Business communication as a course
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  • 2. TABLE OF CONTENT INTRODUCTION 1. Facing today‟s Communication Challenges……………………………..5 a. Elements of Communication………………………………………………9 2. Business Communication…………………………………………………12 a. Internal Communication……………………………………………………12 b. External Communication…………………………………………………...15 3. Writing for Business Audience…………………………………………….18 a. The Writing Process…………………………………………………………20 4. Ways To Correspond At Work…………………………………………….22 a. Email…………………………………………………………………………22 b. Memorandum……………………………………………………………….24 c. Routine Letters and Goodwill Messages…………………………………25 d. Persuasive Messages……………………………………………………...26 e. Negative Message………………………………………………………….27 f. Business Reports And Proposal…………………………………………28 a. Informal report………………………………………………………….28 b. Informal proposal………………………………………………………28 Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………29 Bibliography………………………………………………………………………..30 2
  • 3. INTRODUCTION Business Communication is an important element in the life of businesses that aim to achieve greater result in the overall set out objective in an organization. Communication has been thoroughly investigated and expatiated in this essay to underscore the need for its relevance in the contemporary business set ups. Effective communication is a rock upon which every structure in the organization must endeavour to employ to pave way to proper human relations, team work and overall management of essential information among the various strata in the organization. The challenges that face today‟s communication in our organization and the significant relevance in the need to pay heed to it becomes a point of attention around the economic world. This space shall explore the various challenges and how they characterized our increasing quest to promote good interpersonal relations by acknowledging and appreciating the myriad culture that is found within multicultural/multinational organizations. The various appropriate media available in the dissemination of information among people either internally or externally have been dealt with and the core alibi in the choice of the appropriate medium is vividly discussed. The public is the eye of businesses and the important role they play in the organizational circle is imperative in the development of sustainable system that relate with them successfully using the innovative communication skill. 3
  • 4. This topic shall also expound appropriate oral and writing skills for audience consumption and how special attention needs to be paid in the use of words that attract intended feedback. Further to this, the focus shall be to uncover the correct business messages and how they are structured through proof reading and proper revision before it is extended for public/associate‟s consumption to receive the intended result. The reader shall also be taken through email etiquette and memorandum writing that suits the business operations. It‟s also important to add that comprehensive approach to a general communication and codes that help translate good understanding between various people from different background in an organization would be explained to cover the verbal, non verbal, written and other important forms that can aid a speaker to convey his or her intended message effectively. 4
  • 5. 1. FACING TODAY’S COMMUNICATION CHALLENGES Communication is an effective tool in a business organization that ensures coherent and harmonious cooperation among both the employees and the employer and all other stakeholders. A bad communication can cause antagonism and rancor among people if not handle properly in an organization. Chaos, disloyalty, misunderstanding, rumor could also be the order of the day if communication is not handled properly among the various workers in the business environment and every part of our human Endeavour. Various definitions evolved among experts of the communication relating their background to different issues in the world of life (Business, politics, economics, social etc) and ideas are still evolving as to what constitute communication. There is some school of thought that argues communication is one way, stemming from a sender of information whilst another school of thought disagree and based the argument on two-way end. The first school of thought shares certain basic elements in communication with the latter but extrinsically argues that, the processing of the information by the receiver should not form part of the definition of communication since the sender sends the information, the receiver decides to decode that information based on his or her acquaintance on that subject. 5
  • 6. In as much as I agree with the first school of thought to some point I believe, the second idea is much appreciable and elaborate enough to inculcate features necessary to score both academic and intellectual point. Before I expand the idea of communication to suit the business context let me quickly acknowledge what „Wikipedia-The free Encyclopedia) has to say about communication. Communication (from Latin commūnicāre, meaning "to share") is the activity of conveying information through the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals, writing, or behavior with microwaves. It is the meaningful exchange of information between two groups of living creatures. Pragmatics defines communication as any sign-mediated interaction that follows combinatorial, context-specific and content-coherent rules. Communicative competence designates the capability to install inter-subjective interactions, which means that communication is an inherent social interaction. One definition of communication is “any act by which one person gives to or receives from another person information about that person's needs, desires, perceptions, knowledge, or affective states. Communication may be intentional or unintentional, may involve conventional or unconventional signals, may take linguistic or non-linguistic forms, and may occur through spoken or other modes.” From the above definition we can come into a conclusion that communication is beyond one person‟s persuasion of information but rather a social interaction that enable responsibility from another to act on the shared idea, information, thought or suggestion. Communication process is hence complete if the recipient understood what the sender intends or meant. In this process of understanding the intention of the sender on the encoded message, the receiver comes into numerous state of 6
  • 7. discretion based on his or her culture, intelligence, capacity, religious, social and economic interpretations; these factors affect his/her ability to comprehend the information communicated to him or her. Culture A good communicator must be able to incorporate the cultural background during the encoding stage of his message. Certain cultural factors impedes and intentional understanding of messages that are put across by people basically because of the unique understanding of some people perhaps based on their attachment to certain cultural settings. The moral upbringing of people could affect the way they understand issues. A typical instance is when an American makes a statement like ‘it would be stupid on our side to ignore this project’ this remarks may be due to the understanding of the word „stupid‟ and how it is used most time in our social settings. An American who may just be looking at the real meaning of the word stupid as „unintelligent‟ may have offended a lot of Africans present during the pronouncement since such word is used only in a heated circumstances as invective. Whilst the prime reason which ought to persuade the listeners to accept the idea of pursuing the project, the original intention may be lost inviting different understanding due to the commonality of the word as an insult among some people. The cultural background of people impact on their understanding of spoken languages hence making the process of communication distorted. Most often, the process is incomplete for an unimaginable period of time and when this happens, the message refuses to cure or cause the change it is supposed to cause. 7
  • 8. Religious/Moral/ and Economic background can also affect the cycle of communication to be incomplete hence the choice of word of the sender must be determined by the receivers background in the aforementioned areas to enable consensus building among people. Like any other discipline, communication is considered effective upon various reasons subject to the responds from the recipient. Effective communication occurs when the desired result of the intended/ encoded message is achieved. There are various reasons why people communicate. Among the numerous reasons are a. To exchange an idea acceptable enough to elicit change among people b. To order or command a specific action c. To motivate and encourage people d. To persuade and generate action e. To inform and educate f. To sell and promote g. To negotiate for better condition of service and remuneration h. To embark on legal battle in court and other quasi judicial systems i. To defend and protect self image against defamers etc Until these effects takes place during or after a conversation, communication cannot be said to be effective. This is the more reason why mastering communication skills are imperative to our quest for survival as humans. Developing communication skills is critical to job placement, career advancement, job performance and the overall organizational success. 8
  • 9. a. Elements of Communication Communication has basic elements that must be completed to ensure it effectiveness. This could also be referred to as communication cycles. Below is the cycle: Sender Decodes Encodes Noise Message Channel Receiver Feedback Sender The sender in the cycle is the instigator of the ideas and the source of information needed to be transferred for a purpose. The sender has the authority over the information he/she wishes to transmit to the receiver therefore decide the method or channel or medium to use. Encoding The encoding stage is a very important stage that the sender engages in the organization of his or her thought to appropriately relay information at his or her disposal. At this stage, the sender considers certain factors such as the right medium, process and appropriate structures needed to control the message. It involves converting thoughts into either written or spoken words; translating thoughts into codes that could be understood by the recipient. Message The message is the information the sender is willing to transfer to the receiver. The composed thought into written or verbal form defines the message. Channel 9
  • 10. The channel to use for communicating a particular message is determined by certain factors. The sender must consider the importance of the message and how secure it is if disseminated using a specific channel. There are various channels that information can be passed. There are written, oral or verbal, nonverbal. Written – letters, emails, memo etc Oral or Verbal - face to face conversation, telephone etc Non- verbal - sign languages, facial expressions etc Receiver The receiver is the person with whom the message finally settles. The one who the message was intended for is the receiver. Noise Noise is simply anything that interferes with a message and hence prevents the listener from understanding the message. This could either be physical, physiological, psychology, semantic. Physical Noise: Physical noise is external to the speaker and listener. It includes things such as the sounds of road construction outside your window that make it difficult to hear what is being said. Psychological Noise: Psychological noise is mental interference that prevents you from listening. If your mind is wandering when someone is speaking to you, the noise in your head is preventing communication. Physiological Noise: 10
  • 11. Physiological noise is any physiological issue that interferes with communication. If you encounter any severe illness in your body system especially your head, it prevents you from concentrating on what people are saying since your attention may shift from the speakers. For example, if you have a migraine, it may be difficult to speak to others or listen to them when they speak to you. Semantic Noise: Semantic noise occurs when there is no shared meaning in a communication. This often occurs when someone is dealing with medical professionals, lawyers, scientists or others who use terminology that lay people may not understand. People of the same background in education, culture, and social understand themselves than another person from different background. Feedback Feedback is an important indication of the understandability of a message. The recipient comment on the message depicts his knowledge being shared by the sender in the communication process. 11
  • 12. 2. Business Communication Having looked at how important communication is, every institution is left with no option than to acknowledge the essential roles communication plays in the service to mankind and having a better deal with it only improve the well being of the society. Businesses have unique strategies upon which communication strives and it is only vital the ideals are modernized time by time to suit the current business adventure by the use of ICT equipment. Businesses communicate effectively by employing the tactics available under the circumstance of modern technology to achieve the organizational objective. There are various tools that are at the disposal of different organization to process information, however, the choice depend upon the intention and the desired result. Business Communication encompasses advertising, public relations, human relations, brand management, marketing, customer relations, consumer behavior etc. a good communication skills is able to inform the public about the existence of business, hence its mission and vision sold to the public. Communication is either internal or external in the business setup. a. Internal Communication 12
  • 13. Internal Communication operates within the organization among the employeremployee, manager-subordinate, staff-staff etc. Illustration: 1 Employer Employer c A Employee b Employee Employee Employee Illustration 1a  To employ  To instruct or direct or order  To induce explanation  To inspire and motivate  To re-communicate vision and mission Illustration 1b 13
  • 14.  To share ideas  To propagate or distribute rumor or gossip  To inform Illustration 1c  To report or submit  To suggest ideas or innovations  To request favors/improve remuneration/better working conditions Illustration 2 Manager Manager a c Subordinate b Subordinate Subordinate Subordinate Illustration 2a  To supervise or administer through motivating  To assign responsibilities to staff  To correct wrong impressions  To reprimand  To reinforce shareholders policies 14
  • 15. Illustration 2b  To share ideas  To propagate or distribute rumor or gossip  To inform Illustration 2c  To report or submit  To suggest ideas or innovations  To encourage during hard business times This illustrations have demonstrated the numerous impart of communication in an organization. Most importantly, there cannot be progress without these many core exchanges in the business, hence internal communication is the lifeblood of every organization due to its capacity to drive home the demand of the overall objective of the business. b. External Communication External Communication otherwise refers to the exchange of information between an individual or group in organization with a person or group outside an organization. These outsiders could the shareholders, investors, customers, suppliers etc. An effective External communication enables the organization to have proper bargain with suppliers and other interest groups hence value for money. Coming back to the topic „facing today‟s communication challenges‟ I resolve to accept that, there are numerous factors that account to that. Taking my own financial institution as a case study 15
  • 16. The prime job my organization engages in is giving credit facilities to Government workers in a form of loan. Most people within the bracket accesses this facility to enable them pay their wards school fees, medical bills, buy land or properties, and embark on building projects and myriad of other vital essentials of life. Over the years, we have tried possible measures to offer excellent and quick service which the banks cannot offer due to the prerequisite for these facilities. The national operations are always employing promotions that could encourage our client to direct their entire quest for financial assistance to our office. In spite of all our effort to ensure effective service delivery, there has been one or more occasion which a lot of argument have arisen as a result of ineffective communication strategy adopted by management. Rumour normally becomes source of information giving way to fear and panic which most times deter a lot of employees to give of their best and or constructively criticize certain policies which the grassroots believe would endanger and scare off clients. One among the numerous startling communication lapses that is worthy of note is a promotion for our clients dubbed “FORTUNE 5000000” which basically implies that, any clients within the period of August to September 10th, who would access a credit facility of GH₡1000.00 and above would be given a bonus of GH₡100.00 as bonus. The term and condition for this offer is for the client to present a flier that was made purposely for this promotion. When the message finally hit the mail for all the branch officials, many understanding popped up with regard to this offer and the level of obscurity it has created in the minds of the sales managers rendered the promotion partially in- 16
  • 17. executable largely because of the fact that, the message lack clarity and created a fall short of intellectual reasoning among the entire branches. Some branches who had a good personal and unofficial relationship with the Chairman of the promotion found out through oral communication (telephone) and therefore were able to understand the intent and hence enjoy the promotion by making their clients partake in such never-happen event. The confusion that arose as a result of the mail with respect to the promotion is that, it is largely known by all and sundry in the institution that, most promotions goes to favor the field officers who have to walk under the sun all day to get to a prospective client who may need cash to settle some bills. They need to be rewarded and motivated in lieu of the client because the field officer is paid only commission based on the number of people s/he is able to bring to the office for loan facility. This pragmatic illustration indicated and implied that the previous knowledge of the sales managers and the field workers infused the interpretation of the mail hence rendered the promotion otiose. The national operations manager upon realizing the failure of the promotion decided to take a tour in all the branches to ascertain the cause of the failure realized it was largely as a result of miscommunication and provided the managers and the field workers the intent of the promotion. Relevance of effective communication in this respect: Intent of the promotion:  To encourage clients to see our loan as the best in the market  To beat competition among the financial market  To encourage the benefitted clients to recommend the company as the best credit worthy institution. 17
  • 18.  To promote value for customer service and relations  To introduce and provide efficient one stop shop for all financial needs to Government workers. With all these client- enhancing intention of the Chairman, the promotion was rendered ineffective due to the lack of proper organization of thought, laxity in the attempt to further enlighten and educate operators of the message, noise, educational/ cultural background, semantic barrier as indicated earlier 3. WRITING FOR BUSINESS AUDIENCE Writing for business audiences deserve a unique approach and specialization that would include all required and relevant information necessary for the consumption of the interested parties. The audience in this sense could refer to the kind of business and it‟s public. A manufacturing company that produces Baby‟s Diapers may have all mothers and family homes in the world as audiences or public, hence tailored made the message that would appealing to them. The appeal is to enable them patronize their products. Such a manufacturing company (aforementioned) first and foremost must undergo feasibility studies to discover relevant needs of mothers in the quest to handle the waste of their babies. This could be the kind of material that could better soap the waste of babies. As explained earlier, communication has both internal and external responsibility to adequately inform parties interested in the business pertinent information that would enable execute their task as expected of them. 18
  • 19. Before I proceed to underscore the structure of these writings, let us quickly look at some of the writing tools/channels appropriate for internal communication:  Memorandum (Memo)  Telephone  Face to face  Text message  Internet Chat or Social Media Chat viz Whatsapp, Yahoo Messenger, Google Chat, Skype etc. Before any of these channels are used, there must be a very important considerations or factors related to the significance of the message. Below are the factors to consider:  Availability: what channels either already exist within the organization or can be introduced effectively? What formal tool is already created by the MIS department of the organization? Is there any available business ethics are policy rules regarding information dissemination?  Audience: who are they, where are they based, how do they prefer to access information and how effective will the proposed channel be in reaching them and engaging them? If it‟s your boss, how close and cordial is your relationship with him, is he a tough kind of person who always read meaning of degradation into everything when there is a fall short of formal structures.  Objectives: what does the organization want people to learn, think, feel or do as a result of the message? What is the purpose of the message? Is it necessary to serve as evidence for future reference therefore needs to be secured for posterity? How relevant is it to your specific job? 19
  • 20.  Content: what is the context and substance of the message? (For example, sensitive messages may need to be communicated face-to-face, rather than by, say, SMS text message.) The content of the message is necessary to determine the tool that conveys it.  Timing: how urgent is the message? For example, communications in times of crisis which require quick dissemination of important messages. When there is fire outbreak at the fourth floor where sensitive equipment of the company are kept, even though, emails maybe the formal communication channels in the organization, it is not appropriate to use but telephone and or voice scream may help salvage the situation. a. The Writing Process  Analyze your audience  Research your information  Proofread for grammatical errors Analyze your audience: When writing for business audience, the message must be prepared with the audience in mind, purposeful and economical. The consumers of the message must be considered in the drafting of the message. Research your information: Having looked at the factors or considerations it becomes necessary to resort to technical writing skills by gathering information through accessing data electronically and the use of other research methods. Proofread for grammatical errors: 20
  • 21. Grammatical errors send a wrong signal to the reader and it is having the capacity to create a wrong impression about the writer. The message itself could be misunderstood or rubbished by the reader in any case of such errors and it‟s imperative that it is avoided. In order to win the day by getting the appropriate response from business audiences, one must improve s/her writing skills by adopting formal research methods. This includes searching manually for information, accessing data electronically and using information that you find directly by interviewing your sources. Better still, you can conduct scientific experiments that would unravel the core needs of the audience and with this the write up would be appreciated by the audience. According to Mary Ellen Guffey These grammatical measures must undertake to clear away any incidence of errors:  Eliminate wordy prepositional phrases, long lead-ins, outdated expressions and needless adverbs.  Eliminate fillers, repetitious words, and redundancies.  Revise for jargon use and avoid slang and clichés  Revise to include precise verbs, concrete nouns, and vivid adjectives. 21
  • 22. 4. WAYS TO CORRESPONDENCE AT WORK a. Emails: Emails are types of written communication that the world over uses to inform, share ideas and other internet transferable materials. Emails have made businesses to correspond at work and created a large platform for both the sender and the receiver to freely express themselves for intended result. Emails have connected the world to engage in all forms of businesses and schools are now possible on the internet as a result of the Information and Communication Technology. Email has come to transform manual letter writing to electronic writing (typing) which the latter was regarded decades ago as the most secure and evidentsensitive method of writing to people regarded as high profile in society. Certain etiquettes are observed when using emails at work and other field of operations. To write an effective email, the message must be concise with a 22
  • 23. single topic enabling the recipient to always refer when looking for the same message. EmailTray rightly put some basic elements to look out for when encoding and processing our thought to send business mail. This is referred to as Email Etiquette Rules:  Make it easy to read and understand your message As indicated earlier, a sender of a message and a receiver may vary in terms of understanding based on their cultural, educational and social background, it is important that emails that are sent recognizes the recipients ability in decoding the message. Usual words common to both users should be used and conciseness of the words and sentences should be enabled to render the reader clearer on the purpose of the message.  Use proper grammar, spelling and punctuation A message not properly organized in terms of grammar, spellings, and punctuation could render it meaningless. Spelling words wrongly could take the recipients so many minutes to fathom exactly the combining thought of the writer. Its good if words are correctly checked before the punch key is pressed for the message to be sent. Messages typed in ALL CAP connotes shouting on the receiver of the message and it is difficult to read whilst messages also typed in small letters could imply the intellectual deficiency on the part of the sender. Avoid using slang and other informal words which may not be at the disposal of the receiver such as ain‟t, wanna, whats up, gonna etc. 23
  • 24.  Be careful with styling and formatting Messages meant formal usage must abide by the standard format usually used to enhance readability and understandability. The type of font and the font size must be either Times New Roman or Arial and the 12 as size. In order to emphasize and draw more attention to a particular part of the message, the font size 14, underline or bold tools could be used. The positioning of these formatting tools also enables the reader to match lines to line with quick understanding.  Be thoughtful and polite Every beginning of the mail must begin with appropriate salutation like Dear Sir, Hello, etc and the end must also include a closing phrase like Best regards, Sincerely, Thank you, to signify closing remarks. The diction must always be sincerely polite and brief not to create wrong impressions.  Check it twice before you send Check your email before sending to see if you wanted to send an attachment but forgot to include it. Ask for permission before sending huge attachments. Make sure the Subject field in not empty. The subject line should reflect the main idea of the message. Make sure the address or addresses in the To: field are those you wish to send your message to. Spell-check your message before sending: a message with typographical mistakes can be treated as unserious or even be ignored. Before clicking Send, reread your email to make sure it is not emotionally charged or impolite. 24
  • 25. b. Memorandum Memo is the short pronunciation for memorandum. It is usually created by oganisations to quickly and officially disseminate information among the nook and cranny within an organization. Whereas Emails and Letters may be sent to outsiders of an organization, memos are there to serve the internal need to manage information among employees and the employer. Below is the general format for memos The Company‟s Letterhead (Name of Company and Address) Date of Memo To: The recipient of the memo From: Writer of the memo Subject: Title of Memo Body: Message Attachment (if any) Copy to any interested party (if the need be) Initials of the sender c. Routine Letters and Goodwill Messages With the various exercises at workplaces, there are certain undertakings that define the work done in various organizations. These activities are done on daily basis for the organization to run and they are called routine works. In the exercise of these activities, letters are written and some sort of encouragement and pleasantries are exchanged by the staff and clients of the 25
  • 26. organization. These day to day letters are referred to as routine letters and the pleasantries that encourage the clients are the good will messages. Some of these routine letters and goodwill messages include requesting information and action, ordering merchandise, making claims, responding to information requests, granting claims, letters of recommendations and other gifts and cards with goodwill messages. The card with goodwill messages could be the client‟s name and recognition of his or her birthday. d. Persuasive messages Persuasive messages are important in meeting certain demands for the organization. It is usually applied when an organization wants to request for favors or activate certain actions; carefully planned sales letters make claims and request adjustment. There is specific duty line bestowed on the writer to persuade when appropriate in order to:  Build interest with stakeholders  Obtain readers‟ attention and interest  Reduce resistance and motivate action A Greek Sophist in the early century taught and encouraged humanity to adopt persuasive skills in matters of mutual concern (in courts and public forum) that transcend basic facts. Aristotle acceded to this philosophy and argued that “We ought to in fairness to fight our case with no help beyond the basic facts… other things affect the result considerably owing to the defects of our hearers” he recognized that there were three basic elements in the act of persuasion:  Ethos – establishment of sender credibility, or believability. 26
  • 27. Aristotle recognized that, our appearances, stature and previous experiences in standing and in relation to events creates good impression hence, attaching and catching the conscience of people to believe in us. A sender who is able to establish a good and credible image and reputation of his or herself is the advantages of winning the game of believe of people.  Logos – appealing to reason. Appealing to reason is based on making rational arguments that touch the reasoning of people. This element is based on factual evidence that is capable of drawing a conclusion in favor of the sender. Persuasive argument in business writing usually consists of the following: a. A clear presentation of facts and inferences b. An objective analysis of this information c. Reasoned conclusions from the analysis d. And a proposed course of action based on these conclusions.  Pathos – appeal to emotions Whereas business communication generally does not deal with emotive issues, the client, customers, or the audience react emotionally to certain calls. It is hence important to know the areas that are strongly influenced by emotions and take advantage over it to the benefit of the organization. In conclusion, persuasive letter must be properly set out and clear to draw the heart of the reader to understand and act in favor in order to benefit the organization at large. e. Negative Messages Negative messages are used at a point when no option is at the disposal of the sender to persuade the audience. It is usually used when refusing requests, refusing claims, and announcing bad news to customers and employees. 27
  • 28. However, this is done with some degree of mildness and down tone to forestall further relationship with the customer. 5. BUSINESS REPORTS AND PROPOSAL A report is a formal account of transactions that have taken place within an organization presented for the consumption stakeholders. It can also be any informational work made with the specific intention of relaying information or recounting certain events in a presentable form. Reports can be classified as formal and informal depending on the recipients, situation and other factors. Informal report as against a formal report derives the distinguishing features from the length, formality, nature, recipient (as said earlier), format, style, coherence etc. My focus is on the informal classification which has specific need of the internal organization and its progress. a. Informal Reports: This report defines the project, gather data, use appropriate writing style, and compose effective headings and exhibit objectivity. There are six kind of informal report. These include:  Information and progress Report  Justification/Recommendation Report  Feasibility Reports  Minutes of Meetings 28
  • 29.  Summaries b. Informal Proposal: This is also called letter proposals which are usually two-four pages and contain six principal parts, which are listed as format. Informal Proposal has the following format  An introduction  Background  Proposal  Staffing  Budget  Authorizations Conclusion The underlining fact is that, businesses operate properly based on the priority place on their communication dexterity. Local, National and international organization strive their survival on communication. They may varying circumstances and hurdles the businesses over the world encounter but with the right communication out such the public relations, they always survive all odds. 29
  • 30. BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Joseph, A. D. (2008) Human Communication: The Basic Course"; 2. Mary E. G. Essentials of Business Communication. 6th Edition. SouthWestern College Publishing. 3. Peter H. Clive G. B. (2002) Business Communication. Rutledge. London 4. 5. Wikipaedia (Free Encyclopaedia) 30