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Gathering, conveying and receiving information and ideas

Being able to communicate effectively at work is very important. Communication is about accurately sending or
exchanging information and ideas between people. The information may be simple; for example, Please photocopy
this letter'. Or it may be more complicated; for example, 'The change in policy means that clients must pay a 50 per
cent deposit when ordering goods'.
When people receive information they need to understand what they are supposed to do with it. The people conveying
the information need to make sure they explain it clearly.

To communicate effectively you must use listening and speaking skills appropriate for the person you are
communicating with. Knowing how to gather and relay information effectively is a key business skill.

Gathering relevant and accurate information promptly will help you and your team members complete your tasks on
In this Section you will learn about:
a. Collecting information to achieve work responsibilities
b. Using methods and/or equipment to communicate ideas and information
c. Using effective listening and speaking skills
d. Seeking input to develop and refine new ideas
e. Responding to instructions or inquiries promptly
Collecting information to achieve work responsibilities
Gathering information
To communicate effectively in the workplace, information needs to be gathered from a variety of sources and passed
on to other people. For example, you might:
research statistics for your manager
make inquiries about travel arrangements for colleagues
seek information about the cost of upgrading the organisation's computers
deal with information about the needs of the organisation's customers.

All these situations require that you source information and pass it on to the person who has asked for it. To do this
quickly and effectively, you need to know where the appropriate information is likely to be. Information can be gathered
from a number of different sources. For example:
people- a supervisor, co-workers, customers, employees of other organizations
electronic sources - databases, electronic files, the intranet, the Internet
print sources - journals and newspapers, newsletters and magazines, business reports.

Before you begin, it's a good idea to make sure you know:
why you are collecting the information
who needs the information

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how much information is needed
when the information is needed
where you can get the information (i.e. some likely sources).

Internal sources of information

There are a number of internal sources of information. These might include:
your teacher, supervisor and other colleagues
organisational policies and procedures
business plans and work plans
office files (both electronic and hard copy)
the intranet.
Teachers, Supervisors and other colleagues
Other people are often a very good source of information particularly your supervisor and other colleagues. You
need to understand their roles and responsibilities so that you can contact the appropriate person quickly if required.
Keep a staff list handy that includes positions, roles, areas of expertise and contact details.
Be sensitive to other people when you are seeking information. Make sure they have time to help you when you
approach them. Some people can immediately stop what they are doing and help. Others may need time to gather the
information, or they may be busy. Always ask if it is convenient for them. You may need to arrange a suitable time.

Organisational policies and procedures

Many organisations have their policies and procedures in a manual. This usually has information for staff on different
topics, such as:
conditions of employment
travel (allowances, booking forms)
occupational health and safety

Business plans and work plans

Most organisations have a business plan. It sets out the organisation's goals and objectives. A business plan usually
includes information on sales targets, marketing objectives, future development strategies and budget predictions. It
also includes information on issues such as the occupational health and safety systems in your workplace. You may
need to access this type of information for a new employee.
Electronic and hard copy files
A well-organised filing system is one of the best sources of information. Many documents are stored electronically and
can be accessed via your computer. Make sure you know how the electronic filing system is organised so that you can
access it easily.
Other documents such as faxes, brochures, external letters and project material are probably kept in a hard copy filing
system. You also need to understand this system, including:
how it is set up
how to add a new file
how to withdraw a file for research.

When searching for information in a filing system, be aware that the relevant material can be in more than one file.
Don't limit your search to the first appropriate file you come across. Also, not all documents can be accessed freely.
Some documents, such as personnel files, are kept under lock and key because of the confidentiality of their content.
You may need to ask permission to access these files, or someone else may need to access them for you.
The intranet
Many organisations have their own intranet. This is an area on the computer network that works like the Internet, but
only within the organisation. If the information you are seeking relates to internal matters, you may find the material on

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the intranet.

External sources of information

The main external sources of information are:
the Internet
your customers
experts and other organisations.
The Internet
The Internet gives you access to the World Wide Web. It's like a huge electronic library that contains all sorts of data
from all over the world. You need to have a clear idea what you are looking for before accessing the Web. It contains a
lot of information, and it is easy to waste time searching through it.
To help you find information quickly, use a search engine a website that is a database of other websites. To do this,
simply key in the search engine address and then key in relevant words. Search engines are not all the same and
some have greater scope than others. You may want to use the 'advanced options' to narrow your search: for
example, to only see websites from Australia. There are many search engines, including:
Remember that not all information found on the Internet is accurate, up to date, objective or reliable. Some listings are
also paid advertisements which may be of no use to you. Keep this in mind when collecting web-based information.

Customers are also a useful source of information. Often this type of information is called 'feedback'. Feedback lets
you know precisely what the customer wants and thinks. It tells you what your organisation is doing well and what it is
doing poorly. It can also provide suggestions for improvement.
It may be your job to collate customer feedback from a questionnaire or survey that asked customers about a
particular aspect of the organisation. Organisations keep customer-related data to help them make decisions about
marketing and other operational strategies.

Experts and other organisations

Sometimes, information is not readily available in your organisation. If this is the case, it is a good idea to consult an
expert, that is, a person who has skills or knowledge in the area you are researching. For instance, if you want to
know about stationery, you would contact a stationery supplier. Or, if you want to know about travel, you would contact
a travel agent.
You now know some of the main sources of internal and external information. As you become more familiar with a
range of office tasks, you will learn what kind of information is needed to complete specific tasks. Ask yourself the
following questions when gathering information.
Am I sure that the source of information is appropriate?
Is this the information I want?
Is the information up-to-date and reliable?
If you find it difficult to locate the information you want, ask a colleague or your facilitator for help.

Using methods and/or equipment to communicate ideas and information

Using appropriate methods and equipment
Once you have gathered the required information, it needs to be prepared or processed before you can pass it on. To
do this successfully, you need to choose the appropriate method of communication and the right equipment for the

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Sometimes it is better to pass on information verbally. You might use:
a telephone conversation
a voicemail
an informal discussion
a face-to-face conversation with a colleague or a client.
At other times it is better to pass on information in a written format, such as:
a note; for example, a telephone message
a memo (memorandum)
an email (electronic mail)
a fax (facsimile)
an SMS (short message service)
a letter.
Your choice of equipment depends on how you are going to communicate. For instance, if you are going to have a
telephone conversation, you will use the telephone. If you are going to send an email, you will use the computer.
Communication equipment includes:
computer and equipment such as keyboard, mouse, USB drive
computer (network) systems, for network files
computer programs, for word processing, email, Internet, intranet, etc.
fax machine
stationery (pens, pencils, files)
electronic presentation equipment; for example, laptops, data projectors.

Selecting communication methods

How do you choose the most appropriate communication method and equipment for each task? Sometimes you will
be told what to do. For instance, your workgroup might use a certain template to prepare minutes from meetings. You
might be told to email these minutes to other people or file them on the network drive, rather than printing them out.

At other times you will have to make up your own mind. For example, should you send an email or go to see the
person? Should you word process a letter or write a note on a piece of paper? Every situation is different. How you
pass on information depends on who it is for, why they want it and where the person is located.

To help choose the best method, ask yourself the following questions.
Who are you communicating with?
Why are you communicating with them?
Do you need a response immediately?
Do you need a record of the communication?
Choosing the best equipment depends on what is available in your office and how you have decided to communicate.

The following parts look at a range of communication methods and equipment and the advantages and disadvantages
of using each one.
The telephone is used daily in most organisations. In some places it is the most common way of communicating. It
allows people to have discussions and respond to each other. Communicating on the telephone is often very quick
and effective.
It does have some disadvantages. Unlike a face-to-face conversation, you can't see the person you're talking to.
Misunderstandings can occur as you don't have the 'complete picture'. On the telephone, you can't see facial
expressions or body language. These nonverbal parts of communication all contribute to what a person is really trying

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to say.
Misunderstandings can also occur if you don't listen carefully, or you can't easily hear what has been said. People do
not always talk clearly. There might be a bad line or you might be distracted by noise or movement in the office.
Always check that you have passed on, or heard, the correct information.

Another disadvantage of the telephone is that often people are not available to take your call and you may need to
leave a message. You need to judge whether leaving a message is the best way to relay the information (for example,
"Your 11.00 am meeting is cancelled") or to try again later.

Email (electronic mail) has changed the way people work. Messages can be sent quickly and easily from one
computer to another. They can be formatted in many different ways and allow you to send information to both internal
and external clients.
Electronic files can be attached to an email message. Many organisations prefer their staff to use email to
communicate internally, instead of printed memos or handwritten notes. It is cheaper and easier to send an email than
to print out or write information.
There are several disadvantages to using email. First, problems can occur in transmission. This means that an email
is sometimes not delivered - it either bounces back or gets lost. Another disadvantage is that only computer-generated
(electronic) messages, documents and files can be sent. Any pictures, graphics, or handwritten text has to be scanned
before it can be passed on in this way.
You are also limited by the size of what can be attached to an email. Larger files and graphics take a long time to send
and can block up the email box at the other end. This type of information might need to be broken up or passed on in
another way. Finally, there can be just too much email! Some people at work receive hundreds of email messages a
day. Think carefully about what you need to say and to whom, and whether email is in fact the most appropriate
Here are some helpful hints for communicating by email.

Helpful Hints
Type the key message in the 'subject' line.
Be concise - no more than a screen length if possible.
Use spell check.
Re-read your email to ensure no misunderstandings in tone or expression.
Avoid emoticons (smiley faces) and informal language in professional correspondence.
Only copy (cc) people in if they need to be aware of the message.

Many organisations have their own intranet. An intranet is a network that is used to store and provide information
within an organisation. It is like the Internet, but only people within the organisation have access. It contains
information, such as forms, dates for meetings and details on personal and social events. If you need to communicate
to everyone in the organisation, the intranet is an excellent choice. However, you might need to get permission from
the IT department first.
The main disadvantage with an intranet is that you don't know whether your message has been read. There is no
simple way of checking, and it might mean that information does not get passed on at the right time to the right
people. If your message is important you might need to advise everyone that it is on the intranet, or perhaps pass on
the information in another way.

Faxes (facsimiles)
Facsimile means 'exact copy'. Fax' is the abbreviation of facsimile. Organisations use fax machines to send printed
information. Information can be transmitted from the fax machine, or directly from your computer, if your computer is
connected to the fax machine.

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Faxes are usually sent if the information needs to be relayed quickly. They are faster than letters, and are cheaper
than an overnight postal delivery. The document has less chance of being lost, and the receiver gets an accurate,
exact copy of the information.

There are some disadvantages. Faxes can be difficult to read, may not transmit properly and can be delayed if the
transmission lines are busy. You can only send separate, unbound pages by fax. Security can also be a problem, as
anyone can pick up and read a fax as it comes off the machine.

The ease of sending email and scanned documents has meant that faxes are less commonly used than they have
been in the past.
Word processing
Word processing software is the most commonly used software in the world. Why? Because anyone can use it to
produce a professional-looking document. This saves time and printing costs. Common word processing software
includes Lotus WordPro, Microsoft Word and WordPerfect.
A common word processing task is writing letters. Letters are used to pass on a variety of business information. They
are the preferred method of communication when a record of the business activity is required. A well-written and well-
presented letter makes a good impression on the reader.
The main disadvantage with using word processing software is that it makes it too easy to produce a document.
People often send letters that are not as well-written or well-presented as they should be. Letter writing is a skill that
takes practice. Producing a letter for somebody else also takes some discipline. Always follow the requirements of
your organisation regarding format and style. Always check your work for errors before sending it out.

At times the most appropriate way to pass on information is simply to write a note. Always keep your stationery tidy
and a message pad by the phone. Telephone messages and handwritten memos are still very common ways of
The main disadvantage with this type of communication is your handwriting. Can it be read? Write clearly! Some
people find it difficult to read other people's handwriting. If your handwriting is not easy to read it is better to carefully
print the message, perhaps using upper-case lettering (capitals). Also, a hand-written message or note can easily be
lost. Make sure you leave the message in a safe and obvious place.

Electronic presentations
Overhead projectors, electronic whiteboards and multimedia presentations are useful ways of passing on information
at a meeting. Overhead projectors are an older technology but are still useful. Multimedia allows for more variety in
presentation. Electronic whiteboards allow you to print a copy of what is written on them.

The main disadvantage with using this type of equipment is the technology itself. What if the room doesn't have
enough power points or a large enough screen? What if the multimedia presentation malfunctions? To avoid any nasty
surprises, make sure everything is connected and in good working order before the presentation or meeting begins.

Using effective listening and speaking skills

To communicate successfully at work you need to be able to ask for and pass on information effectively and clearly.
This can be done verbally or in writing. The next section looks at how to communicate well verbally, either face-to-face
or on the telephone. Section 2 looks at how to communicate well in writing.
Verbal communication is effective and fast. Two people can exchange information and respond to each other instantly.
Some common examples of verbal communication in the workplace include:
speaking on the telephone
using voicemail
passing messages from one person to another
answering requests for information from your colleagues
receiving instructions from your supervisor and clarifying what you need to do

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taking part in informal discussions or meetings
answering inquiries from clients.

Many people think that verbal communication is the easiest way to communicate. But is it really? To be a good
communicator you need to be able to speak, and listen, very well.
Listening effectively
Listening is very important to the communication process. It is how you receive and understand information and ideas.
Through listening it is possible to learn:
what the other person's needs are
what information the other person is trying to share
what the other person thinks about something
whether the other person has understood what has been said.

A great deal of your time is spent listening to other people. Most people will agree that good listening is hard work. It
takes an effort and some practice, but can be achieved if you keep trying.
Following are some tips that will help you be a better listener at work.

Ask questions to clarify information and needs

If you didn't hear something properly, or don't understand something that has been said, ask questions to clarify
(check the meaning of) the information. Most people don't mind as long as you are polite.
This is especially important if someone is giving you instructions. In this case, you need to thoroughly understand what
needs to be done.
Make sure you listen carefully. Don't interrupt. Concentrate on what the other person is saying. In particular, listen for
the main steps or stages of the task or the key points that you have to remember. If you think you might have trouble
remembering, write it down.
Ask questions. Don't let there be any misunderstanding. Clarify anything that is not clear or that you don't understand.

It is also a good idea to clarify what has been said when you are faced with an inquiry or somebody is asking you for
information - whether it be a colleague, supervisor or customer. It might mean checking the meaning of something you
have just heard, or asking more questions to find out what the person really needs.
Requests for information can be either face-to-face or over the telephone. You will be able to answer some requests
directly. Some you will not. Either way, you must listen carefully. It is important to clarify what you have heard so that
you know what type of information is required.
If the inquiry is for routine information, try to answer promptly. If you can help your visitor or caller quickly and
efficiently, they will have a good impression of you and your organisation. For example, the following questions could
be answered immediately:
What time do you close?
Can you give me some information about your organisation?
Does your organisation deal with home insurance?
I heard about your organisation on the radio. Can you tell me the benefits of becoming a member? What does
it cost?
Could you tell me the website address of your organisation?
If the inquiry is not routine it may take a little longer to collect the information required, as in the next example

Listen for total meaning

To be a good listener you need to use your ears and your eyes. You need to listen for total meaning, to both the words
that the person is saying and how those words are being said.
The non-verbal part of a message is often called body language. This includes facial expressions, posture and
gestures. Often, people are unaware of their body language, but it can tell you more about how they are feeling than

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their words.
For example: if a shop assistant smiles at you while talking, it may communicate that they are happy to help you; if
the shop assistant does other things while they talk and does not look you in the eye, you may think they are not
interested in helping you.

Repeat back what you have heard

At work you will often have to receive and pass on messages. The important thing to remember is 'the message'. Did
you hear it correctly? Did you pass it on accurately? It is always a good idea to check.
When you receive a message, repeat the information back to the other person to make sure you have heard it
Some examples of people receiving information at work include:
somebody giving a task; for example, 'Kate, would you please make 23 copies of this letter?'
somebody giving information; for example, 'I am not able to keep the appointment'
taking an incoming telephone call; for example, 'This is Brad Jensen from The Times, to speak with Ms
Simone Debraski'
needing to pass on a message to someone else; for example, 'Russell, if Mr Arendt calls, please tell him that
I'll phone after 3.00 pm'.

By listening carefully, you should be able to pass on the information accurately. For example, in the situation above, if
you told Simone that 'Brett Johnson' from 'the newspaper' was on the phone, it could be very embarrassing. Not only
would Simone call Brad by the wrong name, she wouldn't know which newspaper he was calling from. Both of these
things would make Brad think your organisation was unprofessional.
Here are some helpful hints for receiving and passing on messages.

helpful hints
Listen to understand what the other person means.
Clarify the message.
Record the information in the message accurately.
Relay the message accurately and as soon as possible (verbally or in writing).
Take notes
Sometimes good listening can only be achieved by taking notes. A good example of this is when you are dealing with
messages left on voicemail or an answering machine.
Many organisations use answering machines/voicemail to record messages from people when no-one can answer the
If there are messages left you need to listen very carefully. You may even need to replay them. This is because some
callers do not speak clearly, or they speak too quickly. You will have to write down the:
date and time of each call
name of the caller
telephone number of the caller
caller's message (if one has been left).
If somebody has left a very long message, simply write down the main points.

Speaking effectively
Talking to somebody and communicating are not the same thing. What if the person can't hear you very well? What if
they don't understand the language? For communication to take place, both people must understand the information
in the same way.
Most of the time, people don't think about how the other person will interpret the information. They assume the person
will understand what is meant. For example, if you say to someone, 'Please pass the sugar', you assume that they
know you want them to pick up the sugar bowl and give it to you. But you are also assuming that the person:

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can hear you
speaks English
knows what sugar is.
But if the person didn't hear you, doesn't speak English, or doesn't know what sugar is, the communication would not
be successful. In all workplace communication you should speak clearly and politely and make sure the person
understands what you are saying.
Using appropriate language and considering individual differences are important in workplace communication.
Use appropriate language
To communicate well with another person, you need to use appropriate language. This is true of both formal and
informal workplace conversations.
Think about how you talk to a young child. They don't understand complicated words, so you change the way you talk
and use words that you think the child will understand. You use appropriate language so that you can communicate
with the child.
It should be similar at work. Before you talk to somebody, you need to think about what you are going to say and how
you are going to say it. Using appropriate language will help the other person better understand what you are trying to
say. This is the same whether you are talking to a colleague, a visitor to the organisation or somebody on the

The next example is one of inappropriate language.

Tony works in the sales and service department of a computer business. He has to know how computers work, the
features of different models and how to fix common problems.
The other people Tony works with also understand computers, and he often uses computer jargon when he talks to them
about his work.
However, many of Tony's customers know very little about the technical workings of computers. They come to Tony's
organisation if they want advice about what computer to buy or if they are having problems with their computer at home.
A customer once came in wanting to buy a new computer. Tony told the customer all about the new XPS D333 with mini
tower chassis, 512KB single bank pipeline burst cache and 64 megabytes SDRAM. The customer left feeling very
Tony's colleagues understand computer jargon. Tony's customers did not. Therefore, Tony did not use appropriate
language with his customer. Before he went too far, he should have checked to see whether his customer knew what he
was talking about. This would have made his communication more successful

Consider individual differences

To communicate well you need to consider the individual differences of other people. This may mean adjusting the
way you speak. For example, if you are speaking to someone whose first language is not English, you may need to
speak a little more slowly and clearly. Keep your voice at its normal volume, though. Shouting does not help people
understand English better.
If you are dealing with someone who has a hearing difficulty, you need to adjust your way of speaking. Speak clearly.
Don't get impatient. Make sure they understand you, and that you understand what they want.
As well as this, you should always use non-discriminatory or inclusive language in the workplace. This means that
what you say should include everyone regardless of sex, status, race or abilities. For example, if you are giving
information about parental leave, it includes maternity (mother) and paternity (father) leave. Discriminatory language
leaves people out. For example, you should not address letters to 'Sir' or 'Mr' when you don't know whether the person
is a man or a woman.
Using the telephone
Despite the rapid advance of technology, the telephone is still the most widely used medium for communication at
work. Thousands of telephone calls are made every second of every day. If you want a quick answer to a question, or
need to pass on some information quickly, a telephone call is the ideal way to communicate.
The telephone is often the first way customers contact your organisation. This means that the way you answer the
telephone may be the first impression people get of your organisation. Make sure you answer promptly and politely.
Your organisation may have standards or policies for using the telephone. Make sure you know what these are and
follow them at all times. The following are a few tips for using the telephone.

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Use an appropriate greeting
When answering the phone, always use an appropriate greeting. Your organisation may have a standard that they
want everyone to use. For example:
'Good morning (or afternoon). Clarke's Computer Software, this is Jacinta. How may I help you?'
This greeting is a brief but friendly way of getting information across to the caller. In general, it:
welcomes the caller
announces the name of the organisation
identifies who the caller is speaking to (this is important in case they need to call
back later)
is an offer to help (this encourages the caller to feel at ease and invites the caller to
say why they have called).

Answer promptly
Always answer the telephone promptly, even if you are busy. This gives a good impression of your organisation.
People don't like to be kept waiting. Some companies have a policy about how quickly the telephone should be
answered; for example, within three rings.

Clarify needs
When answering the telephone you also need to listen carefully to find out:
who the caller is
why they have called.
It is important to clarify their needs. Then you can decide whether they can be helped immediately or need to be
transferred to somebody else. Often people explain why they are calling at the beginning of the conversation.
Sometimes you need to ask the caller why they have called before you can help.

Prepare before you call

If you have to make a telephone call, you should prepare first. This makes it easier to get your message across
clearly. It also shows the person being called that you are organised and efficient.
Before making a call, take a minute to:
find the telephone number
know the name or position of the person you want to speak to
be clear about the reason you are calling
have the necessary information in front of you
have a pen and paper handy.
In the next example, Ellen prepares well before making a call. In this example, Ellen doesn't need to speak to a
particular person. She knows she can make arrangements with the receptionist.

Ellen needed to call a courier to deliver a parcel for her supervisor. Her company generally used Express Couriers and
she found the number in the office directory. She checked, with her supervisor, what time the parcel was to be picked
up and the address it was going to.
Before making the call, Ellen wrote down the information so she could give the courier company all the necessary
Express Couriers 6224 8651
Parcel ready to be picked up at 1.30 pm today.
Parcel to be picked up from Positive Printers, Level 3, 102 Elizabeth Street, Hobart.
Parcel to be delivered to: Student Records Department, University of Tasmania, Churchill Avenue, Sandy Bay.

Think about the way you speak

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The way you speak on the phone is also important. Always speak clearly. Some people find it difficult to understand
what is being said, particularly if they have a hearing problem or don't speak the language very well. Speaking clearly
and, if necessary, more slowly, helps the other person understand.
You also need to think about the tone of your voice. 'Tone' is like body language. It gives the listener clues about the
real meaning of what is being said. Tone is especially important on the telephone, as people can't see your face.
Always be pleasant. Never sound angry, tired or bored. The caller should always get a positive impression of your
It is amazing the difference it makes to answer the phone with a smile on your face -try it!
Use appropriate language
Always use appropriate language. For instance, making a telephone call at work is different to calling a friend.
Business calls are generally shorter. They also use more formal language than a conversation with a friend.
When making a call at work, be sure to:
greet the person you have called
introduce yourself
tell the person the name of your organisation
explain the reason for the call.
The next example demonstrates an efficient telephone call.

Receptionist: Good morning, my name is Con Papadopoulous from Lakeside Receptions. I'm calling to confirm the details for your
function on Thursday, the 25th oh June Your booking is for 40 people and you will be in the Taverner Room upstairs We will provide
a whiteboard and an overhead projector Morning tea will be served in the lounge area at 10.30 am lunch at 1.00 pm and afternoon
tea at 4.00 pm. Does that sound all right?
Client: That sounds great, Con. One of our people can't attend now, so there will only be 39. Can you make that change?
Receptionist: Certainly. I'll change that for you. I'll fax the details to you this afternoon.
Client: Thanks, Con. Bye.
Helpful Hints
Good communication means:
listening, to understand what the other person means
speaking clearly
using language that the other person can understand
not assuming that the other person knows what you are talking about
clarifying that the other person understands what you mean
clarifying what the other person means.
Seeking Input to develop and refine new ideas
Developing and refining ideas
You should always be looking for new or better ways to do your work. Developing and refining your ideas is very
important. One of the best ways to do this is to ask for feedback or advice from colleagues and customers. You can
also look for learning opportunities, such as seminars, information sessions and further training. Talking about your
ideas with your colleagues also helps.
Seeking feedback
Seeking feedback about the way you work is always a good idea. Remember, feedback is not a negative thing, even if
some of the comments are not what you want to hear. Feedback is an excellent way to find out how you are going. Did
you gather the correct information? Did you pass it on appropriately? Have your speaking and listening skills
improved? Seeking feedback is a great opportunity to think about how you can improve the way you work.
Feedback can be gathered from a number of different sources. These might be internal (for example, your supervisor,
colleagues, team-mates) or external (for example, suppliers or customers). It can be verbal, such as comments, tips
and helpful suggestions discussed while work is being carried out. Or it can be written, such as notes, memos or brief
reports explaining where to make changes and improvements.
Some organisations have a formal process for giving feedback to their employees. This is called a performance
BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 11
appraisal and might take place every six months or every year. It is an opportunity to discuss work issues and
concerns as well as your performance. It is also a good time to ask for feedback on how you can improve the way you
Asking for advice
Seeking advice from colleagues with more experience is also a good way to pick up new ideas. For example,
someone who has worked in customer service for many years is sure to have advice and tips for dealing with difficult
customers. Other colleagues might have advice about where to find information. Never be afraid to ask for help. Keep
a notebook handy and jot down any ideas you receive.
Having a mentor someone who offers suggestions based on their experience and who you can approach when you
want to discuss a work issue is also a good idea. Ask your supervisor if they can arrange a mentor for you.
Looking for learning opportunities
Another way to pick up new ideas and approaches about the way you work is to go to seminars, conferences, trade
fairs and information sessions. Take notes and collect any promotional material offered. Then, bring back what you
have learnt to your team.
You can also look for suitable courses or programs that might help you do your work more efficiently. Promotional
brochures are often sent out in the mail. Tell your supervisor you would like to do some more training and perhaps go
on one of these courses as part of your professional development.

Contributing to team ideas

If you are part of a work team, you will be asked to contribute to the short-term and long-term planning of the group.
This means thinking of new ways to do things or how to improve your current work practices. For example, your team
might want to improve the way it manages customer service. You would need to think creatively and perhaps find out
what another organisation does, in order to contribute to the general discussion of the work team.

Responding to instructions or inquiries promptly

Organisational standards
An organisation's reputation is often judged by the way employees treat their customers and work with their
colleagues. Many organisations have codes of conduct, customer service charters, privacy and anti-discrimination
statements, and access and equity policies. These demonstrate to employees and customers the standards and
values the organisation holds. You should be familiar with the various documents and practices you must follow:
All organisations must comply with a number of legal requirements. These include the following:
All employees have a right to a workplace that is free from discrimination.
All employers must treat information about their employees and customers in a confidential manner.
No-one should be denied opportunity on the basis of sex, race or age.
Every employer must provide a safe and healthy work environment.

As an employee, you must also observe the occupational health and safety laws and rules. These help keep your
workplace, and the people you work with, safe and healthy. Being healthy includes being happy and not being under a
lot of stress. If you treat a colleague unfairly, or in a discriminatory way, you are adding to their unhappiness and
Policies and procedures
Every organisation has particular ways of doing things. An important part of being an employee is to learn how the
workplace functions. Policies and procedures are 'rules' that provide guidelines as to what is expected and accepted
in the workplace. Policies and procedures are put in place for many different reasons and can relate to different
aspects of the organisation, such as customer service, profitability, quality assurance, ethics, defined resources,
business and performance plans, sales targets, productivity, marketing, staff and customer safety, legal requirements
and government regulations. The reasons behind such guidelines should be understood. Policies and procedures help
employees by explaining exactly what is required in particular situations.
Some organisations do not have formal policies and procedures in place. Instead, employees learn what is expected
by observing others and asking for feedback and advice from supervisors and others.

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 12

Codes of ethics
Some industries and organisations have a code of ethics that employees are expected to follow. These codes highlight
areas such as honesty, privacy, integrity and respect. A code of ethics also lets customers know that the organisation
deals fairly with them. For example, the telecommunications industry has a strict code of ethics for people in call
centres. The code includes instructions about what hours they can call people and how a contract for purchasing
something must be explained to a customer.
Confidential information
There is some information that should not be given out to people. For example, you should not give out personal
information about people who work at your organisation. Information that should not be given out is known as
'confidential information'.
Confidential information includes:
personal details of people who work at the organisation
names and information about the organisation's clients
financial information
new products under development.
Some information may be given with permission. For example, a staff member at your organisation may agree for you
to give somebody their home telephone number. Or, your supervisor may give permission for you to tell a particular
person about a draft report. If you're not sure, however, don't give out the information. Always check first.

Discussion topics
Form a discussion group to brainstorm these ideas with their colleagues
'She says one thing, but her stance says something else.' Discuss this statement and the importance of body
A sales assistant is using complicated jargon with a customer. Discuss how this might make the customer feel.
You must keep certain things confidential.' What sort of information do most people want to keep confidential?

Section 2
Completing workplace documentation and correspondence
Many people think that writing is all about grammar and spelling. But a note or a letter can have perfect grammar and
mean nothing at all. Writing should be about communication.
In any piece of writing, you are communicating your thoughts and ideas to someone. You need to be able write in a
way that makes your ideas easily understandable and that follows standards put in place by your organisation. Then
you will enhance the flow of information in your workplace.
In this section you will learn about:
Presenting written information in clear and concise language to ensure the meaning is understood
Drafting and presenting correspondence in a timely manner
Ensuring organisational standards are met when presenting written information
Completing workplace documentation in an appropriate format

Presenting written information in clear and concise language to

ensure the meaning is understood
Writing at work
There are many reasons for writing at work. Sometimes spoken words are just not suitable. You might want to tell your
BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 13
customers about a new product, report an accident or apply for annual leave.
You might also need to:
provide evidence of business activities; for example, proof of telephone calls
remind somebody of something; for example, instructions to follow when preparing pay slips
clarify or explain information; for example, information about new working
conditions or safety procedures
request information; for example, asking whether employees can attend a meeting or requesting a file
publicise an event, activity or achievement; for example, details of new training opportunities, expected visitors
or new staff appointments
provide briefing notes; for example, for another person to talk about a specific topic in a meeting
report information; for example, monthly sales figures, meeting minutes or meeting outcomes.
An advantage of writing is that it is a more permanent form of communication. Once something is written down, you
can always refer to it, so there is less danger of forgetting the information. You can also revise a piece of writing before
it is sent. This gives you more time to think about what you are trying to say and get it right.
Despite these advantages, there are some drawbacks. First, writing is not the same as face-to-face communication.
There are no visual cues. You cannot see the facial expression of your reader or their body language. Nor can you see
if your words have been understood. The reader cannot interrupt you to clarify what they have just read. Also, writing
is not as immediate as verbal communication. When you send a written message it usually takes some time to get a
reply. A written document can also be delayed or lost.
There is no guarantee when, or if, the communication will actually take place.

Writing clearly and concisely

When you produce something in writing you need to think about the way you write. You will communicate more
effectively if you follow a few basic guidelines. All business writing should be:
accurate and complete.
Clear writing
Clear writing is easy to understand. Always use plain English - this means using simple words, short sentences and
short paragraphs. Never use a long or technical word if a simple word will do. Paragraphs should only contain one
thought or idea, and be no longer than five or six lines. It is better to write a short paragraph than confuse your
audience by putting two or more ideas in one paragraph. Clear writing means that the reader is less likely to get
An example of unclear writing is:
Pursuant to the reference proposed by the undersigned at last night's meeting, I herewith furnish the
preparatory documents.
An example of clear writing is:
Enclosed is a draft of the report I discussed with you at last night's meeting.

Concise writing
Concise writing uses as few words as possible to relay information. To write concisely, you need to explain exactly
what is meant, avoid repetition and don't bore the reader with unnecessary information. Include specific details and
definite statements. Think carefully about what needs to be communicated. Only include information that is relevant to
the situation and the receiver.
An example of inconcise writing is:

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 14

Ms Byrne was forced to cancel her meeting this morning, due to food poisoning she contracted from a
seafood dinner she ate last night at the restaurant adjacent to the train station.
An example of concise writing is:
Ms Byrne cancelled her meeting this morning because of illness.

Courteous writing
Courteous writing is polite and respectful. This means that you show respect for the reader as a person. It involves
being tactful and making sure your writing doesn't offend your reader.
Avoid words and phrases that might provoke a negative response, such as: 'You said that...', "You claimed that...' or
'You have failed to ...' Try to be positive, not negative. Remember that you need to encourage your reader's goodwill,
even if the current situation makes it difficult.

An example of discourteous writing is:

We have received your letter of 17 April 2007. You claim that the sandals you bought are faulty. However, you
failed to post them to us, so we cannot verify your claim.

An example of courteous writing is:

Thank you for your letter of 17 April 2007. If you post the faulty pair of sandals to us we will be happy to
forward a replacement pair to you by return post.

Courteous writing also uses an appropriate tone. This means that the language of your message is appropriate to the
audience. Business writing is more formal than if you were writing a casual letter to a friend - being too familiar can
offend your reader.
When writing formal business letters:
don't use contractions; for example, write 'you are' instead or 'you're'
don't use slang, jargon, or cliches
always refer to people by their correct titles; for example, Ms, Mrs, Mr, Dr, Professor.

Courteous writing also avoids sexist or discriminatory language. It uses words such as chair or chairperson instead of
If you are drafting a document using titles such as Ms, Mrs and Mr, and you are not sure of the person's sex, check
with someone first. Many names, such as Kim, Gerry, Terry, Cong and An, can be either male or female.
Correct writing
Correct writing follows specific rules and styles for business writing. Many organisations have their own 'in-house' style
that everyone is expected to follow. This is to make sure all documents have a certain 'company look'. For example,
your organisation may want you to set out the name and address on a letter in a certain way. Or, you may be expected
to set out a memo in a certain style and format.

An example of unprofessional or incorrect writing is:

Greg Wells,
Thanks for your stationery order.
An example of professional writing is:
Dear Mr Wells
Thank you for your stationery order

Accurate and complete writing

It is your responsibility to produce an accurate piece of writing. This means that, as far as possible, the information
and language should be correct.

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 15

Providing the correct information is usually possible if you take time to double-check things such as names, times,
dates, calculated figures and telephone numbers.
You don't have to know a lot of rules to make your language correct. You can use a dictionary or the spell check
function on your computer to look up an unfamiliar word. The grammar check function on your computer can also be
used to check sentence construction and basic grammar. But remember when using these functions that a spell check
will not tell you if you have used 'their' when you should have used 'there'; so keep a dictionary at hand for extra help.
Correct punctuation is not difficult with a little practice. The following is a useful checklist for using correct punctuation.

Punctuation Mark Where and when used example


Full stop At the end of sentences To indicate Today is Tuesday, e.g. (for example).

Question mark ? At the end of a direct question How are you?

Comma , To separate words or numbers in a 1 can come on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday or

sentence Saturday

Semicolon ; To separate independent clauses, Team members included Vanessa, Joe and Saul
separate expressions or items in a series from Sales; Tran, Mary and Peter from Marketing;
and Tom, Walt and Lyn from Administration.

Colon : To introduce a series or list, or direct The ingredients were simple: butter, milk, eggs.

Parentheses, or () To enclose words that are additional to the Participants are required to pay a $20.00 (incl. GST)
round brackets flow of thought registration fee.

Hyphen - To join words, prefixes to words or to divide up-to-date technology

long words to avoid confusion
self-explanatory instructions

Apostrophe To indicate ownership or omission of letters Sabrina's file was lost. They're going to be late.

Quotation marks To separate spoken words, titles or terms Sara's book, called "Information for New Employees',
from the text is an excellent resource.

Your document must also be complete. This means that you have included all the information the reader wants or
needs to know. Try to see the communication from the reader's point of view. Will they be able to read your document
and understand clearly what you are trying to say?

Drafting messages, emails, memos and faxes

At work you might be asked to write any of the following routine correspondence:
telephone messages
email messages
fax cover sheets.
The way you write these documents should be strongly influenced by what you have just learnt about how to
communicate more effectively in writing.
The style and format of these documents will vary. Much depends on the individual requirements of your organisation.
Many organisations will have proformas or templates that will lay out what information in these documents should look
like. You need to find out what these are and follow them as closely as possible.
There are also some basic standards regarding the style and format of simple business correspondence, covered in
the next few sections.

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 16

Telephone messages
One of the most common types of written messages is the telephone message. You may have to answer the
telephone and record messages because people are not available to take calls. For example, they may be in a
meeting, out of the office or just too busy. You may also have to make a record of a message that has been left on an
answering machine or somebody's voicemail.
Always have a pen and paper handy when answering the telephone. Some organisations provide telephone message
pads, although many organisations now record these messages straight into email.
When you take telephone messages, write down the following information:
time of call
who the message is for
the caller's:
o name
o organisation (if appropriate)
o telephone number
o fax number (if appropriate)
message (what the call is about; whether the caller wants to be called back)
whether the call is urgent
your initials (in case somebody wants to check something about the call).
Keep your messages short. Sometimes the person calling may leave a long or complicated message. When it isn't
practical to write down the entire message, just record the main points.

Message Slip Message Slip

To ....................................................................................... To .......................................................................................
Date ..........................................Time Date ..........................................Time

M ........................................................................................ M ........................................................................................
of ....................................................................................... of .......................................................................................
Area Code .............Phone ........................................... Area Code .............Phone ...........................................

Telephoned Please phone Telephoned Please phone

Came to see you Will call you again Came to see you Will call you again
Wants to see you Returned your call Wants to see you Returned your call

Message Message

Message taken by Message taken by

Make sure you get all of the caller's details. You may need to ask questions to clarify the purpose of the call. You may
also have to repeat some of the information back to the caller, to make sure that it is correct. The most important point
is to record the message accurately and clearly, as in the following example.

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 17

Email (electronic mail)
How you receive, forward and send an email depends on the mail software you are using. It is important to be familiar
with the features of your particular system.
Email messages should be written in clear, plain English, using businesslike language, just like other routine
correspondence. A common mistake is to write and send an email without checking it. However, errors in email
messages are just as serious as in other documents.
People tend to write brief email messages using a few words that sometimes do not even make a complete sentence.
For example, 'Tied up Friday. Best day Wednesday. See you then'. This may be appropriate when communicating with
a colleague or a friend, but it is not appropriate when sending information to a customer. When preparing an email,
follow these instructions.
1. Complete the 'subject' box by writing a brief summary of the message. The person
receiving the email can then see what it is about before opening it. Many people
forget to complete this step.
2. Begin the communication by addressing the person; for example, 'Dear Mr Beckindale'. Be sure to have the
correct title and name. Always use a tide when you can; for example, Ms, Mrs, Dr. If you don't know the
person's tide, use their full name; for example, 'Dear An Wong'. Emails are perceived as being more informal
than letters, so it is acceptable to use the person's first name if they are a regular client and if it is the
organizations policy. Generally, the first communication should use a formal tide.
3. The first sentence must state the purpose of the message clearly and briefly so that the reader will know
exactly what it is about. For example, 'Attached are the costs you requested for the Xcel-spacesaver
dishwasher' or 'Thank you for calling in regard to our offer of a free financial planning session'.
4. The body of the email should consist of a few sentences dealing with the topic.
Write clearly so the reader understands the message.
5. Use spaces between the paragraphs exactly as you would in a written letter.
6. Close the message with a specific ending such as 'Yours sincerely'. Don't be tempted to write 'Bye for now' or


Message subject -
Who the message is from - From: Leon Smith Sent: Tue 24/06/2008 12:27
To: Anne Chuff
Who the message is to _
Who has been forwarded - Cc: Nicole Regis
a copy of the message
Subject: July symposium
Message subject

Dear Ann,
Further to our conversation yesterday, Marjorie
Message - Honeyspeak would be happy to present a paper at
the July symposium. I have attached a draft outline of
her speech.
speech- July, doc (31 KB)
Please forward the final program details of the
symposium to myself or Marjorie.
Name of person who sent -the message Thank you, Leon Smith (for Marjorie Honeyspeak)

Most organisations have a signature template that you can add to the end of any business email. This gives your
name, title and the contact details of the organisation.
Remember that personal or sensitive information, such as problems with a colleague or dissatisfaction with a task,
should not be communicated in an email message. Always follow the policy of your organisation for sending emails.

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 18

Memos (memoranda)
Email messages have largely replaced memos in the office. However, memos are sometimes sent when information
has to be forwarded to a number of people or to someone in the organisation who cannot be contacted personally.
They are also used when a record of the correspondence is required.
A memo might be used for:
a general announcement; for example, about office policies, safety procedures, new working
conditions or social events
correspondence between an employee and their supervisor; for example, regarding leave
applications, meetings, instructions or performance
correspondence between teams or departments; for example, about new projects, timelines or
a short report; for example, to inform staff of decisions made, new procedures or achievements.
The memo in the next example is written to all staff. It is making a general announcement about the new customer
service officer.

Receivers of the memo Memo

Who the memo is from To: All Staff
From: Jiro
Date: 24july 2010
Date the memo was sent
Subject: New Business Services teacher
A brief description of what the memo is
You will be please to hear that we have finished interviewing for the position of
Business Servicesteacher.

We have appointed Runni Waters to the position. Runni will start work on
Space to write the message Tuesday 4th August . Runni comes with a vast experience in teaching Business
services, and specifically designing accessible assessment tasks.

I will introduce her to you individually during her first few days with us. Please
make her feel welcome.

To: All Staff
From: Office Manager
Date: 23 June 2007
Subject: Hot water
The hot water will be turned off for 4 hours from 8.00 am to
12.00 pm on Monday 26 June.
This is to allow the plumber to fit new pipes under the kitchen
We can use the hot water in the office next door for any
emergencies on Monday.
Please see me if you have any queries.
Thanks Cecilia

The tone of a memo should be similar to that used in an email - polite and appropriate to your audience. Memos
usually contain headings such as:

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 19

To - the receiver of the memo
cc - 'carbon copy' the name/s of people who are receiving a copy of the memo
From who the memo is from
Date - the date the memo was sent
Subject - a brief description of the memo contents.
Underneath these headings there is space to write the text of the actual memo. Most people end their memos with
their name only. Memos can be signed or initialled but this is not necessary. Some organisations have a memo
template that all staff should use.

Faxes (facsimiles)
Information sent by a fax machine should always have a fax cover sheet attached to it. The fax cover sheet lists the
details of the fax and who is sending it. The receiver can then check that all the information has been correctly
You need to include a cover sheet with all faxed documents. This is because faxes can sometimes be unreliable.
Paper can jam, pages can get lost in transmission, and some text can be difficult to read.
Fax cover sheets should contain:
details of the sender's organisation, including name, address, email address, telephone and fax numbers
the receiver's company name and fax number - if the wrong number is dialled, the person who gets the fax by
mistake can then see that it was meant for someone else and can contact the sender to let them know of their
the name of the person the fax is for - this helps the person who collects the fax know who the fax should go
a contact name - so the person who receives the fax knows who to contact if they have any queries
the date
a contact telephone number
the total number of pages sent - so the receiver knows how many pages they should receive
space to write a brief message to briefly explain the contents of the fax if necessary.
All these details must be filled out carefully and correctly. Some organisations have a standard fax cover sheet
that must be used.

In the following example, the written information on the fax has been kept short so that it is easy to understand and the
instructions are clear.

To John Doe From R U Cumming
Company Student excursions Date 31 March 2017
Fax No 06 98798754 Fax No 02 34533444
Phone No 06 45671233 Phone No 02 34669984
Our Ref 350032980.doc 20xx/34
Total number of pages including this one 2

Attached is the information about bus hire you requested

R Cumming
BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 20
Keeping a record of faxes
Most organisations have a system of recording all the faxes that have been sent. This may simply be the transmission
report from the fax machine, or you may have to keep a personal record of anything that you fax. Alternatively, all the
fax cover sheets and faxed documents may be kept in a file. This provides the organisation with a permanent copy of
its faxed correspondence.

Drafting letters
Most organisations produce and receive a large number of letters. This is likely to be the main correspondence you
will have to draft.
Letters can be sent through the post, by fax, or, in some cases, attached to an email. A letter is often the first contact
you have with a customer. It is important that it is well-written so that you provide an excellent first impression and
communicate your message clearly and effectively.
Different kinds of letters
Letters are used at work for a variety of different purposes; for example there are:
letters of acknowledgement
letters responding to complaints
covering letters
letters of confirmation
letters of inquiry
letters of request.
Letters of acknowledgement
Letters of acknowledgement are sometimes sent to confirm that the organisation has received a letter. For example,
acknowledgements are often sent to people who have sent in job applications. The letter of acknowledgement tells the
sender that their application has been received and that they will be contacted by a certain time, as in the example.

Dear Ms Robinson
Thank you for your application for the position of Customer Service Officer.
Your application is currently being processed and we will inform you of the outcome as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Letters responding to complaints

Complaints usually occur when a customer is not happy with some aspect of the organisation's service or product.
Sometimes a customer will demand a replacement, a refund or a credit. When responding to a complaint, you need to
offer a solution to the problem. For instance, you might offer to replace the goods or give a refund. Or, you might
simply state that you will adjust the customer's account - these letters are sometimes called letters of adjustment, as in
the example

Dear Mrs Softer

Thank you for your letter dated 16 July 2008. Please post the pair of sandals to us at the above address, and we will send a
replacement pair to you as soon as we receive them. We would appreciate it if you could indicate a colour preference if you have
Yours sincerely, ...

Covering letters
Covering letters are used to briefly describe what is being sent. For example, if you are asked to forward a report to a
client, you may need to draft a covering letter. This simply informs the client that they will find the relevant documents
inside, as in the example.

Dear Dr Chen

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 21

Please find enclosed the men's clothing catalogue you requested. Should you require any other information, please feel free to call
Yours sincerely, ...

Letters of confirmation
Letters of confirmation back up something agreed to over the phone or in person. For example, if your supervisor has
agreed to meet a customer on a certain date, they may ask you to send a letter to the customer confirming the date,
time and location of the appointment. This way you have a written record with details that can be checked if
necessary, as in the example.

Dear Ms Harcourt
Following our discussion on 15 July 2008,1 wish to confirm your attendance at the Final Project Meeting. The meeting has been
scheduled for Monday, 22 September at 10.00 am in Room 339, 1st Floor, VFDC Building, 101 King Street.
It is expected that the meeting will continue until approximately 2.00 pm. A light lunch will be provided.
Yours sincerely,...

Letters of inquiry
A letter of inquiry is usually a request for information. It should be brief, to the point and courteous. For example, a
letter of inquiry to a convention centre might ask for information about the availability of meeting rooms and catering,
as in the example.

Dear Mr Kono
Could you please supply me with information regarding the conference facilities at the hotel. I wish to know, in particular, the size
and number of meeting rooms, the presentation equipment available, the catering options and the costs.
Yours sincerely,...

Letters of request
A letter of request is sent when you require a specific service. An example of this type of letter is a request for a quote
for building work, a printing job, or to book a meeting room at a convention centre, as in the example.

Dear Mr Kono
I would like to book the following facilities for Monday, 28 July 2008. Please reserve two rooms, each set up in theatre style to
accommodate 30 people. In each room, please provide an electronic whiteboard and jugs of water and glasses. I would also like to
book morning and afternoon tea for 60 people.
Could you please confirm availability of the above and forward a final estimate of the total cost.
Yours sincerely, ...

Guidelines for writing a letter

Although your organisation may have specific requirements, all business letters have some common features. Any
letter can be broken down into the following parts.
The organisation's letterhead is the area of the letter that includes the organisation's address, contact numbers, email
addresses, and sometimes a slogan or logo. Most organisations have pre-printed paper with a letterhead. These
details are usually printed at the top of the page, but can also be at the bottom, or down one side of the paper.

In Australia, it is common to write the date in day-month-year order; for example, 30.1.2008). You may receive letters
from countries that use the US system of month-day-year order; for example, 1.30.2008. For this reason, it is usually
better to write the month in full; for example, 1 January 2008. The date is usually written below the letterhead details (if
the letterhead details are at the top of the page).
Inside address
The inside address is the address of the person being written to. The inside address usually sits below the date but
always on the left hand side.
BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 22
The greeting consists of 'Dear' followed by the correct tide and name of the person being written to; for example, 'Dear
Ms Palmieri' or 'Dear Sir/Madam'.
Subject heading
A subject heading may be included to draw immediate attention to the content of the letter; for example, 'Re: Summer
2009 Selection'. The subject heading is included below the greeting.
Body of the letter
The body of the letter is the main text. The paragraphs start with an acknowledgement, and then lead into the subject,
which is followed by an explanation or argument. Finally a conclusion is written, ending on a positive note.
Different words are used to close, or sign off, the letter. The words used depend on who the letter is addressed to and
how formal or informal it is. 'Yours sincerely' and 'Yours faithfully' are the two most common phrases used to close
business letters. It is generally advised that 'Yours sincerely' is used if you do not know the person's name (for
example, you have opened with 'Dear Sir') and 'Yours faithfully' if you have opened with the person's name. Only use
a less formal, friendlier greeting such as 'Regards' or 'Best wishes' if you know the person well. The close is inserted
underneath the final paragraph of the body of the letter.
The person responsible for the letter should sign their name, with their name and position typed below their signature.
Leave four lines of blank space under the close, to make room for the signature. Then type the name of the person
sending the letter followed by the tide of that person on the line below. This is called the 'signature block'.
If other documents are enclosed with the letter, the number and details of enclosures can be written a couple of lines
below the signature block, after the notation 'enc.' or End.'.
If copies have been forwarded to other people, their names can be listed below the reference to enclosures, after the
notation 'cc:'.

Letter styles and formats

Different styles of letter writing go in and out of fashion. Letter layouts such as 'full-block', 'block' and semi-block' are
preferred by some organisations and avoided by others.
Full-block layout, as in the following example, is the most common format to use when drafting letters.
Some of the features of full-block layout are:
all typing is aligned to the left side of the page
all punctuation outside the body of the letter is left out (this is called 'open
paragraphs are kept short for easy reading.

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 23

Letterhead with organisations Near East Trading Co
details 131 Victory Road Mudrain 1605

Date 16 February 2008

Name and correct title of the person

-that the letter is for Ms Francesco Palmier!
Inside address of the person you Distribution Manager
are sending the letter to
Sandalwood Furniture
70 Rose Street St
Thomas 1608

Greeting Dear Ms Palmieri

Subject heading

Body of the letter including: Thank you for your letter of 1 1 February 2008 requesting information
Acknowledgement about next summer's range of furniture.
Subject and explanantion We are pleased to announce that our 'Summer 2009 Selection' is
currently being finalised. A catalogue is in production and should be
available in about two weeks time. A copy of the cataogue will be
forwarded to you as soon as it is available. In the meantime, please
find enclosed our current catalogue and order form.
At the beginning of March our Sales representative will start showing
the range to all our clients. You wil be contacted personally to arrange
an appointment to view the 'Summer 2009 Selection'.
We hope you will be as impressed as we are with the new range.
Please contact us if you require any further information.
Conclusion paragraph ending on a
positive note
Yours sincerely

Sam Wilson
Signature block including: . Space
Sam Wilson
to sign
Name of person sending the letter Brand Manager
Correct title of person sending the .
Encl 2

Number of enclosures
Name(s) of additional people the Cc Mr Sandbridge
letter _ will be forwarded to

Drafting and presenting correspondence in a timely manner

As with any other task, it is important to meet the requirements of your workplace. When drafting business
correspondence, this might include observing deadlines, or writing and presenting your correspondence in a timely
Whatever you are drafting, be sure that the information is passed on to the correct people within the expected
deadlines. Find out what these timelines are and work within them. Every business depends on receiving and
exchanging information in a timely manner to carry out its routine tasks and activities. This information might come
from inside or outside the organisation. But it must be created, recorded, exchanged and stored within a set timeline.

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 24

Some written messages may be marked 'urgent' and must be dealt with immediately. Most will have to be prepared by
a certain time and date. Other messages may not have a timeline and you will have to use your judgment to prioritise
them, that is, to work out what should be done first and what can be left for a later date.

Have you used an appropriate tone? Are the language and information correct? Make sure you check spelling,
grammar and punctuation as well as figures and amounts. Use the spell check function on your computer but
remember that it only picks up incorrect spelling. For example, if you meant to write 'It was a sad ending' but in error
typed 'It was a bad ending', the computer would not identify the error. It will not pick up 'an' as being incorrect, though
you really meant to type 'and'.

Ensuring organisational standards are met when presenting written

Meeting organisational requirements
Along with meeting deadlines, there are other organisational requirements you will need to meet. These requirements
may be set out by:
managers to ensure the organisation's policies and procedures are followed
Australian Standards a national framework that provides a level or standard organisations should meet in
their operations
legislation - for example, ensuring your language is free of discrimination
specified standards for a task or a particular work or project group.

When drafting business correspondence, these requirements might direct that you:
check your draft
present your work for approval
make amendments
obtain signatures
follow policies, procedures and legislation
pass on messages electronically
make copies and file them.
Checking your draft
You should always read over the first draft of a document and check it for style, format and accuracy.

Helpful Hint
If you have time, leave a day (or a few hours) between writing your draft and checking it. You are more likely to pick
up mistakes with 'fresh eyes'.
Is your document formatted correctly? Always follow the requirements of your organisation or use one of the standard
business formats described in this Section. Formatting gives documents a certain 'look'. For example, you may want
to present your work in a modern style by using certain fonts and spacing. Perhaps your organisation requires you to
use specific styles when drafting your documents.
Finally, and most importantly, check that the meaning of the information can be easily understood.
Check all these details yourself before passing the document on to someone else. Presenting work that is of a poor
standard is a waste of everybody's time.
Presenting work for approval
After the document has been checked, and the necessary corrections made, you may need to give the improved
version to somebody else for feedback and approval. This person may be your supervisor, a colleague, your manager
or another person, depending on the size and structure of your organisation.
Some documents may not need to be approved, such as a written telephone message. However, other documents,
such as letters, will often need to be approved. It is a good idea to get a more experienced person to check your

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 25

correspondence to avoid embarrassing mistakes.
A good practice is to stamp or write 'draft' on your draft. The document cannot then be confused with a finished
You will probably have to make a few changes and may even have to do several drafts. All of these will need to be
checked. This process continues until your correspondence has final approval and is ready to be sent.
Making amendments
In most cases, any amendments that you need to make will be clearly marked on the draft copy of your document.
You can then make these changes, print the document again, and present it again for approval.
If you are interested, there are books on general business writing that can provide further information about editing
marks. However, many people use their own individual marks, and you need to become familiar with the way that your
supervisor, and other people within your organisation, indicate corrections on your work.
Obtaining signatures
If you are drafting a letter for someone else, you will need to obtain that person's signature before the letter is sent.
Sometimes another person can sign the document on their behalf, if the signatory is unavailable. You should know
who is authorised to sign the correspondence you are drafting.

If you require someone to sign a document, warn them in advance so that they can set aside some time for approving
and signing.
Following policies and procedures
Your workplace might also have specific policies and procedures for passing on written information. Some large
organisations have internal, paper-based mail systems, where written information is collected and distributed at set
times throughout the day. There may also be specific times for collecting messages to be sent externally.

Other procedures might include memos being relayed through the organisation's intranet, or telephone messages
being placed in people's individual in-trays. Written information on paper might need to be placed in people's in-trays
on their desks, or in their pigeonholes. There may also be a central collection point in each area or department.

External messages might be passed on via:

postal services
courier services
hand delivery.

Passing on messages electronically

Certain types of internal and external messages can be passed on electronically; for example, word-processed
documents can be emailed as attachments. Some organisations have computer software that allows documents to be
faxed directly from your computer. Some workplaces have an internal electronic mail system, or an intranet, where
memos and other types of written information are distributed. In some organisations, large files are sent via the
Internet using FTP (File Transfer Protocol). Other groups of organisations set up web-based extranets where they can
share information without the general public gaining access.

It is important to know what is used in your workplace so that you can pass on your written messages in the
appropriate way.

Making copies and filing

A common practice at work is to make copies of correspondence for filing and reference purposes. Photocopy final
drafts of documents after they have been signed. Make sure the document is marked 'copy' before filing.
Copies of correspondence are usually filed in the appropriate location, by date, with the most recent date on top. Filing
procedures will vary from organisation to organisation.

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 26

Completing workplace documentation in an appropriate format
In order for an organisation to manage its day-to-day operations and long-term planning, forms and documents are
used for a range of tasks and activities. Most organisations have standard forms that are stored on a shared drive or
on their intranet site. Some forms will be used by the whole organisation (such as annual or sick leave forms) and
some will be used by specific teams (such as applications for training courses, typically used by a human resources
Forms and documents are used as prompts for the information that is needed. For example, sick leave forms will
usually ask for dates of leave, employee details, and if a medical certificate is provided. This information is required to
calculate who is taking leave, how much, what leave they have remaining, and if it is eligible to be paid as this type of
In order for forms to be useful they must be designed and completed in a way that is clear, concise and easy to read.

Clear forms leave no question as to what information is required. The fields to be completed will be labelled clearly,
and thus the completed form will also be easy to understand.
Concise forms only ask for information that is required. Most forms will be no longer than one A4 page.
Easy-to-read forms are well laid out and formatted, with adequate space to insert details. They are easy to read both
before and after they are completed.


Good/ Clear poor /Unclear

Please attach your receipt to form 22B to claim We require evidence of your purchase by way of proof
petty cash. of money spent and the
appropriate form completed to claim petty cash.

Concise Wordy

List the training courses you have undertaken In order to judge whether you are eligible to apply for
in the last year. more training we need to see what other courses you
have completed. To do this we require you to
document what training you have done in the previous
Easy-to-read format Hard-to-read format

Leave application Leave application

Name: Name and number:

Employee number:
Today's date: Date:

Leave type required: (please tick) What type of leave are you applying for?

Annual leave

Sick leave Date:

Carer's leave Total days:

Study leave Signature:

Leave without pay Approved by:

Start leave date:

End leave date:

Total leave days:

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 27


Approved by:

Using forms in the workplace

Some typical forms include:
annual leave forms
petty cash claim forms
stationery order forms
bank details forms
training application forms.
Annual leave forms will generally be straightforward to complete. They may be combined with other leave forms, such
as sick leave or study leave, and require the person completing the form to specify which type of leave they are
applying for. These forms will ask for dates, total amount of leave taken, and will often have a space for the manager's
approval. As employees are only entitled to a certain amount of leave per year, leave forms allow this to be calculated
and an official record kept.
Petty cash forms are important in maintaining a record of financial transactions. Sometimes employees need to pay
for a work expense out of their own money It may be milk for the tea room or a taxi to a meeting. In order to ensure
that they are reimbursed for the expense, a petty cash form is completed. This will usually ask for details of the
purchase and a receipt.
Stationery order forms may be for an internal department, via a centralised order system, or an external supplier. They
generally have either a list of available items and the employee specifies the quantity required. They may have a
space for product codes and prices or totals.
Bank details forms are usually completed by an employee when they start working for an organisation. They allow the
payroll staff to deposit the employee's salary directly into their nominated bank account. They may allow for more than
one account, but will ask for the bank, branch, BSB number and account number.
Training application forms allow employees to apply for and gain permission to undertake professional development.
The activity may be a conference, or short or long course of study that is delivered by the employer or external training
provider such as a TAPE or university. It also allows the human resources department to track the training that is
undertaken by employees and keep a record of the skills and qualifications within the company. These forms may ask
for details of the course (including date, cost and provider), previous qualifications, employee details, and how the
course relates to the employee's current role.
Examples of these forms are on the following pages.
Scott and Associates Annual Leave Application

Name: Lisa Nguyen

(Given Names) (Family Name)

Staff Number: 5020416

Position: Administration Assistant

Department Human Resources

Period of Leave: First Day 01 04 08

/ /
Last Day 04 04 08

Number of Working Days: 4

(excluding Public Holidays)

Staff Member's Signature:


BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 28

Head of Department's

Date: Date
Personnel Team Use Only
Leave entered: Date: / /
(Please forward this form to Personnel and maintain a copy for your records)

'Individual staff reimbursement claim from petty cash float custodian)
Payee name: John Mclntyre
Date Q4.April.20.08.
Authorisedby: Barbara Zanzoppulous
Enter invoice/receipt details on each row
Date Supplier Cost-code Amount GST Amt less GST

Ol-Apr-08 ABC Taxis 013-4555 $38.00 N/A $38.00

02-Apr-08 Shell Convenience 455-1234 $8.00 N/A $8.00

Totals: $46.00 $0.00 $46.00

Attach original tax invoices/receipts Signed: J R Mclntyre
Where no documentation is available, the reimbursement is not to be paid from Petty
A Statutory Declaration must be completed giving full details of the payment (including
the supplier's ABN) and why no documentation is available. Raise a
requisition/purchase order and forward the documentation to Accounts

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 29


Stationery order form

Please indicate below which stationery items you would like to order. For your convenience, pricing
is available by clicking here.
For more information contact Cecelia Green at

*Person requesting order Joe Zazos

*Email *Telephone number
9878-601 2 '
*Fax number 8979-6112 *
*Account to be charged 123-456
*Ship to (Name, Department, Building, Room #)
Joe Zazos, Shipping Dept, Room 402, Building A, 456 Amos Blvd
* Required fields
Product Quantity
Letterhead - Department 20 x 500 sheets
Letterhead - Personalised x 500 sheets
#10 Regular Envelope 2 x 500 envelopes
#1 0 Window Envelope x 500 envelopes
#10 White Window Envelope x 500 envelopes
#9 White Window Envelope x 500 envelopes
#9 White Regular Envelope x 500 envelopes
#10 White Regular Envelope x 500 envelopes

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 30

Zozo Laboratories
Staff bank details

Instructions: The employee should complete Sections A and B only.

Payment of salary mil not commence until this form has been received by the Payroll

A. PERSONAL PARTICULARS (to be completed by the award holder)

Title Dr Surname: Armand

Given names Francois
Address for correspondence : P.O Box 441
Postcode: 3011
Telephone (Home/Mobile): 99732344
Date of birth: 22/4/67 Email:
ID number : 13657
Department: Research & Development
Name of financial institution Bank Australia
Branch Footscray
Address Footscray Rd
Footscray 3011
BSB Code 123-123 Account Number 12345678
In the name(s) of:: Dr F Armand
Signed: Dr F Armand
Date :
C. For Pay Office Use Only

Payroll number:
SC Position number:.

Banking details confirmed Yes /No

Authorising Officer's Signature . Date:


BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 31


Facilities Management
Application Form to Attend a Course or Conference

Staff ID: 55674- Surname: Ali Other names: Mathatahi

Name of course or conference: MACDS Annual Conference

Provider: MACDS
Address: PO box 3567, Sydney 2001
Date(s): 5-8October 2010 Number of hours of attendance: 4 days
What I hope to achieve from attending: updating my industry knowledge by
listening to keynote speakers. Undertaking workshops will improve the
skills I use daily and improve my product knowledge and
communication with clients
Costs (excluding GST)
Course/conference fees $2000
Airfares N/A
Accommodation and expenses N/A
Total $2000
Minus other funding applied for/granted Nil

Total applied for $2000

Signature of applicant: M Ali
Supported by -
Supervisor: Anna Smith Date: 1/4/08
Approved by: Date:

Other documents
Organisations will also use forms or documents that are designed by institutions outside of the company. These may
be from government departments, suppliers, insurance firms or professional membership bodies.
Some commonly used forms and documents include:
Tax declaration forms
These are required to be completed by the Australian Taxation Office and are used to record both employee and
company financial records. A copy will be given to the employee, one kept by the employer, and a third copy sent to
the ATO.

If you have a Tax File Number, bring it in to show your facilitator. This is evidence of competency of completion of one
type of communication in the workplace.
Superannuation forms
Superannuation Forms are completed by employees to advise their employers which superannuation fund they want
payments to be made to on their behalf. The form will usually have separate sections to be completed by the
employee and employer as well as the superannuation company.

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 32

Membership forms
Some organisations require their employees to be members of appropriate professional bodies as evidence of their
qualifications and skills. For example, physiotherapists may be registered with the APA (Australian Physiotherapy
Association). Membership forms will require details of qualifications and experience, and may need to be completed
WHS inspection forms
Many organisations require that an inspection of the workplace occur at regular intervals. This is to ensure that the
workplace is safe and meets the requirements set down by the government in each state. In order to complete the
inspection and keep a record, a checklist or inspection form will be used.

Find a partner and take a walk around the school common room and corridor adjacent.

ABC Company Form 4:

Basic WHS workplace inspection checklist

Version: 2.6 Next review:

12 May 2015 May 2016
Inspection site:

Inspection date:

Workplace inspection team: (those completing this inspection)

Name Position

S denotes satisfactory U denotes unsatisfactory

Work areas S U Comments

Work surfaces are set up at appropriate height for tasks undertaken

Layout of work area is suitable for tasks and reduces bending/


Adequate rest breaks taken during repetitive tasks or those requiring

sustained postures (e.g. sitting or standing)

Heavy or frequently used items are stored at waist height

Persons protected from sharp objects

Free standing fittings secure and stable

Serviceability of office equipment

Windows - safety condition

Indoor environment S U Comments
Adequacy of ventilation/airflow

Adequacy and suitability of lighting

Glare levels satisfactory for tasks

Temperature range comfortable

No smoking policy maintained

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 33

Noise levels meet standards

Fire safety S U Comments

Fire equipment serviceability

Fire equipment adequacy

Fire equipment accessibility

Storage of flammable materials

Fire escape facilities and evacuation plans and procedures in place

First aid and hygiene S U Comments

First aid kit/s easily accessible and in prominent position

First aid signage - posters/ directional arrows prominently displayed

First aid labels on wall mounted/ portable first aid kits and first aid posters
showing nearest first aid officers' names, locations and phone numbers are

If first aid items are found to be unsatisfactory contact your area's first aid officer for actioning.

Ablutions - adequacy

Supply of running water, soap, towels, etc

Area for clothing storage (if required)

Emergency procedures S U Comments

Site emergency plan readily available

Warden contact details readily available

Emergency checklists readily available (bomb threat, chemical, radiation, etc)

Emergency evacuations/drills practised at least once per annum

Emergency equipment available and accessible (e.g. eye wash bottles or
deluge showers)

Audibility of sirens and alarm signals

General S U Comments

Adequacy of Unit's policies and procedures

Adequacy of procedures for travel

Adequacy and availability of risk assessment documentation

Procedures sufficient for after hours access

Procedures sufficient for carrying of cash or valuables

Procedures sufficient for health and safety of visitors to Unit

Procedures sufficient for health and safety of engaged contractors

Other S U Comments
Management of stress

Management of violence and

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 34

Management of drugs and alcohol

Management of isolation

Management of bullying and harassment

Management of fatigue

Use of non-slip surfaces

Vehicle-speed limitation adhered to

Summary of unsatisfactory items

Checklist item Unsatisfactory aspect

Inspection team leader

Printed Name:

( File a copy in your folder called OHS as well)

Discussion topics
Form a discussion group to brainstorm these ideas with their colleagues.
Discuss techniques that make writing more concise; for example, getting rid of unnecessary words.
Discuss the importance of drafting work. What might happen if you don't draft your work?
I get fed up with my manager correcting my work. Sometimes I have to write four drafts of a letter before she is
satisfied with it.' Discuss what this worker could do to avoid this situation. Also discuss why the manager is so
insistent that the letter is correct.
Go to the website at: (viewed 30 May 2008) and read some of the
examples of poor written communication in the workplace.
Discuss an example with a classmate.
Write down and discuss any other issues that are relevant to you and your team.

Section summary
Routine written correspondence is produced to a standard format or layout.
The most common types of written communication in the office are telephone messages, emails, memos, faxes and
Some organisations have specific procedures for passing on messages and presenting information.
Writing should be clear, concise, courteous, correct, jargon-free, accurate and complex.
Written correspondence should be drafted and passed on to a senior staff member, such as a supervisor or manager,
for checking.
Forms and documents from other institutions may need to be completed.
Forms and documents should be clear, concise and easy to read.

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 35

section 3
Communicating in a way that responds positively to individual
In the workplace, you work with people from a range of backgrounds. In order to work effectively with all of
your colleagues you need to be able to identify and understand the way their backgrounds influence how
they communicate and interact with others.
There are a range of factors that influence individual differences cultural background and language skills
are two of the most obvious. You need to consider and value these factors when communicating, and treat
individuals with respect. Applying strategies for positive communication that adhere to organisation
guidelines and protocols will help you do this.
In this Section you will learn about:
Valuing all individuals and treating them with respect
Taking cultural differences into consideration in all communication
Using communication to develop and maintain positive relationships
Using basic strategies to overcome language barriers
Ensuring behaviour is consistent with requirements, guidelines and protocols

Valuing all individuals and treating them with respect

Being respectful
Respect can mean many different things. At its most basic level it includes taking someone's feelings,
needs, thoughts, ideas, and preferences into consideration. More than this, respect means valuing a
person's feelings, needs and ideas, and taking them seriously. Showing respect in communication includes
listening, providing honest responses and not being judgmental.

Respectful behaviour might include addressing an older customer by title - Mr Smith; rather than by their
first name. Mutual respect can be gained by demonstrating respectful behaviour. Often if we respect our
colleagues, respectful behaviour will follow.
Some ways that you can show respect in the workplace include:
giving your full attention to a colleague when they are speaking
asking them how they feel and acknowledging their feelings
showing empathy
seeking information to better understand their feelings
taking their feelings and thoughts into consideration
Acknowledging their choices, even if they are different to yours.
Showing courtesy
Courtesy is about how we behave towards others in a social or work environment. It is closely linked with
manners, or what is considered to be polite. Behaviour that is defined as courteous depends on the culture
and immediate environment. Ideas of what is courteous change over time. In the past, it was considered
appropriate and courteous for men to stand when a woman entered the room. This is no longer seen as a
requirement to show courtesy. Today, the most basic expectations of courteous behaviour include saying
'please' and 'thank you'.
Ways to show courtesy include:
not talking over others when they are speaking
saying please and thank you

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 36

acknowledging that others' time is important - 'Do you have time to show me the software now?'
being on time for meetings.

Showing sensitivity
Showing sensitivity is about having an awareness of others' feelings and circumstances and taking that into
consideration when you communicate and interact with them. In the workplace this means showing
sensitivity not only in your individual interactions, but how you behave or respond in teams and meetings. It
is also about the ideas or language you use in your work. For someone who speaks English as a second
language, you could show sensitivity by using straightforward language that avoids slang or colloquialisms.
Showing sensitivity is also about ensuring that the words that you use and the way that you communicate is
free from language that could be seen as sexist, racist or biased.
Ways to show sensitivity include:
taking the perspectives of others, including people who are very different from you
using inclusive language (for example, using 'Chairperson' rather than 'Chairman')
adjusting your communication style to be appropriate for the setting and audience
showing an awareness of the feelings of others
being aware of topics about which people have strong feelings.
The following checklist can assist you in determining whether you are demonstrating the concepts of
respect, courtesy and sensitivity in your interactions with others:

In order to show respect to others, have I

given my full attention to the person speaking?
asked how they feel and acknowledged their feelings appropriately?
shown empathy?
sought information to better understand their feelings?
taken their feelings and thoughts into consideration?
acknowledged their choices, even if they are different to my own?
In order to show courtesy to others, have I
refrained from talking over others and let them finish what they are saying?
made sure to say please and thank you for information and items?
acknowledged that others' time is important and ensured they are free
when 1 asked them to do something?
been on time to meetings?
In order to show sensitivity to others, have I
taken the perspective of others, including people who are different from
used inclusive language when speaking to others?
adjusted my communication style to suit the setting and audience?
shown an awareness of the feelings of others?
been aware of topics about which others have strong feelings?

Taking cultural differences into consideration in all communication

Culture is the way an individual's beliefs and values affect how they behave (both individually and in

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 37

groups). It influences how they interpret, understand and respond to experiences and communication
messages. A group of individuals with a similar cultural background will share common experiences and a
common way of understanding the world, or workplace, around them. Cultural groups can be made up of
people of the same nationality, ethnicity, age, language, religion, profession, gender or sexual orientation
(and many others).
Because cultural background influences how you understand others and express yourself, people can take
different meanings from the same experience. In a workplace, this means that a conversation, a meeting, a
presentation, an email or any form of verbal or written communication may hold different meanings to
different people. Being aware of this is essential in guiding effective communication in the workplace.
Cultural differences
Becoming more aware of cultural differences can help you communicate with others more effectively. It is
useful to ask yourself how culture may be shaping your own reactions, and try to see the world from
another's point of view.
Some cultural differences you may come across in the workplace include:

Subject Cultural Difference Suggested behaviours to accommodate

cultural differences
Eye contact Australian work culture values eye contact. It Do not assume a person is being rude
is seen as being attentive, direct and honest because they will not provide eye contact.
in communication. For other cultures, looking Consider their cultural background and why
down or away is understood as the respectful they may not be providing eye contact. Be
way to communicate. patient and courteous.

Body contact In Australia it is an everyday business Do not show offence if someone does not
greeting for people to shake hands. In some shake your hand.
cultures this is not the norm, particularly Consider the person's cultural background. Be
between men and women, and may cause understanding and polite.
Hierarchy While Australian workplaces vary in their Do some research to find out what the
structures, the relationship between mangers accepted protocols are before communicating
and their employees can be relatively with various levels of an organisation.
informal. Staff can generally communicate
directly with different levels across the
organisation. In other cultures there is a strict
and more formal protocol for communicating
with people of a more senior position.

Male/female In Australia it is common for male and female Be sensitive and understanding of fellow
interactions employees to work together in all industries workers from other cultures where segregation
and types of roles. Some cultures are more between men and women is common.
used to workplaces with greater levels of Support others from such cultures to feel
segregation, and jobs that are seen to be comfortable in a 'mixed' environment.
'men's' or 'women's' jobs.
Sharing Australians tend to be quite social in the Respect others' rights to privacy.
personal workplace and openly share information
information about their personal lives and families. Some
cultures see talking about such things in the
workplace as inappropriate and personal
questions as intrusive.

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 38

Individualism It is normal in Australian workplaces for Be inclusive of all participants' contributions to
people to talk about their achievements, and work.
to use T. In some cultures this as seen as
rude and arrogant, and achievements are
spoken about in the context of the team, thus
'we' is used (even if one person was primarily

Overall, the clear message is to be:

to co-workers and not to force your behaviors on others.
Verbal communication
The way we verbally communicate is influenced by our culture. It may be the words we use, our tone, or
how formal or informal our language is. In French, for example, there are different words meaning 'you'.
One version is used when speaking with people you know well, the other for strangers, older people, or
people in positions of seniority; using the wrong one is a cause for offence. While we don't have this 'inbuilt
formality' in English, this example demonstrates the close link between culture, language and
Without a level of awareness that words and actions mean different things in different cultures, we run the
risk of offending or upsetting others. No-one is expected to understand the specifics of cultures across the
world, but we should be aware of people's reactions when we communicate, as this can signal us when
their interpretation differs from our intent.

For example, a bricklayer employed a man of South American background as a labourer. At the end of the
day the bricklayer, very impressed with his new labourer, patted him on the back and told him that he
'worked like a dog today'. The labourer was infuriated. As far as he was concerned he worked harder than
anyone that day and yet his boss insulted him by comparing him to a dog. Although the boss intended this
as a compliment, in the labourer's culture, to be compared to a dog is one of the greatest insults you can

In another example, a human resources manager was interviewing university graduates for a job. Many of
the applicants were from Asia and India. The manager asked all the applicants to talk about their role in a
team, in order to judge their teamwork skills. Those who had grown up in Australia highlighted their roles
and responsibilities and how this had worked within the team. Many of the applicants who had grown up
overseas only talked about the team as a whole. The interviewer found it hard to judge their personal
teamwork skills. For many of those students it was arrogant and inappropriate in their culture to speak
about themselves over the group, and this was reflected in the way they answered the question.
Non-verbal communication
Non-verbal communication is sending and receiving messages in a variety of ways without the use of
words. It can be intentional and unintentional. It includes:
eye contact
proximity (personal space)

BSBCMM201 Communicate in workplace information Page 39

sounds (verbal, but not words)
posture (arms crossed over chest, slouching).
For example, an Anglo-Australian male went into a newsagency run by a recently immigrated Korean
family. He gave a $20.00 note for his purchase to Mrs Cho and waited for his change. He was upset when
his change was put down on the counter in front of him and thought she was very rude. In many Asian
cultures it is inappropriate to touch strangers, especially if one is a man and one a woman.
There are other differences to consider. In most western cultures direct eye-to-eye contact is seen as
positive; Arabic cultures make prolonged eye-contact as they believe it shows interest and helps them
understand the honesty of the other person; in Japan, eye contact is avoided as a sign of respect.

Using communication to develop and maintain positive relationships

We spend a lot of time at work. We want our time in the workplace to be enjoyable with as little stress as
possible. We also want to do our job well and contribute to the achievements of the organisation. In order to
make all of these things possible, we need to build and maintain positive relationships with our colleagues
and managers. Positive relationships contribute to a happy and effective workplace.
Positive relationships
A positive relationship will generally be a relationship where there is a joint understanding of each other's
roles, a sense that you accept others and they accept you, an understanding that support and assistance is
given and received when needed, and that people are valued, respected and feel able to voice their
opinions and be listened to.
A positive relationship should include:
two-way communication

Mutual trust
Trust is about believing that others will fulfil their promises, or uphold the standards or policies that they
have said they would. In a workplace, mutual trust between workgroups, and between workgroups and
managers, is essential.

Mutual trust in the workplace is about believing that people will fulfil their role, uphold the organisation's
standards and work together for a common goal. It is about trusting that the organisation will respond with
promises of appropriate pay, conditions and development.
Communication is central to building and maintaining trust. If past evidence shows we can believe the
message being communicated, we develop trust in the individual and the organisation.
In the workplace we can build mutual trust by:
being consistent in our words and actions
doing what we have agreed to
maintaining confidentiality when appropriate
making information accessible to all
giving honest feedback

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being open minded and non-judgmental
being respectful.
When we are in a workplace where we trust and are trusted by our colleagues, and communication is open
and our daily interactions are positive, we build confidence in our ability to do our job well. It helps our self-
confidence because we know we have all the information to do a good job, and we can trust others around
us to assist if we need help.
Think about a time when you have noticed a colleague looking stressed or seeming a little overwhelmed by
their workload. Perhaps they were struggling to meet deadlines. Because you had a positive relationship
with them, you probably asked them what was wrong, or if you could help out. They may have confided in
you that they had some troubles at home, and they were finding it difficult to focus on work. You would have
kept this to yourself, and given them a hand as much as you could. At some point in the future, you might
find the situation reversed. With an already established mutual trust, they would be there to help you.
Knowing these positive relationships exist in your workplace gives you the self-confidence to tackle your job
well, and seek help if you need it.

Using basic strategies to overcome language barriers

Language barriers
We take for granted how easy it is to communicate in the language we have spoken all our lives. But it is
not until we try to learn another language, or try to speak with someone from a non-English speaking
background that we stop and think about the difficulties of communicating.
When you ask a colleague who speaks English as a second language to 'Please find the data for the
January sales figures and email it to me in a spreadsheet', they will:
hear what you said
translate it back into their preferred language
think about their answer in their preferred language
translate their answer back in to English
This process takes time. You may think you have made a simple request, and be wondering why a
response is not instant. This can be frustrating if you don't understand the process occurring in the other
person's head. And it can be frustrating for them too, trying to ensure they have understood correctly.
Overcoming language barriers
In order to minimise difficulties in communicating and overcome language barriers, there are a number of
strategies you can use.
Use simple, ordinary language. Avoid slang, jargon, abbreviations and technical

Please type these numbers into the January spreadsheet and send it to me by email.
Please chuck the January stats into Excel and email me.

Remember that terms specific to your profession or industry that you use every day may not be readily
understood by people who are not part of your occupation.
Second year students must submit an assignment for their assessment.
That student cohort must submit their folio for the RQF assessment

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Watch the listener's facial expression and body language to see if you are understood. If they frown, it may
indicate that they do not understand. Try using simpler language. Break any complex statement into a
series of simple parts.

The CEO is watching what is happening to the economy of other countries. She is trying to decide if
what is happening overseas will affect the local economy.
The CEO is trying to ascertain if the downturn o/s and subsequent fiscal implications will impact
Give listeners time to interpret and understand what you have said. A pause between the end of your
statement and the beginning of theirs may be necessary for their understanding.

In telephone conversations, if you cannot understand what the person is asking, ask them if there is a
relative (sometimes even a child can help) who might assist with translation.

Make sure you know about the various government translation services available.
Remember. If you speak slowly and clearly with simple words, you do not need to increase the volume!
Louder is not clearer.

If you have followed these steps and the person is still unable to understand, you should not feel guilty or
embarrassed. You have tried as best you can to bridge the communication divide, and sometimes the
language barriers may be too large.

Ensuring behaviour is consistent with requirements, guidelines and

The way we behave and communicate with others in the workplace is also guided by legislative
requirements. Legislative requirements are laws that the government (either at a state or federal level) have
put in place for the wellbeing of the community.
In addition to legislation, there may be other documents in your organisation that govern behaviour.
Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (sometimes called EBAs) are a set of conditions that employees and
their union representatives have negotiated with management. Both types of rules, in conjunction with the
social protocols discussed in the previous sections, aim to ensure appropriate standards of behaviour are
maintained in the workplace.
Legal requirements
In Australia there is a range of legislation that dictates how we should treat others in the workplace. Some
of the most common include:
anti-descrimination laws
equal employment opportunity laws
anti-vilification legislation.

Anti-discrimination laws
Discrimination is defined as treating one person unfairly over another according to factors unrelated to their
ability. Legislation forbids discrimination on the specified grounds.
Direct discrimination occurs when someone receives less favourable treatment on the basis of
characteristics or assumptions which are not job related.
For example, Maria has applied to be an administrator on a short term project in her workplace. Because

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Maria is a single mother, her boss decides that she will not be able to put in as much time as Toby, and she
is overlooked for the role. This is discrimination, and is not allowed under anti-discrimination laws. In order
to comply with the laws, the working conditions for the project should have been outlined to everyone, and
if Maria feels she is able to meet them, she should have been considered equally with the others. Only
skills and experience directly related to the role should be taken into consideration.
Equal employment opportunity laws
Equal opportunity laws ensure that all people have access to a workplace that is free of discrimination.
Organisations use these laws to guide their policies and procedures. They ensure workplace structures and
practices are free from discrimination based on age, gender, marital status, carer status, pregnancy and
breastfeeding, parenthood, physical features, sexuality, social and economic circumstances, race, disability,
religious and political beliefs, etc.
In order to comply with these laws, workplaces will generally have policies covering:
maternity and paternity leave
access for the disabled
competency based job selection.
An organisation will normally have their equal employment opportunity (EEO) policies, procedures and
grievance process posted on their intranet and in induction manuals for new employees.

If you cannot find information you need in your workplace, the website for the Humans Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission at is helpful (viewed 30 May 2008).
Anti-vilification legislation
Anti-vilification legislation prohibits public acts of vilification, i.e. verbal abuse and hatred, on a range of
grounds including race and religion.
The following example shows how a person might unintentionally breach anti-vilification policies and laws.

Joe was standing in the tea room at work, relaying a joke he had heard on the weekend. A number of
people could hear his joke. The joke made fun of three men from different ethnic backgrounds, and Joe did
not see that the content was a hateful description, and offensive to his listeners. While Joe was not
intentionally being nasty, telling this joke may in fact cause him to be in breach of anti-vilification policies
and laws.
Organisational requirements
Organisations generally have their own internal policies and procedures that outline the behaviour they
expect of employees. Many of the concepts are derived from laws.
A code of conduct is a statement about the values and standards an organisation upholds in its business
operations. These values and standards also apply at the individual level.
A code of conduct may include a commitment to:
provide the highest levels of customer service
produce a product that enhances the lives of the local community
have business processes that have a minimum impact on the environment
be open and transparent in their financial operations
be committed to employing a diverse workforce.
Policies and procedures will then be drawn from the code of conduct to guide individual behaviour.
For example, a commitment to minimising environmental impact may be reflected in a recycling policy or

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posters encouraging employees to switch off lights. A commitment to having a diverse workforce may see
targets set for hiring people from under-represented ethnic backgrounds.

Social protocols
Social protocols are the often unwritten rules that affect our behaviour both in the workplace and the
larger community. They vary in different environments, and also change over time. They are behaviours
that are generally considered to be appropriate in a given situation.

In a practical sense, some of the common workplace protocols are:

courtesy and punctuality - being polite, arriving at meetings on time, listening to others when they
professionalism - ensuring that your work is at its best standard, that problems are dealt with openly
and following correct procedures, that you are respectful in your interactions with others
confidentiality always keeping confidential or sensitive information appropriately guarded
(generally you would not breach the confidence of others unless there was a safety issue)
acknowledging the contribution of others - not taking credit for others' work or ideas, acknowledging
the role of the team.
The following example shows how not following social protocols can offend co-workers and hinder
cooperation in the workplace.

Joe was late for a meeting, interrupting the person who was speaking. When Joe entered the meeting he
quickly took a seat and began to discuss the recent success of a project he had been working on with his
team. Joe neglected to mention the other team members' contributions, only stating his work on the project.
After the meeting, Mary expressed concern about Joe's professionalism to another attendee, Nick, stating
that she felt his work had let the team down. Finally, Nick told Mary, Tm not particularly happy with Joe
either. He betrayed a confidence by letting others know about a personal issue I'm having at home'.
Joe has neglected social protocols by:
failing to be courteous and punctual
failing to be professional with co-workers
not acknowledging the contribution of others, and
betraying the confidence of another.
Joe should have:
been on time for the meeting and not interrupted others whilst speaking
acknowledged the contribution of his co-workers on the project he was discussing
not betrayed Nick's confidence by speaking about his personal business with others.
Discussion topics
Write down your opinions and/or answers to the following situations.
Discuss a situation where you had trouble communicating with someone else. What were the
details? What strategies did you put in place to break down the barriers?
What sorts of things could you suggest for your workplace to build positive relationships?
Discuss what you have learned from colleagues or friends from different cultural backgrounds about
how they understand things.
Write down and discuss any other issues that are relevant to you and your team.

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Section summary
Workplaces are made up of individuals from a range of backgrounds.
Individual differences should be respected, and all people treated with courtesy and sensitivity.

Our backgrounds influence how we understand things and express ourselves.

Positive relationships in the workplace should be based on mutual trust.
Strategies should be employed to improve communication. Using simple language and watching the body
language and facial expressions of others can help to overcome language barriers.
Workplace behaviour is governed by legislation, organisation requirements and social protocols.

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