BUSINESS COMMUNICATION

Concept of Communication.

Communication can be defined as the transmission of information, messages, ideas or knowledge from one person to another through a media or channel. When people are doing business, they need to pass information to one another. There must be a common language that enables people to understand each other. Communication serves this purpose. 

Communication can also be defined as the exchange and flow of information and ideas from one person to another. Communication involves a sender transmitting an idea, information, feelings and a receiver. Effective communication occurs only if the receiver understands the exact information or the idea that the sender intended to transmit.

Communication always involves some kind of message. This message becomes the subject matter of communication. A business that is not able to pass clear and definitive message for its personnel is bound to falter at one stage or the other.

Normally, communication is not possible without the involvement of two persons: the sender and the receiver. Communication includes everything that may be used to convey meaning from one person to another. Thus it involves both information and understanding. Communication is not complete unless the receiver has understood the message properly and the sender comes to know about the reaction and response of the receiver.

Communication that results to poor understanding cannot be termed as effective even though it has satisfied all other criteria of a good communication. Formal communication follows the formal structure/channels in the business structure. Communication takes both downward and upward courses. It flows downwards from a superior to the subordinates. It flows upwards from subordinates to superiors. It also flows between two or more persons operating at the same level.

 

Importance of communication to the business

Communication plays a very important role in business. Without communication, transactions cannot run smoothly in the business. Hence the business is most likely to collapse in the future without communication. Therefore, communication is very important in business since it plays the following roles;

  • Communication helps to create market for goods and services. This is due to the fact that a business advertises its products to the market. It is through the channels of communication that traders create awareness to the customers of the existence of such products in the market.
  •  Communication bridges the gap between producers and customers. It is through communication that producers are able to know what the consumer really want and the specifications of the goods they must produce to satisfy the customers needs.
  • Communication makes goods available where they are needed for consumption. Producers are able to supply the goods that are demanded in the market by the customers through communication.
  • Communication enhances mass production by ensuring market for the goods produced. The flow of information from the consumers to the retailers and manufacturer enables the manufacturers to know the goods which are highly demanded in the market.
  • Communication enables producers to get supplies of inputs such as raw material from different areas. It is through affective communication that producers get information from suppliers of sources of raw materials. This therefore ensures continuity in the production process.
  • Communication enhances better understanding in the organisation. Good internal communication improves the understanding between the employer and employees. In case of complaints, differences or conflicts within and outside the organisation, such issues can be solved through proper communication. In this way misunderstandings will be minimised.
  • Communication increases efficiency. Sound communication system enables the management to give instructions to the supervisors and subordinate staff about any changes in the policies of the organisation. As a result, this increases the efficiency of the workers.
  • Communication increases effective co-ordination. The employees can co-ordinate more effectively if there is a good communication system. For instance, if there is an increase in sales, the marketing department is able to inform the production department to increase production of commodities highly demanded by the customers.
  • Communication enhances better business prospects. If a good communication system exists within and outside the organisation, a company is able to attract more customers through advertisement and sales promotion.
  • Communication enables the company to avoid occurrence of losses and even mitigation of risks. It is through good communication that the management is informed about any breakdown of machinery or other shortages within its operations. The management can take immediate action on time so as to prevent any possible losses.
  • Many people are employed in the field of communication. For instance, we have journalists, radio presenters and news anchors.

Types of information

There are various types of communication. The main types are:

  •                Oral or verbal communication
  •                Written communication
  •                Audio-visual communication 

Oral or verbal communication

This is a form of communication which uses spoken words to pass information from one person to another. People pass information through face to face communication, telephone calls, radio calls and voice mails.

(a) Face to face communication

This is the form of oral or verbal communication where the parties involved talk to each other face to face.

Advantages of face to face communication

  •    There is immediate feedback.
  •    There is the aspect of personal appeal.
  •    There is no distortion of information since there are no intermediaries.
  •    The parties involved can persuade and convince one another.
  •    One is able to read the bodily expression worked as a result of the message.
  •    It is cheap since there are no equipment needed to facilitate the communication.
  •    It is suitable for sending messages which require a high degree of confidentiality.
  •    It is fast in conveying messages compared to other means of communication. Disadvantages of face to face communication

          No records for future reference.

          It is not suitable for people who are far apart.

          Not suitable for people with hearing or talking impairments.

          Alterations in voice and pronunciations might change the meaning of the message being conveyed.

          They can take a lot of time to convince one another.

          The message is prone to distortion especially if it has to pass through an intermediary such as a translator where one party does not understand the language of the other party.

          The respondent might be frightened or threatened, hence giving false information.

          In cases of bitter or angry conversations, the conversing parties may attack each other.

(b)Telephone conversation

Use of telephones is an advanced way of verbal communication. People are able to speak to each other even when they are very far apart. Examples of telephones include mobile phones, radio calls, office telephone and communal phones

 

Advantages of using telephones as a means of communication

  • One gets the feedback immediately.
  •              There is no delay when passing information from one person to another.
  • It is not possible to distort the information since it passes through few intermediaries.
  • It is fast in passing information compared to other means of communication.
  • It enables communication between people who are far apart like the people between continents.

Disadvantages of using telephones as a means of communication

   It might be expensive to purchase the telephones.

   There are no records kept for future reference.

   There is no confidentiality or privacy since the information can be tapped by the operators.

   It is not suitable for people with hearing and talking impairments.

   It can be time consuming in case where the receiver is far from the telephone.

   Some telephones such as mobile phones, need recharging of batteries to keep using.

Written communication

This is a form of communication through written documents such as letters telegrams, telex, fax, memorandum (memo) notices, reports, circulars, agendas and minutes. Written communication provides proof or evidence that the information was exchanged.

Advantages of written communication

  • The information can be kept for future reference.
  •    The letter or minutes used to send messages can carry a lot of information.
  •    The information written can be reproduced and sent to many recipients.
  •    Written information is not easily distorted since it has been typed .
  •    It can be kept as evidence, that the message was received.
  •    It is easy to modify the language depending on the type of the recipient.
  •    It is cheaper compared to other means of communication.
  • The material used has a long life span and therefore the information can last longer.

Disadvantages of written communication

    Written communication is only suitable for those who know how to read and write.

    It does not provide immediate feedback.

    In case the receiver does not understand the message in the letter or memo, he or she cannot ask questions or seek clarification.

    There is no personal appeal.

    Communicating parties have no room to persuade and convince each other.

    It might be expensive to maintain and keep the files in case the messages are required for future reference.

    It is possible only to those who can read and write. This the blind are disadvantaged.

Audio —visual communication

This is a type of communication that combines both sound and pictures to relay the information from the sender to the receiver. Examples of audio-visual communication include use of, television, films, videos and sirens.

Advantages of audio-visual communication

             Audio-visual communication can reach many people at once.

             It is more attractive and appealing than any other form of communication.

             Reinforcement of oral communication with pictures makes it more effective.

             The message passed on to the receiver may last for a longer time. It might have a lasting impact.

             Audio-visual communication can be used to pass messages to people who do not share the same language.

             Some of them such as television can be used to pass information to the hearing impaired.

Disadvantages of audio visual communication

  •                The message may take a long time to prepare.
  •                It is not suitable to convey confidential messages.
  •                It might be hard to interpret and understand some messages.
  •                People may interpret one message in different ways.
  •                There is no immediate feedback.
  •                It is expensive to use audio-visual communication.
  •                Audio-visual communication is only limited to given areas. 2.5 Factors influencing the choice of communication media
  1.        Cost

The cost of sending messages differ from one means to another. We have to use the cost effective means of communication.

  1.        Speed

It is always important to consider the speed with which the message is sent and received. Urgent messages require faster means of communication. Examples are e-mail and telegrams.

  1.        Reliability

This refers to the certainty that the message will reach the receiver in the right form, right time and at the right place. Face to face is an example of a reliable means since there is a chance to persuade each other and get an immediate feedback.

  1.        Distance

This is the geographical distance that exists between the sender and the receiver. Mean like telegrams, emails and telephones are suitable for long distance while poster and photographs are suitable where the distance is short.

  1.        Confidentiality

This refers to the degree of privacy carried by the message. Some messages are only intended for the receiver and should be kept as a secret. Letters are suitable to convey such confidential messages.

  1.        Evidence

Some messages require to be recorded for future reference while others are not. Written communication is the most effective means to convey messages which require to be recorded for future reference.

  1.        Accuracy

Accuracy refers to the degree of exactness of the message conveyed. Other means may not be suitable since the messages can be distorted during transmission.

(h)     Availability

The means of communication should be available both to the sender and receiver.

(i)       Type of the message

This refers to the nature and the content of the message. Some means are convenient for sending specific messages only. For instance, detailed and complex messages are sent through written communication, while short and urgent messages are sent through email, telex or telegrams.

(j)       Feedback

This refers to the response given by the receiver. If the response is required immediately, then face to face and telephone means may be used. Where feedback is not required immediately, other means of communication may be used.

Barriers to effective communication

Barriers refer to hindrances or obstacles. Barriers to effective communication simply are those obstacles that may distort, destroy or hinder the message from being delivered to the recipient or preventing the feedback from reaching the sender. Some of these barriers include:

a) Noise: Noise refers to the unnecessary sound produced or heard during a conversation. Noise mainly affects verbal communication. Both the sender and receiver may not understand each other well.

(b)        Language barrier: If the sender uses language that the receiver does not understand, then the intended message may not be delivered. As a result, there may be need to hire or use an interpreter who understands both languages of the sender and receiver.

(c)         Choice of channel: If the sender chooses a wrong channel for communication, say a letter sent to a blind receiver, then the sender may not get a feedback in time.

(d)        Emotional mood: If the sender sends a message to the recipient while in an emotional mood, the receiver may respond back, contrary to what was expected. The same may happen to the receiver when emotional.

(e)         Lack of concentration: Due to lack of concentration, the feedback may be false.

(f)         Time: Poor timing might not yield the intended feedback. An example is making an office call at night.

(g)        Literacy: Illiterate people may not be able to understand some written messages. As a result, communication may not be effective between the two parties.

 

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