Objectives and Principles of Business Communication

Module 1. The Nature of Business Communication

Lecture 1. Modern Business Communication: Basic Concepts

‘Perfection of means and confusion of ends seem to characterise our age.’

Albert Einstein

r Objectives and Principles of Business Communication

r The Communication Process and its Basic Components

r The Communication Model

r Methods and Forms of Business Communication

r Prospects of the Modern Business Communication Development

r Conclusion

r Recommended Reading

r Glossary of the Basic Terms

Objectives and Principles of Business Communication

In order to perform the functions of management and to assume multiple roles, managers must be skilled. Robert Katz identified three managerial skills that are essential to successful management: technical, human, and conceptual [Robert Katz, "Skills of an effective administrator," Harvard Business Review, September-October 1974, pp. 90-101]. Technical skill involves process or technique knowledge and proficiency. Managers use the processes, techniques and tools of a specific area. Human skillinvolves the ability to interact effectively with people. Managers interact and cooperate with employees. Conceptual skill involves the formulation of ideas. Managers understand abstract relationships, develop ideas, and solve problems creatively. Thus, technical skill deals with things, human skill concerns people, and conceptual skill has to do with ideas.

A manager's level in the organization determines the relative importance of possessing technical, human, and conceptual skills. Top level managers need conceptual skills in order to view the organization as a whole. Conceptual skills are used in planning and dealing with ideas and abstractions. Supervisors need technical skills to manage their area of specialty. All levels of management need human skills in order to interact and communicate with other people successfully.

As the pace of change accelerates and diverse technologies converge, new global industries are being created (for example, telecommunications). Technological change alters the fundamental structure of firms and calls for new organizational approaches and management skills.

Communication skills rate as one of the most important skills that employees need. More and more employers seek to find employees who have "effective written and verbal communication skills." While not all jobs require the same level of communication abilities, good communication skills augment employee experiences and enhance the payback from one’s career. Among different communication skills at least six skills are needed in the business world:

r Conflict resolution

r Decision making

r Listening

r Art of managerial persuasion

r Presentation skills

r Writing skills

Communication with all levels of management is necessary to do one’s job. In fact, effective writing skills, job-related technical skills, and oral and interpersonal skills allow an employee to manoeuvre well within his job, regardless of its nature. Also, new employees receive the label of "better performers" if they can communicate above the abilities of their peers.

Any job requires good communication skills. Even jobs, such as accounting, research and development, marketing, and management, require good communication skills, even though communication is seemingly not the primary component of the job. Also, jobs in politics, science, print media, medicine, teaching, and engineering require strong communication skills.

Effective business communication is essential for:

r the company’s positive image

An organization's image is directly related to how the employees of the organization feel about the company, and how precisely they answer customer questions. An employee can ruin a company's image by ineffectively communicating inaccurate verbal or written messages to customers. Ineffective communication skills cost organizations unnecessary revenues and time, due to additional return communications that are required to correct a situation.

r employee moral

Employees rely on their managers to pass down information. The amount and completeness of the information an employee receives determines how the employee feels about the company. Managers must decide what type and quantity of information employees require.

r employee productivity

Productivity is essential to an organization's economic state. Productivity is related to communication in the form of the goals and expectation the organization presents to its employees. Goals and expectations must be clear and concise to communicate what the organization expects from its employees.

People in organizations typically spend over 75% of their time in an interpersonal situation; thus, it is no surprise to find that at the root of a large number of organizational problems is poor communications. Effective communication is an essential component of organizational success whether it is at the interpersonal, inter-group, intra-group, organizational, or external levels.

Communication establishes relationships and makes organizing possible. Every message has a purpose or objective. The sender intends - whether consciously or unconsciously - to accomplish something by communicating. In organizational contexts, messages typically have a definite objective: to motivate, to inform, to teach, to persuade, to entertain, or to inspire. This definite purpose is, in fact, one of the principal differences between casual conversation and managerial communication. Effective communication in the organization centres on well-defined objectives that support the organization's goals and mission. Supervisors strive to achieve understanding among parties to their communications.

Organizational communication establishes a pattern of formal communication channels to carry information vertically and horizontally. (The organization chart displays these channels.) To ensure efficient and effective accomplishment of objectives, information is exchanged. Information is passed upward from employees to supervisors and laterally to adjacent departments. Instructions relating to the performance of the department and policies for conducting business are conveyed downward from supervisors to employees. The organization carries information from within the department back up to top management. Management furnishes information about how things are going, notifies the supervisor of what the problems are, and provides requests for clarification and help. Supervisors, in turn, keep their employees informed and render assistance. Supervisors continually facilitate the process of gaining necessary clarification and problem solving; both up and down the organization. Also, supervisors communicate with sources outside the organization, such as vendors and customers.

Although all of us have been communicating with others since our infancy, the process of transmitting information from an individual (or group) to another is a very complex process with many sources of potential error. Human communication is something we all seem very well familiar with, at the same time it is something that causes a lot of difficulties and setbacks as soon as we set out on the adventure of understanding others and getting them understand us. Businesses, whatever big or important they are, communicate through people. While at work, we exchange information, orally or in written, grasp or explain the ideas, we expect the others react on the information transmitted, we are expected to behave or think according to the message received.

Even having a fantastic experience in communication one may face a number of communicative problems at the workplace. It is determined by the complexity and formality of running business. Information flows, culture and policy inside the company may differ greatly from those you are used to communicating with your family and friends. Complicated messages such as a marketing plan, budget of the department or advertisement are usually produced by many people and are further transmitted to the wide public. This circle of people is much wider than those people you are used to communicating with. Many receivers are strangers to you; their feedback may be delayed, come incomplete or may not come at all.

Communication is complicated as it involves interactions between people influenced by various factors such as personal background, setting, time, mood, intentions of the partners, and so on. It requires understanding oneself, which is not as easy task and requires certain skills and effort, and understanding the partner, which is even more challenging than understanding oneself. We will further discuss the anatomy of communication to give the reader some clues to make relevant decisions and choose appropriate strategies when communicating in the world of work.

Whatever our particular task may be, we pursue four main objectives when communicate:

· we need to be seen, heard or read (received);

· to be understood;

· to be accepted and

· to get reaction to our message.

Should we fail to reach at least any of these goals, our communication is a failure. To succeed we should first ensure all the elements of the communication process available and in action.

Effective business communications are based on the following principles:

– unity of rational and emotional while solving communicative problems in human behaviour;

– situational nature of the communicative context:

– actual reaction may be far from desirable;

– emotional state of the partner may be difficult to recognize;

– a situation may be interpreted subjectively;

– a wish to increase the degree of objectivity in interpreting the partners behaviour and forecasting his possible reactions;

– humanism in communication;

– development (ontogeny) of the partners in the course of communication: a person whose behaviour you seemed to understand may start to act unexpectedly for you because of different experience, age, mood, motives, knowledge, etc.

– the systematic character of communications: the system is complete, unique, independent, adaptive, dependent on the environment, i.e. open)

– probability of undiagnosed concealed factors of behaviour such as intention and imitation;

– incomplete adequacy of the behaviour models which produce forecasts and expectations to the actual behaviour of the subject or system;

– infinity of the cognitive process;

– scientific character;

– law-based procedures [after Spivak, 2002, p. 14-15].

These principles can be supplemented by those mentioned by J.M.Lahiff and J.M.Penrose [p.12-13]:

– The Christian ‘golden rule of communication’: in all, treat others as you would like them to treat you…

– Priority of human values and social tasks over the personal egoism;

– Cooperation, not rivalry;

– Good relations among the partners are the most important;

– Empathy.

Following these principles will contribute to educating Ukrainian business to be ethical and humanistic and to organizing effective communications in the world of work.