“A communication has two ends to the stick – it is composed of a speaker’s intention and a listener’s reception of what is said.”-Linda Slakey.
Communication is neither transmission of message nor message itself but it is the mutual exchange of understanding, originating with the receiver. Effective communication is very necessary in business. Communication is an essence of management. The basic functions of management i.e. Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Directing and Controlling cannot be performed well without effective communication. Business communication involves constant flow of information. Feedback is an integral part of business communication. Organizations these days are very large and it involves number of people. There are various levels of hierarchy in an organization. Greater the number of levels, more difficult is the job of managing the organization. Communication here plays a very important role in process of directing and controlling the people in organization. Immediate feedback can be obtained and misunderstandings if any can be avoided. There should be effective communication between superiors and subordinated in an organization, between organization and society at large. It is very essential for success and growth of an organization. Communication gaps should not occur in any organization.
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Business Communication is basically goal oriented. The rules, regulations and policies of the company have to be communicated to people within and outside the organization. Business Communication is regulated by certain rules and norms. In early times, business communication was limited only to paper-work, telephone calls etc. But now with advent of technology, we have cell phones, video conferencing, emails, and satellite communication which support business communication. Effective business communication helps in building goodwill of an organization.
Business Communication can be of two types:
Oral Communication – An oral communication can be formal or informal. Generally business communication is a formal means of communication, like: meetings, interviews, group discussion, speeches etc. Grapevine is an example of Informal business communication.
Written Communication – Written means of business communication includes – agenda, reports, manual, letters, journals etc.
The University of North Carolina defines written communication as, “clear expression of ideas in writing; includes grammar, organization, and structure.”
To put it simply, written communication is communication by means of written symbols that is communicated by or to or between people or groups.
Thus, written communication is presentation of ideas or essays that make a clear point, supply details supporting that point and demonstrate unity and coherence of thought. It can be in form of letters, memos, circulars, bulletins, reports, instruction cards, manuals, magazines etc.
The Importance of Effective Written Communication
Effective written communication is an important aspect of business and personal communication because it sends messages that are flat, lacking other elements of communication such as tone of voice, body language and gestures. Written communication can be confusing, offensive and ineffective if it is poorly written, uses vague terminology or doesn’t provide concrete definitions for message attempting to be sent. Importance of effective communication is:
The purpose of effective written communication is to send a message with the intention of the receiver understanding the message and responding to it. For example, if a supervisor needs to get a profit-and-loss statement to his manager, he may print it out, email it or fax it with the required information in writing. If the purpose of written communication is not achieved, the needed information may not be understood, which can cause the manager to appear to his superior as being unorganized or unable to perform her duties appropriately.
Effective written communication should use appropriate spelling, punctuations and grammar. It communicates the information in such a way that the reader can understand, logically organizes the information, takes into consideration the format and style of writing based on the who it’s intended for and accurately outlines the information.
The outcome of effective written communication is purpose, productivity and clear direction. Written communication has become integrated into daily life through email, text messaging and online chats. If written communication is effective, the receivers know what is expected and how to accomplish the goals. If it’s ineffective, more time will be spent to clarify than was originally needed.
Written communication is any form of using written words to send a message. The different types of written communication are a handwritten letter, typed letter, email, text message and online chatting.
Written communication is appropriate in one situation, but may be inappropriate in others. For example, if a person is supposed to appear in court, calling the court house is an ineffective way to communicate with the government. Written communication is expected and functional way to communicate with the government. In order for communication to be effective, it must be sent to the appropriate people. For example, if a person has an issue with his boss, sending a letter to the customer service department would be ineffective way of communication because that department handles external complaints, not employee issues.
IMPORTANCE OF WRITTEN COMMUNICATION
Written communication has great significance in today’s business world. It is an innovative activity of mind. Effective written communication is essential for preparing worthy promotional materials for business development. Speech came before writing, but writing is more unique and formal than speech. Effective writing involves careful choice of words, their organization in correct order in sentences formation as well as cohesive composition of sentences. Also, writing is more valid and reliable than speech. Advantages are:
Written communication helps in laying down apparent principles, policies, procedures and rules for running of an organization.
It is a permanent means of communication. Thus, it is very useful where record maintenance is required.
It helps in proper delegation of responsibilities. While in case of oral communication, it is impossible to fix and delegate responsibilities on the grounds of speech as it can be taken back by the speaker.
Written communication is more precise and explicit.
Effective written communication develops and enhances an organization’s image and reputation.
It provides ready records and references.
Legal defences can depend upon written communication as it provides valid records.
DISADVANTAGES OF WRITTEN COMMUNICATION
Written communication does not save upon the costs. It costs huge in terms of stationery and manpower employed in writing/typing and delivering letters.
If the receivers of the written message are separated by distance and if they need to clear their doubts, the response is not spontaneous.
Written communication is time-consuming as the feedback is not immediate in this case. The encoding and sending of message takes time.
Effective written communication requires great skills and competencies in language and vocabulary use. Poor writing skills and quality have a negative impact on organization’s image.
Too much paper work and e-mails burden is involved.
GUIDELINES FOR EFFECTIVE WRITTEN COMMUNICATION
In a personal or business setting, the ability to effectively communicate through written correspondence is a must. Written communication can take on many forms including email, text messages, memos, or letters. No matter what format you are using, there are a few basic rules you should follow to ensure that written communication is correct and effective. These are:
Use simple sentence structure should be there. Complex sentence structure can complicate what you are trying to say and can be easily misunderstood. Sentences should be concise and to the point. Instead of saying “I would like to schedule a meeting to discuss the pertinent facts of the case at your earliest convenience,” it should rather said “Please let me know when we can meet to discuss the case.”
Use jargon or language that only select group of individuals understand should not be used. Written communication should be accessible to your audience, no matter who you are communicating with. Technical language and jargon should only be used when more simplistic language will not work.
Provide specific details whenever possible and avoid writing in ambiguous or unclear details. Instead of writing “I have a lot of experience working in this field,” write “I have worked as an engineer for three and a half years.”
Written communication is different from academic or scholarly writing and it should be more conversational in nature. As a rule of thumb, write in similar fashion as talk. Read your message aloud to ensure that your writing sounds conversational.
Avoid Gendered Language
Avoid attaching masculine or feminine pronoun to your writing. While it is technically sound grammar to use “he” or “his” when gender is unknown or when referring to a group of people, the language may offend some people. To be on the safer side, do not use a gendered pronoun unless you are sure of the person’s gender you are referencing.
Avoid Passive Language
Choose active verbs instead of passive verbs to add interest to your written communication. Write “I drove to the beach on Sunday,” instead of “When I was driving to the beach on Sunday…”. Using active voice will also allow you to sound more conversational, as we rarely use passive voice in verbal communication.
If you know the person you are writing to, acknowledge this relationship and Instead of using blanket pronouns such as “you,” use the person’s name. Make the information you include in your written communication pertinent to the reader. Depending on the relationship you have with the person, begin and end your writing with an appropriate greeting.
Right medium should be chosen for written communication. Whether you use email, text messaging, or a letter depends on who you are writing to and what you are writing about. If you have never used text messaging in the work environment, it may not be the best way to correspond with a coworker.
Use humor in moderation, and only when appropriate for the situation. If you are unfamiliar with the reader, avoid making jokes so as not to offend the reader. If you have a good relationship with your reader, feel free to use humor in your written communication. Even if you know the reader well, avoid offensive humor.
No matter how good at writing you may be, it is critical to proof read your written communication. Check for spelling or grammatical errors in your writing. Make sure that what you have written effectively communicates the intended message.
Confusing language means confusing words that can mislead the reader and can cause communication breakdown or barriers between the writer and the reader. Some words are ambiguous, bombastic, vague, trendy, exaggerated, inflated and archaic. It is better to use the familiar word to the far-fetched, the concrete word to the abstract, the single word to the circumlocution and the short word to long.
Verbosity means the use of too many words. The overuse of words interferes with understanding. Sometimes they are unnecessary as they interrupt the reader’s understanding of the message. If verbosity persists, it may confuse and bore the reader. For example:
He moves quickly. (Ok)
He’s quick. (Better)
Mohit was the winner! (Ok)
Mohit won! (Better)
“The stability and quality of our financial performance will be developed through the profitable execution of our existing business, as well as the acquisition or development of new businesses.” (Too long, too wordy, passive voice)
We will improve our financial performance not only by executing our existing business more profitably but by acquiring or developing new businesses (Better, shorter, active voice)
Information overload means giving too much information, hence, reader becomes overwhelmed and confused. This may also cause frustration and cast doubts on the writer’s credibility. Therefore, as a writer, you must decide what sort of information is required in order to produce a clear, concise and relevant written work.
CHARACTERISTICS OF GOOD BUSINESS LETTER
A business letter has to be courteous and considerate.
It has to be precise and clear.
It has to be complete.
It has to be brief.
It should be neat and have good appearance
CHARACTERISTICS OF GOOD BUSINESS REPORT
It should be accurate
It should be simple
It has to be precise and clear
There should be consistency in writing reports
Brevity and timeliness
It should be neatly presented and should be carefully documented
Use graphs, pie-charts, etc to show the numerical data records over years.