Oral Communication

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Written Communication



3.1.1 Written Compared with Oral Communication

Written correspondence within or between organizations may take

many forms. The crucial difference between oral and written

communications will be the importance attributed to each. Oral

communication will be the basis for almost all negotiations,

liaison, team briefings and project management, but written

communication will be viewed as an endorsement of oral

statements, as having a permanence and contractual status.

Written communication can be used as evidence of previous

discussions and arrangements. It provides the history of a project

or collaboration. It justifies an activity and provides back-up and


E.g.: Written communication in an organisation is usually

considered to be more conclusive and binding compared to oral


We attach an enormously high value to written text. Once written

down, words are themselves pinned down, selected, representative,

deliberate, permanent and important in their own right in a way

that effective oral communication can never be.

If we consider graffiti, for example, it has a real permanence that a

joke or throw-away comment could never have. Words are

tangible, independent of their authors. We pay more attention to

even poorly expressed words in textual form than we would ever

give if they were spoken to us. The act of writing renders words

“true”. It is no wonder that copyright law and libel are major

issues of our time.

Written text makes information immediately available to an almost

unlimited audience simply by dint of reproduction. Photocopying

or printing processes can bring news media into our homes every

day which can be referred to again and again.

Whereas oral communication needs to be succinct and clear of

purpose, written communication has the scope to elaborate, to

justify and to manipulate information deliberately into particular

phrases to that many versions are available. When we write to

confirm arrangements, we have an opportunity to rephrase and

reinterpret meetings or oral communications in a way which we

feel is most suitable. There is a distance between the act of

speaking and the act of writing.

Similarly, in responding to oral communications we have been

influenced by body language, tone and appearance of the speaker,

and may not remember all the words spoken but gain an overall

impression of the success of the communication and have noted the

key points. A written communication is benefit of those

interpersonal skills and allows us to judge and interpret the actual

words in order to make a considered response.

3.1.2 Purpose of Written Communications

We use written communications most frequently to:

• Summarise key issues.

• Invite a response.

• Respond to other written/ oral communications.

• Establish a formal basis for the communication.

• Record the process of the communication.

• Provide a source of historical data.

• Express corporate strategy and ideology.

• Lend credibility to our utterances.

• Indicate our intent that the communication be viewed as


• Access a wider audience.

• Ensure the accuracy of the message to all parties concerned.

• Share goals, visions, understanding.

• Present information/data independently of interpersonal skills.

3.1.3 Forms of Written Communication

There is a whole range of formats where information is written


• Memoranda

• Letters

• Notes

• Magazine and newspaper articles

• Instruction

• Labeling

• Databases

• Books

• Directories ( including telephone directories )

• Pamphlets

• Wills and legal documents

• Company literature

• Postcards

• Signs

• Briefs

• Reports

• Business plans

There is a notion of “inter-textuality”...
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