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Effective Business Communication
Success in business ability to communicate inside & outside the company
When is communication effective?
Only when others understand your message and respond to it the way you want them to
manage your work flow
improve business relationships
enhance your professional image
other important benefits:
What do employers expect from you?
competent communication tasks
Specific skills advance in career
Characteristics of Effective Communication
„Knowledge may be power, but communication skills are the primary raw materials of good client relationships.” (project manager at NASA's Marshal Space Flight Center)
provide practical information
give facts rather than impression
clarify and condense information
state precise responsibilities
persuade others and offer recommendations
Communication in Organizational Settings
Communication = vital link bet. people / information
Internal & external communication
Formal and Informal Communication
A. INTERNAL COMMUNICATION
1. Formal Communication Network
Ideas & information along the lines of command (hierarchical levels)
Internal formal network information flows in three directions:
2. Informal Communication Network (a grapevine)
e-mail and instant-messaging systems
Grapevines most active (when employees think the formal network is not providing the information they want or need)
B. EXTERNAL COMMUNICATION
(carefully prepared letters, announcements, e-mail messages, face-to-face meetings etc.)
Planned communication among insiders (letters, reports, memos, e-mail, instant messages ) that flows the company’s chain of command
Planned communication with outsiders (letters, reports, memos, speeches, websites, instant messages and news releases)
Casual communication among employees (e-mail, instant messages, face-to-face conversations, and phone calls that do not follow the company’s chain of command)
Casual communication with suppliers, customers, investors and other outsiders (face-to-face conversations, e-mail, instant messages, and phone calls)
The Communication process
Understanding why Business Communication is unique
Bus. Comm. far more demanding than the communication we are involved in with family, friends, and colleagues
expectations are higher on the job
business environment complex
Factors that affect business communication:
globalization of business
increase in workforce diversity
increasing value of information
pervasiveness of technology
growing reliance on teamwork
evolution of organizational structures
Globalization of business and the increase in workforce diversity
The increasing value of Business Information
Knowledge workers at all levels of the organization
= employees who specialize in acquiring, processing and communicating information
Key areas are in view:
regulations and guidelines
Competitive insights: competitors’ strengths and weaknesses (competitors’ plans)
Regulations and guidelines
government regulations and guidelines: employment, environment, taxes, and accounting
The pervasiveness of technology
The evolution of organizational structures:
a) company structure relationships communication (nature, quality)
Solution: adopting flatter structures (reduce the number of layers)
(externalization of certain operations)
b) the organization's corporate culture
traditions that give a company its atmosphere & personality
attention to communication higher performance + more satisfying work experience)
The growing reliance on teamwork
teams offer many potential advantages:
increasing responsibility for communication
information: not conveyed automatically
to invent new communication processes
ability to respond to competition
Barriers to effective communication
Deceptive communication regrettably easy
Lecture 2 ORAL PRESENTATIONS (I)
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
Lecture 3 ORAL PRESENTATIONS (II)
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
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
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;
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 aid 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)
EFFECTIVE BUSINESS WRITING
Questions that govern the process of writing
Why do I write?
v gives the reasons why that piece of writing is produced
For whom do I write?
makes the writer concentrate on the reader's interests and needs
How should I write?
selection and combination of vocabulary and structure;
order to create sentences
to develop paragraphs
will enable the reader to interpret the message as intended by the writer
STAGES OF THE WRITING PROCESS
Evaluating the circumstances and the reasons for writing
Assessing the readership / audience
- anticipating the reader's interests; level of understanding
Deciding on the core information that should be transmitted and its relevant aspects
Working on the message and letting your personality show through
adapting your writing style to that particular communication situation
From another point of view:
planing your writing (why? and for whom?)
developing a strategy for writing
FACTORS THAT MAY INFLUENCE
THE QUALITY OF WRITING
SELECTION OF WORDS
uniqueness of individual writing style
a. Denotation and connotation
b. Concrete and abstract words
c. The tone of the message
d. Short or long words?
e. Familiar and unbiased words
DEVELOPING OF SENTENCES
1.a. Denotation and connotation
the two co-ordinates of the meaning of every word
words have potential meaning
the sender's intention and knowledge
the receiver's understanding and attitude
Denotation = the factual definition of an object / situation / quality / idea etc.
Connotation = how a person feels about a word
may have more than one denotative meaning
graphic symbol for a sound A, D, M
information / message sent to somebody
connotations vary significantly [sometimes antagonistic connotations may be given to the same word]
ignorant 'lack of knowledge' usually negative connotation
in legal disputes: positive connotation
My client was totally ignorant of any misuse of funds
When we write
starts to develop in childhood
through the whole learning process
during our whole life
b. it reflects
to help the reader interpret the message in the way we want
additional knowledge about words
1.b. Concrete and abstract words
denotation sends to tangible persons, objects, events, places
Examples: ball, house, excavator, smile, town etc.
specific in nature
The use of concrete words:
avoids misunderstanding (+)
cannot express fully what the reader intended (–)
Examples: professionalism, friendship, honesty, quality control, decision-making, debate
more difficult to express
to define them
to illustrate them
to place them in adequate context
to use them with caution
the reader should know exactly what we mean
a group of close friends
your office colleagues
specialists in the same field
majority, most, few, several – interpretation left to the reader
Business writing – clarity = a main objective
The amount the client has to pay is large.
1. The client has to pay $ 20,000.
The draft will be due in several months.
The draft will be due in three months.
We are ready to cover part of these expenses.
3. We are ready to cover 40 % of these expenses.
1.c. The tone of the message
Combination of words range of impressions tone of the message
Difficult task: it involves:
finding the most appropriate words
creating adequate context
dealing with positive and negative words
negative words problematic in communication
Examples: no, disappoint, unable, cannot, delay, defect
Examples: 'On inspecting the shipment, we were unable to find any flaw'.
negative words positive meaning
importance of context
to convey bad news
to say no with a negative word
depends on the relationship with the reader/partner
a. No complaint will be taken into account after 45 days.
b. Complaints will be taken into account if made within 45 days.
1.d. Short or long words
Requirement: writing in business is short and simple
Yet the use of short, simple words does not always guarantee clearness
to consider the reader first
to decide on the level of writing
Sometimes: short/simple words overused; lose their power
to use vivid/lively words
impact on the reader
Pursuant your request, we are enclosing herewith a copy of our catalogue.
Here is our catalogue you requested.
1.e. Familiar and unbiased words
words showing gender, age, race discrimination
to be more sensitive to people's feelings
to select words that express sensitivity.
Lecture 5 BUSINESS LETTERS
Communication between companies various means
telephones (mobile phones)
Phone messages, faxes or e-mail messages a certain degree of informality, that may not illustrate the real nature of the relationship
Consequently any important element in business, discussed or agreed upon the phone should be confirmed by an official, formal letter
For this reason (and for many others) writing ability appears in the top three activities of a business person
Businesses value effective communicators:
being an effective writer can enhance your professional career
the letters you write become your ambassadors
people in other departments of the company get to know you through your writing
your letters may get your superiors’ attention showing how effective or ineffective you are as a business communicator.
1. Main parts ofness letter
Fig. 1. Main parts ofness letter
Information about the sender:
the company’s name and status
telephone/fax number/ e‑mail address
There are various ways to express date:
The 1st of November 2001
November 1st, 2001
In business correspondence pattern recommended:
2 November 2001
2 November 2001
The reference line
Your ref. (“your reference”)
Our ref. (“our reference”)
helps tracing a letter in the file
the name of the person who signed the letter
the name of the typist
the filing code
Example: Your ref.: FW/ms/P
the letter was written/signed by Frank Warrington
it was typed by Mary Storm
is located in the file P (“petrol”) 25
'Our ref.' gives similar information about the sender
The inside address indicates the following:
name and address of the addressee
position in the company (e.g. The Supply Manager, The Chief Accountant etc.)
mail address – written exactly as given by your partner
Forms of address used to open business letters
the addressee’s status
the social distance between the partners
Dear Sir – when the addressee is a gentleman whose name we do not know;
Dear Sirs – used to address a company;
Dear Madam – the addressee is a lady whose name we do not know;
Dear Mr Robertson/ Dear Ms Watson – to address a person whose name is known to the writer;
Dear Bill used to address a person with whom the writer is on friendly terms
High officials or personalities:
(the addressee’s name is associated with)
titles deriving from appointment or honours
no special form of address for the Prime Minister and members of the Ministry
ambassadors are addressed as:
Your Excellency (formal)
Dear Mr Rodson or Dear Lord Bart
The subject line
below the salutation and underlined
tells what the letter is about
helps the reader direct the letter to the right person
facilitates fast processing of correspondence
Dear Mr Winter
The body of the letter the main text of the letter (the message of the letter)
the rule of the “ four Cs”
clear, concise, correct, courteous
divided into paragraphs
information distributed according to the role of each paragraph
The opening paragraph
makes connection between the subject line and the rest of the text (' above' or 'above-mentioned')
refers to the source of information, which is used as a basis for the letter you are writing
The following two or three paragraphs
the proper message of the letter
describe facts/give arguments/ make complaints/ make suggestions etc (according to the purpose of the letter)
The closing paragraph
emphasises the main idea of the letter
restate the writer’s point of view
conclusion of the letter
The last sentence of this paragraph often contains the formula:
We look/are looking forward to hearing/ receiving news from you
We look/are looking forward to your answer/reply/letter
The complimentary line
depends on the level of formality
the relationship between the writer and the addressee
directly related to the salutation
Differences between British and American English:
Dear Madam / Sir(s)
Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss Waters/ Dear colleague/friend/customer
Yours/ Best regards/ wishes/ Kind regards
Gentlemen:/ Dear Madam / Sir(s)
Best regards/ Cordially
The signature given together with
the writer's name
the writer’s position in the company
If the writer is not the person authorised to sign the letter:
the printed name is preceded by:
“p.p.” (per procurationem) or
p.p. Tom Richard
Enclosure line the last point of a business letter
abbreviated to Enc./encl.
gives the list of additional documents sent with the letter:
Encl.: 2 copies of the Monthly Statement
Types of business letter layout
Layout patterns/ styles:
v indented style
v block style
v semi-indented style
The indented style requires:
each line be indented as compared to the line above
closed punctuation (full stops, commas, etc) is used after each element and line of these layout items
the first line of each paragraph is indented
are placed on the right-hand side
The block style
all layout items are placed on the left-hand side
punctuation is omitted from all the items except for the main letter body
each line of the paragraphs starts in the left-hand margin
paragraphs are separated by double space
The two patterns differ from many points of view
However, the use of punctuation in the main body of the letter is compulsory in both cases.
Combinations of the two patterns:
semi-block style - (when some elements are placed in the centre of the paper or on the right-hand side)
semi-indented style indentation of the first line of each paragraph
full punctuation (inside address, salutation, complimentary line, signature block and enclosure line)
MAKING AN ENQUIRY
Complete the following letter and then answer the questions:
He is arranging a meeting
sorting out letters
giving a presentation
making an enquiry
making a proposal
Letters of enquiry asking for information
You make an enquiry in order to find out:
where you can find the product
how much you have to pay for it
if you can get a discount
what quantities of that product are available
how soon the supplier may honour your order
what similar products are available on the market
The paragraphs of an enquiry letter have clear functions:
(how you found information about the addressee: name, address, type of business etc.)
'We have found the September issue of
your magazine in the library of 'RomTour'-
'Mr. Steven Robson, Managing Director of FINDAS Corporation, one of our partners, has recommended your company to us and …'
'We have heard of your firm at the 3rd
Fair of Consumer Goods in
2nd ; 3rd
giving additional information about the situation;
giving brief information about your company;
offering to give further information;
launching the request.
are in the hotel industry and our chain of hotels is well-known throughout
'Our company is involved in road building.'
'We will be happy to offer you further details.'
'We would like your comments on the possibility of organising a joint conference.'
'We would appreciate if you would consider our proposal for a partnership.'
'Could you please send us your catalogue and price list?'
ending the letter (a formal sentence to close politely)
'We look forward to hearing from you.'
The general structure of an enquiry letter:
may begin directly with the request
information about the sender + his interest in the request made
has to indicate the source of information, which has facilitated the enquiry
Letters enquiring about people more specific
it shows clearly who you are enquiring about
describes the situation that has led to the enquiry (promotion to a top position, new employment, a prospective merger/partnership etc.)
REPLIES TO ENQUIRIES
A serious businessperson will always answer an enquiry.
positive an order or a contract will follow
Interested in the proposal answer it promptly!
Experienced business people use to move fast:
confirm the letter: orally, over the phone, by e-mail
a formal letter will be sent later
Read the enquiry reply letter below and then find in its text the parts that comply with the functions given in the list below:
a. confirming receipt of enquiry and thanking for the letter
b. expressing satisfaction for being contacted
c. giving specific information in answer to the questions in the enquiry
d. taking action
e. closing optimistically, expressing hope for future co-operation
2.a Complete the following sentences that are often used in letters expressing refusal:
We are __________ that we ___________ send the goods so soon.
We ________sorry ______ we ________ unable to help you ______ developing the project.
We are sorry to _________you that we __________invest in hotel industry.
We _________ that we are __________to grant you such a big loan without third-_______ guarantee.
We ____________ inform you _______ the C12 video projectors are _____ of stock.
We _________to inform you that the opening you are interested in was filled two weeks ago.
____________, you have failed to supply the goods as per the contract.
2.b Now fill in the paragraphs below taken from two letters of refusal:
'We …1… to inform you that we no …2… manufacture the projector type you are …3… in. Instead, we could …4… you a similar product at an affordable …5… and significantly …6… characteristics.'
' Thank you for …1… letter …2…20 June 2004 …3… about a bank …4….
After careful …5… of your documents, we …6… to …7… you that we are …8… to help you.
…9…, you do not …10… sufficient collateral, as it results …11…your documents.'
the general tone of the letter respect and understanding
to create a favourable atmosphere for a possible relationship in the future
confirm receipt of the enquiry letter
express regret (for not being able to help)
give reasons for your negative answer
offer an alternative (if possible)
end on a friendly, encouraging tone
Lecture 7 LETTERS OF COMPLAINT
Possible reasons/situations of complaint related
breakdown of the IT system
delays in money transfer
slow recording of documents
ineficiency in manipulating documents
delivery of the wrong goods
Conflicts are very frequent in business.
Partners interested in achieving and defending their interests and goals
When conflicts occur try to solve them amiably
without affecting the basic relationship
without damaging the professional image or position held in the business environment
keep the costs of the conflict to the minimum
An effective way:
let our partner know that something wrong happened
try to find out about the causes of the mistake that have generated our discontent
speak or write about them
3.a What functions do the following phrases (a -f) express?
a. 'We are ready to do that if you can offer us a 2% discount for the remaining shipments.'
b. ' We are writing with reference to the above-mentioned contract for repair works.'
c. ' We can presume that the contents of the second van were intended for another customer.'
d. ' However, we regret to inform you that …'
e. ' We are sorry to remind you that, if you do not replace the wrong goods within 10 days as from the receipt of this letter, we will be obliged to refer to the Penalty Clause stipulated in our contract.'
f. ' According to a previous agreement with you, we have placed the merchandise in our warehouse and we will keep it there until you can collect it.'
stating the subject; reference to documents (connection with the 'subject line', if expressed)
stating the reason of complaint;
suggesting possible causes of the problem;
stating the action you request your partner to take;
mentioning the action taken by you (if any)
making suggestions to solve the problem (special requests to compensate you for the losses suffered; mentioning penalties if the partners may fail to repair the situation).
3.b Explaining the problem
Writing letters of complaint a difficult task
explaining the problem a key function in this situation
make the reader understand his full responsibility for the negative consequences deriving from the mistake
the letter should convey the necessary encouragement for immediate action
try to maintain the previous friendly relationship
Striking balance between irritation and politeness
the writer's ability to select adequate language
Polite negative messages:
'we are sorry but we have to remind you that……'
'we regretfully inform you that……'
'we regret but we have to draw your attention to ……'
'we are sorry to inform you that……'
'we were surprised to find out that……'
Match the following meanings of the verbs in italics with the sentences below:
b. put in order
c. settling claims
d. in harmonious relations with other persons
e. change one's way of living, thinking, etc.
You have to be grateful to her for helping you to become a well-adjusted young man.
Please do not adjust your sets! (warning on TV screen)
Managers have to adjust themselves to new cultural contexts.
I've checked it myself. Our partner is right. We've delivered less than agreed. We have to send them an adjustment letter.
The device adjusts itself to changes in humidity.
An adjustment letter is an attempt to restore the relationship and maintain the company's good reputation. As a result, its tone should be polite and reconciliatory and should help to achieve the following functions:
confirm receipt of the complaint letter;
explain the cause(s) of the problem;
mention action taken so as the problem may not happen again;
reassure the customer;
state the steps taken in order to solve the problem;
if a solution was suggested, give your opinion by accepting it or coming up with a counterproposal;
apologise for the trouble caused and end optimistically.
Clients usually request compensation for the loss incurred:
an additional quantity
an extension of time for completion etc.
There are situations when their claims should be rejected
4. Choose a suitable paragraph from column B in order to reject complaints in column A:
1. the quality of the flour is not the same as that agreed on; the client asks for a 3% reduction in price for the whole quantity
a. We are sorry but we cannot accept your complaint. Our experts have established that you did not observe the maintenance instructions. Therefore, we cannot assume any responsibility.
2. the printers have been installed soon after unpacking but they do not work; the client wants the printers to be replaced
b. Our people have checked the whole lot carefully and found out that the fabric has been damaged during transportation. Consequently, we cannot be kept responsible as the damage occurred in transit.
3. the whole lot of fabric must be replaced as it is stained and torn
c. We have investigated your complaint carefully. Samples of the material have been taken and tested again. They comply fully with the standard agreed on. We regret we cannot accept your complaint and, consequently, no reduction in payment will be made.
4. after three month operation, five of the washing machines bought for the hotel laundry seem to have serious defects; the client claims that the machines be replaced
d. Our experts have looked into the matter and say that the printers have not been installed according to our instructions. Therefore, we can offer you technical assistance to correct the installing defects but we do not accept to replace them.
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