CHAPTER NO.1 UNDERSTANDING BUSINESS COMMUNICATION The Communication Process 1. 2. Communication doesn’t occur haphazardly. Nor does it happen all at once. It is more than a single act. Communication is a dynamic, transactional (two-way) process that can be broken into six phases: The Sender has an Idea: You conceive an idea and want to share it. 2. The Sender Encodes the Idea: When you put your idea into a message that your receiver will understand, you are encoding it, deciding on the message’s form (word, facial expression, gesture), length, organization, tone, and style – all of which depend on your idea, your audience, and your 1. personal style or mood. The Communication Process – Cont.. 3. 4. The Sender Transmits the Message: To physically transmit your message to your receiver, you select a medium (telephone, letter, memo, e-mail). These choices depend on your message, your audience’s location, your need for speed, and the formality required. The Receiver Gets the Message: For communication to occur, your receiver must first get the message. If you send a letter, your receiver has to read it before understanding it. If you’re giving a speech, your listeners have to be able to hear you, and they have to be paying attention. The Communication Process – Cont.. 5. The Receiver Decodes the Message: Your receiver must decode (absorb and understand) your message. The decoded message must then be stored in the receiver’s mind. If all goes well, the receiver interprets your message correctly; that is, the receiver assigns the same meaning to your words as you intended and responds in the desired way. 6. The Receiver Sends Feedback: Feedback is your receiver’s response. After decoding your message, the receiver responds in some way and signals that response to you. Feedback enables you to evaluate the effectiveness of your message: if your audience doesn’t understand what you mean, you can tell by the re sponse and refine your message. Benefits of Effective Communication Quicker problem solving Stronger decision making Improved stakeholder response Increased productivity Steadier work flow Stronger business relationships Clearer promotional materials Enhanced professional image Recognizing Communication Barriers When you send a message, you intend to communicate meaning, but the message itself contains no meaning. The meaning exists in your mind and in the mind of your receiver. To understand each other, you and your receiver must share similar meaning for words, gestures, tone of voice, and other symbols. Recognizing Communication Barriers – cont… The communication process is effective only when each step is successful. Ideas cannot be communicated if any step in this process is blocked. When interference in the communication process distorts the sender’s meaning, it is called a communication barrier, or noise. Recognizing communication barriers is the first step in overcoming them. Examples of barriers to effective communication include perceptual differences, restrictive environments, distractions, and deceptive tactics. Recognizing Communication Barriers – Cont.. Perceptual Differences: Perception is people’s individual interpretation of the sensory world around them. Even when two people experience the same event, their mental images are not identical. When sending a message, you choose the details that seem important to you. However, when receiving a message, you try to fit new details into your existing pattern, and if a detail doesn’t quite fit, you’re inclined to distort the information rather than rearrange your pattern. Recognizing Communication Barriers – Cont.. Perception is strongly influenced by cultural differences. Communicating with someone from another country may be the most extreme example of how different cultures can block communication. But even in your own culture, you and your receiver may differ in age, education, social status, economic position, religion, and life experience. Recognizing Communication Barriers – Cont.. Restrictive Environments: A restrictive environment serves to be a big barrier in communication. If information is not allowed to flow freely from top to bottom or from bottom to top, communication will suffer. In a poll of 638 employees, 90 percent said they had good ideas on how their companies could run more successfully. Yet more than 50 percent said they were prevented from communicating these thoughts because of a lack of management interest and a lack of effective means for sharing their ideas. Recognizing Communication Barriers – Cont.. Distractions: Communication barriers are often physical distractions: bad connections, poor voice quality, etc. Your audience is more likely to receive your message accurately if nothing physical interrupts or distorts the message. Another kind of distraction is poor listening . Listening ability decreases when information is difficult to understand and when it has little meaning for the listener. Emotional distractions can be difficult to overcome. When you are upset, hostile, or fearful, you have a hard time shaping a message objectively. Recognizing Communication Barriers – Cont.. Deceptive Tactics: Language itself is made up of words that carry values. So merely by saying things a certain way, you influence how others perceive your message, and you shape expectations and behaviors. Deceptive communicators may exaggerate benefits, quote inaccurate statistics, or hide negative information behind an optimistic attitude. Overcoming Barriers Guideline 1: Adopt an Audience-Centered Approach When you adopt an audience-centered approach to communication, you focus on and care about your audience, making every effort to get your message across in a way that is meaningful to your audience. For the creation of an effective message, you need to learn as much as possible about the biases, education, age, status, and style of your receiver. Overcoming Barriers – Cont.. When you address strangers, try to find more about them; if that’s impossible, try to project yourself into their position by using your common sense and imagination. What ever the tactic, you need to write and speak from your audience’s point of view to help your audience understand and accept your message. Overcoming Barriers – Cont.. Guideline 2: Foster an open Communication Climate An organization’s communication climate is a reflection of its corporate culture: the mix of values, traditions, and habits that give a company its atmosphere or personality. Successful companies such as Hallmark encourage employee contributions by making sure that communication flows freely down, up, and across the organization chart. They encourage candor and honesty, and their employees feel free to confess their mistakes, disagree with the boss, and express their opinions. Overcoming Barriers Cont.. climate: There are two ways of fostering an open – communication 1. Modifying the number of organization levels: One way to foster an open communication climate is to reduce the number of levels in the organization’s structure. The fewer the links in the communication chain, the less likely it is that misunderstandings will occur. 2. Facilitating Feedback: Giving your audience a chance to provide feedback is crucial to maintaining an open communication climate. Feedback can be encouraged by: 1. A 1. 2. 3. Asking specific questions Encouraging your audience to express general reactions Being receptive to your audience’s responses Overcoming Barriers – Cont.. Guideline 3: Create Lean, Efficient Messages 1. You must distinguish between necessary and unnecessary information. Too much information is as bad as too little; it reduces the audience’s ability to concentrate on the most important data. 2. 2. Minimize the number of messages. 3. 3. Do your best to control your emotions before they block the communication process. Overcoming Barriers – Cont.. Guideline 4: Commit to Ethical Communication 1. Ethics are the principles of conduct that govern a person or a group. Unethical people are selfish and unscrupulous, i.e. without principles, saying or doing whatever it takes to achieve an end. 2. Ethical people are generally trustworthy, fair, and impartial, respecting the rights of others and concerned about the effects of their actions on society. Overcoming Barriers – Cont.. 3. Ethical communication includes all relevant information, is true in every sense, and is not deceptive in any way. 4. Ethical dilemma involves choosing among alternatives that aren’t clear cut. 5. Ethical lapse is making a clearly unethical or illegal choice. Communication in Organizations To succeed, organizations must share information with people inside the company and with people outside the company. Internal Communication: Refers to the exchange of information and ideas within an organization. Communication among the members of an organization is essential for effective functioning. Communication in Organizations – Cont.. Formal Communication Network: is typically shown as an organization chart. Such chart summarizes the line of authority. Downward flow Upward flow Horizontal flow Communication in Organizations – Cont.. Informal Communication Network: The informal communication network carries information along the organization’s unofficial lines of activity and power. As people go about their work, they have casual conversations with their friends in the office. External Communication: External communication network links the organization with the outside world of customers, suppliers, competitors, and investors. Formal Outside Communication: Carefully constructed letters convey an important message to outsiders about the quality of your organization. Companies use external communication to create a favorable impression. Communication in Organizations – Cont.. Informal Outside Communication: Although companies often communicate with outsiders in a formal manner, informal contacts with outsiders are important for learning about customer needs. Every employee informally accumulates facts and impressions that contribute to the organization’s collective understanding of the outside world. Top managers rely heavily on informal contacts with outsiders to exchange information that might be useful to their companies.