Q.1 List the importance of effective communication in the workplace.Answer:Communication is the nerve center of business today. As you go up the corporate ladder, youwill find that communication skills are required, more than technical skills. Communicationresearch has revealed that among the factors most important for managerial success,communication skills rank above technical skills. Several surveys conducted among people whohave been successful in their professions have indicated that communication skills are more vitalto job success than subjects taken in college.Communication has assumed even greater importance today, since the new model of business isbased on teamwork, rather than on individual action. Teamwork requires greater coordinationand communication.Communication is also required all the more in this age of information and technology. Withoutcommunication and human skills, technology will overwhelm an organization. Communicationhelps to make sense of technology and to manage all this information. For example,communication is required to explain a new computer program or software. While computers canperform routine tasks, jobs like responding to customers’ needs require a high degree ofcommunication skills.Effective communication serves the following specific purposes in an organization Greater Awareness of Organizational Goals and Teamwork: When there is open communication between superiors, co-workers and subordinates, there is smooth flow of information regarding the goals of the organization. Coordination between the different departments in particular, leads to greater motivation to work together towards achieving a common organizational goal, rather than working in isolation. Better Employer-employee Relationships: By listening to employees, showing empathy and giving them the freedom to express their opinions without fear of being repressed, a manager can create a climate of openness that leads to better work relationships. Employees will then feel more comfortable in approaching their superiors and discussing any matter with them. Problem-solving: Effective communication can help resolve conflicts between co- workers, work related and performance related problems. Face–to-face communication is especially suited for achieving this task, since it is one to one and highly personalized in nature. Improved Performance: Effective communication by managers at the time of appraising the performance of their employees can point out areas for improvement. A constructive review of performance, through which a manager gives positive feedback and counsels the employee, instead of criticizing him for poor performance, can motivate the employee to perform better. Stronger Link between Managers and the External Environment: Apart from internal communication within the organization, effective communication by managers with external audiences such as customers, government, bankers, media and suppliers
leads to a better rapport with them. A manager will be able to understand the needs of his customers, be aware of the presence of quality suppliers of material, of government regulations and of the expectations of the community at large, only through proper communication.Q.2 Explain the different aspects of non-verbal communication.Answer:The different aspects of non-verbal communication:1) Kinesics: This is the most often studied and important area of non-verbal communication andrefers to body movements of any kind. Different body movements can express inner states ofemotion. Facial Expressions can convey feelings of surprise, happiness, anger and sadness. If you meet a long lost friend and say “I’m very happy to meet you again”, but with a sad facial expression, it conveys the exact opposite meaning. Eye Movements, such as wide open pupils express feelings of surprise, excitement or even fear. The importance of eye contact with one’s audience was pointed out earlier. Direct eye contact is an indication of intensity and interest, while lack of it can convey feelings of nervousness and guilt. Gestures, such as movement of the hands while giving a lecture or presentation indicates a high level of involvement in what you are saying. On the other hand, shuffling of the feet is a sign of nervousness and speaking with one’s hands in one’s pockets is considered to be casual or even rude. Head Movements like nodding the head can convey interest, appreciation, agreement or understanding. Body Shape and Posture:Body shape is not within one’s control but can be stereotyped to convey certain meanings. For example, someone who is strong and muscular is generally thought to be athletic, as opposed to a person who is short and fat! Posture on the other hand is within our control. In formal settings such as job interviews or classroom settings, it is essential that you maintain an erect posture to convey that you are attentive, since slouching or a relaxed posture conveys a casual attitude. Physical Appearance: Our outward appearance, including the way we dress and the jewelry and make-up that we wear can convey an impression of formality or informality. Going to a job interview dressed in blue jeans or not sticking to a stipulated dress code at the workplace can convey that you are a rebel, non-conformist or a very casual person.Therefore, it is important to take care of your appearance, so that you convey the right meaningto others.2) Proxemics: Proxemics is derived from the word “proximity” or closeness and is thecommunication term for personal space and distance. The space and distance which we choose tokeep from people is also part of non-verbal communication. Each of us has our own inner andouter circles, which differ for different people.
Our inner most circle is an “intimate space”, into which we generally admit only select peoplesuch as family and close friends. Next comes a “personal space” which might include otherfriends and colleagues or coworkers. These two spaces involve communication of an informalnature.Most of us also have a “social and public” space, which includes official or workplacerelationships, where the communication is of a more formal nature.In a business context, it is more relevant to understand the concept of “fixed space” and “semi-fixed” space.Fixed space means that the physical features of the work environment such as furniture, roomsize and seating arrangement are permanent. This conveys an impression of formality. On theother hand, semi-fixed space means that certain elements of the environment can be changed forexample, the seating arrangement could be changed and this conveys an impression ofinformality.Sometimes, use of space at the workplace can determine leadership positions. For example,seating at the head of the table conveys leadership or authority. A round table meeting, however,conveys the idea of equality, since no one can be seated at the head of the table! All points of acircle are the same. That is why when heads of state meet (as in UN Security Council meetings),it is always a round table discussion, since all heads are equal.Space should therefore be used carefully in a work environment, so as to convey the rightimpressions.3) Time Language: This refers to the meaning or importance attached to time and variesbetween different people. One person may value time more than another. Similarly, timelanguage also varies across cultures.In most western cultures for example, punctuality is considered to be important. Arriving late fora business meeting is inexcusable. In other cultures, it is more relaxed and time is not given thatmuch importance.We convey messages to others through the time we spend on a work related activity or by theimportance that we give to time. Arriving early at work or for a job interview shows interest,involvement and seriousness. Spending time with an employee and giving him suggestions onhow to improve his performance shows interest and involvement in his career growth.4) Paralanguage: Para means “like” or “similar to”, therefore paralanguage means “likelanguage”. Of all the forms of non-verbal communication, paralanguage is closest to verbalcommunication. It refers to the tone of voice with which something is said. In other words, it is“how” something is said, and not “what” is said. The tone of voice includes the pitch (high orlow pitch), the pace (slow or fast) the emphasis on words and the volume (soft or loud) and canconvey different moods and emotions, as mentioned earlier in this unit.
Example: The statement “I practice good business communication” can be understood indifferent ways, depending on the emphasis on certain words. Saying “I practice good businesscommunication” means that I alone practice it above anyone else. On the other hand, saying “Ipractice good business communication” could be interpreted to mean that you communicateparticularly well in a business context, rather than in a general context.The important point to keep in mind regarding tone of voice is to avoid mixed signals, that is,making sure that what you say is consistent with how you say it.5) Physical Context: This refers to the physical environment or surroundings within which wecommunicate and includes two aspects – 1) color and layout and 2) design.Colors are known for their symbolic meaning and have associations with different feelings. Forexample, colors like black and grey are associated with death, mourning and negative feelings.Yellow and green are associated with more positive feelings. Of course, these can also varyacross cultures. The point to remember is that you can make the right impressions with use of theright colors.Layout in a work environment refers to the size of an office, or the arrangement of furniture.Design refers to the type of chairs, desks or carpeting. All these can convey status, formality orinformality.We have seen how the types of non-verbal communication outnumber the types of verbalcommunication. Non-verbal communication is an important supplement to verbalcommunication and can enhance verbal communication, if used in a positive way. The sendershould use the right non-verbal cues to convey a positive message, while the receiver shouldlearn to look for unintended messages conveyed by non-verbal communication.Q. 3 Write short notes on (a) Upward communication (b) Downward communication (c)Horizontal communication.Answer:A formal communication network is one which is created by management and described with thehelp of an organizational chart. An organizational chart specifies the hierarchy and the reportingsystem in the organization. Therefore, in a formal network, information is passed on onlythrough official channels such as memos, bulletins and intranet (email within the organization).The organizational chart implies that information can flow in any of three directions – vertically,i.e., upward or downward, and horizontally.1. Upward Communication:This may be defined as information that flows from subordinates tosuperiors. Some of the reasons for upward communication include discussing work relatedproblems, giving suggestions for improvement and sharing feelings about the job and co-workers.
This type of communication has both benefits and disadvantages. One of the biggest benefits isproblem-solving. Once a subordinate has brought a problem to his superior’s notice, chances arethat the problem will not recur, since the subordinate learns from his superior how to tackle it thenext time. Thus, his ability to solve new problems and therefore his managerial ability, improves.Another benefit that could arise from upward communication is that valuable ideas andsuggestions may sometimes come from lower level employees. Therefore organizations shouldencourage this kind of communication.A third benefit is that employees learn to accept the decisions of management and thereby workas a team.The biggest problem associated with this type of communication is that it may lead to“handing down” of decisions by superiors. When subordinates frequently seek the superior’sguidance, the latter may adopt an authoritarian approach and merely give instructions,disregarding the subordinate’s opinion completely.2. Downward Communication:This may be defined as information that flows from superiors tosubordinates. The most common reasons for downward communication are for giving jobinstructions, explaining company rules, policies and procedures and giving feedback regardingjob performance. A number of studies have indicated that regular downward communication inthe form of feedback given to employees is the most important factor affecting job satisfaction.Therefore organizations today are trying to encourage more of this type of communication.There are both benefits and disadvantages associated with this type of communication.Downward communication that provides regular feedback will be beneficial if the feedback orreview of performance is constructive. A constructive review is one where a manager “counsels”an employee, or advises him on how to improve his performance. On the other hand, adestructive review can destroy employee morale and confidence. Regular downwardcommunication also creates a climate of transparency or openness, where information is passedon through official channels, rather than through rumors.Thirdly, downward communication boosts employee morale, since it indicates that managementis involved in their progress.The problems with this type of communication are the danger of doing destructive reviews, asmentioned, and that of “message overload.” This means that superiors many sometimes burdentheir subordinates with too many instructions, leading to confusion.3. Horizontal Communication: This type of communication is also known as “lateral”communication. It may be defined as communication that takes place between co-workers in thesame department, or in different departments, with different areas of responsibility. For example,Sales Managers and Advertising Managers in the Marketing department, or Marketing Managersand Finance Managers.The reasons for this type of communication are for coordination of tasks, sharing of informationregarding goals of the organization, resolving interpersonal or work related problems andbuilding rapport.
The biggest potential benefit of horizontal communication is the sense of teamwork that iscreated. Regular communication of this type ensures that all co-workers work together towardsachieving a common goal in the overall interest of the organization. The biggest potentialproblem is that conflicts such as ego clashes are bound to arise, when co-workers at the samelevel communicate on a regular basis.In spite of these problems, horizontal or lateral communication has become more important intoday’s business scenario than upward or downward communication. This is because the“organizational pyramid” indicating the different hierarchies or levels in an organization hasflattened. This is illustrated by the diagrams given below.Q.4 Explain the different barriers to listening. List the differences between discriminativelistening and comprehension listening.Answer:Listening is not easy and there are a number of obstacles that stand in the way of effectivelistening, both within and outside the workplace. These barriers may be categorized as follows: Physiological BarriersThis was discussed earlier under the barriers to communication. Some people may have genuinehearing problems or deficiencies that prevent them from listening properly. Once detected, theycan generally be treated. Other people may have difficulty in processing information, or memoryrelated problems which make them poor listeners. Another physiological barrier is rapid thought.Listeners have the ability to process information at the rate of approximately 500 words perminute, whereas speakers talk at around 125 words per minute. Since listeners are left with a lotof spare time, their attention may not be focused on what the speaker is saying, but may wanderelsewhere. Physical BarriersThese refer to distractions in the environment such as the sound of an air conditioner, cigarettesmoke, or an overheated room, which interfere with the listening process. They could also be inthe form of information overload. For example, if you are in a meeting with your manager andthe phone rings and your mobile beeps at the same time to let you know that you have amessage; it is very hard to listen carefully to what is being said. Attitudinal BarriersPre-occupation with personal or work related problems can make it difficult to focus one’sattention completely on what a speaker is saying, even if what is being said is of primeimportance. Another common attitudinal barrier is egocentrism, or the belief that you are more
knowledgeable than the speaker and that you have nothing new to learn from his ideas. Peoplewith this kind of closed minded attitude make very poor listeners. Wrong AssumptionsThe success of communication depends on both the sender and the receiver, as we have seen inan earlier unit. It is wrong to assume that communication is the sole responsibility of the senderor the speaker and that listeners have no role to play. Such an assumption can be a big barrier tolistening. For example, a brilliant speech or presentation, however well delivered, is wasted if thereceiver is not listening at the other end. Listeners have as much responsibility as speakers tomake the communication successful, by paying attention, seeking clarifications and givingfeedback.Another wrong assumption is to think that listening is a passive activity, in which a listenermerely absorbs the thoughts of the speaker. On the contrary, real listening or active listening ishard work – it requires speaking sometimes to ask questions, agree or disagree with the speaker,give feedback, etc.Yet another barrier of this type is to assume that speakers are more powerful than listeners.Speakers are seen as being in command of things, whereas listeners are seen to be weak andlacking authority. According to communication experts however, the reverse is true. Listenersare as important and as powerful as speakers. In fact David J. Schwartz, writer and managementprofessor, emphasizes the importance of listening by saying “Big people monopolize thelistening. Small people monopolize the talking.” Cultural BarriersAccents can be barriers to listening, since they interfere with the ability to understand themeaning of words that are pronounced differently. The problem of different accents arises notonly between cultures, but also within a culture. For example, in a country like India where thereis enormous cultural diversity, accents may differ even between different regions and states.Another type of cultural barrier is differing cultural values. The importance attached to listeningand speaking differs in western and oriental cultures. Generally, Orientals regard listening andsilence as almost a virtue, whereas Westerners attach greater importance to speaking. Thereforethis would interfere with the listening process, when two people from these two different culturescommunicate. Gender BarriersCommunication research has shown that gender can be a barrier to listening. Studies haverevealed that men and women listen very differently and for different purposes. Women are morelikely to listen for the emotions behind a speaker’s words, while men listen more for the factsand the content.Example:A salesperson giving a demonstration of a new type of office equipment may be asked by two
colleagues if the equipment will work without any problems and respond by saying “Sure.” Amale user may take his answer at face value, whereas a female user may detect some hesitationin his voice. This is because the male user listens for the content of the message, whereas thefemale user listens for the tone of the message. Lack of TrainingListening is not an inborn skill. People are not born good listeners. They have to develop the artof listening through practice and training. Lack of training in listening skills is an importantbarrier to listening, especially in the Indian context.Lee Iacocca, former Chairman of the Chrysler Corporation in the US, was one of the first torecognize the need for organized training programs in listening skills. Today, many organizationsboth in India and abroad incorporate listening skills in their training programs. Bad Listening HabitsMost people are very average listeners who have developed poor listening habits that are hard toshed and that act as barriers to listening. For example, some people have the habit of “faking”attention or trying to look like a listener, in order to impress the speaker and to assure him thatthey are paying attention. Others may tend to listen to each and every fact and, as a result, missout on the main point. Yet another habit is to avoid difficult listening and to tune off deliberately,if the subject is too technical or difficult to understand. Sometimes, the subject itself may bedismissed as uninteresting, because the listener does not want to listen.Differences between discriminative listening and comprehension listening Discriminative ListeningThis is the most basic type of listening, whereby the difference between the sounds is identified.Unless the differences between the sounds are identified, the meaning expressed by suchdifferences cannot be grasped.Once we learn to distinguish between sounds in our own language, we are able to do the same inother languages. One reason why people belonging to one country find it difficult to speak thelanguage of another country is that they find the sounds similar and cannot understand the subtledifferences. Comprehension ListeningOnce we have learnt to discriminate between the different sounds, the next step is to try tocomprehend the meaning of these sounds. In order to do this, we require a dictionary of words,along with the rules of grammar and syntax. Apart from the verbal communication, we also needto understand the meaning conveyed by the speaker’s nonverbal behavior. This can be achievedby closely observing various aspects of the speaker’s body language and tone of voice.
Q. 5 Discuss the principles of business writing.Answer:Principles of Business Writing:Having dealt with writing in general, we will now go briefly into the specifics of businesswriting. As pointed out earlier, the language, style and tone of business writing is very differentfrom general writing. Therefore, we will examine these aspects in some detail. ToneThe important point to keep in mind regarding tone of voice is to avoid mixed signals that is,making sure that what you say is consistent with how you say it. The spoken words, howeverperfect, can convey a negative message, if the tone of voice is not consistent with what is said.Tone is equally important in conveying written messages, particularly business related messages.In written communication, tone refers to the way a statement sounds, which in turn, depends onthe choice of words. A sentence or statement may be grammatically perfect, but may convey anegative message, if the choice of words is wrong.ExampleYou failed to meet the sales target.The above statement has a negative tone, since it emphasizes what could not be achieved. Thesame idea could be expressed in a more positive tone, by emphasizing what could have beendone instead.ExampleWith a little extra effort, you could have achieved the target.The example shows that even a negative idea can be expressed in positive language through theuse of appropriate words.The tone of business communication should also be confident. You should avoid language thatmakes you sound unsure of yourself.Consider the following example:I hope you will agree that my qualifications match your job profile.
Beginning the sentence with “I hope” creates the impression that you lack confidence inyourself. It might be better to say “On reviewing my bio-data, you will find that myqualifications match your job needs in the following respects…”While it is important to be self assured, avoid sounding over confident and pompous.ExampleI am sure you will agree that our Company has the best reputation for quality and service.Instead, something like “We shall try to live up to our reputation for quality and service.” wouldbe more appropriate.Another aspect of tone is to sound courteous and sincere. This builds goodwill and good relationsand increases the likelihood of a message achieving its objectives. Avoid statements such as thefollowing:You sent your complaint to the wrong department. You should have sent it to the shippingdepartment.This sounds very discourteous and rude when responding to a customer complaint. Instead, itmight be better to say “We have sent your complaint to the concerned department, which will becontacting you shortly.”Sincerity also means avoiding exaggeration and flattery, especially when communicating withcustomers.Consider the following examples: 1. We are more interested in your satisfaction, than in making profits. 2. You are such a valued customer that we shall go to any lengths to earn your satisfaction.The first sentence sounds insincere, since the main objective of any organization is to makeprofits. The second sentence is exaggerated and unduly flatters the customer. It should be toneddown by saying something such as “We value your goodwill and will make quick efforts toensure your satisfaction.”Finally, the tone of business writing should be non-discriminatory. This means that the languagethat is used should not be offensive, irrespective of gender, religion or race.One way of ensuring this is to avoid “sexist language” by using neutral job titles, or titles that donot imply that a job is held only by a man.For example, the following titles should be used:“Chairperson”, instead of “Chairman”
“Salesperson”, instead of “Salesman”If the reader’s gender is not known, use a non-sexist salutation such as “Dear Customer, Investor,or Advertiser”, instead of “Dear Sir or Madam”Personal titles and salutations such as “Dr.”, “Professor”, etc. should be also are used whereverappropriate. Emphasis and SubordinationA business writer can be compared to an artist or a musician. Just like an artist or a musician triesto make certain elements stand out and others to get little attention, so too with the businesswriter. An important principle of business writing is to emphasize important ideas and todownplay unimportant ideas, so as to make the reader understand what you consider to besignificant. Generally, pleasant and important thoughts are emphasized, while unpleasant andinsignificant thoughts are subordinated or de-emphasized.Several techniques for emphasis may be used by the business writer: Place the idea in the first paragraph or in the last paragraph, in order to get attention. Put the word that you wish to emphasize first or last in the sentence.Example: Success comes through sincere efforts. Failure will result without them.Or, The event was a success. Without your efforts, it would have been a failure. Use the active voice to emphasize the doer of the action and the passive voice to emphasize the receiver of the action.Example: John made the presentation. (Active)The presentation was made by John. (Passive) Use words such as “primary”, “major” and “significant” to lay emphasis.Example: Cost is a significant factor to be taken into consideration. Use repetition.Example: The Tata Nano is an inexpensive car. Inexpensive to purchase and Inexpensive tomaintain.
Number the ideas, so as to rank them in the order of importanceExample: The main reasons for his poor performance are: 1) Lack of training 2) Lack of teamskills and 3) Lack of motivation. Use visual elements such as bold type, capital letters, bigger font size and underlined words to emphasize key ideas.Example: The Reva electric car is 25% LESS POLLUTING than other cars.Another point to be remembered regarding emphasis in business writing is to stress what isknown as the “you attitude”, rather than the “me attitude.” This means explaining the benefits tothe reader, understanding his situation and answering his unspoken question “How is it relevantto me?”Example: Instead of saying, “Our bank will be open 24 hours”, say “You will be able to availof round-the-clock banking service.” Write at an Appropriate Level of ReadabilityA third very important rule of business writing is to tailor your writing to your audience and tomake it simple enough for even a layperson to read and understand.As pointed out in an earlier section, readability is determined by the length of words andsentences. Robert Gunning developed what is known as the “Fog Index” or a readability formulato measure the readability of a piece of writing. According to this formula, the appropriatereading level in business writing should be between 8 and 11.Calculation of the Fog Index involves the following steps: Select a written passage of approximately 100 words. Calculate the average length of a sentence by dividing the total number of words in the passage by the number of sentences. Find the number of difficult words. A word may be defined as difficult if it contains three or more syllables (e.g. “communication”). Determine the number of difficult words per hundred, by dividing the total number of words in the passage into the number of difficult words, then by multiplying this figure by 100. Add the number of difficult words per hundred and the average sentence length. Multiply the figure obtained in step 4 by 0.4, to calculate the reading grade level for which the passage was written, or the Fog Index.Ideally, the Fog Index should be between 8 and 11 for most business writing, indicating that areader between the eighth grade and the eleventh grade should be able to understand it withoutdifficulty.
Q. 5 Explain the advantages of oral communication with the help of suitable example.Answer:Advantages of Oral Communication:Oral communication may be defined as a process whereby a speaker interacts verbally with oneor more listeners, in order to influence the latter’s behavior in some way or the other.Example: In a business context, a manager is doing a performance appraisal with an employee,or a sales manager making a sales plan presentation to his sales team. In the first example, themanager may point out areas for improvement and in the second case, the sales manager may beexplaining how to achieve new sales targets.Oral communication in a business context can take the form of meetings, presentations, one-to-one meetings, performance reviews and so on.Oral communication has some advantages compared to written communication. These include itspersonal quality, high interactivity, possibility of making immediate contact, instantaneousfeedback and control over the receiver’s attention.Oral communication was also classified into oral face-to-face communication (meetings andpresentations) and oral non face-to-face communication (teleconferencing, telephone and voicemail). While face-to-face meetings are more effective than non face-to-face communication inmost ways, they are expensive and impractical sometimes, due to the distance factor. Thanks toadvances in technology, meetings today can still take place without being face-to-face, throughteleconferencing. Teleconferencing allows participants at distant locations to speak andsometimes to see each other. Apart from the high cost and the difficulty in setting it up,teleconferencing has the same advantages as oral face-to-face communication.Example: Several retailers like Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, make use ofteleconferencing to keep their US headquarters in touch with their store managers worldwide.Some headhunters also make use of the facility to conduct preliminary interviews and shortlistcandidates based in other countries, before inviting them for a face-to-face interview.Many multi-national corporations and large Indian organizations also use this facilityextensively.In spite of its advantages, teleconferencing will not replace face-to-face meetings completely,since it is unsuitable for certain types of communication that involve brainstorming, negotiations,persuasion and problem solving.
Telephone communication, another form of non face-to-face communication, has the biggestadvantage of being able to contact a receiver who would be impossible to reach in person.Today, mobile phones have made it even easier to contact people who are on the move.Telephone communication also has a personal quality and permits the use of some non-verbalcues such as tone of voice, to enhance the communication.Voice mail is a type of telephone communication and is similar to an answering machine.Although it is generally inferior to speaking in person to the other party, it has some advantages.When you leave a recorded message, you can make your point felt and save time that might bewasted in exchanging pleasantries. Invitations can also be declined without having to give anexplanation or reason, or having the other person talk back. Thus, there is greater control overhow the message is composed and delivered. Besides, voice mail also makes it possible to keep apermanent record of the communication, unlike other types of oral communication. In spite ofthese advantages however, voice mail has not caught on in India.