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INTRODUCTION TO BUSINESS COMMUNICATION
at individual level / society dependent upon the process of communication
physiology of the nervous system
aim and direction of approach complexity of the concept
communication: certain data (thoughts, ideas, knowledge, errors, emotions, experience etc) are transmitted in various situations
a certain quantity of information is conveyed from one person to another, from one system to another.(cf. Ayer 1955)
very technical descriptions exchange of information taking place between two systems (as in the case of telecommunication)
(Communication is) “the totality of procedures by which a brain affects another brain”
[not only oral and written communication, but also communication achieved by music, painting, theatre, ballet etc.]
human communication = a social event
a relationship between at least two persons who convey information to each other
the relationship is facilitated basically by language
C. Cherry: A group of people, a society culture, I would define as “people in communication”
language polarity two main processes involved – transmission and reception
sender encoding choosing among certain alternatives
receiver decoding involves selection, on the basis of both linguistic and extralinguistic signs
channel the material and psychological link between the two partners, enabling them to establish and maintain communication (Jakobson, 1960:353)
natural channels (when the receiver is a person)
artificial/technical channels (whose receiver is a machine)
Certain means to avoid the deterioration of the message, to repair it when damaged, or to re-establish the “connection” when this has been broken.
Linguistic communication six main factors/elements
The code principle/code model the oldest theory of communication (Fig.1).
From Aristotle to modern semiotics, communication has been conceived as a process of encoding and decoding messages.
the cybernetic concept of communication revised systematically
The inferential model proposed and developed by Sperber-Wilson (1986: 21-60)
Sperber and Wilson:
co-operation principle are essential to communication
Communication continuous changing of the interlocutors’ cognitive universe
requires anticipation of the communicative intention and co-operation in negotiating the meaning.
Communication in business
Investigating the partner’s cognitive universe
adapting yours to it
co-operation = major objective in any business communicative act (communicate effectively)
The need for effective communication
has been recognised for centuries. In parallel with the increase of commerce,
people started paying more and more attention to some other activities related
to it. Preoccupation for business communication led, for instance, to the
introduction of business administration and letter writing as formal university
What is business communication?
The specificity of business communication derives from the nature of the situation in which communication is performed. Thus, any communicative act established and performed in a business situation may be described as business communication.
Since business situations are extremely varied, effective business communicators should have the ability to select promptly, from a large range of communication skills, the ones that will prove to be the most adequate for a particular situation and will serve their interests best.
Effective business communicators - to select those communication skills that will prove the most adequate for a particular situation and will serve their interests best.
Recent studies necessity to organise training courses for developing
to cope with:
demands of the modern economy
written & oral communication skills
v oral response
v preparing formal reports
v writing business plans
v planning and writing strategies
changing people's attitude towards acquiring these abilities
communication = innate ability?
Good communicators' strengths:
they know what to communicate
how to communicate to different people in different ways
a system of measuring their performance (how much they have progressed)
Business schools should teach both formal and informal skills
Specific language functions:
making tactful refusals communication expertise
Needed to work consciously on these skills
to acquire a set of abilities associated with
high performance in business communication
ability to express oneself
ability to use analytical/conceptual skills
ability to write and speak creatively
ability to empathise with the partner (social self)
Exploiting the language functions
The abilities on which communication expertise is based on may be easier and better developed if business people learn how to exploit the elements of the communicative act and the functions related to them.
Emotive function ability to express oneself – induce a certain reaction; selection of vocabulary/structures/registers, etc)
Conative function correct level of approach; to get the partner involved; use of vocatives/ polite forms of address/titles)
Emotive + referential function ability to speak & write creatively; adequate reference to the business context = proof of increased creativity)
Phatic function empathy with the partner/ adapting to the partner
Phatic communication/ Rapport adequate use of those verbal and non verbal elements in order to create the atmosphere of sociability/ communion necessary to the development of co-operative relationships (business meetings & negotiations)
Oral and written communication
nature of the channel
roles of speaker & listener
open to linguistic varieties
(regional, social varieties, dialectal items etc)
negotiation of meaning
(both partners contribute to the building of the meaning; 'I mean', 'What do you mean by?', 'what I mean is …')
once the message has been sent, the writer cannot change the meaning
(cannot work out on it)
the processing of information = spontaneous
(less elaborate, sometimes, faulty; repetitions; starts & re-starts; hesitations; fillers; redundant elements; non-verbal = paraverbal elements, violation of rules, feedback, more informal, etc)
careful elaboration of the message; observance of rules
(complex syntax, reduced repetition, precise, concrete vocabulary, lack of immediate feedback, more formal)
interactional + transactional
Tends to establish and maintain relationship, to create a certain social atmosphere)
(orientation towards conveying factual information)
Business communication strategy – based on the following elements
The problem assess the circumstances imposing the necessity to communicate (speak/write)
strengths state of competition
weaknesses technological level
(of various people/depts) customers' attitude
to get approval
to get information
to give instructions
to make complaints
to make adjustments
to make proposals
to give details
to support the general objective
only one major objective for each piece of communication
make the message clear taken into account promptly
followed by immediate action
not clear objectives lead to misinterpretation
additional action/waste of time
The audience (reader/writer)
Action oriented towards the audience
do whatever necessary to help the audience
sensitive to the audience's needs
try to anticipate their reactions
adapt their communication to the type of the audience
I. general public
II. primary (decision makers; action takers, etc)
secondary (people affected by the decision taken)
The order of presentation
The way in which selected information & data are arranged to achieve the objectives
In business letters 3 levels where order becomes relevant
the overall message
The overall message: can be arranged
directly – most important ideas at the beginning of the message
indirectly – main objective at the end of the message
Arrangement depends on:
type of message
relationship with the partner
The paragraph - arranged such a way as to emphasize a particular point
direct the reader's attention to the main point
Topic sentence = the sentence carrying the core information;
all the other sentences will be related to it
A well-written paragraph should be;
coherent (it follows a definite plan)
developed (all sentences explain the main point)
unified (all sentences should be relevant to the main point)
The sentences: selection + combination of words
to achieve emphasis
to direct the reader's attention
Decision-making is essential in managerial activity.
Managerial activity includes decision-making.
Presentation of ideas: certain patterns
most important least important
The format – refers to the type of communication
Effective speaking – one of the most powerful skill you can possess
commitment bet. organisations/people
Business executives make speeches for:
all types of occasions
all types of audience
Most – within the organisations
Necessary: to begin performing before you reach that point.
THE ORAL PRESENTATION
First condition – to understand the why of the communication
Without the why of the communication
Most messages delivered in business have one of the three objectives:
purpose of message
purpose of message
to sell products & services
to support ideas/strategies
to motivate listeners to change behaviours
Celebrate – recognize/ acknowledge
an organisational theme
purpose of message
founder's day speeches
other congratulatory speeches
Understanding the Listener
Are they clients/ potential clients/ colleague/ strangers/ supervisors/ subordinates?
Are they similar in age and background or widely varied?
What do they want to hear from me?
What questions will they want answered?
What is their political, social, economic, cultural background?
Will they be friendly or hostile?
How many will be listening to me?
Your chances of success depend on your perception of the audience.
not all presentations need feedback (to celebrate an event, to acknowledge a merit, to recognize an achievement)
Feedback can be obtained:
by chatting with the listeners after the presentation (reactions, comments will show you if and how well they understood the message)
questions & answers sessions
(plan carefully so as not to lose control of the meeting)
Methods of Delivery
Reading from a prepared manuscript
Delivering from memory
Delivering extemporaneously relying on brief notes or clue cards.
Reading from a prepared manuscript
Purpose: to deliver an exact, structured message
Examples: keynote speeches
speeches with long-range effect (government officials)
sometimes, scripts are approved prior to presentation
and made available to the members of the press
memorizing the presentation word-for-word
may forget a line or sentence
may lose their place in the speech
Extemporaneous presentation – most popular, most desirable
materials are organised either in outline form or on note cards;
allows to monitor the audience’s reactions, to slow down, to elaborate on different points;
encourage the audience’s involvement;
contributes to building trust, confidence and commitment
The PMM Concept
Three basic components:
Person – individual making the oral presentation
Message – the presentation itself
Media – the presentation aids
The basis for the strategy for communicating orally
Every society has an unwritten standard by which its citizens are measured.
implies capacity to determine what constitutes that standard in your society.
Necessary: to analyse yourself objectivelly in terms of:
status (leader or follower)
Nonverbal elements used as standards for determining success
natural manners silent communicators
effective body language
a pleasing voice
good eye contact
an authoritative presence
of what we believe about one another is based on our observation & interpretation of nonverbal signals.
Most people will judge you by:
Stress = natural part of public speaking
Audience may detect how confident you are by observing your mannerism.
During oral presentations, it is wrong to:
v fold your arms across your chest
v lean against the wall/lectern other object
v folding your hands behind you
v placing your hands in your pockets
Natural, self-confident manners - recommended
Professional speaker's stance:
standing straight (arms/hands hanging loosely at your sides)
feet firmly planted and spread naturally
For effectiveness – natural gestures to emphasize a point.
Key word = natural
Good voice quality provides an effective presentation.
For feedback :
a tape recorder
a member of the family
the most prominent feature of your face;
use them to make contact with the audience;
try not to single out a particular person, but make eye contact with many people in the audience;
begin by looking ahead, rotate slowly from side to side, making eye contact with a number of different people;
lock eyes for a few seconds, but never long enough to complete more than 8-10 words;
let your eyes do some of the talking;
tailored clothing only (no frills, ruffles, straps or plunging necklines)
suits and blazers in plain, neutral colours
scarves for colour accents
skirts that are pleated, straight, or dirndl, with no extreme slits
basic dark pumps with medium or low heels
stud earrings; gold or pearl necklaces; avoid dangling bracelets
dark or grey suits; navy blazers and grey trousers
dress shirts in solid colours, mostly white, pale blue, or yellow
variety of ties in muted colours but in contrast to the suit . calf-length hose in dark colours to match suits
black or brown 1-inch belt
loafers, wingtips, or laceup shoes
avoid flashy cuff links, rings, or neck chains
3 basic parts:
the Takeoff gains the audience’s attention
introduces the theme
the Convincing Evidence data /facts /info. (used to support the claim)
the Windup closes the message
a summary of key elements
The Takeoff – sets the stage for the audience’s response
Reasons for being present:
Some participants desire information
Other participants are required to attend
Necessary: impact at the very first
Techniques for achieving effective beginning
The Message Core ('We are here to discuss the parking problems on the university campus')
Courteous Beginning – always effective
express your appreciation for the honour of speaking and then congratulate the listeners on any accomplishment relevant to the speech topic
Convincing Evidence – middle section of your presentation
Begin this section with:
concepts that are familiar to your audience ( esp. for controversial subjects)
gradually introduce more complex concepts
group important elements in logical sequence
support ideas with cases & incidents
use illustrations & examples
give your presentation the necessary depth but avoid boring, irrelevant details
v restate the central theme
v summarize the evidence
v propose some type of action
v do not introduce new evidence
The MEDIA – any aids used to enhance an oral presentation
Varieties of media
The MEDIA – any aids used to enhance an oral presentation
Varieties of media
Slides a really professional look
great impact on the audience
where quality, simplicity and mobility are demanded
beforehand, write on note cards what you intend to present on the board, so as to avoid making mistakes
do not write pertinent information on the board beforehand: will divert the audience's attention to the board.
v you can write information on one sheet at a time
v you can write information ahead of time and then flip the sheets as you discuss
v esp. useful for small group presentations
Handouts – a useful way of complementing your presentation
to take home some ideas
a summary of the presentation (key points)
to take some action
feedback (provide a checklist; easy for them to respond)
Business negotiations (I)
A business contract = result of discussions related to the future transaction
A business negotiation:
an organised process of communication
between two (or more) partners
they try to come to a mutually profitable agreement
to achieve their individual goals
the parties have their own distinct, even conflictual interests
the need to negotiate to achieve their individual goals
co-ordinate their actions
to resolve a conflict
it presupposes some common interests of the parties involved
achievement mutual satisfaction and profit;
negotiation is based on communication
information through language verbal, written and non-verbal messages
harmonizing of interests into a joint project
negotiation various forms to comply with the multitude of domains
The negotiating process predictable
prepared in advance
analysis of the context
anticipating the development of the negotiating process (by simulations, round tables and conferences)
establishing the negotiating team (specialists + good communicators)
drawing up a written plan for the negotiation
A business negotiation a specific type of verbal communication
Conditions (a discourse = a negotiation)
negotiation = a strategic interaction (modified goals)
settling and concluding
Types of negotiations:
win-win (cooperative) negotiations (mutual interests prevail over differences)
win-lose (conflictual) negotiations (gaining the most possible/ winning at all costs) a winner and a loser
Problem solving = based on the idea of reconciliating the parties' goals
Problem solving tactics:
increasing available resources
concession on low priority issues
minimising the costs of concessions
creating new mutually beneficial options
more likely to last (mutually beneficial)
able to improve the parties’ relationships
highly integrative potential
reasonably high aspirations
Parties firm about their goals
flexible regarding the means used to reach those goals
Contending/contention = one party tries to persuade the other party to agree to a solution that favours the former’s interests
an opening strategy replaced by problem solving at a later stage
poor results rather low-level compromises
Yielding = partners reduce their aspirations /goals
an effective way to close negotiations
a successful problem solving approach
Outcomes depressing if both parties use a yielding strategy
Inaction = used to increase time pressure on the other party
two main communication strategies
cooperative (integrative) strategies
The cooperative (integrative) strategy
building potentially long-term business relationships
focussing on mutual gain and multiple goals
understanding the positions of all the parties involved
effective listening minimizing misunderstandings
prepared to make concessions
share information in order to achieve agreement
the agreement may not resolve all the differences, but may avoid deadlocks
The cooperative tactics
offering information/concessions/ promises or commitments/ conciliation
expressing agreement with the opponent’s assistance and approval
Cooperative tactics “win-win” outcomes
The competitive (distributive) strategy
Competitive tactics include:
disagreeing to or rejecting the opponent’s position
changing the topic to refocus the discussion to one’s advantage
asking for concessions
accusing the opponent of negligence and/or bad faith
making threats and demands
making personal attacks against the opponent
advancing arguments against the opponent
Some other sources (Magureanu, 2002: 89) indicate: the collaborative strategy
negotiators can work together to reach agreement
exploring the interests of both parties
judging settlements by agreed tests and criteria
be aware of the specificity of each stage
use their own linguistic potential with maximum of profit
Each negotiation stage selective and combinatory abilities
Business negotiations (II)
greater chance of success
more comfortable acting within a normal, friendly relationship
free of additional stress more inclined towards compromise and agreement
This stage includes:
exchange of greetings
identifying the participants clearly by name
shaking hand with the members of the other team
invitation for having a cup of coffee or some refreshments
exchanging information about the job and the company
A sort of ritual: socialising, small talk or phatic communication
the phatic function of language
setting in of a relaxed atmosphere favourable to the development of the negotiation
the use of the greeting and introduction phrases
may vary slightly (first/ second meeting; one in a series of meetings)
I’m Mary Smith from Ing Bank.
My name is David Fay. I’m the Sales Manager at “Flamingo Computers”.
Introducing other people:
I’d like you to meet my colleague, Joe Dutson. He’s our new Marketing Manager.
Let me introduce my colleague, Jane Hughes. She’s our Finance Manager.
This is Dan Winthrop, head of R&D Department
Sometimes you have to check other people’s identity:
Excuse me. Are you Bill Snake from “Tropikana Drinks”?
Type of meeting
How do you do?
How do you do?
(I’m) pleased to meet you.
Very pleased to meet you.
It’s good/nice to see you again.
(It’s) good/nice to see you again, too.
How are you?
Very well, thanks. And you?
Something else we’d like to achieve is ……
Another objective we have in view is ……
Agreement on the procedure
checked by various questions:
Do you agree on this?
Is that OK with you?
Does that seem acceptable to you?
Does that fit in with your objectives?
within a question - answer pattern
Q: Could we agree on the order in which we will discuss these issues?
A: Yes, of course./Yes, indeed./ Sure/ Certainly.
in a more developed structure: suggestion + asking for agreement response
We could analize the equipment first and then the costs estimation.Does that sound OK?
Yes, that’s fine.
Exchanging information to make needs and interests clear to the other
avoid any source of ambiguity
We assume that you would like to help us.
We think that you are the right company to discuss this matter with.
It’s possible that we might be interested in increasing .
We are interested in increasing … .
We think that it would probably be suitable to …
We’d like to …… .
Working together for solving this problem could, I’m positive, be beneficial to both companies
I think we could help you.
clarifies the situation
brings additional information
choice between factual answers and non-comital answers:
Approximately how much concrete do you need for this work?
About 1,000 tonnes.
That depends on some other elements.
How important is this delivery to you?
It’s really our top priority.
Actually, it isn’t important at all.
Well, it’s something we can’t afford to ignore.
Generating options a very resourceful stage
suggestions can be made and analysed
intention of introducing and discussing options:
the idea of generating options
It seems to me that there are a number of ways we could solve this problem.
There seem to be several possibilities for working more closely together.
hinting to the process of generating options
I suggest that we list the options and then examine them one by one.
Should we brainstorm the options before we discuss any in detail?
putting forward options
I would suggest that …
How about delivering/ paying …
Have you considered the idea of …
suggesting analysing the options
I think we should look at each proposal in turn.
Why don’t we go through each of them in more detail.
Cooperative climate reactions to other people’s evaluations:
I think the strongest point in this case is … . So I’d say this is a very attactive option. Absolutely / Surely/ I totally agree with you.
Bidding and bargaining
the most active parts of a negotiation
proposals made are discussed, accepted, altered or rejected
proposal reason for making that proposal is stated first (it lowers the risk of potential objections)
pattern: “reason + proposal”:
Since our company is expanding into international markets, our proposal is to intensify language training.
Initial proposal followed by/ faced with other proposals:
Alternatively, we could hire bilingual staff
Expressing proposals: various patterns:
We propose that we should improve the transportation system.
We propose that we improve the transportation system.
Our proposal is to improve the transportation system.
Additional or alternative proposals may be put forward as follows:
Alternatively, we could …… .
Maybe a better solution would be to …… .
It could be a good idea to …… .
Perhaps, we could also …… .
Making proposals and reacting to them
understanding of what the other side is proposing
by focusing on the other party's interests
on the details of the proposal
So, if I’m right/ if I understand it well/ if I understand you correctly/ if I’m not mistaken, you want to ……
Exactly. Moreover, we could …… .
You mean a large order then?
When you say preferential delivery, do you mean the product will be delivered to us only?
2) Reacting to proposals and reasons shows how sympathetic or reserved someone is to the point presented:
We propose that we should launch it first on the Assian market
That’s certainly a good idea.
Maybe a better idea would be to launch it on the Russian market.
I’m not sure about that
Our Asian market will react to it promptly, which is a clear advantage
I see what you mean.
They usually support us even if there is a completely new product.
I appreciate that. However, we have to consider……
I take your point about the target consumer, but …… .
3) Offers adequate response
plain rejection (to be softened with “I’m afraid”) unconditional acceptance
I’m afraid that wouldn’t improve our work conditions.
I’m afraid, we couldn’t accept that.
b) rejection + alternative offer
We couldn’t possibly cover 30% of the loss in the first six months, but we would be prepared to do it at the end of the year.
c) acceptance + condition
Provided that you paid on monthly instalments, we would extend the maintainance period.
d) unconditional acceptance
That would be acceptable.
4) Making concessions
to move towards an agreement:
We would be prepared to … if you changed
We’ll agree to … if you change…
We couldn’t supply … unless there was…
We’ll be able to deliver … if there is…
If you were prepared to … I might be able to…
If you accept… I may be able to…
a, b, c
right side: still include conditions
left side: the offer/acceptance much firmer; negotiators are moving towards an agreement
Settling and concluding to summarise
I’d like to summarise our agreements/decisions/conclusions made so far.
Now, let’s summarise what we have already agreed upon.
Perhaps I could just sum up what we have already agreed on …
agreements and responsibilities
We’ve/You’ve agreed to…
As we have agreed, we’ll be responsible for the maintaining works.
We have decided that you’ll take care of the distribution channels.
We have already agreed that we will deal with all the orders coming from the local clients.
identifying the areas/points which have not been agreed on:
There are some points that haven’t been discussed/agreed upon.
There are some outstanding points.
The question of differred payment remains to be clarified.
identifying action to be taken:
You’ll get information about…
By our next meeting you’ll have worked out the new sales strategy.
We’ll set up a meeting…
Is there anything else you’ll like to add?
Have I covered everything?
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