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Achieving Success through Effective Business Communication

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Achieving Success through Effective Business Communication
Chapter 1 Notes
Achieving Success through Effective Business Communication
Learning Objectives
Explain how the business communication 2.0 concept is transforming the practice of business communication
Describe the five characteristics of effective business communication
Describe six strategies for communicating more effectively on the job
Explain what must occur for an audience to successfully receive, decode, and respond to messages
Explain four strategies for successfully using communication technology
Discuss the importance of ethics in business communication and differentiate between ethical dilemmas and ethical lapses
Getting Ready for Business Communication 2.0
Learning objective 1
Explain how the business communication 2.0 concept is transforming the practice of business communication
A couple years ago, business communication was largely defined by a publishing or broadcasting mindset
Externally – a company would release carefully scripted messages to a mass audience, with few/if any ways to respond
It is a “we talk, you listen” type of model
Mena Trott
A variety of technologies have enabled a new social communication model
The new model is interactive and conversational
According to Caroline Kealy (corporate communication specialist)
Traditional practices of “issuing messages through static, hierarchical and largely one-way channels are fading into obsolete” the audience is no longer passive, they are active in receiving the message
Business 2.0 is a way of describing the new approach to business communication
Based off web 2.0 – the second generation of WWW technologies (blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other social media tools)
The conversational and interactive social communication model is revolutionizing business communications
Practically every assumption about business communication needs to be reconsidered under the Business Communication 2.0 approach
In the book, we will learn about
Social networking technologies
Social media for short messages
Including blogs and podcasts
The challenge of negative information spread through social media
Social commerce and new approaches to persuasive message
Social bookmarking and tagging as research tools
Social media for longer message
Social media tools used in recruiting and job searches
The differences between business communication 1.0 and 2.0
Business communication 1.0 tendencies
Business communication 2.0 tendencies
One to many
Low message frequency
Few channels
Information hoarding
isolated conversation discussion permission bidirectional, multidirectional one to one, many to many influence high message frequency many channels information sharing dynamic egalitarian amorphous collaboration reactive responsive
Achieving Success in today’s competitive environment
Communication skills are essential for your success
To stand out from the competition, the best step you can take is improving your communication skills
A major advantage in your career:
Write well
Speak well
Listen well
Recognize the appropriate way to communicate in various business situations
Communication – the process of transferring information and meaning between senders and receivers, using one or more written, oral, visual, or electronic channels the essence of communication is sharing – providing data, information, and insights in exchange that benefits myself and the people with whom I am communication benefits of effective communication stronger decision making based on timely, reliable information faster problem solving, in which less time is spend on understanding problems and more is spent on creating solutions earlier warning of potential problems, from rising business costs to critical safety issues increased productivity and lower costs
“bad writing wastes time, and time is money”
Business writing expert Jack Appleman
Stronger business relationships
Clearer and more persuasive marketing messages
Enhanced professional images for both employers and companies
Greater employee engagement with their work, leading to higher employee satisfaction and lower employee turnover
Better financial results and higher return for investors
Effective communication strengthens the connection between a company and their stakeholders, customers, employees, shareholders, suppliers, neighbors, the community, and the nation
Stakeholders – groups affected in some way by the company’s actions
Communicating in organized settings
There are a variety of ways for businesses to communicate
Internal communication – between people inside a company
External communication – between a company and outside parties
Every organization has a formal communication network
Formal communication network – the way in which ideas and information flow along the lines of command in the company
The network mirrors the company’s organizational structure
Downward communication – flows from executives to employees, conveying executive decisions and providing information that helps employees do their jobs
Upward communication – flows from employees to executives, providing insight into problems, trends, opportunities, grievances, and performance
Allows executives to solve problems and make intelligent decisions
Horizontal communication – flows between departments to help employees share information, coordinate tasks and solve complex problems
Organizations also have an informal communication network
Often referred to as the grapevine or the rumor mill
Social media plays an increasingly important role in the informal communication network
Recognizing Effective Communication
Learning objective 2 describe the 5 characteristics of effective business communication
To make messages effective, they need to be practical, factual, concise, clear, and persuasive
Provide practical information
Give the recipients useful information, whether it is to help them perform a desired action or understanding a new company policy
If you look at the Six Apart’s company blog, you will see that every posting provides information that advances the cause of blogging in some way.
Give facts rather than vague impressions
Use concrete language, specific detail, and information that is clear, convincing, accurate, and ethical. When an opinion is called for, present compelling evidence to support your conclusion. If you are using an internal company blog to alert people to a potential problem, don’t just complain about the situation.
Present information in a concise, efficient manner
Audiences appreciate and respond more positively to messages that highlight and summarize essential points rather than messages buried under mountains of disorganized facts and figures.
Clarify expectations and responsibilities
Write messages to generate a specific response from a specific audience. Clearly state what you expect from audience members or what you can do for them
Offer compelling, persuasive arguments and recommendations
Show your readers precisely how they will benefit from responding to your message the way you want them to
Understand what employers expect from you
Employers expect you to possess a wide range of communication skills
These skills will help you advance in your career
Organizing ideas and information logically and completely
Expressing ideas and information coherently and persuasively – in oral, written, visual, and electronic media
Actively listening to others
Communicating effectively with people from diverse backgrounds and experiences
Using communication technologies effectively and efficiently
Following accepted standards of grammar, spelling, and other aspects of high-quality writing and speaking
Adapting your messages and communication styles to specific audiences and situations
Communicating in a civilized manner that reflects contemporary expectations of business etiquette, even when dealing with indifferent or hostile audiences
Communication ethically, even when choices aren’t crystal clear
Managing your time wisely and using resources efficiently
Understanding the Unique Challenges of business communication
Business is crossing international borders to market products, partner with other businesses, and employ workers and executives – globalization
As people/products cross borders, businesses are paying more attention to workforce diversity
Workforce diversity – all the differences among the people who work together, including differences in age, gender, sexual orientation, education, cultural background, religion, ability, and life experience
Companies realize that:
A diverse workforce can yield a significant competitive advantage by bringing new ideas an new communication skills
The more diverse their workforce, the more attention must be paid to communication
The increasing value of business information
Knowledge workers – employees at all levels of an organization who specialize in acquiring, processing, and communicating information
Examples –
Competitive insights
The more a company knows about their competitors and their plans, the better able it will be to adjust its own business plans
Customer needs
Most companies invest significant time and money in the effort to understand the needs of their customers, and this information needs to be analyzed and summarized in order to develop goods and services that better satisfy customer needs
Regulations and guidelines
Today’s businesses must understand and follow a wide range of government regulations and guidelines covering such areas as employment, environment, taxes, and accounting
Information has become one of the most important resources in business today
The pervasiveness of technology
Business communication today is heavily dependent on a growing array of technologies
You have to have a basic knowledge of skill to benefit from technology
The evolution of organizational structures
Organizations with tall structures may unintentionally restrict the flow of information; flatter structures can make it easier to communicate effectively
Tall structures – has many layers of management between the lowest and highest positions
Suffer communication breakdowns and delays as messages are passed up and down through multiple layers
Flat structures – reduces the number of layers. With fewer formal lines of control and communication in these organizations, individual employees are expected to assume more responsibility for communication
Goes from department to department
Organization structures
Matrix structure Employees report to two managers at the same time, like a project manager, and a department manager
They coordinate the workloads, schedules, and other matters which increases the communication burden on everyone
Network structure/virtual organization
The company supplements the talents of its employees with services from one or more external partners
Communication efforts are also influenced by the organization’s corporate culture
Corporate culture – the mixture of values, traditions, and habits that give a company its atmosphere and personality
Open climates encourage condor and honesty, helping employees feel free to admit to their mistakes, disagree with the boss, and share negative or unwelcome information
The growing reliance on teamwork
Working in a team makes you especially responsible for communicating effectively
A key reason that teams fail to meet their objectives is poor communication
Communicating more effectively on the job
Learning objective 3
Describe 6 strategies for communicating more effectively on the job
The 6 objectives:
Connecting with your audiences
Minimizing distractions
Adopting an audience-centered approach
Improving your basic communication skills
Using constructive feedback
Being sensitive to business etiquette
Connecting with your audience
Human communication is a complex process with many opportunities for messages to get lost, ignored, or misinterpreted
Viewing communication as a process helps you identify steps you can take to improve your success as a communicator
The communication process
The sender has an idea
A clear idea to portray
The sender encodes the idea as a message
By putting the idea into a message, you encode it
The sender produces the message in a transmittable medium
It can be oral, written, visual, and electronic
Selecting the best medium is also an important communication skill
The sender transmits the message through a channel
Many different communication skills
The way to deliver a message
Can be face-to-face, the internet, or through another company (method or system capable of delivering messages
The audience receives the message
As long as it goes through the channel, although can be ignored or misinterpreted
The audience decodes the message
Extracting your idea from the message
The audience responds to the message
The ways that the audience can respond to it
The audience provides feedback to sender
Giving feedback that helps to evaluate the effectiveness of your communication effort
Barriers in the communication effort
Noise and distractions
Multitasking can defer someone receiving the message
Internal distractions are thoughts and emotions that prevent us from focusing on incoming messages
Competing messages
Any message that is more compelling than yours can pull away the audience’s attention
Any human or technological interventions between the sender and the receiver
Spam filters or automatic filing of messages
People/companies you rely on to deliver the message can distort it or filter it to meet their own needs too
Channel breakdowns
A computer server crashing
Try to be aware of any barriers that can prevent your message from reaching their intended audiences
Inside the Mind of your audience
Learning objective 4
Explain what must occurs for an audience to successfully receive, decode, and respond to messages
How audiences receive messages
In order for an audience member to receive a message:
Receiver has to sense the presence of a message
Select it from all the other message clamoring for attention
Perceive it as an actual message – instead of being pointless noise
Five principles to increase your chances of success
Consider audience expectations
For most business communication efforts – following the expectations of your audience is the most efficient way to get your message across
Ensure ease of use
Do not make messages hard to find, access or read
Emphasize familiarity
Use words, images, and designs that are familiar to your audience
Practice empathy
Address their wants and needs, not yours
Design for compatibility
Make sure audience is able to access message, if they need adobe, it may not reach everyone
How audiences decode messages
Decoding a message to assign meaning to it is a complicated and often highly personal process
Decoding is influenced by culture, individual experience, learning and thinking styles, hopes, fears, and even temporary moods
Beliefs and biases influence the meaning that audiences extract from messages – perception
Selective perception – people distort the information, then rearrange your mental map
Individual thinking styles also play a factor
Objective analysis and clear logic, versus emotion and intuition
How audiences respond to messages
Audiences will likely respond to a message if they remember it, if they’re able to respond, and if they’re properly motivated to respond
The recipient first has to remember the message to act on it
Sensory memory
Short –term memory
Long-term memory
Then the message needs to be retrieved
Then they need to be able to respond and be motivated to respond
By explaining hoe audiences will benefit by responding to your messages, you’ll increase their motivation to respond
Minimizing distractions
Overcoming distractions by:
Using common sense and courtesy
Not sending unnecessary message
Not isolating yourself
Informing receivers of message priority
Communication in emotionally charged situations requires extra care
Adopting an audience-centered approach
Audience-centered approach involves understanding and respecting the members of your audience and making every effort to get your message across in a way that is meaningful to them
Known at the “you” attitude – instead of messages about “me”
You should learn about – biases, education, age, status, style, and personal and professional concerns of your receivers
Keeping your audience’s needs in mind helps you ensure successful messages
Fine-tuning your business communication skills
Working on your communication skills now, before starting or restarting your business career
Giving – and responding to – constructive feedback
Constructive feedback – focuses on the process and outcomes of communication, not the people involved
Also know as constructive criticism
Destructive feedback – criticizes with no effort to stimulate improvement
When receiving feedback, remain open to the criticism, it is a valuable opportunity to learn and improve
How to be constructive
Think through your suggested changes carefully
Discuss improvements rather than flaws
Focus on controllable behavior
Be specific
Keep feedback impersonal
Verify understanding
Provide your feedback in a timely fashion
Highlight any limitations your feedback may have
Being sensitive to business etiquette
Etiquette – the expected norms of behavior in any particular situation
By understanding communication etiquette, it can help you avoid needless blunders
Respect, courtesy, and common sense will get you through most etiquette challenges on the job
Applying what you’ve learned to the communication process

Using technology to improve business communication
Learning objective
Explain four strategies for successfully using communication technology
Communicating in today’s business environment requires at least a basic level of technological competence
Keeping technology in perspective
It is a tool, a means by which you can accomplish certain tasks
It is an aid to interpersonal communication, not a replacement for it
Do not rely too much on technology or let it overwhelm the communication process
Guarding against information overload and information addiction
Information overload results when people receive more information than they can effectively process
What is causes
Makes it difficult to discriminate between useful and useless information, lowers productivity, and amplifies employee stress both on the job and at home
In a business – you should separate need to know, from nice to know
An important step in reducing information overload is to avoid sending unnecessary messages
Information technology addiction –
Creates a craving the stimulation of being connected around the clock
If you do not disconnect, it may do more harm than good
Powerful tools for communicating effectively
Redefining the office
Wireless networks
Electronic presentations
Virtual meeting spaces
Unified communications
Electronic whiteboards
Wireless networks
Web-based meetings
Videoconferencing and telepresence
Shared workspaces
Voice technologies
Sharing the latest information
RSS newsfeeds and aggregators
Social tagging and bookmarking
Location and tracking technologies
Supply chain management software
Interacting with customers
Help lines
Online customer support
In store kiosks
Using technological tools productively
Managers need to help ensure that employee can productively use the communication tools at their disposal
Reconnecting with people
No matter how much technology is involved, communication is about people connecting with people
Making ethical communication choices
Learning objective 6
Discuss the importance of ethics in business communication and differentiate between ethical dilemmas and ethical lapses
Ethics – the accepted principles of conduct that govern behavior within a society
The difference between right and wrong
Ethical communication – includes all relevant information, is true in every sense, and is not deceptive in any way
Unethical communication – can distort the truth and manipulate audiences in a variety of ways
Plagiarism - Presenting someone else’s words or other creative product as your own
It can be illegal if it violates a copyright
Omitting essential information
Information is essential if your audience needs it to make an intelligent, objective decision
Selective misquoting
Distorting or hiding the true intent of someone else’s words is unethical
Misrepresenting numbers
Statistics and other data can be unethically manipulated by increasing or decreasing numbers, exaggerating altering statistics, or omitting numeric data
Failing to respect privacy or information security needs
Failing to respect the privacy of other or failing to adequately protect information entrust to your care can also be considered unethical (and is sometimes illegal).
Distinguishing ethical dilemmas from ethical lapses
Ethical dilemma – making a choice when the alternatives aren’t completely wrong or completely right
May lead to a grey area
Ethical lapse – a clearly unethical choice
Ensuring ethical communication
Responsible employers establish clear ethical guidelines for their employees to follow
Requires three elements
Ethical individuals
Ethical company leadership
The appropriate policies and structures to support employees’ efforts to make ethical choices
Most companies have a code of ethics to help employees determine what is acceptable
Companies sometimes have ethics audits too, to ensure ongoing compliance with their code of ethics
When there are no clear guidelines, ask yourself these questions:
Have you defined the situation fairly and accurately?
What is your intention in communicating this message?
What impact will this have on the people who receive it, or who might be affected by it?
Will the message achieve the greatest possible good while doing the least possible harm?
Will the assumptions you’ve made change over time? That is, will a decision that seems ethical now seem unethical in the future?
Ensuring legal communication
Business communication is governed by a wide variety of laws designed to ensure accurate, complete messages
Steps to ensure legal communication
Promotional communication
There are laws that address false and deceptive advertising, misleading or inaccurate labels on product packages, and “bait and switch” tactics
Contract – a legally binding promise between two parties, in which one party makes a specified offer and the other party accepts
Employment communication
Governs communication between employers for both potential and current employees
Job descriptions must be written in a way that doesn’t intentionally/unintentionally discriminate against women, minorities, or people with disabilities
Intellectual property
Includes patents, copyrighted materials, trade secrets, and even internet domains
Financial reporting
Cannot mislead with numbers
Negative comments about another party is defamation
Defamation – intentional communication of false statements that damage character or reputation
Libel – written, slander – verbal
1. Explain how the Business Communication 2.0 concept is transforming the practice of business communication.
Conventional business communication can be thought of as having a “publishing” mindset, in which a company produces carefully scripted messages and distributes them to an audience that has few options for responding to the company or interacting with one another. In contrast, Business Communication 2.0 uses Web 2.0 social media tools to create an interactive and participative environment in which all parties have a chance to join the conversation. Many of the old rules and expectations, including tight control of the content and distribution of the message, no longer apply in this new environment.
2. Describe the five characteristics of effective business communication.
To be effective, business messages must be practical, providing the information that receivers need. Effective messages either leave out personal impressions or support such opinions with objective facts. Effective business communication is also concise—it clarifies and condenses information in a way that helps the receiver see and understand the most important issues. Effective messages are also clear about expectations. They state precise responsibilities to eliminate confusion about who needs to do what next. Finally, effective messages are persuasive, when necessary, convincing others to accept the sender’s ideas or recommendations.
3. Describe six strategies for communicating more effectively on the job.
To communicate more effectively on the job, use six strategies. First, work to understand the communication process so that you can craft more effective messages. Second, reduce distractions in the work environment, including not sending unnecessary messages. Third, adopt an audience-centered approach, focusing on the needs of your audience and working to ensure successful transmission and reception of your messages. Fourth, fine-tune your business communication skills. Fifth, give feedback that is constructive rather than destructive so that others can focus on improvement—and be able to respond to constructive feedback about your own work. Sixth, be sensitive to business etiquette, thereby reducing the chance of interpersonal blunders that might negatively affect communication.
4. Explain what must occur for an audience to successfully receive, decode, and respond to messages.
For audience members to successfully receive messages, they must sense the presence of the message, select it from other sensory input, and then perceive it as a message. To decode messages successfully, they need to extract the same meaning that the sender encoded into the message. And to respond in a manner that the sender would consider successful, audience members need to remember the message, have the ability to respond to it, and have the motivation to respond.
5. Explain four strategies for successfully using communication technology.
First, be sure to keep technology in perspective. Make sure that it supports the communication effort rather than overwhelming or disrupting it. Second, guard against information overload and information technology addiction. Third, learn how to use technological tools productively. Doing so allows you to focus on communicating rather than on the tool being used. Fourth, by reconnecting in person from time to time, you ensure that communication is successful and that technology doesn’t come between you and the people you need to reach.
6. Discuss the importance of ethics in business communication and differentiate between ethical dilemmas and ethical lapses.
Ethical communication is particularly important in business because communication is the public face of a company, which is why communication efforts are intensely scrutinized by company stakeholders. The difference between an ethical dilemma and an ethical lapse is a question of clarity. An ethical dilemma occurs when the choice is unclear because two or more alternatives seem equally right or equally wrong. In contrast, an ethical lapse occurs when a person makes a conscious choice that is clearly unethical.

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