Business Communication Concepts DigiBook V…

BUSINESS COMMUNICATION CONCEPTS

JULY 2017 | VERSION 54 D I G I B O O K

TABLE OF CONTENTS COMMUNICATION ......................................................................................................... 3 RESULT ORIENTED COMMUNICATION................................................................... 11 PRECISION IN COMMUNICATION ............................................................................ 12 COMMUNICATING FOR INFLUENCE ....................................................................... 13 CONVINCING DIFFICULT PEOPLE ............................................................................ 14 BUSINESS ETIQUETTE................................................................................................... 18 CONCLUSION................................................................................................................. 22

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COMMUNICATION Communication forms a basis of human relations. Without communication they would cease to exist. We start communication right from the time we are born. But effective communication is the ultimate goal. Communication as we know, is the process by which people exchange thoughts, ideas, feelings, opinions, plans, etc. but effective communication implies that there is a two way process.

In any organization, communication is given the highest level of importance. This is because every minute there is huge amounts of data and information which is processed and made available. But how do you get it across? How do you make it useful? Here is when effective communication gets highlighted. Effective communication is important not only to the organization as a whole but also to an individual. Many problems arise in organizations; most of them are due to bad communication or miscommunication. Many good plans or ideas are lost in the process due to lack of communicating effectively or faulty communication.

So, effective communication would only happen when the receiver has understood the sender’s message. This brings us to the process of communication and the components of the process.

Process of communication Communication is essentially a two - way process. There are five basic components involved and for the process to be effective it is essential that all of these components are present while communicating. The degree of their involvement may vary.

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The way you communicate differs from person to person. It is something that is learnt majorly through observation. As a child you learn from your environment, which includes parents, teachers, other authority figures around you and other people who leave an impact on you. As you grow older you can unlearn or improve your communication style by observing others who communicate effectively, learning important skills and practising new skills.

Encoder

Message

Channel

Receiver

Feedback

The communication process can be broken into five phases: Phase I – Encoder

First, the encoder/sender i.e. the individual who initiates the process sends the information or the message. Encoding is the process of selecting and formulating the information to be conveyed. How well the information is conveyed will be based on:

 The sender’s attitude, knowledge, perceptions, etc  The mode of communication used (transmitter)

Phase II – Message The message is the information being transmitted. It includes verbal and non-verbal data. Verbal information is the part of the data that is heard and non-verbal consists of things such as body language and the surrounding environment.

Phase III – Channel The channel is the means or the mode used to convey the message. To physically transmit the message you need to select a communication channel and a medium. A

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communication channel could be non-verbal, spoken or written. The mediums could be telephone, computer, fax, letter, email, memo, report, face – to – face, etc. Sometimes oral communication is preferred or desirable than written communication; at other times a written message is crucial. For example, when immediate feedback is necessary, oral communication channels are more effective. In many cases both oral and written channels are necessary; one supplements the other. For example, it is common to find managers giving their subordinates assignments over phone and then saying “I’ll follow this up with a mail confirming our conversation.” This provides the receiver an opportunity to review the assignment, to contact the superior and seek clarification if the written message is not in accordance with the oral one. Phase IV – Receiver The receiver is simply the person receiving the message, making sense of it, or understanding and translating it into meaning. The receiver decodes the encoded message. The extent to which this person will understand the message depends on a number of factors:  The knowledge about the topic  His/her receptivity to the message  The relationship and trust that exists between the sender and the receiver  The receiver’s understanding and perception of the information being conveyed

In a way the receiver is also a communicator. Communication is only successful when the reaction of the receiver is that which the communicator intended. Effective communication takes place with shared meaning and understanding.

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Phase V – Feedback Feedback is the receiver’s response to the message. It can be a verbal or non-verbal reaction or response. It can be external feedback or internal feedback, like self - examination. It’s the feedback that allows the communicator to adjust his message and be more effective. Without feedback, there would be no way of knowing if meaning has been understood by the receiver. Feedback also reveals attitude, perception, and comprehension or the lack of it. In non-verbal form some of the most common examples of feedback are nodding one’s head, shrugging, grimacing, smiling, winking, rolling one’s eyes, looking at the other person directly in the eye, etc.

Types of communication Verbal communication

Verbal communication implies communicating with the use of words. Words alone have no meaning but people using them to communicate add meaning to it. Verbal communication is of two types - Formal and informal.  Formal communication - Formal communication is further divided into downward and upward communication.

 Downward communication - Downward communication flows from superior to subordinate. There are five basic purposes of this type of communication: 1. To give job instructions 2. To bring about understanding of the work and its relationship to the organizational tasks

3. To provide information about procedures and practices 4. To provide subordinates, feedback on their performance 5. To instil a sense of mission in the employees

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 Upward communication - Upward communication provide subordinates a means for conveying information to their superiors. This type of communication is extremely effective for gaining feedback, learning about problems and road blocks that are affecting efficiency. Upward communication is also an excellent source of information on employee attitudes and perception. Unfortunately, results reveal that most managers report that they encourage upward communication but subordinates disagree. They feel their superiors are not as open and willing to receive feedback as they claim to be.

 Informal

communication Informal communication is further divided into lateral, diagonal and grapevine. These are formed by employees in an effort to circumvent or complement formal -

channels.  Lateral

communication Lateral communication normally involves co-ordinating information, and allows people with the same or similar rank in an organization to cooperate or collaborate. Communication among employees at the same level is crucial for the accomplishment of work. Lateral communication is essential for five reasons: 1. Solving problems -

2. Accomplishing tasks 3. Improving teamwork 4. Building goodwill 5. Boosting efficiency

 Diagonal – It includes the communication of people at different levels and it is interdepartmental. This type can mostly be noticed when there are project teams working.

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 Grapevine - To hear something through the grapevine is to learn of something informally and unofficially by means of gossip and rumour. This could mean information of a confidential nature passed on among employees informally or information which has been overheard or got through informal sources. A study quoted in Forbes magazine concludes that 75 % of employees hear about matters first through rumours on the grapevine. Robbins states, that rumours flourish in an organization because of three elements. 1. It is not controlled by formal management 2. Most employees perceive it to be more believable and reliable than formal communication issued by top management 3. It is largely used for the self - interests of the people within the organization Non –Verbal communication Non-verbal messages primarily communicate emotions and attitudes. They largely communicate a person’s subjective response like anger, dislike and resentment to a particular situation. Messages about plans or concepts cannot be conveyed through non- verbal channels. These are more of spontaneous responses of the sender to the encoders’ message.  Physical environment - Environmental conditions can affect the choices of words or actions.  Proxemics – It is the study of how people use the physical space around them and what this use says about them. People often put an invisible boundary between themselves and others. This is called the personal space. The intimate distance zone within radius of up to 18 inches around a person is reserved for close relations and friends. The personal distance zone, which may extend from 1 ½ to 4 feet is also reserved for friends and family. This may vary from culture to culture. Certain cultures are more tolerant of intrusions into a

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person’s personal space than others. The social distance zone extends from 4 to 12 feet. It is in this zone that most business is transacted. The public distance zone usually extends from 12 to 25 feet. It is the farthest distance at which one can communicate effectively on a face to face basis. Thus, by observing the physical distance between two individuals, one can judge the relationship between them.  Chronemics - It is the study of the use of time in non-verbal communication. How people use time also gives others clues about what kind of people they are and what can be expected from them in terms of dependability.  Paralanguage - The study of paralanguage focuses on how you say what you say. Two similar verbal messages may communicate entirely different meanings when the tone of voice is different. Our tone, loudness, softness, intonation, pitch, rate of speech, and accent communicate a great deal. In fact, by changing the emphasis of these parameters in a sentence, we can change the total meaning of the sentence.

Paralanguage has several component parts: Voice qualities, voice qualifiers, voice characteristics and vocal segregates.  Voice qualities – Voice qualities includes volume, rate of speech, pitch, tone, rhythm, pronunciation and enunciation.

 Voice qualifiers – Temporary variation in pitch, volume and rate of speech are known as voice qualifiers. If one is aware of the normal voice qualities of a person, it is easy to detect the voice qualifier in his speech. For example, someone who normally talks in a low, even tone, suddenly starts talking faster and louder it’s easy to detect that something is not quite right. The person may be conveying impatience, anger or excitement.

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 Voice characteristics – Audible sounds like sighing, laughing, crying, clearing the throat, whistling, etc. communicate some meaning. These are called vocal characteristics.  Vocal segregates – Fillers, words or sounds used to punctuate or pace sentences are called vocal segregates. Example – Fillers like ‘right?’, ‘you know what I mean’, ‘ok’, ‘so’.  Movement and body position  Kinesics – Developed by anthropologist, Ray L. Birdwhistell, it is the study of body movements, facial expressions and gestures. Kinesics includes mutual gaze, smiles, facial expressions, direct body orientation, etc.  Posture – The way people stand or sit reveals a lot about their personality and attitudes. Posture portrays confidence, anxiety, apprehension, hostility and several other emotions.  Gestures - Gestures are your hand movements. They are of various types. Three common ones are emblems, regulators and illustrators. Emblems are gestures that have a meaning that is understood by the public at large. Most of these are culture specific. Regulators are gestures that control the communication exchange. Example patting on someone’s back (this may encourage the person to keep talking). Illustrators are gestures which go with what is being said. Example ‘come and sit here’ will go with a nod of the head or a wave of the hand.  Haptics - Is the study of touch as a part of non-verbal communication. Touches that form a part of communication are handshakes, back slapping, high fives and a pat on the back. Such behaviours are called as ‘adaptor’; they disclose the intentions or feelings of a communicator. The meaning conveyed from touch is highly dependent upon the context of the situation, the relationship between communicators and the manner of touch.

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 Eye gaze – ‘Oculesics’ is the study of the role of eyes in non-verbal communication. Eye contact indicates interest, awareness and participation. Gaze includes looking while one is talking or listening, frequency of glances, amount of gaze, and blinking of the eyes.

RESULT ORIENTED COMMUNICATION The success of any manager depends on his effectiveness when he communicates. The communication should be genuine and sincere. He should be empathetic to the opposite person. Any effectively delivered and understood message must be:  Structured mentally by the initiator  Prepared and sent so that it communicates specific and precise meaning  Heard by the listener  Understood and acted upon by the receiver

In this process a number of things could go wrong. The sender may not communicate what is intended and the receiver may filter the conversation.

Few steps in result oriented communication are as follows:  Take ownership

Communication breakdowns often occur and the recipient do not interpret the message the way it was intended. A common response is to blame the recipient. To be a result based communicator, you should care more about the execution of effective communication than blaming ineffective communication. You must ensure the receiver interprets your message correctly. This is not easy because, you have no control over their brain.

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 Set your intentions You must become more intentional about planning your important messages and must be able to prioritize the content of the message.  Interact with people openly and directly Direct and open communication with others fosters trust, enhances the flow of information and builds stronger relationships. Let people know about information that affects them well in time; respond promptly to questions and concerns. Give positive and constructive feedback.  Provide others with access to information People need up to date information about what is happening in their area of responsibility and in the organization in general in order to manage their own work effectively. Encourage them to recognize the help they need to complete tasks by giving them the access to appropriate information, to other people in the organization and to outside resources.  Receive feedback on communication effectiveness Feedback is essential in communication for knowing whether the recipient has understood the message in the same terms as intended by you whether he agrees to that message or not. The person receiving the feedback needs an opportunity to reflect and respond to what is being shared. PRECISION IN COMMUNICATION Expressing yourself fully involves choosing your words precisely. While you communicate you should leave no scope for vagueness or ambiguity. When we do not communicate precisely, our thoughts and what we actually communicate are poles apart. This could cause confusion in the other persons mind. This leads to miscommunication.

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COMMUNICATING FOR INFLUENCE Effective communication requires knowing yourself, your target people, selecting correct information, approach and planning the delivery of the message. Here are few techniques that would help you in influencing others through proper and effective communication.

 Show an interest – When we communicate we have to take genuine interest in the opposite person. Faking interest would not take you far. The other person cannot be fooled as he/she picks up your non-verbal cues.

 Talk positive – An effective communicator avoids negativity in his conversation. People are more receptive when the conversation or communication starts on a positive note.

 Be friendly - It involves showing an interest and being a good listener. Understand what your recipient likes or what interests him; make this the part of your conversation. There can be someone who is extremely interesting, friendly and desirable, but if person is unable to communicate that, then they aren’t going to influence people.  Disagreeing without being unpleasant - People may agree all the time and some people are vocal in their disagreements. This is when your communication skills are put to the test. You may disagree with people but how you communicate this disagreement makes all the difference. Instead of starting on a negative note and saying “No”, start of by saying “I agree with you and I also think…”

 Not insulting – It is important to remember the rule compliment in public but criticize in private. A good communicator can say whatever he wants to by using the right language, right tone and at the right time.

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 Correcting in the correct way - Influencing people is correcting them in the right way by pointing out their positive qualities, mentioning their areas of improvement and guiding them to overcome these.

CONVINCING DIFFICULT PEOPLE One of the greatest challenges for any person is to handle resistant and difficult people with grace and professionalism. There are some common mistakes professionals make when dealing with difficult people, and a few simple actions can ease the situation. It is important to identify what type of person you're working with and the rationale behind their actions. Understand that you might need to communicate differently with various types of people. The quiet person for example, might need some advance warning about meeting and some prompting in order to share ideas. The complainer wants some assurance that his or her voice will be heard and some action would be taken in response.  Keep calm and avoid arguing – Never argue. Even if there is no truth in the objections. Try explaining the same point again without losing your cool.

 Acknowledge the other person's objection – Don’t counter the objections being made, instead try to understand the opposite persons’ point of view. If you still need to do so, then use a cushion; example “I appreciate your concern…”

 Paraphrase and ask questions for better understanding - Paraphrasing means to repeat what someone has said in your own words. You could do this for the emotions involved in the communication process to. This encourages the opposite person as he feels you are paying attention to what he has to say.

 Stay in the adult mode - There are three modes of communication: Child, parent and adult. As per the situation one changes their roles. While dealing with difficult people, it’s important to stay in the adult mode. Don’t act like a parent or

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be judgmental or behave as a child or be defensive. Assume responsibility. Understand that it is fine, to agree to disagree.

 Communicate and explore alternatives - Never assume you can’t help someone. Think about alternatives and offer suggestions about what you can do, to keep the conversation on a positive plane. You could also directly ask them what they would like you to do. You may be surprised to find that they expect much little than what you thought.

 Find agreement – Try to find an agreement or at least acknowledge that you appreciate the person’s perspective. Worst case scenario, agree to disagree.

 Keep the lines of communication open - Remember that 70 to 90 % of the message is screened by the receiver. Engage the person with whom you are communicating. Ask questions like, “Have you understood my point?”, “Do you have any doubts/suggestions?”

ACTIVE LISTENING Most people have this misconception that communication means only the verbal and non- verbal aspect are involved. However, it is listening skills that form a very important part of the effective communication process. All good communicators are effectively good listeners.

Many misunderstand hearing, to be listening. This is not the case. Hearing is passive while listening is active. When you listen it implies that you are completely involved. How does one become a good listener?  Pay attention

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 Make them aware that you are listening (eye contact, nodding, etc.)  Don’t judge the speaker  Respond, don’t react  Give feedback

BUSINESS WRITING A business letter serves the main purpose of communication between two companies, or within the company itself. This is extensively used in organizations as it can be recorded are referred to when required. 7 C’s of business writing A very common problem faced while writing business is that they are too long. They are sometimes difficult to understand and not written to the point. It therefore makes it essential to check the following C’s:  Clear

 Conversational  Convincing  Complete

 Concise  Correct  Courteous

Words to be avoided  Unfamiliar/Technical words – Use simple lucid language which is understood by the user. Avoid the unnecessary use of jargon and technical words.

 Long words - Use short words, they tend to be more easily digestible.

 Abstract words – It is hard to draw the line between abstract and concrete words, since all words have something of the abstract in them. In general, abstract words have greater number of meanings, so the reader would have a chance of interpreting them the way he/she likes. Concrete words are those that give your reader a precise mental picture.

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 Passive words – While writing, try to make use of the active voice, avoid the usage of the passive voice. It tends to show you are shirking your responsibility.

 Camouflaged words - Watch for these endings in the words you use (check the polysyllable words): -ion, -tion, -ing, -ment, -ant, -ence, -ence, -ancy, -ency. Most of these endings are used to change verbs into nouns and adjectives. In effect, they are camouflaged verbs. Get rid of them and strengthen your writing.

 Unnecessary words - Most business writing could do with a pruning job. To reduce unnecessary words, start with a clear idea of what you want to say. Revise what you have written and cut the unnecessary words.

BODY LANGUAGE Body language is the communication of personal feelings, emotions, attitudes, and thoughts, through body movements like gestures, postures, facial expressions, walking styles, positions and distance.

Interpretations of body language

Actions

Interpretations

Brisk, erect walk

Confidence

Standing with hands on hips

Readiness, aggression

Sitting with legs crossed, foot kicking slightly

Boredom

Sitting legs apart

Open, relaxed

Arms crossed on chest

Defensiveness

Hand to cheek

Evaluation, thinking

Pulling or tugging at ear

Indecision

Biting nails

Insecurity, nervousness

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Looking down, face turned away

Disbelief

Stroking chin

Trying to make a decision

Tilted head

Interest

Patting/Fondling hair

Lack of self confidence, insecurity

Tapping/Drumming fingers

Impatience

Touching, slightly rubbing nose

Rejection, doubt, lying

Rubbing the eye

Doubt, disbelief

Locked ankles

Apprehension

Head resting in hand, eyes downcast

Boredom

Open palm

Sincerity, openness, innocence

Pinching bridge of nose, eyes closed

Negative evaluation

BUSINESS ETIQUETTE Etiquette stands for ‘conventional rules of polite behaviour’. In work place we deal with clients, colleagues and supervisors, both inside and outside of the organization daily. A crucial part of successful business relationships is to be respectful to everyone in the proper way, and to always behave in the appropriate manner. Business etiquette covers a very wide range of competencies, like:  How we behave as an individual

 How we make use of the communication tools available  How we behave in the team and within the company  How we deal with external business contracts

In business settings the first impression is extremely important. The first impression is repeated each time we interact with the same person. Conversation and tone of voice when we speak to our colleagues and associates are also noticed. Additionally,

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our conversations with clients/customers are important. Learning to respect and appreciate them is crucial part of etiquette in business.

Good social manners play an important and integral role in every family or friendly relationship. We also use some of our polished social manners in each business venture in everyday business life. Whether we are at a business meal or event, networking with clients, a job interview or even a sales call, etiquette is an important factor in business. It is equally important in every social situation. Handshakes When two people meet each other they shake their hands as a sign of meeting. There is a right manner in doing handshake.  There should be firm handshake, that represents the confidence  If a person presses down the palm of the other person while extending a handshake it indicates that the person has a dominant nature  If the person allows his own palm pressed downwards it indicates a submissive person  If both of them keep their palms perpendicular to the ground it indicates a neutral and balanced handshake

Thus, nature of a person can be easily judged by the way he shakes his hand with others. It becomes the core part of any corporate culture.

Introducing others Business etiquette rules for introducing people in a business setting are not much different from the accepted customs of a social setting. Unfortunately, the rules of introduction are not so clear.

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For example, in most social settings it is still considered customary for women to be introduced to men (instead of the other way around).

In both business and social situations, you should always introduce:  Younger people to older people  Junior ranking professionals to senior ranking professionals  Business contacts and staff to clients  Personal acquaintances and family members to business professionals when attending a business function  Guests to their hosts

In other words, as a mark of respect, introduce those of a lower status to those of a higher status.

Introducing yourself  Eye contact is important because it shows that you care and also shows self- confidence.

 It is important that you smile. Your smile is an icebreaker. It draws people to you because you will look approachable.

 Say your full name and immediately ask for theirs then repeat their name while saying “It's a pleasure to meet you Ram.” Repeating the name will help you remember their name and again, will also show you care.

 You may share a little bit of your background to start your conversation.

 Always introduce people by stating their title and full name first, and then follow with a brief relevant piece of information about the people being introduced.

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How to respond to an introduction When you are being introduced, respond genuinely. Repeat the person’s name at the end of the greeting. It serves two purposes: it shows respect and it also helps you to remember their name. You can also add a brief comment about the person. How to respond to an introduction if you do not know someone’s title? If someone was introduced to you without their title being mentioned (i.e., Dr., Mr., Mrs., Ms., etc.) you have to use some common sense and respond appropriately. EMAIL ETIQUETTE Few ways to make your business emails effective  Attractive - Business email should look appealing and attractive to the client or business. It should neither be too lengthy nor too short.

 To the point - Email should be stating the exact point to be discussed when sent to a business. It should not lay out a story or a legend.

 Abbreviations - Avoid using abbreviations when writing a business email. They can be easily misunderstood and can leave a bad impression.

 Classifying - Classify your email on the basis of importance i.e. high, medium, low or confidential. It makes easier for recipient to understand the importance of when to reply.

 Caps lock - Never use caps in the entire content. It indicated you are shouting. Few words with caps on are acceptable.

 Subject line - Subject line should be short yet informative. Subject line attracts the recipient in going through the email. It is as important as the subject matter.

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 Spell check - Always run a spell check before sending any email. Mail with poor grammar or spellings is widely unacceptable.

 Proof reading - Proof reading is another important task before sending an email. Check for all the grammatical or the fragment errors before sending an email.

 Sending a copy - The main recipient should be marked in ‘To’ column. If you want that the main recipient should know that the other people are also receiving the same mail then mark them on ‘Cc’ column.

 Response - Last but not the least, always wait for the reply before sending another email.

CONCLUSION

Studying this manual helps you understand the various aspects of communication skills and business etiquettes. Through this, you would have understood your style of communication and how you need to become more assertive. These skills help take you a long way in the organization. Getting your point across in the most effective way is what is needed and appreciated.

References: www.wikihow.com , www.expressyourselftosuccess.com , www.mindtools.com,body language – Hedwig Lewis

All copyrights & trademarks are duly acknowledged

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