3. WRITTEN COMMUNICATION
3.1 THE WRITTEN WORD
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
• Magazine and newspaper articles
• Directories ( including telephone directories )
• Wills and legal documents
• Company literature
• Business plans
There is a notion of “inter-textuality”...
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