and home office.

xgT Activity E:

What kind of technology would you use for the following types of communication situations? a)

Reporting to your boss that you are unable to attend work.

b) General information to be given to all employees of your organization.

c) Interviewing a candidate for your department who is living in another city.

1.8 SUMMARY

Communication is participating in the process of informing and being informed. This process is becoming more complex with business becoming global. However, one of the inadequacies of the business world is lack of development of communication skills. With the globalization of business there is a felt need to emphasize development of communication

skills.

23

Business Communication

Communication is seen in its various dimensions- such as its nature of being verbal or_ nonverbal, intentional or unintentional, internal or external; having characteristics of involving humans, machines and animals; and occurring between two people or groups of people.

Communication is important to business because of its nature and objectives. It is used in business to achieve the objectives of an organization such as motivation, disseminating information, raising morale, educating the employees, and training and development. x

Communication activity in an organization takes three forms - i.e. the internal-operational, external-operational, and personal. These forms of communication have their own functions and usefulness in an organization.

In an organization the flow of information takes place through a network. For the purpose of

smooth functioning of an organization there is a formal network, which is designed by the management. However, communication cannot be controlled by the formal network, but also flow in an informal manner. This informal network is known as the grapevine, which can be destructive, but efficient management could use it to their benefit.

Communication has been influenced by the development of technology, which has made communication in the business organization simple, efficient and faster.

1.9 SELF- ASSESSMENT QUESTIONS

Q 1 . Discuss the importance of communication in the context of business organization.

Q2. Explain the various forms of communication and how they facilitate managerial functions.

Q3. Explain the Communication Network in an organization.

Q4. Fill in the blanks:

a) When we speak without putting thoughts into words, then the communication is

b) When words communicate something other than what is meant, then the communication is said to be

c) Middlemen who. deal^ with information are known as 1 N> "rtvyy •vxe-tfU fl 20 1 4

Unit 1 Communication in Business

d) The neutral third party that helps to communication on behalf of the subordinate with the superiors is known as

e) The procedure that an organization has developed to perform a particular task is known

as &"%><TocHVj jg>l ^>w,

Q5. State whether the following statements are True or False:

a) V Human communication is more nonverbal than verbal.

b) c)

O (5VvJh

r~ Communication between two individuals is intrapersonal. v

. In determining one's communication skills audio and video is better

T . thane-mail.

d) p- Information relating to strength and weakness of the competitor is

known as external information.

e) f)

g)

h)

i)

j)

T

. All orders are not instructions, but all instructions are orders.

f~ Horizontal communication is among people at different organizational levels who have no direct reporting relationships.

T

C' ^ *

T • Grapevine usually carries more information than the formal

communication network.

Grapevine helps people to receive social satisfaction. Encouraging

the use of e-mail is not a healthy practice because it

distorts the organizational hierarchy.

F

Telecommuters are not considered as essential part of the

corporate world. Q6. List

down the following:

a) Five types of information for planning:

l i iii

Business Communication

2.1 INTRODUCTION

Communication is an act, which consists of various events, and hence, it really is a process. In the process of communication there is interplay of the communicator, the message and the audience. Effective communicators are aware of the process and spend considerable

time and effort in preparing and rehearsing me act or delivering fnelr 1 HlQfiB[l§0.1 ilSty Will take into consideration the various elements of the communication process during the course of preparation.

It takes a conscious effort on the part of an individual to develop the ability to deliver message effectively. In the world of business, which has become very sophisticated, it is imperative that people in the management cadre develop effective style of communication. Specially, while dealing with business counterparts in a cross-cultural milieu one has to weigh the whole process of communication carefully so as to avoid any misunderstandings and loss of time and money.

Services industry in particular has brought communication to the fore and it has become the most essential aspect of business in present times. Corporate as well as small enterprises, in India, are spending sufficient time and money in training their personnel in developing effective communication skills.

2.2 THE COMMUNICATION PROCESS: EXISTING VIEWS

We can view communication process from different points of emphases. From each point of emphasis communication process takes on a different form. Business Communication, by Helen R. Ewald & Rebecca E. Burnett, describes communication process from different points of emphases. They are as follows: imparting information, sharing information, or assumptions underlying while communicating information.

Communication process can be described either from the perspective of imparting, or sharing, or assumptions. Each of these perspectives can be explained by use of models. The communication process can take any of the following forms:

s *

37.

Transmission Model

38. Reciprocal Model ^

13. Model Highlighting Assumptions.

Unit 2 Process of Communication

1. Transmission Model: When the emphasis is on imparting information, then the

transmission model could understand the process of communication. This model (Fig 2.1) enables us to understand communication process in terms of information being transmitted from a sender to a receiver.

Message

Reception

Audience

Information and ideas coded into words and visuals

Channel conveys communicator's ideas

Reader/Listener decodes

communicator's message

Adapted from Helen R. Ewald & Rebecca E. Burnett, 'Business Communication', 1997, pg 36 Fig 2.1: Transmission Model of Communication Process

Through this model communication process is seen as a linear process - i.e. message moves in one direction along a line or channel, with information travelling from the source to the audience. This model assumes that, in the absence of disturbance [noise], the audience will interpret the message as the sender intends.

2. Reciprocal Model: When the emphasis is on sharing information, then we use the reciprocal model of communication process. In this process of communication the information or the meaning evolves through the participation of each member of the audience. The flow of communication is simultaneous in all direction, and in this flow of communication the composing of message takes place. Reciprocal model shows the interactive nature of communication process. It could be graphically expressed as in Fig 2.2.

Communicator

Audience

Information

Meaning comes through interaction among the communicator, the information [subject], and the audience within a specific occasion for communication

Adapted from Helen R. Ewald & Rebecca E. Burnett, 'Business Communication', 1997, pg 37

Fig 2.2 : Reciprocal Model of Communication Process

31

Business Communication

3. Model Highlighting Assumptions: In this model of communicating information, we focus on the assumptions, which are commonly shared by the communicator and the audience. Assumptions refer to that which is taken for granted by the communicator and the audience, and that which can become the common ground in understanding the message.

For example, when you go to a shop to make a purchase, the assumption that you and the shopkeeper share is that once the goods are purchased by you or sold by the shopkeeper the money given shall not be refunded. Say you purchase a non-stick frying pan, and after going home you discover that you already have one. You then decide to return the frying pan and get a refund. However, you realise that the shopkeeper refuses to refund the money, which you cannot contest. He, being a reasonable man, agrees to allow you to choose another item in place of the frying pan.

In the above example you accept the common assumption, but refuse to accept it at that moment. Realising that you cannot get the refund you agree to co-operate with the shopkeeper and accept his offer for an exchange. This is known as the Cooperative Princinle— "~

.!

'

^Activity A:

Which of the models would you apply to the following?

i) Board meeting

ii) Weekly Departmental meeting

iii) Workers'meeting with their Manager,

2.3 COMMUNICATION PROCESS

As mentioned earlier, communication is a process, which consists of events or phases that are linked together. Whether you are writing, speaking, listening, or reading, all these phases are present in the communication process. The process of communication can be divided into five phases. They are:

1.

The sender has an idea.

2. The idea becomes a message.

Unit 2 Process of Communication

42.

 

The message is transmitted.

43.

The receiver gets the message.

44.

The receiver responds and sends a feedback to the sender.

These five phases of the communication process link the sender to the receiver. Let us examine each of these five phases.

1. The Sender has an Idea: We experience reality and that experience is filtered by

our mind. Our mind abstracts some important aspects of the experience and turns them into an idea. In other words, mind constructs the important aspects of the experience into a meaningful thought, which is idea. However, mind deals with the invisible, because our thoughts are invisible. So the idea, which is invisible, has to be expressed in some form or the other in order to communicate it to others.

Since you do not think in the same manner as others, and yet you want to express your ideas to them, your mind filters out the details to highlight only those aspects that are relevant. This process is known as abstraction. Thus, in the process of abstraction you leave out many aspects, which you assume the others know. So in the filtering process you make assumptions and judgements or conclusion.

What we are saying here is that our mind simplifies the real world that we observe and experience by breaking it down into parts and then reconstructing these parts into an idea, which we then turn it into a message that we express. What we express, however, is not the whole of reality, but rather only a distorted image that our mind pictures.

2. The Idea Becomes a Message: When we wish to express our ideas to others, then the idea has to take a form and become an expression. Expression is an idea put "in-form" to become information. This is also called '.encoding' thejnessage. Idea can be expressed in different ways, depending upon the following:

45.

Purpose - what is it that you want to achieve?

46. Audience - who is the recipient of your ideas?

47. Personal Style or Mood - what is your speaking style or what mood are you in when you making a speech?

48. Cultural Background - the choice of your words depend on your cultural upbringing.

33

Business Communication

During the process of encoding the idea into words all these factors come into play. The choice of words indicates one's style, mood, culture, audience, and purpose. For instance, when a supervisor speaks to his subordinate concerning a job, not done well, he will use words that will indicate displeasure, and even anger. But, if he

has to report the same instance to his boss - his choice of wttMs and appall WOUW be different.

One of the major factors that influence encoding ideas into message is (he vocabula available at one's disposal. In other words, at any given time we do not vocabulary at our command to convert our ideas into words. This results in using words that are not apt or desirable, which could lead to misunderstanding. Similarly, language differs from discipline to discipline - language of a lawyer differs from the language of a doctor or an IT professional. This could become a hindrance in recognizing or expressing ideas. For example, when we go to a doctor we only are able to tell him what we suffer from. We cannot express our ailment in medical terms.

Therefore, it is imperative that we develop the ability to express our ideas in the code that is fitting for a given profession.

3. The Message is transmitted : In this step of communication process there is a physical transmission of the message from the sender to the receiver. The message transmitted from the sender to the receiver should have a medium, because transmission cannot take place in a vacuum.

The essential element for this transmission is a medium/channel. Channel is a medium that enables the message to be transmitted from the sender to the receiver. The choice of medium/channel depends on the message, audience, urgency and situation.

46. Reception of the Message: 'Thefirststep in reception of message is "decoding" -i.e. converting the message into thought [words are converted into meanings]. The second step is "understanding" - i.e. communication is not complete unless it is understood. This involves interpretation of the message by the receiver. Third step in the reception of message is "response" to the message - i.e. action. ~*~*

47. Feedback: Receiver sends his/her response back to the sender. This enables the sender to determine whether the message has been received and produced the intended response.

48. Noise: This term refers to those factors that cause hindrance to the intended message.

Business Communication

1. Problems in developing the message:

a) Indecision about the message content

This is due to the fact that the sender has too much information on the subject, which gives rise to the difficulty in choosing what to include and what to exclude. When the message has too much of information then the receiver can get confused

b) Lack of familiarity wit the situation or the receiver

The sender should get all the necessary information and find out to whom the message is to be sent. This would enable the sender to state the message in a language that is appropriate to the situation and clearly understood by the receiver.

c) Emotional conflicts

There are times when the message has to be delivered that would cause emotional disturbance to the receiver. In such case, without being defensive, the sender should state the message in a manner that would avoid emotional conflict.

d) Difficulty in expressing ideas

This is due to the lack of experience in writing or speaking that the sender may have and cause difficulty in expressing his/her ideas. One must possess sufficient knowledge of language to express using appropriate words.

2. Problems in transmitting the message:

49. When speaking, the sender may find/that the acoustics in the place is poor, or there may be no proper facilities for the audience to hear the speaker.

50. In case of written transmission of message there could be instances when the message is not legible - unable to read due to poor quality of printing.

51. When more than one message is sent on the same subject there is a good possibility of contradictions. In such a case the receiver is uncertain and interpretation may be confused.

52. When there are too many links in the communication line there could be distortion of message. For instance, when the message has to pass through many people there is a possibility of each person interpreting the message in his/her way. By the time the message gets to the actual receiver the message would have undergone change that would be far from the intended meaning.

Unit 2

Process of Communication

3. Problems in receiving the message:

54. Physical distraction: The receiver may have physical impairment (hard of hearing, poor eye sight) that could cause hindrance in understanding the message.

55. Lack of concentration: The receiver may not have enough capacity to concentrate and may let his/her mind wander off the message - i.e. sometimes we are thinking of some other issue when a person is telling us something else. This is a big hindrance in communication process.

4. Problems in understanding the message:

57. Different cultural background, such as education, social status, economic position, etc. could become a hindrance in the process of understanding the message.

58. Different interpretation of words: This happens when the receiver is not familiar with a particular language. For example, the receiver may not be computer literate and hence, may not understand the computer language that the sender is using.

59. Different emotional reaction: The message consists of both the content meaning and relationship meaning. The message may be clear, but the manner in which it is expressed or worded may not be acceptable to the receiver. When the message is not acceptable, then it may give rise to negative feelings and the communication can breakdown and not receive proper response.

g> Activity C:

Identify the problems that you encountered while developing the message for your sales personnel regarding the increase in their sales target.

Business Communication

2.5 SPECIAL PROBLEMS OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION

All communication is prone to misunderstanding, but business in particular is more prone to misunderstanding because of its complex nature. Besides being complex, business communication has limited opportunities for feedbacks and hence, difficult to correct misunderstandings^

1. Complexity of the message :

66. In the process of business communication, one must communicate both as an individual as well as a representative of the organization. These two roles could conflict with each other. For instance, there could be a situation where as an individual you may not agree with the content of the message, but as a representative of the organization you may have no choice but to send the message.

67. At times you may be called upon to develop and deliver message that may be difficult to express due to the difficult nature of the subject matter. This could become a problem as well as a challenge to develop the message in clear terms.

68. Business situations are not always easy and smooth sailing. There are moments when you may be asked to prepare a message under difficult conditions, or within the constraints of time and money, or even in collaboration with people with little or no knowledge of the subject. All these situations could become problematic in communication process.

69. Another problem of business communication is to develop message, in the capacity of a responsible representative of the organization, in a manner that would please everybody in the chain of command.

2. Difficult conditions for transmission and reception:

63. One of the major problems of business communication is to get across your message to your audience. This is due to the fact that there are many layers of message processors or filters between the sender and the receiver - such as secretaries, assistants, receptionists, and answering machines. Getting through these filters can become a problem in business communication.

64. If filters pose a problem in business communication, distillers also become equally problematic. Distillers are those through whom the message gets translated, interpreted, distorted, and even added upon before it is received.

Unit 2

Process of Communication

lly sd,

c) Once the message is received, the receiver may be distracted by much other interference from work or other sources, which may not allow him/her to understand the message in peace. In other words, the message does not get the receiver's undivided attention due to the nature of business situation.

3. Differences between the sender and the receiver:

70. In business the communication process is often between people who are separated by differences in function, status, allegiance, etc. The sender deals with the unknown or less known receiver/audience. This makes communication more difficult. In order to overcome this problem, it is necessary for the sender to establish credibility through the message - i.e. getting the unknown or less known audience to trust the sender of the message.

71. If the business communication involves the sender and the unknown or less known audience, then it is equally important for the sender to anticipate the needs and reactions of the receiver. Each time the receiver of the message is different, the approach of communicating the message must also change.

g> Activity D :

a) As the Manager of a Sales Division, what steps would you take to overcome the various filters that would distort your message to your sales personnel about the increase in their sales target?

b) Give an example of communication where one can see that the differences between the sender and receiver has caused a problem.

39

Business Communication

2.6 APPROACHES TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

Many approaches have been developed to make business communication effective. Here are some of the approaches.

Correct Clear

1 . Important C 's in Communication:

Correct facts, right time of delivering message, and suitable style.

Clarity of thought and expression.

Communication should be without bias; objective assessment of facts.

Complete Concise

Full details should be given, without leaving room for doubts.

Communication should contain just necessary but sufficient j information.

Consiste

Communication should be consistent with organizational objectives. J^yfc"^ f Gonerent V- &3*

Credible

Chronological

Considerate

Communication should be well organized and logically arranged.

Communication should be delivered in polite language. Whatever

is said or written should be believable. There should be a

sequence of time and priority in the message.

Consideration should be given to the receiver rather than the j sender.

^Compassing v^fc,^. 2. "PRIDE" Model :

Communication should encompass all organizational needs. «i^

George T. Vardaman & Patricia B. Vardaman have developed this model. The word ] PRIDE stands as an acronym for Purpose, Receiver, Impact, Design, and Execution. All these factors are necessary for effective communication.

rpose

Receiver

It refers to the purpose that the sender is trying to achieve - i.e. j target of communication. This means to identify the exact purpose j of communication.

The sender should know the psychology and competence of the ] receiver in order to communicate the message.

Unit 2 Process of Communication

Impact Ty : Communication should be such that it has the necessary affect upon the receiver so as to achieve the purpose of the communication.

Design ^ft- : This refers to the planning of the communication. It should be organized and developed so that it can achieve the desired impact upon the receiver.

Execution : The final stage of communication is implementation of the planned message. Communication will fail if it is not properly carried out.

3. Ten Commandments of Effective Communication:

(Prepared by American Management Association).

70. Seek to clarify your ideas before communicating.

71. Examine the true purpose of each communication.

72. Consider the total physical and human setting whenever you communicate.

73. Consult with others, where appropriate, in planning communication.

74. Be mindful of the overtones as well as of basic content of your message.

75. Take opportunity, when it arises, to convey something of help or value to the receiver.

76. Follow up your communication.

h) Communicate for tomorrow as well as for today.

i) Be sure your actions support your communication.

j) Seek not only to be understood, but also to understand.

2.7 GUIDELINES TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION 1. Create

the Message Carefully :

Communication is a creative act; an act in which you help your audience to understand and accept your message. As a creative act one must follow the given steps.

a) Purpose - to bring the audience closer to your views.

i) Define your goal in communication [Why are you sending the message? What do you want youraudieltee to know or do?]

41

Business Communication

ii) Know the position of your audience [What do they know at the presen! What do they need to know? What is their general background?]

iii) Use words in a manner that will bridge the audience from their present position to your point of view.

b) Frame of Reference - give your audience a framework for understanding the j message.

i) At the outset tell the audience what they can expect to gain [if there is j nothing to gain your audience will have nothing to look forward to].

i) Give a broad outline - general map of your message [this will help the j listeners/readers to follow the path of your thoughts].

iii) Guide the audience along the path of your thought and message.

iv) Emphasize on the major landmarks [ideas, concepts] of your message [this j will help the audience to easily link your thoughts in a cohesive manner].

c) Memorable - help your audience to understand and remember the message.

i) Since business communication involves subject that is technical, abstract,] and difficult use concrete language - i.e. balance general concepts witl specific illustrations.

ii) Give specific details, which will be remembered by your audience.

d) Select information that directly contributes to the present message.

i) Focus on few selected ideas that need to be conveyed [too many ideas orj concepts will result in deviation from the point of the message].

ii) Develop each idea/concept adequately and explain them sufficiently.

iii) Arrange the selected ideas/concepts in a logical sequence [this will helf your audience to grasp your message and evaluate it rationally].

e) Connect your message to the receiver's frame of reference.

Mind plays an important role in the process of communication. During the j of communication the mind is actively involved in selecting and judging the id presented with its existing ideas [frame of reference].

Unit 2 Process of Communication

If new ideas are not connected to the existing ideas of the mind there is a possibility of the new ideas being lost - i.e. the receiver cannot understand the new ideas and hence his mind rejects them. Hence, the sender must be able to link the new ideas to the existing ideas of his audience. This means the sender should be in a position to assess the frame of mind of his audience.

f) Highlight and summarize the key ideas or points.

This is important because just as the sender helps to open the mind of his/her audience so also he/she should be able to close the mind of the audience when the message is ended. A message has a beginning and an end. Just as how to begin the message is important so also how to close the message is important.

The best way to close the message is to briefly re-view the ideas presented - emphasizing the key ideas, concepts, or thoughts and summarizing the whole message in a brief but cohesive manner.

2. Minimize Noise / Interference:

Even the most carefully constructed message will fail to achieve results if it does not reach the receiver. In other words, there are many possibilities for the message to get distorted on its way from the sender to the receiver. Ultimate goal of any communication is that the receiver gets the meaning of the message as close to as intended by the sender. To achieve this goal there factors that have to be remembered.

If the message is in print or written form it should be physically appealing as well as easy to comprehend. Here the choice of material used along with the choice of format is important. Attention must also be given to the quality of type used for writing the massage.

In the case of oral delivery, attempt should be made to eliminate environmental disturbances, which can cause interference in hearing and understanding the message. Location of the delivery of the message must be conducive with adequate lighting, good acoustics, and few visual distractions.

As the sender of the message you should be as inconspicuous as possible - i.e. your dressing should not be very loud, which will catch the attention of the audience. Be modestly and appropriately dressed so as not to become too obvious. Otherwise, you outfit would become a major distraction to the audience.

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Business Communication

Another way to minimize noise or interference is to deliver your message directly to the intended audience - i.e. without any intermediaries.

3. Facilitate Feedback:

This means to provide opportunity to the audience for feedback. However, in business communication there is very little chance for feedback, because of the nature of message delivery that does not provide feedback loop. In case of face-to- face conversation, feedback is immediate and clear.

The main objective of the feedback is to know whether your message has been clearly understood and accepted. To achieve this the sender should plan his/her message in a way that would encourage feedback. Although feedback is useful, it can become hindrance for the sender who may not have control over the communication situation.

To maintain control over the communication the sender should choose an appropriate way of obtaining feedback. For instance, if you want immediate feedback then face-to-face communication is useful, but if the feedback is not required then written document is good enough.

Feedback is not always easy to get. When there is a need for feedback then you may have to draw the feedback by asking specific questions pertaining to the message. One important factor to remember in getting feedback is to be a good listener. Concentration is required when feedback is being received.

In business situation feedback plays an important role, because it from the feedbacks that openness and improvement comes. It helps build congeniality in the business environment.

>eT Activity E:

Consider that as a Manager of a Sales Division you are conducting a meeting with your sales personnel regarding the ways to improve the sales of the company.

a) How would you encourage feedback from you sales personnel?

Process of Communication

b) What precautions would you take to minimize interferences?

**"^s

"t

2.8 SUMMARY

Communication process can be described form different perspective, such as imparting, sharing, or assumption. When the emphasisis on imparting information then the Transmission model is used; when sharing of information is the emphasis then the ReciprpcaTrnodeUs used; and when the emphasis is on the shared assumption then the HighEghtingAssumption model is used.

Process of communication has five chains of events -the sender has anjdea; idea becomes a message; message is jransmitted; receiver gets the message; and receiver responds and sends feedback to the sender. In each of these chains of events there is a possibility of noise^i.e. disturbancesof interferences, which could hinder the message being received as intended. These interferences or barriers in communication could be due to factors such as developing the message, transmitting message, understanding message, or even receiving the message. Business communication has its own special problems due to the complexity of the business environment.

To build effectiveness of communication care should be taken in developing the message, using appropriate medium, giving consideration to the receiver, and the environment in which the delivery of the message takes place. There are various approaches to effective communication such as the Important Cs, PRIDE Model, and the ten Commandments of Communication. Guidelines to improve communication have been listed for effective communication.

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Business Communication

3.1 INTRODUCTION

It has often been said that the business of business is to make profits. However, behind making profits, there lies a more fundamental function of business that is vital for the business of business. That fundamental function of business is communication. Imagine if there was no communication in a business organization; would there be any function at all? Therefore, it would not be out of place to state that to accomplish the business of business communication is essential. Communication is the very essence of business.

Communication is very closely associated with human behaviour. Understanding of human behaviour enables us to apply its principles to communication psychology. Psychologists study individual behaviour; sociologists study group behaviour; and anthropologists study cultural behaviour. These studies have provided us with theories that are useful in understanding human behaviour.

Despite the fact that so much studies have been done in the field of human behaviour - i.e. how and why most people behave the way they do - there are always exceptions. We can never have a complete knowledge of human behaviour, and this lack of understanding gives rise to mishaps in communication. Consequently, much time is lost in rectifying these mishaps in communication. Hence, it is imperative that we understand what communication is made-up of and develop skill for them.

Behaviour - what we do and say - tells us much about ourselves. Remember, all behaviour is communicative; and communication is the index of our behaviour. Therefore, developing the communication skills imply transforming our behavioural pattern. This transformation is not an easy task, but a conscious and a deliberate act.

3.2 PRINCIPLES OF COMMUNICATION PSYCHOLOGY

By communication psychology we mean the study of human behaviour that affects the communication process, as well as communication that affects human behaviour. According to Abraham Maslow, a famous psychologist, most people will respond positively to messages that will meet their particular needs at particular times. In other words, our needs determine our reaction to the message. To be a successful communicator, you should be able determine the needs of the people to whom you are communicating. Furthermore, you should also be able to discern the affects of your communication, through your body and language, on the audience.

The principles of communication psychology are as follows: • Needs

determine behaviour in the communication process.

Unit 3 Psychological and Cultural Dimensions of Business Communication

• Body language determines behavioural

pattern. » Verbal language determine

behavioural pattern.

1. Needs Determine Behaviour :

Here m Ml mate use ofMaslow'sHiorarcliyofNoeuS to uiutoand to?

infi uence of

needs on the communication process. According to Maslow there are five sets of needs:

72. Physiological needs

73. Security

74. Social/Affiliation

75. Esteem j^b

76. Self-actualisatiott

Basic physical needs

Need to be sate

Need to belong,.

Need to be somebody

Need to help others and to be creative

All these needs influence human behaviour in the process of communication.

86. Basic Physical Needs: Consider that you are attending a business seminar, which begins at 8 am. You are thereafter having had a good breakfast, and you are comfortable and attentively listening to the speaker. Come 12 noon and your behaviour begins to change. You are beginning to feel hungry and are restless, and beginning to

loose concentration. Your physical need has impacted your behaviour and the message is meaningless.

87. The Need to be Safe: While attending the seminar you receive a message from one of your relatives that your father, who is living in another city, has suddenly taken ill. Such news shatters your sense of safety and security, and you are disturbed. You can no longer pay attention to what the speaker is saying. There could be many other reasons that could affect your sense of security and alter your behaviour. This altered behaviour could influence reception of communication adversely.

88. The Need to Belong: We communicate freely with family and friends, who provide us with a sense of belongingness. Even at workplace we need to belong to a group to communicate without being inhibited. Opposed to the idea of belonging is alienation. This is one of the most dreadful experiences that anyone could have. To be alienated means to be ex-communicated. During the medieval age Christianity used excommunication as an instrument of punishment. Any person who was excommunicated was cut-off the entire society, to the extent that he would not even be given water when thirsty. To be a member of a society means to be an integral part

1

Business Communication

The Need to be "Somebody": Another important need of human beings is to be recognized or respected. We can be somebodv orovided others recognize us as somebody. Often it is the attitude of others u ua i. idicale whether they respect us or not. Have you ever had your boss call you into his office that makes you feel that you were called in for what you think would be an important meeting? You think that your boss recognizes you as someone with whom he could discuss serious matters. Yet while you were with the boss he pays little attention to what you are saying by allowing interruptions. Soon you begin to get the feeling that the boss does not recognize you and that makes you feel insignificant, and perhaps even want to leave. When the need to be "somebody" is not fulfilled the communication process is interrupted.

e) The Need to help others and to be Creative: At all the above levels we need to help or be helped to overcome anxieties and fears. As communicator we need to develop sensitivity to the needs of our audience. This would make two things to happen:

i) Willingness to help people who are still struggling on the lower rung of the ladder, those still striving to meet the physical, safety and security needs, and

ii) Become more creative, because creative people make a better quality of life for everyone around.

2. Body-Language Determines Behaviour:

This could also be captioned as non-verbal communication, which has been defined by Bartol & Martin as "communication by means elements and behaviours that are not coded into words". This definition suggests that non-verbal mode of communication indicates the behavioural pattern of the communicators. Cultural and environmental differences contribute to conscious or unconscious body movements that communicate our true feelings. Most people believe that the manner in which you say something is more important than what you say with words.

Non-verbal communication often accompanies verbal (oral) communication. However, another vital feature of non-verbal communication is that most of the time we are communicating (generally to the people around us) without using words, by the way we walk, sit, dress, etc. In the process of developing communication skills, it is essential that we also make a conscious effort to improve our non-verbal communication pattern.

a) Facial Expressions: Aspi Doctor & Rhoda Doctor in their book Principle and Practices of Business Communication suggest that Charles Darwin believed that

Psychological and Cultural Dimensions of Business Communication

facial expressions show emotions, which originated in our evolutionary past. Hence, people from all over the world, even if they speak different languages and belong to

different cultures, use a common pattern of facial expressions to show emotions. Facial expressions, which result from the use of eyes, eyebrows, and lips, are universal in their nature and application. Universal facial expressions are used to show the following emotions: happiness, surprise, fear, sorrow, etc.

In Asian countries like India the eyes have a special role to play in conveying message. For instance, eyes convey definite meanings in the dance form of Bharatnatyam and Kathakali. When used with verbal communication, facial expressions can enlarge and sometimes even change the verbal message. They can also either encourage or discourage feedback. Non-verbal communication using eye movements is called

^€ "^ ^

b) Gestures; They_are movements of the hands, the head, or the body tojndicate an

idea or afeelmg, Gestures are culturally based. In other words, certain gesture may beacceptable in one culture, while it may be deplored in another culture. For example, laying hand on someone's head in India would indicate giving blessings, while in the Buddhist culture one is not suppose to touch another's head, since it considered sacred. Crossing one's ankles over the knees while sitting is considered rude in Indonesia, Thailand, and Syria. Pointing your index finger toward yourself insults the other person in Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.

Gestures are indicative of the behavioural patterns that are unique to specific culture. Hence, they should be seen or perceived in the proper manner and context. This calls for developing an awareness of how to interpret gestures.

c) Body Movements and Posture: While gestures pertain to the movements of parts of the body, posture has to do with the manner in which we carry ourselves. Posture is an important element in body language as it often gives a key to the personality of a person as well as tells us about the person. We are very familiar with the references made by cricket commentators to the body language of the players - confidence or diffidence of the team members is obvious in their body language. Body movements and posture appropriate for one person may not be suitable to another. For instance, how do we perceive a man who has the body movements like that of a lady? Posture and movements also convey definite message about one's age or state of health.

"Kinesic" behaviour, which includes all body movements and gestures, mean different things in different cultures. Sometimes behaviours that are meaningless in one culture have distinct meanings in another culture.

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Business Communication

d) Silence: Paradoxical as it may sound, we do communicate with the help of silence. Sometimes we are so overwhelmed by emotions that we are speechless - our silence speaks of our strong feelings. There are certainly many occasions when "silence is more eloquent than words". Come to think of it our speech is always punctuated by silence. Good communicators are aware of the value of silence.

Silence communicates messages in silence. Along silence could mean one thing, while a short silence may mean another. Silence conveys meanings that indicate the behaviour of a person - such as lack of interest, apathy, indifference, etc.

Writer Joseph DeVito mentions the following functions of silence:

i) To allow the speaker time to think

i) To isolate one's self

iii) To hurt someone

iv) To prevent further communication

v) To communicate emotional responses

vi) To say nothing

In business communication too, silence is often made use of.

e) Space and Proximity: Each one of us a sense of personal space around us that is guarded against intruders. We also try not to intrude on the personal space of others. Space and proximity play an important part in the communication process. The influence that space and proximity have on communication is known as "proxemics". For instance, whenweenter the office of a senior exgcutivewe keepa certain distance. The more senior the executive, the more the distance or proximityweTnamlaiiL

Table 3.1: Proxemic Categories

Space Category

Typical US Proxemics

Public Space

> 12 feet

Social Space

4 to 12 feet

Personal Space

1.5 to 4 feet

Intimate Space

< 1.5 feet

Unit 3 Psychological and Cultural Dimensions of Business Communication

i) Intimate Space or Zone is what we could identify as that space where all our body movements occur. This is the zone that belongs to each one of us and in

which we move throughout the day. Business associates do not enter this space

frequently, but only to shake hands or to pat someone on the back.

ii) Personal Space or Zone extends from 18 inches to about 4 feet, in which conversation with close friends takes place. This is the space where normal

talking is frequent. Some business interactions take place in this zone, such as business lunches.

iii) Social Space or Zone extends from 4 feet to about 12 feet. This is an important

zone for business, because rrtost business exchanges 6CCU1 1 in thi§ z6ne, §Ucn a§ informal business conferences and staff meetings

iv) Public Space or Zone extends from 12 feet and beyond. This is the most formal zone, and the least significant interactions occur here. Because of the great

distance, communication in the public zone is often one way - from the speaker to the audience.

We can also draw some generalizations about intercultural Proxemics. hi general, most people from Latin America, Middle Eastern, and southern European countries are comfortable with less distance between the individuals than most people from the United States. Similarly, people from many Asian cultures prefer more distance between them than do most people from the United States. This explains why you may take a step away from or toward a person you are working with from another culture.

f) Dress & Grooming: The manner and style of dressing alsoplaysjin importantrole^ in non- verbal communication. Every morning when we as£ourselves "What should I wear today?" we mean, "What do I want the people around me to know about me?" Dress and grooming informs the people about us. We wish to make a good impression upon the people, because people judge you by the way you dress - the colour of your dress, how well it is unwrinkled, the looks of your shoes, etc. Your appearance is also judged by the tidiness of your hair, body odour, etc.

In many developing countries, workers, whether in offices or industries, are provided with facilities whereby they will always look fresh and clean. In these countries you may not get

a job if you don't dress well or appear clean, or smell good. Dress code and grooming has become an important element of corporate culture.

Business Communication

g) Colour: Colour plays such an important role in our lives that, as far as English is concerned; colour symbolism has become a part of the language. Thus, in English we use phrases such as "green with envy", "pink of health", feeling "blue", etc. Business world also makes use of the colour-language - "in the red" refers to a company going in a loss, or "in the black" when it does well.

Colours are used to convey messages, not only at the individual level, but also at the level of community and nation. For example, Hindu clergy wear saffron, Christian mourners wear black; and each country has its own flag with distinct colours, so do many army regiments, schools, and colleges.

Besides all these use of colours, they also have significant psychological effect. Fro instance,

likllt WlOWD bflY9 SWilling SffWt fln psopl^ whits wlm miffi w$ ftvfc wtows depress,

When a classroom in US was painted red it was found that misbehaviour among students had increased.

Colours not only inform us about people but also affect the behaviour of human beings. Henry Dreyfuss, after considerable research, offers the following table to show the positive and negative messages of certain colours.

Table 3.2

Colour

Positive Message

Negative Message

 

Warmth

Death

 

Passion

War

Red ^--~-~

Life

Revolution

 

Liberty

Devil

Patriotism

Danger

Blue

Religious

Doubt

Feeling

Discouragement

Devotion

 

Truth

 
 

Justice

 
 

Intuition

Cowardice

Yellow

Wisdom

Malevolence

 

Divinity

Impure Love

Unit 3 Psychological and Cultural Dimensions of Business Communication

Nature Hope

Envy

Freshness

Jealousy

 

Prosperity^ ,

Opposition

Green

Disgrace

Purple 5&

Power

Mourning

Royalty Love

Regret

of Truth

Penitence

Nostalgia

Resignation

Source: Aspi Doctor & Rhoda Doctor, 'Principles and Practices of Business Communication'. Mumbai: Sheth Publishers Pvt.Ltd., pg 41

3. Language Affects Behaviour:

The words we use can make us behave in different ways. To communicate successfully, we must remember that words are only symbols, to which people add meaning. Two people may interpret the same word differently. Here is an anecdote that illustrates the affect of language on our behaviour.

Once when the Master [enlightened person] spoke of the hypnotic power of words, someone from the back of the room shouted: "You are talking nonsense! If I say God, God, God will that make me divine? And if I say Sin, Sin, Sin will it make me evil?

"Sit down, you stupid idiot!" shouted the Master.

The man became so livid with rage that it took some time to recover his speech. Then he screamed a torrent of abuse at the Master.

The Master, looking contrite, said, "Pardon me, sir, I was carried away. I truly apologize for my unpardonable lapse."

The man calmed down immediately.

"Well, there you have your answer: all it took was a word to give you a fit and another to sedate you," said the Master.

Source: Anthony De Mello, One-Minute Nonsense

Business Communication

Activity A :

What proxemics would you allow yourself in the following situations? i)

Talking to your boss _

ii)

Talking to your colleague.

in)

Making a speech

iv)

Speaking to your spouse_

b) Identify the types of needs the following situations depict:

i) Your boss is unhappy with your performance

ii) Isolated from grapevine group

iii) Your boss invites you to share your inputs_

iv) You are called upon to assist your fellow-worker.

3.3 COMMUNICTING ACROSS CULTURES

Compared to the last two decades a very large number of young Indian executives and professionals now routinely communicate with people from other cultures, especially American and European. Here we shall take a look at some aspects in which cultural values that shape our lives are fundamentally different from the Western ones. Understanding the differences between our cultural values and those of the West will help us communicate better with the Westerners.

1. What is "Culture"?

Culture is our understanding of acceptable actions and beliefs. Each of us grows up in a culture that provides pattern of acceptable beKaviour and belief Tit is the background over against which all our actions and beliefs become meaningful. We are not aware of this background most of the times - like the glasses that we wear through which we see, but are not aware that we are seeing through the glasses. However, not until we come in contact with someone different from our culture that we become aware of our cultural background.

Culture can_bej>een asthe way_weJjy^Jlie_clQthgswe wear, and the thoughts we think. It is the collection of values that sustain and direct or lives. The influence of culture on

communication is so strong that anthropologist Edward Hall says," culture is communication

Unit 3 Psychological and Cultural Dimensions of Business Communication

and communication is culture". Differences in cultural values and perceptions can be an invisible source of great misunderstanding between people of different regions.

Until a few years ago, before the globalisation of the Indian economy, and before information technology exploded on the Indian scene, it was just a small minority of middle and senior

managers and senior bureaucrats who needed to communicate across cultures. Their age,

experience) and exposure to the world in general perhaps protested them from serious

communication problems stemming from inter-cultural differences. But today even young executives, fresh from colleges, have to interact with people from different cultures.

Not all of them may go abroad, but most of them would have to communicate with foreigners through e-mail or phone. Attempting to communicate across cultures without adequate preparation may lead them into serious problems.

2. The East versus the West:

Anyone who wants to deal with people from a particular country should prepare themselves by studying its culture and history, so that they can avoid at least the more serious problems of communication that result from cultural differences.

We shall consider some fundamental Indian values and compare them with the Western ones, primarily because we have to communicate with them whether we like it or not. They control the world trade; they control money matters; they control science and technology. They set the rules for the world and we have to play by their rules.

There is another reason why we should take Western culture seriously. Western values and practices are being adopted all over the world. The rest of the world is exposed to them through electronic media that is totally dominated by the West, and through their multinational companies.

We should, however, remember that the West is not one whole culture with uniform values. There are many countries, cultures, languages, and peoples that makeup what we call as the West.

There are differences, yet there are similarities that bind them into together. For instance, America and Europe are Westerners yet they are different in many ways.

Hence, it is important that we make proper distinction and avoid over generalisations and simplifications.

Business Communication

a) Heart versus Mind

We Indians are driven more by our heart than our mind. Like everyone else, we have rules and regulations, but we tend to succumb to the demands of the present. Take the instance of traffic lights at a crossing. We will break the traffic rules if we have to in order to meet our appointment, or for that matter, we do not need a reason for violating any rules, if we can.

We have long-term plans, but those plans could easily change if we encounter any hurdle. The here and now is important for us, for which we are more than willing to change our plans or break the rules.

M.M. Monippally, in his book Business Communication Strategies, puts it aptly:

"We sacrifice the future at the altar of the present". We are capable of taking decisions without much planning. This might sound ridiculous, but a cursory glance around us will indicate that we take so many decisions without planning.

For example, the manner in which our cities are built - no proper plans for housing, roads, utilities, etc. Our actions are without plans; they are based on ad-hoc decisions.

Westerners are fundamentally different in their approach to planning. They sacrifice the present for the sake of the future, which they create with thorough planning.

The future drives them says Monippally. They are less flexible towards the demands of the present situation. They invest heavily in planning the future and are confident that they will pull through the present situation, if any.

b) Particularists versus Universalists

Fons Trompenaars, in his book, Riding the Waves of Culture, calls the Westerners as "Universalists". Universalism believes that what is good and right can be defined and can be applied always everywhere. For example, rules and regulations must be obeyed. Westerners like to change rules rather than bend them to accommodate individual cases. We Indians are quite capable of bending rules to accommodate individuals who happen to be influential. The Westerners believe that what is good for all is applicable to everyone; if something is not good for one then change it and make it applicable for all. Indians believe that what is good for one need not be applicable for all.

However, Westerners, driven by universalism, go to the extent that what is good for them is also good for the rest of the world. They try to impose their logic, their values

Unit 3 Psychological and Cultural Dimensions of Business Communication

and their system on the rest of the world. They write down in detail the standard operating procedure for manufacturing a product or rendering a service. Then they

in ^ tot to pratafi be followod in all mums. 5o whosoever manufacture the

product or renders the service in whatever country or under whatever conditions, the quality is the same. Our approach is more informal. We do not follow the procedures as long as the work is accomplished, T^js h^ gy^g gfljjfl Q n [^ pjjty jjf

workmanship.

Westerners are also known for their meticulous nature in gathering data and using

statiEtiCB eitensively to tow mmml j^W anJ L, enables Lm to U Ae

rest of the world. They do not depend upon the intuition of the people, but rely on the sciences and the power of statistics to draw their inferences and conclusions. Monippally has put it very aptly: "Their predictions are based on analysis of the well

documented past and the well-studied present".

These fundamental differences in perspectives can cause serious problems when we communicate with the Westerners. Here are some tips Fons Trompenaars gives particularists on how to deal with the universalists.

i) Be prepared for 'rational', professional arguments.

ii) Do not take 'get down to business' attitude as rude.

iii) Carefully prepare legal ground with a lawyer if in doubt.

iv) Strive for consistency and uniform procedures.

v) Institute formal and public ways of changing the way business is conducted.

vi) Seek fairness by treating all like cases in the same way.

c) Specific versus Diffused Relationship

Another noticeable feature of the Western culture is the compartmentalisation of relationships between people. A colleague is a colleague, nothing more and nothing less. Someone does not become the member of one's circle of friends just because they work together. Similarly, a neighbour is only a neighbour, even if two people live side by side for a long time. Such relations are kept separate. Work and personal lives are distinctly separated. Privacy is tightly guarded and highly prized.

In contrast, our relationship with people tends to be diffused. For instance, in a work situation a colleague can make demands on us that are not work-related. We may be expected to do things for our boss that is not related to the work in the office. Refusing

Business Communication

to do such favours could have bad repercussions. We do not separate our relations tightly. Moreover, when requests are turned down we tend to take it seriously, which affects our relations.

Making requests for us is not easy, because the person we request might say 'yes' when he really means 'no'. We are not straightforward in our approach to requests. Westerners will not hesitate to say 'no', if they do not want to comply with your request. Here is an anecdote that Monippally narrates from Trainload of Jokes and Anecdotes, edited by K. R. Vaidyanathan.

In a train, a personable young man asked the prosperous middle-aged man sitting opposite him: "Excuse me, sir, can you tell me the time please?"

"No! " barked the other man. "B-

but

"

"No buts! I've got my reasons. You 're a nice young fellow. If I tell you the time, we 'II start up a conversation. Then we 'II get off at the same station; you 'II offer me a drink. I'll invite you to my place for dinner and you 'II meet my daughter."

She's a charming girl," continued the middle-aged man, "and you 'II be pleasant to her. Next thing you know, you 'II be asking my permission to marry her. You don't expect me to consent to my daughter marrying a man who doesn 't even have a watch, do you?"

d) Nepotism versus Meritocracy

In the West nepotism is remarkably low compared to India. Here even the private sector, leave alone the government and public sector, is not entirely free from employing the relations of top managers. The merit for employment is kinship, not competence. And kinship can encompass not only blood relations, but also people from the same village. The Western way of separating work from life helps companies hire people who, in their judgement, will perform the tasks best. Without such compartmentalise relationships between and life, meritocracy would not have taken such strong roots in the US.

e) Hire-and-Fire Policy

In the West hire-and-fire policy is widely practiced. This practice is also derived from their ability to compartmentalise relationships. A person is hired on the basis of how much he/she can allow the system to extract the work out of them. Just as an

Unit 3 Psychological and Cultural Dimensions of Business Communication

object is selected to perform a function in a machine, so also a person is selected, not only on the basis of ability, but also on the basis of the willingness to be used by the system so that the system can function. When the person cannot be functional within a system, then the person is discarded from the system.

In contrast the Indian approach to employment is different. Many employees are kept in their job not because the employer needs them but because they need the job for their livelihood. The best example is the government and public sector, where the objectives are not economic in nature but social. In India everyone perceives as harsh and heartless firing a person when his services are no longer needed or when the person is unable to perform. In fact, the public sector undertaking goes so far as to offer a job to a dependent in case of the demise of the earning member.

This is done on the grounds of compassion and not the basis of merit. An Indian employer does not hire just certain technical or professional skills relevant to the firm's requirement, but the whole person. This makes it difficult for the employer to assess the performance of the employee without considering the person as a whole. For instance, if a person is not efficient in his/her work but has a good nature that appeals to his/her boss then the person is retained at work.

f) Individualism

This is another characteristic of the Western society, particularly the American, in which everyone is for one's self. Everyone in the US is expected to take care of himself/herself. Aperson's self-interest is dominant as long as one takes care of one's

self.

Here is an interesting way in which Jacob Braude answers the question "What is Americanism?" in his book Braude's Treasury of Wit and Humour.

"If you want your father to take care of you, that is paternalism. If you want your mother to take care of you, that is maternalism. If you want Uncle Sam to take care of you, that is Socialism. But if you want to take care of yourself, that is Americanism".

[Quoted by M. M. Monippally in Business Communication Strategies]

An average Westerner is more serf-reliant and capable of taking independent decision then most Indian counterpart. Independence is a very strong value that is inculcated in Westerners from their childhood. Most young men and women leave their homes when they turn eighteen and earn their own livelihood. They make their own decisions for every facet of their life.

Business Communication

In contrast, we are brought up in a group/family that comprises, not only of father, mother, brothers, and sisters, but also of aunts and uncles, cousins, and elders, in the family or outside the family. We are not encouraged to be independent, but rely most of the times upon the elders to make decisions for us. To compensate this limitation on independence the family, or the extended family offers the individual a wide safety zone. An individual can always return to this zone of safety for support in case of misfortune.

This has its bearing on work-situation. The importance given in the West to individualism and assumption of responsibility for one's actions, there is generally less consultation and quicker decision-making. Consensus on a decision is not very important. If there is no consensus then the majority decision is accepted by all.

In India, when there is a difference of opinion, then serious and sustained efforts are made to arrive at a consensus. When there is no consensus there is a possibility to defer decision taken. People in authority try to get the support of others concerned for decision-making. At times meetings are convened merely to make it appear that decision-making is collective.

g) Notion of Time

Time is yet another fundamental aspect of life, in which different cultures have different perceptions. Punctuality is a fundamental value for most Westerners. The importance of time in industrial society has its roots in the affects of Industrial Revolution of the 19 th century.

Alvin Toffler points out in his book The Third Wave, that with the advent of industrialisation many social institutions came into existence. One such institution that came into prominence was educational institution. In it there were two types of curricula - one that was overt and other the covert.

The overt curriculum had subject such as history, geography, mathematics, etc. While the covert curriculum, which was geared to preparing people from rural areas for factory jobs, consisted of obedience and punctuality.

In the West time is treated as being linear- i.e. it flows only in forward direction. For the Westerners time is money, and hence one must make the most of the time available. They allocate time for each activity and stick to their schedule. Their diaries run their lives. They do not like to alter their plans once they are made.

Unit 3 Psychological and Cultural Dimensions of Business Communication

In the US you just cannot decide to go and visit you friend or son or daughter without phoning them and finding if it is convenient to visit them.

For us, in India, time is not a linear, but cyclic in nature. Hence, it is not a limited resource. Monippally opines: "Perhaps the idea of the cycle of rebirth, lodged deeply in our collective psyche, takes urgency out of our concept of time".

Westerners have just this life to achieve whatever they want to, therefore, they must work hard and fast.

The Indians have many lives; hence, they have no need to be in hurry.

We do not take schedule or appointments too seriously. People with more important issues are also accommodated in a schedule without appointment. Or we may readily cancel earlier appointments if more important issues or people come up.

Perhaps nothing illustrates our casual attitude to time and to planning than committee meetings. Often meetings are called without notice, without giving the attendees the agenda. Even when the attendees get the agenda with the staring time clearly mentioned, meetings rarely start on time.

When dealing with Westerners we have to take schedules and appointments seriously. They generally mean what they say. Arriving late causes resentment; arriving early causes embarrassment.

It is unwise to assume that the Westerners take time the way we do.

a ju£

h) Social Ladder ^\ "^^

Our values differ from those of the West in the way we put people on the social ladder. In India one's status depends, to a large extent, on the caste and the family one has been born into, the position one holds currently or has held, the educational qualification one has acquired, the connection one has, and of course age.

Hierarchy is very important in our families and organisations. Money power is recognized, accepted, and feared but not admired.

Unless a family has been traditionally wealthy, there is a general belief that the present prosperity might be ill gotten. Society may envy the new rich but show little respect to

them.

Business Communication

The West also has hierarchies. There is a special respect to people belonging to illustrious families. It recognizes educational achievements, the position one holds, and of course, the connection one has. It, however, gives greater importance to what an individual has achieved in the recent past, which is this true of the American society.

However, the French society values class more than cash.

Within organisations the hierarchy is somewhat flat in most of the Western countries.

American companies tend to have the flattest hierarchies, while Indian companies the hierarchies are very steep. Employees, in India, at the lower end may not have access to the top management, which is especially true of government and semi-government organisations.

The cultural differences between the West and the East are many, and it is very easy for people who interact cross-culturally to fall into traps that would result in misunderstandings. Deliberate effort should be made to acquaint us with cultures of different countries that would enables communicating across cultures effectively.

>eT Activity B;

Locate someone, preferably a businessperson, who has spent some time in another country, and interview him or her about the experience.

a) What preparation did the person have before going to the country?

b) In what ways was the preparation adequate or inadequate?

Unit 3 Psychological and Cultural Dimensions of Business Communication

c) In retrospect how would he or she have prepared differently?

d) Ask for an anecdote about particular communication problems or mistakes.

3.4 CATEGORISING CULTURES

All people acquire meaning from both verbal and nonverbal messages, but some people in some cultures rely more on verbal communication than nonverbal communication. In contrast, people in other cultures rely more on nonverbal communication than on verbal communication.

dward Hall believed that cultures vary in the reliance people place on nonverbal signals or on verbal signals. He defined these extremes a "low-context culture" and "high- context culture". These categories, of course, describe broadculturarcha^teristics, noTnecessarily nl^flual behaviours.

Low-context Cu/targ^-refers to the dependency of the people on direct verbal messages to communicate. These people prefer explicitly stated information. Directness is considered desirable.

High-context Culture refers to the dependency of the people on indirect nonverbal ^messages to communicate. Directness is often considered rudeT —

In low-context cultures, most transmitted information is contained in the message itself.

On the other hand, in high-context cultures, the interpretation is primarily determined by the communicator's nonverbal signals, which implies shared social and cultural knowledge of the context.

Business Communication

This distinction has important implication for communication in organisations. Communication in low-context cultures is more cumbersome, while communication in high-context cultures is rich in meaning.

Table 3.3 Views of Communication in High-Context and Low-Context Cultures

 

High-Context Culture (Examples: Japan, United Arab Emirates)

Low-Context Culture (Examples: Germany, Canada, United States)

Preferred communication strategy

Indirectness, politeness, ambiguity

Directness, confrontation, clarity

Reliance on words to communicate

Low

High

Reliance on nonverbal signs to communicate

High

Low

Importance of words

Low

High

Agreement made in writing

Not binding

Binding

Agreement made orally

Binding

Not binding

Attention to detail

Low

High

Source: David A. Victor, ' International Business Communication'.

Table 3.4 indicates the various motivational factors and how they are perceived in different cultures.

These motivational factors fall under the nonverbal communication. On the other hand, oral communication requires cultural understanding.

As Table 3.5 shows, the purpose of and the information exchanged in business introductions differs across cultures.

Unit 3 Psychological and Cultural Dimensions of Business Communication

Table 3.4 Cultural Contrasts in

 

Motivation

 

United States

Japan

Arab Countries

Emotional

Opportunity

Group Participation; Company success

Religion;

Appeal

Nationalism;

Admiration

Recognition

Individual

Group

Individual Status; Status of class/society

based on

Achievement

Achievement

Material

Salary, Bonus,

Annual Bonus;

Gifts for

Rewards

Profit sharing

Social Service,

self/family;

Fringe Benefits

Salary

Threats

Loss of job

Loss of

Demotion; Loss of Reputation

Group

Membership

 

Values

Competition,

Group

Reputation; Family security; Religion

Risk taking,

harmony;

Freedom

Belonging

Source: Farid Elashmawi & Philip R. Harris, Multicultural Management 2000:

Essential Cultural Insights for Global Business Success.

Table 3.5 Cultural Contrasts in Business

Introductions

 

United States

Japan

Arab Countries

Purpose of

Establish status and job identity; Network

Establish position in group, build harmony

Establish

Introduction

personal

rapport

Image of

Independent

Member of group

Part of rich culture

individual

Information

Related

Related to

Personal

to

company

business

Use of language

Informal,

Little talking

Formal;

friendly; use

Expression of

first name

admiration

Values

Openness,

Harmony;

Religious

directness,

respect,

harmony,

action

listening

hospitality,

emotional

support

Source: Farid Elashmawi & Philip R. Harris, Insights for Global Business Success. Multicultural Management 2000: Essential Cultural

fid

Business Communication

Table 3.6 Cultural Contrasts in Written

Persuasive Documents

 

United States

Japan

Arab Countries

Opening

Request action or get reader's attention

Offer thanks;

Offer personal

apologize

greetings

Way to persuade

Immediate gain or loss of opportunity

Waiting

Personal connection; future opportunity

Style

Short sentences

Modesty; minimize own standing

Elaborate expressions; many signatures

Closing

Specific request

Desire to maintain harmony

Future relationship; personal greetings

Values

Efficiency; directness; action

Politeness,

Status; continuation

indirectness,

 

relationship

Source: Farid Elashmawi & Philip R. Harris, Multicultural Management 2000:

Essential Cultural Insights for Global Business Success.

In the process of communicating through writing to international audiences, use titles, not first names as the Americans do. For most cultures, buffer negative messages and make requests more indirect. Table 3.6 suggests that you need to modify style, structure, and strategy when you write to international audiences. Make a special effort to avoid phrases that could be seen as arrogant or uncaring. Cultural mistakes made orally float away on the air; those made in writing are permanently recorded.

J&X Activity C:

Considering Table 3.4 how would you describe Indians with respect to the:

i) Emotional appeal

ii) Recognition based on

iii)

Material rewards

iv) Threats

v) Values

Unit 3 Psychological and Cultural Dimensions of Business Communication

3.5 TIPS FOR COMMUNICATION WITH PEOPLE FROM OTHER CULTURES

You may never completely overcome linguistic and cultural barriers or totally erase ethnocentric tendencies, but you can communicate effectively with people from other cultures if you work at it. Here are some tips for handling intercultural business communication more effectively. These tips have been taken from J. V. Thill & C.L. Bovee, Excellence in Business Communication.

1. Learning about a Culture:

The best way to prepare yourself to do business with people from another culture is to study their culture in advance. If you plan to do business there repeatedly, learn the language. Even if you transact business in English, you show respect by making effort to learn the local language. Concentrate on learning something about their history, religion, politics, and customs, but don't ignore the practical side of life. Seasoned business travellers suggest the following:

81. In Spain, let a handshake last for five or seven strokes; pulling away too soon may be interpreted as a sign of rejection. In France, however, the handshake is a single stroke.

82. Never give a gift of liquor in Arab countries.

83. In England, never stick pens or other objects in your front suit pocket; doing so is considered awkward or clumsy.

84. Allow plenty of time to get to know the people you're dealing with in Africa. They are suspicious of people who are in a hurry. If you concentrate solely on the task at hand, African will distrust you and avoid doing business with you.

85. In Arab countries, never turn down food or drink; it is an insult to refuse hospitality of any kind. But don't be too quick to accept, either. Aritual refusal ["I don't want to put you to any trouble" or "I don't want to be a bother"] is expected before you finally accept.

86. Stress the longevity [age, span of life] of your company when dealing with the Germans, Dutch, and Swiss. If your company has been around for a while, the founding date should be printed on your business cards.

71

Business Communication

2. Handling Written Communication:

Intercultural business writing falls into the same general categories as other forms of business writing.

Unless you are personally fluent in the language of the intended readers, you should write your letters in English or have them translated by a professional translator.

If you and your reader speak different languages, be especially concerned with achieving clarity:

Some tips for handling written communication:

89. Use short, precise words that say what they mean.

90. Rely on specific terms to explain your points. Avoid abstractions altogether, or illustrate them with concrete examples.

91. Stay away from slang, jargon, and buzz words. Such words rarely translate well. So also avoid idioms and figurative expressions, abbreviations and acronyms. These may lead to confusion.

92. Construct sentences that are shorter and simpler that those you use when writing to someone fluent in English.

93. Use short paragraphs. Each paragraph should stick to one point or topic and no more than eight to ten lines.

94. Help readers follow your train of thought by using transitional devices. Precede related points with expressions like in addition and first, second, third.

95. Use numbers, visual aids, and pre-printed forms to clarify your message. These devices are generally understood in most cultures.

3. Handling Oral Communication:

Oral communication with people from other cultures is more difficult to handle than written communication. Some transactions cannot be handled without face-to-face communication. When engaging in oral communication, be alert to the possibilities for misunderstanding. Be conscious of the non-verbal messages that you may be sending or receiving.

Unit 3 Psychological and Cultural Dimensions of Business Communication

To overcome the language and cultural barriers, follow these

suggestions: a)

Keep an open mind. Don't stereotype the other person or react with preconceived ideas. Regard the person as an individual first, not as a representative of another culture.

b)

Be conscious of the other person's customs. Expect him or her to have different values, beliefs, expectations, and mannerisms.

89. Try to be aware of unintentional meanings that may be read into your message. Clarify your true intent by repetition and examples.

90. Listen carefully and patiently. If you do not understand a comment, ask the person to repeat it.

91. Be aware that the other person's body language may mislead you. Gestures and expressions mean different things in different cultures. Rely more on words than on nonverbal communication to interpret the message.

92. Adapt your style to the other person's. If the other person appears to be direct and straightforward, follow suit. If not, adjust your behaviour to match.

93. At the end of the conversation, be sure that you and the other person both agree on what has been said and decided. Clarify what will happen next.

Y

h) If appropriate, follow up by writing a letter or memo summarising the conversation and thanking the person for meeting with you.

3.6 SUMMARY

The two dimensions of communication that this unit presented were the psychological and the cultural. <r ~~

The principle^ofcommunication psychology are as follows:

Needs deterrninebehaviour in the communication process.

-<w • " "

95. Body language determines behavioural pattern.

96. Verbal language determine behavioural pattern.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs that determine human behaviour in the process of communication are. The next principle of communication psychology is the body language,

73

Business Communication

which influences the communication process. Body is always used in the process of communication - such as facial expressions, gestures and posture, personal space, dress and grooming, and colours. Equally affecting the human psychology is the use of words.

In the cultural aspect of communication we studied the differences in perspectives between the West and the East. The differences between cultures were observed in the manner in which business introductions are performed, ways in which documents are written. Finally tips were given for communicating with people from different cultural backgrounds.

3.7 SELF-ASSESSMENT QUESTIONS

Q1. "Needs determine the behaviour in communication process". Discuss.

Q2. Explain the various aspects of nonverbal communication.

Q3. Describe at least five areas in which the Westerns differ from the Indians.

Q4. Write explanatory notes on the following:

107. High- and Low-Context Cultures

108. Culture

109. Proxemics

Q5. State whether the following statements are True or False.

i. We can be somebody provided others recognize us as somebody

ii. Non-verbal communication using eye movements is called kinesics

iii. Creative people make a better quality of life for everyone around.

iv. Facial expressions cannot enlarge the verbal message.

v. Black colour refers to a company that is going in a loss.

Business Communication

4.1 INTRODUCTION

A Chinese sage said: "Speech is difficult; Silence is impossible". It is only in silence that listening can take place. So the Chinese sage knew the importance of listening in the process of communication. Communication can take place when both the communicators will listen to each other. As one author put it: "Listening is the mother of all speaking". &

There is something special about face-to-face oral communication. It is the most fundamental and natural mode of human communication. Yet human beings have not mastered the art of communication enough to become effective communicators.

Just the ability to produce words effortlessly does not make one a good oral communicator.

There is something else that is involved in communication that human beings find it hard to master-i.e. listening.

Listening actively and attentively is vital to oral communication. Several writers on oral communication point out that good listeners are perceived as good conversationalists even when they speak very little. In a conversation both the speaker and the listener have to listen simultaneously to each other for their communication to be effective. The speaker has to listen not only to any verbal responses but also to the nonverbal symbols or signs that the listener displays. Based on them the speaker has to determine from moment to moment what to say and what nonverbal signs to display with the words. Speakers who don't care to listen to their listeners might as well talk to the walls. They cannot be good communicators no matter how well they articulate of how knowledgeable they may be.

On the other hand, the listener's job is just as active as the speaker's. The listener has to process the speaker's verbal and nonverbal signs and symbols and respond by his/her own verbal and nonverbal signs and symbols to let the speaker know how his/her message has been reconstructed. The two - speaker and listener - influence each other and alternate their role constantly. In other words, the speaker is also a listener; a listener is also a speaker.

Listening and listening intently is a mode of awareness. In The Dance of Change, Peter Singe says that we have to learn to listen between the words in order to get to the deeper level of meaning. He goes on to ask: "Have you ever been in the presence of someone who listens closely

to you? It feels discomfiting, like being stared at. People in society are not used to living at the "

communication; both the partners take the communication seriously.

level of awareness

[Quoted by M.M. Monippally] Listening intently raises the level of

Unit 4 Listening

Despite the fact that listening is essential to communication, human beings are not good listeners. Carl R. Rogers & F.J. Roethlisberger state: "The biggest block to personal communication is man's inability to listen intelligently, understandingly and skilfully to another person. This deficiency in the modern world is widespread and appalling". [Quoted by M.M. Monippally] The world has shrunk; our knowledge has expanded tremendously; but our awareness about listening, which is of utmost importance for communication, has not developed.

4.2 THE ANATOMY OF POOR LISTENING

1. Why is it that our listening is not as good as it ought to be?

M.M. Monippally gives the following explanation:

"Our brain is capable of processing 500 to 750 words a minute while people only speak 120 to 150 words a minute. The listeners use only a part of their brain to listen; they use their brain's spare capacity to think of other things that interest them. The result is dissipation of attention, which leads eventually to poor listening."

We have often experienced that when someone is speaking to us our mind tends to wander away from the speaker's message. We are listening, and yet we are not listening. We are merely hearing, but not listening.

2. How does Listening differ from Hearing?

Too often people think that listening and hearing is the same thing, but there is a big difference. Hearing depends upon the ears, while listening uses the mind and eyes as wejL^ The ear permits you to hear sounds; the mind enables you to interpret these sounds, to recognise some of them as words, and to fashion the words into thoughts or ideas. With your mind you are able to determine that an oral message is important, interpret the message, and react to it.

Stark reality is that as human beings we are poor listeners. Most of us do not really listen; we just wait to talk! Many a times, we are so preoccupied with our own thoughts, priorities, and agendas that we do not actually listen to what the other is saying. No one can be forced to listen. It is a skill over which every individual has complete control and it is influenced totally by internal motivation.

Listening as a skill tends to be untaught and untrained. Schools teach us reading, writing, speaking, and other subjects, yet no curriculum focuses on listening. Nor is listening generally

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a part of the training offered in today's organisations. People are expected to listen effectively, yet they are not being prepared with the necessary skills.

Lee lacocca states :

"I only wish I could find an institution that teaches people how to listen. After all, a good

manager needs to listen at least as much as he needs to talk both directions."

real communication goes in

Among many reasons for poor listening is the fact that speaking is more valued than listening. There are professional speakers who speak for a living. We do far more listening than talking, yet we rarely put much effort to focus on reception of other's messages. When communication problem occurs, we usually blame everyone else and do not consider that our listening quality may be poor. We rarely see ourselves as the problem. Everyone else has communication and listening problems, but not us!

George Eliot says :

"The people of the world are islands shouting at each other across a sea of misunderstanding."

Another problem of poor listening is that it become retaliatory - "we don't listen to them because they don't listen to us". We punish others by not listening to them. One of the rudest things we can do to another human being is to tune him or her out.

Listening to other people is a valuable gift that we can extend to them and it conveys respect, esteem, and a strong sense of their dignity. Failure to listen sends a negative message of placing low value on other person. Listening is not only a skill of communication, but it is also a skill of building relationship.

The only choice we have as listeners is to listen or not to listen. Often we choose not to listen; we merely pretend to listen. So we fail to notice many verbal and nonverbal signs and symbols displayed by the speaker. We may jump to conclusions.

Thus, our reconstruction of meaning remains incomplete or far from the intended message.

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Unit 4 Listening

^Activity A;

Observe two of your friends in conversation/discussion and list down some of their poor or inadequate listening qualities:

4.3 CONTRIBUTORS TO POOR LISTENING

There are several factors - linguistic, physical, and psychological - that contribute to poor listening.

1. Inadequate Language:

Poor listening may result from the listener's weak command over the language and narrow range of vocabulary.

Certain words that the speaker uses may not make sense to the listener. These words could either be technical or rare. They could even be words that are common, but used by a particular community or a group of people in particular sense, and may be used by speaker without realising that the particular listener may not be able to make of them.

Faced with words that are beyond the range of the listener, he/she may not ask for clarification because of fear or shyness or because there may not be an opportunity for

clarification.

It may also be that the listener does not ask for clarification because he/she may be expected to know the words and their meanings. Whatever the reason, it ultimately results in poor

listening.

It is also possible that the words a speaker uses may give the listener a valid meaning that is different from what is intended by the speaker.

For instance, an employer may have a gross salary in mind when quoting salary to a job seeker. The job seeker, on the other hand, may take that figure as net salary, and not be

aware about the various cuts. In such instance the communicators have interpreted the word "salary" differently, which may later cause misunderstanding.

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While we normally associate listening with spoken words and phrases, we ought to include nonverbal symbols - listening between words - in the process of listening.

Inadequate familiarity with regional conventions and cultural values also may become a hindrance for full and active listening.

2. Difficult Physical Conditions:

Poor listening may also be result from the difficult conditions in which one has to listen. Public places and shop floors of manufacturing units can be so noisy that listening could become aproblem. Not wanting to embarrass the speakerT3yTepeateBTy^skingTo~be louder, slower, or clearer, the listener may settle for a meaning that makes sense to him/ her.

This is true especially when the speaker is of a higher status. A listener may not have the choice of the context in which he has to listen. If one does have a choice to improve the physical condition and is too lazy to opt for it, then he/she is guilty of being a poor listener.

3. Non-Serious Listening:

Some listeners allow themselves to be distracted. They do not take listening seriously enough to devote full attention to it. They may try to combine several activities such as flipping through a file of letters, signing documents, arranging papers on the desk, and so on while listening to someone.

The temptation to combine listening with other activities is particularly strong when the people speak on the phone. They feel that the energy they save by not having to look at the speaker could be invested in doing other things. This could cause problem in listening because words on the phone line come with fewer nonverbal symbols that face-to-face conversation.

It is also not good to indulge in partial listening while one is face-to-face conversation. It can demoralise the other party, who may feel that he/she is being snubbed.

Children are so sensitive to this kind of listening that they force their parents to turn their face toward them and look at them when they speak.

Unit 4 Listening

4. Antipathy towards Speaker :

One of the biggest causes of poor listening has little to do with language or physical oondifi<~>"° It consists of the psychological barriers of the listener. These barriers are treacherous because the Listener neither see them nor recognizes them as barriers even when seen.

For example, if we dislike a speaker or disapprove of him/her, the message that we reconstruct is always distorted. This dislike might be for any reason - such as we may not like the appearance of the speaker, or the speaker's mannerism, or some deep-rooted prejudice that we harbour within us - and the speaker becomes the victim. Consequently, we close our mind and this becomes a hindrance to our listening. Or it is possible that we may misinterpret the speaker's nonverbal signs.

5. Impatience^:

Impatience is born out of overconfidence. Before they hear out the speaker some listeners Assume that they know what is coming. Sometimes such listeners find the speaker too sfowTSuch listeners do not wait for the speaker to finish, tend to jump to conclusion, which annoys the speaker.

Another form of impatience is to plan one's response while pretending to be listening to what the speaker is saying.

This happens when the listener, guesses too soon what the speaker is going to say, and on that assumption, concentrates on formulating his/her response.

There is yet another form of impatience that many of us suffer from. Everyone tends to value their own thoughts and issues more highly than those of others. What we have to say is always more important than what others have to say.

As a result we are always anxious to talk. We want to demonstrate our knowledge base, correct the errors and misperceptions of other, and at times, be the centre of conversation or discussion. Because you may be in command of knowledge and have passion for your expertise, it is common to want to actively participate in or dominate the discussion.

The desire to contribute often occurs at the expense of others; instead of Listening to them, you are planning what you are going to say.

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6. Strong Convictions:

Our mind is like a sieve - that utensil that is used to separate husk from the flour. The grid, which forms the net to separate the husk from the flour, corresponds to our presuppositions [convictions] that we have received during the process of our growth. These presuppositions enable us to comprehend whatever we experience or that which our senses receive. Now if the grid is woven very closely, then very little will pass through it. If our mind is like that then we are narrow minded.

On the other hand, if the grid is so woven so as to have big openings then more will pass through it. When our mind is like that then we are gullible - accept everything that everyone says.

But if there are no openings in the sieve then nothing passes through it. When this is the state of our mind, we say that there is a mental block.

The trouble is our minds are often closed. We are so sure of certain things that we don't see the need to reconsider them. Our beliefs and our convictions can act as a shield that stops new ideas and new proofs from reaching our minds.

This is the very reason why there are so many disharmonies between religions. People from one religion cannot see the viewpoint of the people of another religion because of their strong convictions; each party is convinced that their point of view is the right one.

Strong convictions make you deaf and you cannot listen to the other.

Strong convictions will always lead to a monologue during a conversation or discussion.

In the words of Stephen Covey we are reading our "autobiography into other people's lives". On the other hand, active listening will result in a dialogue.

Careful listening will help us to become aware of the speaker's framework, which will enable us to understand the message better.

7. Information Overload:

We are deluged with so much information that it is humanly impossible to process it all. From this volume of information that is available to us it is difficult to determine what is relevant and what is not.

When we are faced with such immense amount of information our listening becomes selective and thus, miss out pertinent information. When we are overloaded with information we tend to be distracted and this hampers our listening ability.

Unit 4 Listening

Jg$ Activity B;

Identify the main contributor for poor listening that is likely in the following situations:

i) Argument between two persons

ii) Someone stating an allegation against you

I) Giving a 5-minute speech on the use of computers in your organisation

iv) Your boss, who does not like you, speaks to you about a new assignment

v) You are listening to a report that you already are aware of

4.4 LISTENING STYLES

1. 'Ineffective' Listening Styles

There are at least four ineffective styles of listening. The ineffective styles of listening are counterproductive or can be dysfunctional.

The four ineffective listening styles are as follows:

110. The "missing-in-action" listener

111. The "distracted" listener

112. The "selective" listener

113. The "contentious" listener

a) The Missing-in-Action Listener

This is typically a passive or detached listening style. These li steners, altfaoughphysically present, are clearly mentally or intellectually absent. They may be preoccupied with personal issues and at times even appear to be in a trance [they have a blank look]. It is obvious that they are disengaged from what is being said. It is state in which there is total lack of reception of message, and not lack of comprehension.

You could become a "missing-in-action" listener if you have little interest in what is being said to you. It is as though the communication does not exist. It is not the question of misunderstanding the communication; you just don't hear it. A person

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might go missing in action if they feel unable to understand a complex message. Putting it differently, if the message is complex it could intimidate the listener and as a way to escape the listener will shut himself from the communication process.

b) The "Distracted" Listen

This is an active dysfunctional style of listening. It is active dysfunctional because the listener is actively engaged in his/her more immediate concerns, which makes the listening ability dysfunctional. You will find them doing two or more things at the same time. ' " ~ '

They try to appear to be listening while reading, writing, or pursuing some other activity. Common behaviour of distracted listener is to repeatedly glance at the watch. This indicates impatience, or boredom, or even sending a nonverbal message to the speaker to stop speaking. Such listeners usually have very little eye contact with the speaker.

Some people can camouflage their distraction so well that the speaker gets the impression that he/she is being carefully listened to. They appear to be engaged in the process of listening by constantly nodding in agreement or using appropriate verbal cues. This is dishonest inasmuch as it is intentional distortion. Their only goal is to try to bring the communication to a quick conclusion.

You can become a distracted listener when you are under pressures to meet deadlines or wrapped up in your own thoughts or emotions.

When you are unwilling or unable to slow down your thought process enough to allow the introduction of additional information, you are the distracted listener!

c) The "Selective" Listener

In this style of listening the listener listens only that which conforms to previously determined opinions and positions. These listeners sift through the message to glean information to support what they already think, hearing only what they want to hear. They are notlistening to the totalmessage, but selecting only that part of the message that would validate their own beliefs. They screen out orignbre infonriatiljnlhatdoes not fit their preconceptions.

Selective listener can be either positively or negatively inclined. For example, if you were to pay a series of compliments while offering one small criticism, all that would

Unit 4 Listening

be heard would be the criticism. In organisations this type of listening is very common.

Many superiors tend to be selective listeners, who choose to hear only the negative

comments. It is also possible that someone whom you have complimented is so wrapped up

in your compliment that he/she fails to listen further to your subsequent message.

You become a "selective" listener if you do not discipline yourself to listen to someone's total message. It is an arrogant listening style and should be avoided because a selective listener dismisses the message of others and confirms only to his/her own self-righteous position.

d) The "Contentious" Listener

A

contentious listener is one who uses a combative or negatively aggressive listening style.

It

has been described as "listening with a chip on your shoulder". These listeners are always

on a warpath, and listen only to find points of disagreement. They listen only to reject, not to

actually process the entire message. They are determined to disagree. You may offer five

points out of which four points would be of mutual agreement, but one point of disagreement

is what the "contentious" listener would focus on - that would be the point of contention.

Disregarding any area of agreement, they only wish to focus on areas of disagreement.

You can become the contentious listener when listening with your emotions. Emotions such as fear, anger, jealousy, resentment, etc., often result in combative listening patterns. This is subjective, reactionary listening. If you feel threatened in any way by someone's message, contentious listening is a common response.

2. 'Effective' Listening Styles

Various situations call for different listening skills.

The four types of listening differ not only in purpose but also in the amount of feedback or interaction they entail.

They are:

114. Content Listening

115. Critical Listening

116. Empathic Listening

117. Active Listening

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All four types of listening can be useful in work-related situations.

Regardless of whether the situation calls for content, critical, empathic, or active listening skill, it is essential to develop them to be effective listener.

a) Content Listening

The goal is to understand and retain information by the speaker. You may ask question, but basically, information flows form the speaker to you. Your job is to identify the key points of the message, so you concentrate and listen for clues to its structure: preview, transitions, summaries, and enumerated points. In your mind, you create an outline of the speaker's remarks; afterward, you silently review what you have learnt. You may take notes, but you do this sparingly so that you can concentrate on the key points. It does not matter whether you agree or disagree, approve or disapprove -only that you understand.

b) Critical Listening

The goal is to evaluate the message at several levels: the logic of the argument, strength of the evidence, and validity of the conclusion; the implication of the message for you or your organisation; the speaker's intention and motives; and the omission of any important or relevant points. But absorbing information and evaluating it at the same time is difficult, therefore, reserve judgement until the speaker has finished. Critical listening generally involves interaction as you try to uncover the speaker's point of view.

c)

Empathic Listening

The goal is to understand the speaker's feelings, needs, and wants in order to help solve a problem. The function of the message is only to act as the vehicle for gaining insight into the person's psyche. However, your purpose is not really to "solve" the problem. By listening, youhelp the individualventthe emotions that are preventing him/her from dealing dispassionately with the problem. You may be tempted to give

*«^ —• ~ "* ' •»-. n _^

_-

j

advice, but do notdb itTTfynot to judge the rightness or the wrongness of the individual's feelings. Just let the person talk.

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d) Active Listening

fbr

The goal is to appreciate the other person's point of view, whether or not you agree. This is done in the manner psychiatrist, Carl Rogers, developed the technique to help people resolve their differences.

Unit 4 Listening

Here is how it works: Before you can reply to another person's comment with your point of view, you must restate the ideas and feelings behind the comment to the other person's satisfaction. You go back and forth this way, until each of you understands the other's position.

To put it differently, active listening involves listening to what is said as well as that which is not said. That which is not said should be made clear to the other person by spelling it out. This would enable both the communicators to become acquainted with each other's background and thus message would be clearer. This is so because the words that we use in our communication are mere indicators of our ideas and feelings. When these indicators are explained the communication is less prone to misunderstandings.

^ActivitvC;

Picture yourself in five situations - a prayer meeting, an official meeting with a boss on your appraisal, college principal's talk on Independence Day, a friend narrating an accident he had on his way to your house, and an interview with your favourite actor.

What would be your listening style per situation?

4.5 DEVELOPING EFFECTIVE LISTENING SKILLS

Your listening efforts are completely under your control. If you are willing to be an effective listener you can become one. In becoming effective listener one has to make deliberate and conscious efforts. There has to be a commitment to accomplishing the task of improving

listening skills.

Learning is a process that cannot be accomplished in privacy, but must be carried out in the presence of people.

Since there is no formal education process for developing listening skills, it must be done with the help of people around us and with who we are in constant communication.

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Six Communication Realities

a) Effective listening skills can be learned:

Good listeners are made, not born. Some people may have inherently better listening skills than others, yet everyone can learn to become a more effective listeners. Because the skills are acquired, the field for developing is open to all. No one has a listening advantage.

b) To become an effective listener you must be committed to your personal skill development: * ~ "~~

There has to be willingness to learn. These skills, however, are not easy to learn; if they were, everyone would have them. You will experience success in direct proportion to the effort you are willing to invest in the learning process. Increasing your listening skills must become a personal goal. Do not expect to become a more effective listener in one giant leap. Listening is a journey of constant improvement.

c) Active listening skills must be practiced:

Increases in your skill level will diminish if they are not constantly practiced. Repetition is the key. Practice will enable effective listening to become a second nature to you. The first time you try you will experience only limited success. The fact is, some of us would easily give up if we do not find success. A limited number will keep at it until increased level of effectiveness is achieved. Just as professionals spend endless hours practicing their skills so also it is essential that we invest time and effort to improve our listening skills.

d) Time is an important tool:

s\

If your emotions are high and you are on the verge of giving up, buy sometime and allow your emotions to ebb away. Remind time and again that you have to become an effective listener. Find time and opportunity to develop the skills. Many of your learning opportunities are within your control. Make time work in your favour.

e) How well you listen to others depends on your internal communication:

Your listening skills evolve around your ability to manage your own internal communication - what you say to your self when the listening process is on. The internal dialogue - i.e. listening to instructions you give yourself- has tremendous influence over your abilities to accurately absorb the messages of others. To be a good listener, you must have the self-discipline to identify and overcome the listening

Unit 4 Listening

impediments. The internal conditions you set for yourself when you encounter a listening opportunity determines whether you will listen objectively or prejudicially.

f) Some effective listening techniques are more difficult to implement than others:

The unique nature of individual listening strengths and weaknesses places, varying degrees of importance and challenge on active listening skills for different people. You have to assess your listening abilities and find where your greatest problem lies and work on that area for improving your listening skills.

4.6 STEPS TO EFFECTIVE LISTENING SKILLS

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as til rs

ve

For effective listening skill one has to develop a listening ritual. Rituals are important part of many of our repetitive behaviours. For instance, we travel routine for going to bed (changing into sleep attire, brushing our teeth, etc.) or rituals for eating, and so on. It is important to develop a ritual for listening. Ritualised behaviour is ingrained, habitual

behaviour.

You can develop a ritual for listening by following these five steps:

114.

State your intention to listen.

118.

Manage the physical environment.

3 . Make an internal commitment to listen.

118.

Assume a listening posture.

119. Participate actively in the listening process.

Step 1: State your intention to listen

Making an audible announcement of your willingness and commitment to listen accomplishes

two things.

a) It creates an environment of respect and dignity, and helps your communication partner realise their message is welcomed. The risk of approaching you is immediately diminished and the partner is encouraged to be very open in his/her communication. Simple statement on your part would help ease the tension between you and your partner, such as:

"Speak for I am all ears !"

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"I am anxious to hear what you have to say."

Your statement of intention to listen also prepares you internally to shift from your current thoughts and activities into active listening role. You are giving yourself an internal command, literally instructing your ears, mind, and body to focus on the incoming message. It helps you in transition form whatever you are doing to the process of receiving the message. This is the very first step in becoming a committed listener.

Step 2: Manage the physical environment

Managing the physical means cleaning all that is lying on your desk or table that may cause any kind of distractions. We cannot remove our listening distraction, but we can surely eliminate the physical distraction around us. This would help in increasing your awareness, which the physical distraction have the potential to interfere with your listening effectiveness. The main objective of managing the physical environment is to help increase your awareness.

Eliminate as many distractions as possible, such as:

119. Hold telephone calls.

120. Reduce as much background noise as possible.

Put down whatever you are doing and focus on the speaker. Clear your desk or

put papers, letters, etc., into closed file folder. Position yourself so that you may

not have the view of distracting activity.

Turn off the computer or reposition the screen away from your immediate line of vision.

g) Changing your position to one that is more conducive to listening sends a very powerful signal to your communication partner. It tells him/her that you are interested in what he/she has to say and are willing to give a quality listening.

It may also be well if you suggest to your communication partner to change the venue and go to the conference room or some place where both of you would be comfortable and away from distractions.

Step 3: Make an internal commitment to listen

This is far the most important step in being an effective listener. Unless you make a commitment to yourself you cannot achieve effectiveness in listening. Here are some

Unit 4 Listening

120. Remove Internal Barriers: This technique primarily addresses the

problem of preconceived notions, assumptions, and prejudices that may become a hindrance in the listening process. Self suggestion to overcome labelling, judgement of people who may be different from you in background, function, or discipline, etc., will help you to separate the message from the messenger.

121. Avoid the assumptions of negative motives: This is very common in a

work situation where you may not have a very good opinion about a person. This could become an assumption and question of the very motive, if the person wishes to communicate with you. This also occurs when you have reasons to believe that the other person may disagree with your thought processes and activities. To avoid assumptions of negative intent, say to yourself: "Even if we disagree, he is doing what he thinks is right"; "Their intentions areas valid as mine, even though we disagree".

There are times when communication becomes contentious or it develops into an argument. In such situation there is a possibility of emotions taking the better of you and you are not communicating internally.

At such times stop for a while and get back to yourself and have a moment of internal communication. This will help you to gather yourself and proceed more cautiously. No matter how much you and your partner disagree, learn to give enough latitude to your partner. As a good book says: "A good word turns away anger". Only in an environment of trust and goodwill can the communication process be fruitful.

1. Challenge yourself to remember what has been said: Challenging yourself sharpens your wits. Challenge yourself to listen so intently that you could accurately write a detailed summary of the conversation, even at the end of the day. As a ritual, put down in writing your perceptions and recollections while they are still fresh in your mind. This could be of help for the future conversations or taking subsequent actions and decision-making.

Any communication process has two viewpoints - one of the speaker's and the other of the listener's. Each person's viewpoint is important for him/her. As an effective listener it is essential, not only to understand the other person's viewpoint, but also to understand its priority.

The Golden Rule suggested here is: "Listen to others as you would want them to listen to you", hi other words, avoid listening your partner from your viewpoint.

Business Communication

In the process of communication, try to identify the values that your partner emphasises. Begin to understand your partner from his/her point of view. This would help in prioritising other's viewpoint and your ability to listen to other's message would be enhanced. Such listening is empathetic or partnered listening.

e) Manage your emotions: To be an effective listener you should learn to distance yourself from impulsive, negative emotional responses. Do not allow yourself to be provoked by other person's intentional or unintentional messages. If you allow yourself to be provoked and respond with a negative emotional reaction, you allow them to be victorious. When this happen you have lost the control over the communication process. Good and effective communication is when both the partners are equally in control of the communication process. If your partner is using aggressive method by using _yow-based massages (which increases negative reaction and reduces listening efforts) do not allow yourself to be swayed by them, but exercise your internal communication to overcome any negative emotional reactions.

However, should your communication bring out some negative reactions and emotions, it is worthwhile to take stock of things after the communication has ended. Often it is the negative that brings out the positive in us. Let the negative responses be a learning experience for you.

Step 4 : Assume a listening posture

In addition to managing the physical environment, you must also manage your physical readiness to listen. The visual demonstration of your physical readiness to listen - or the lack of it - has significant impact on your communication partner. The nonverbal messages that you send via your body could encourage, inhibit, or perhaps intimidate them.

Body language is just as important a factor in receiving messages as it is in delivering them. You can alter a person's message and create incomplete, abandoned, or distorted communication by means of your nonverbal reception.

Body language that conveys readiness to listen includes the following:

126.

Establish and maintain appropriate eye contact.