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Concept and Definition
We are living in an age, which is full of challenges and competitions. To the best of our capabilities, we try to meet these challenges. A person might possess a number of good qualities necessary for fulfilling day-to-day obligations, but lack of effective communication abilities might make the task difficult. Today, it cannot be denied that an individual’s success or failure largely depends on his/her communicative abilities. Now let us try to understand what the term communication means.
The term communication comes from the Latin word communis, which means to share. Communication refers to the commonness or sharing of information, ideas facts, opinions, attitudes, and understanding. Communication essentially means transmission of commonly meaningful information. When we attempt to define communication we look at its dynamic and evolving nature. Communication has been defined in several ways, as people have different conceptions about it. Over the years it has been changing and interpreting differently by different eminent scholars.
Few of these definitions have been given as follows:
“Communication is the sum of all things one person does when he wants to create understanding in the mind of another. It involves a systematic and continuous process of telling, listening and understanding.”
Communication means the process of passing information from one person to another. It is the process of importing ideas and making oneself understood by others.”
“The transfer of information and understanding from one person to another person. It is a way of reaching others with facts, ideas, thoughts and values. It is a bridge of meaning among people so that they can share what they feel and know. By using this bridge a person can cross safely the river of misunderstanding that sometimes separates people.”
“Communication takes place when there is information at one place or person, and we want to get it to another place or person.”
“Effective communication is purposive symbolic interchange resulting in workable understanding and agreement between the sender and the receiver.”
“Communication is the broad field of human “interchange of facts and opinions.”
“Communication encompasses all forms of expression which serves the purpose of mutual understanding.”
“Communication is the transmission of ideas, emotions and skills through the use of symbols and graphs. It is the act or process of transportation that is usually called communication.”
-Berelso and Steiner
“Communication is the process by which we understand others and in turn endeavour to be understood by them .It is dynamic constantly changing and shifting in response to the total situation.”
“Communication is the process that links discontinuous parts of world to one another.”
“Communication is an exchange of facts, ideas, opinions or emotions by two or more persons”
– Newman and Summer
A great variety of definitions are available on communication. Various writers, social scientists, novelists, management associations, and others have defined communication in so many ways that a standard definition of communication does not exist. One need not surprise if communication is called a chameleon word—one that changes its meaning and application with each person who uses it.
Communication can be thought of as a process. The cycle of communication involves the following elements, which demonstrate the basic concept of communication process.
Sender —> Message -> Encoding -> Channel —> Receiver —> Decoding -» Feedback
Communication process begins with the sender. The person who conveys the message is known as sender or communicator. The sender initiates the message by
encoding a thought and attempts to achieve understanding and change in the behaviour of the receiver. Four conditions usually affect the encoded message : skill, attitude, knowledge, and socio cultural system.
The next element of communication process is message. It is the subject matter of any communication. It may involve any fact, idea or information. The message must be crafted with the receiver’s background in mind. If the message does not reach the receiver, no communication has taken place. The situation is not much improved if the message reaches a receiver but the receiver doesn’t understand it.
After message; encoding comes as a third step. It is the process in which the sender expresses and organises his ideas or feelings by using symbols, words, signs etc. which will communicate to the intended receiver. Encoding is necessary because information can only be transferred from one person to another through representations or symbols. The manager must have linguistic competence as well as organisational competence to encode the message properly.
Linguistic competence refers to language skills, analysis of facts and informations, usage of appropriate rhetorical devices, graphs, charts and diagrams. Organisational competence refers to the ability to organise the entire message in a logical and structured way. It is also the ability to sequence thoughts in a sentence and paragraph according to the need of the topic.
Communication channel is the media through which the sender passes the message. The choice of channel depends on the nature of the message. It is very important to choose proper time, proper place and a proper way from effective communication. It could be oral or written. When the message is long, formal in nature, the written channel (letters, reports, memos, faxes, proposals, notices etc.) should be preferred but when the message is personal or when the immediate feedback is important, oral channel (staff meeting, discussions, presentations, seminars, conferences etc.) should be selected. While, selecting a channel, the receiver’ background must be kept in mind.
The receiver is the person who receives the message. The communication process is incomplete without the existence of the receiver. It is the receiver who receives and tries to understand the message.
Decoding is the process by which the receiver interprets the message and translates it into meaningful words for the purpose of understanding. Decoding helps the receiver to derive meaning from the message. Decoding in oral communication is in the form of listening and understanding. Decoding in written communication is in the form of reports, instructions, manuals, professional messages etc.
Feedback is the last stage in the communication process. When the sender transmits a message, he expects a response. The reaction and response of the receiver is known as feedback. It may be immediate or deferred, written or oral, favourable or unfavourable. It helps in evaluation of what is right and what is wrong in a particular communication.
Business communication is a multi-dimensional, dynamic and interactive process that involves the effective transmission of facts, ideas, thoughts and systematic understanding of scientific theories and practical aspects.” Defined by Newstrom and Keith Davis.
Business Communication always has specialised content, specific audience, specific purpose, specific time and specific place.
Features of Business Communication
To communicate effectively in the business world is not an easy job. A good communicator should posses the following characteristics
In business communication whatever one has to say should be very brief, to the point, concise. Undue explanations and very lengthy sentences should not be used but message should be conveyed in fewest possible words. A brief message saves time and expense for both sender and receiver. Conciseness in business communication can be achieved by observing the following suggestions
• Avoid wordy expressions-wordy
• Avoid unnecessary repetition
• Organise your message properly
• Include only relevant material
Next important feature of business communication is clarity. Chinese Philosopher Confucius rightly remarked ‘In language clarity is everything’. To ensure clarity the message should be presented in a very simple manner. One should use accurate, simple and familiar words and short sentences. ‘What’ and ‘Why’ of the message should be clear in the mind.
As far as possible; information should be conveyed to others in a very simple and direct manner. To attain simplicity in writing; simple words and short sentences should be used. Complex sentences should be avoided. Simplicity addresses variety of readers and increases readability and utility of any business communication.
(iv)Logical Development of Ideas
The purpose of business communication is to communicate information in such a manner that everyone can comprehend it properly. This goal can be achieved to a great extent by proper sequence and logical development of ideas in a paragraph. A single idea must be conveyed in a paragraph. The hotchpotch of ideas in the same paragraph decreases the readability.
Consideration refers to the receiver. What we are going to convey should be understandable from the receiver’s point of view. While selecting subject matter and medium of communication, receiver’s emotions, sentiments, needs and interests should be kept in mind. To indicate consideration, the sender should focus on ‘you’ instead of T and ‘we’ and constantly ask himself what he would feel if he were in place of receiver.
It is the essential requirement of effective business communication. To bring concreteness in communication, the following guidelines should be followed:
• Use visual aids like graph, charts, tables and diagrams
• Use specific facts and figures
• Use active voice
It is very important to maintain accuracy in business communication. Inaccurate expressions may hamper the effect of business communication. Accuracy in terms of information, facts, figures, grammar, usage of words, spellings, punctuation marks needs to be maintained by an efficient communicator.
Objectivity is an another key factor to effective communication. Following are the ten keys to objectivity:
(a)Use appropriate passive constructions
(b)Use active forms sparingly.
(c)Avoid personal pronouns and expressions.
(d)Use factual words.
(e)Use formal words.
(f)Avoid colloquial and ambiguous words.
(g)Use appropriate scientific and exposition techniques.
(h)Use appropriate Jargons (Not too much)
(i)Use standard sentence structure with lots of variation in the kinds of sentences.
(j) Avoid conversational tone as it does not sound formal.
These suggestions make business writing more concrete, vivid, lucid and easy to understand.
The constant practice with above mentioned features will gain the communicator more mastery and as one gains more mastery; the communication will be highly effective.
Importance of Business Communication
The importance of business communication is better understood from the following points
(i)Helps to present the knowledge related to business world effectively
Business communication helps the managers to present and receive technical and professional information effectively. In this modern world when flow of information is very fast it becomes all the more important to communicate effectively and efficiently.
(ii)Best medium for technological advancement
Success in the modern world depends on the rapid changes in the technology. Only an effective system of communication can help to bring the latest technology.
(iii)Important means of interaction
Modern society is based on a wide platform. The whole world has become a global market. To unite the world, a continuous interaction among various components is needed. Communication is one of the important means of interaction.
(iv)Handles competition properly
Modern world is highly competitive in nature. To meet the challenges of competition we must have the adequate information of the competitors. It is only possible with the help of effective communication.
(v)Motivates scientists and researchers
An effective communication system guides the technocrats, engineers, scientists and researchers to present their ideas, views, decisions, suggestions, and feelings in order to achieve individual as well as social and organisational objectives.
(vi)Unified Individual Activities
Business communication helps in unifying the activities of individual as a work team by facilitating the managerial function of leadership, Motivation, Training and Development etc.
Distinction between Business and General/Literary Communication
Professional communication is different from the general communication in several characteristic features like purpose, nature, scope, content, language and in style. Let us now observe individually how these features make business communication different from general communication.
The purpose of business communication is to infirm, to instruct, to stimulate, to motivate, to explain and to persuade but on the other hand general communication aims at amusement.
The nature of business communication is scientific and specific while general communication is literary.
The scope of technical communication is limited. It relates to particular business, trade, industry, technology and science. But the scope of general communication is wider and relates to every aspect of life.
As far as kinds of business communication is concerned, it includes reports, letters, proposals, scientific papers, notices, memos, etc., while general communication is categorized into various genres-prose, poetry, drama, novel and short story.
All the professional, scientific documents, drafts, papers, reports, letters, notices, memos, proposals, advertisements etc. fall under the category of business communication while the content of general communication includes, poems, short stories, dramas, novels and books on different subjects of general interests. Content of business communication is specific; with specific purpose and specific audience.
The Language of business communication is marked with conciseness, clarity,
concreteness, simplicity while that of general communication is verbose, extravagant and pompous.