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Business Comm

Why Business Communication?
Employers rank communication as top competency
Most professions require writing, now more than ever
Can earn more if solid communicator (Fortune)
After technical skills and GPA, communication is No. 1
Communication is skill-based – and can be improved
Models/processes teach critical thinking
Critical Thinking, Decision Making and Problem Solving
Identify and clarify, Gather information, Evaluate evidence, Consider options, & Choose best option and test it
Trends Affecting You in Today’s Workplace
Heightened global competition
Flattened management hierarchies
Expanded team-based management
Innovative communication technology
New work environments
Increasingly diverse workforce
Renewed emphasis on ethics
The Communication Process – Basic Model
1) sender has an idea
2) sender encodes idea in message
3) message travels over channel
4) receiver decodes message
5) (noise) feedback travels to sender (noise)
6) (little noise) possible additional feedback to receiver (little noise)
barriers that create misunderstandings
Bypassing, Differing frames of reference, Lack of language skills, Poor listening skills, Emotional interference, & Physical distractions
Formal Channels of Information Flow
upward flow
(coworker) horizontal flow (coworker)
Informal Channels of Information Flow: The Grapevine
Carry unofficial messages
Flows haphazardly
Can be remarkably accurate
Is mostly disliked by management
Thrives where official information is limited
Obstacles to the Flow of Organizational Information
Lack of trust, turf wars, fear of reprisal, Uneven reward systems, Closed communication climate, Little official communication, Top-heavy organizational structure, Long lines of communication, Filtering, prejudice, ego involvement, & Poor communication skills
Message Distortion
Downward Communication Through Five Levels of Management
1) written by board of directors (100%)
2) received by vice president (63%)
3) received by general supervisor (56%)
4) received by plant manager (40%)
5) received by team leader (30%)
6) received by worker (20%)
What is ethical behavior?
Doing the right thing given the circumstances
Common Ethical Traps to Avoid on the Job
1) *The false necessity trap:* convincing yourself that no other choice exists
2) *The doctrine of relative filth:* comparing your unethical behavior with someone else’s even more unethical behavior
3) *The rationalization trap:* justifying unethical actions with excuses
4) *The self-deception trap:* persuading yourself, for example, that a lie is not really a lie
5) *The ends-justify-the-means trap:* using unethical methods to accomplish a goal
Goals of Ethical Business Communicators
Abide by the law. Tell the truth. Label opinions. Be objective. Communicate clearly. Use inclusive language. Give credit.
How to Respond Ethically to Gossip
Run, don’t walk, away from anyone gossiping. End rumors about others. Attack rumors about yourself. Limit the personal tidbits you share about yourself and keep them on the light side. Avoid any form of coworker belittlement. Build coworkers up; don’t tear them down.
Requirements of Business Writing
*Purposeful* – it conveys information and solves problems
*Persuasive* – its goal is to make the audience accept the message
*Economical* – it’s concise and doesn’t waste the reader’s time
*Reader-Oriented* – it focuses on the receiver, not the sender
Why Communicate In Business?
To perform, persuade, promote goodwill
Guffey’s 3-x-3 Writing Process
*prewriting:* analyze, anticipate, adapt
*writing:* research, organize, compose
*revising:* edit, proofread, evaluate
Scheduling the Writing Process
Estimated Time Writers Should Spend on Each Phase of the Writing Process
*revising:* 50% (45% revising and 5% proofreading)
*prewriting:* 25% (thinking and planning 25%)
*writing:* 25% (organizing and composing)
Components of Prewriting
*Analyzing the task includes:* Identifying the purpose & Selecting the best channel
*Anticipating the audience includes:* Visualizing primary readers & Visualizing secondary readers
*Adapting to the task and audience includes:* Developing audience benefits & Cultivating a “you” view
media richness theory
describes the extent to which a channel or medium recreates or represents all the information available in the original message. A richer medium, such as face to face conversation, permits more interactivity and feedback. A lean medium, such as reports or proposals, present a flat, 1D message
Developing Reader Benefits and the “You” View
*Sender-Focused:* We are requiring all staffers to complete these forms in compliance with company policy.
*Receiver-Focused:* Please complete these forms so that you will be eligible for health and dental benefits.
*”I” and “We” View:* We are issuing a refund. I have a few questions on which I would like feedback.
*”You” View:* You will receive a refund. Because your feedback is important, please answer a few questions.
Three Phases for the Team Writing Process
*Phase 1 Prewriting:* team members work closely to determine purpose, audience, content, and organization.
*Phase 2 Writing:* Team members work separately
*Phase 3 Revising:* Team members work together to synthesize, but one person may do the final proofreading.
Adapting to Legal and Ethical Responsibilities
When communicating investment information, avoid misleading information, exaggeration, and half truths.
When communicating safety information, warn consumers of risks in clear, simple language.
When communicating marketing information, avoid statements that falsely advertise prices, performance capability, quality, or other product characteristics.
When communicating human resources information: Avoid subjective statements in evaluating employees; describe job-related specifics objectively. Avoid promissory statements in writing job ads, application forms, and offer letters.
Assume that everything is copyrighted.
Understand that Internet items are NOT in the public domain.
Observe fair use restrictions.
Four-Factor Test to Assess Fair Use
*Purpose and character of the use:* Is the item to be used for profit or nonprofit?
*Nature of copyrighted work:* Is the information necessary for the public good?
*Amount and substantiality of portion used:* Is the amount to be copied a small portion of a large work or a substantial portion of a small work?
*Effect on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work:* Does the fair-use copying interfere with the author’s potential profit from the original?
Eight Adaptive Techniques to Create a Positive Tone in a Message
1) *Spotlight audience benefits:* For example, the warranty starts working for you immediately
2) *Cultivate the “you” view:* For example, your account is now open
3) *Be conversational but professional:* For example, your report was well written, not your report was totally awesome
4) *Express thoughts positively:* For example, you will be happy to, not you won’t be sorry that
5) *Be courteous:* For example, please complete the report, not you must complete the report!
6) *Strive for bias-free language, avoiding gender, race, age, and disability biases:* For example, office workers, not office girls
7) *Use plain language and familiar words:* For example, salary not remuneration
8) *Employ precise, vigorous words:* For example, fax me, not contact me
Types of Formal Research Methods
Accessing information electronically on the Internet and in databases
Searching manually in books, articles, and other secondary sources
Investigating primary sources, such as interviews and surveys
Experimenting scientifically with control groups
Types of Informal Research Methods and Idea Generation
Looking in the company files, Talking with your boss, Interviewing the target audience, Conducting an informal survey, Brainstorming for ideas, & Developing a cluster diagram
Cluster Diagrams
In the center of a clean sheet of paper, write your topic name and circle it. Around the circle record any topic ideas that pop into your mind. Circle each idea. Avoid censoring ideas; record everything. If ideas seem related, join them with lines, but don’t spend time on organization just yet.
Alphanumeric Outline
Define the main topic (purpose of message) in the title. Divide the main topic into major components or classifications (preferably 3-5), combine small components into one larger category. Break the components into subpoints. Don’t put a single item under a major component; if you have only 1 subpoint, integrate it with the main item above it or reorganize. Strive to make each component exclusive (no overlapping). Use details, illustrations, and evidence to support subpoints.
For Receptive Audiences
Use the Direct Pattern to Group Ideas; that is put your main point- the purpose of your message- in the first or second sentence.
For Unreceptive Audiences
Use the Indirect Pattern to Group Ideas; that is to reveal the main idea only after you have offered explanation and evidence.
Creating Effective Sentences
Use short sentences.
Sentence length: 8 words Comprehension rate: 100%
Sentence length: 15 words Comprehension rate: 90%
Sentence length: 19 words Comprehension rate: 80%
Sentence length: 28 words Comprehension rate: 50%
Sentences under 20 words are most readable.
Use Active Voice for Directness, Vigor, and Clarity
*Direct and Clear in Active Voice:* The manager completed performance reviews for all employees.
*Indirect and Less Clear in Passive Voice:* Performance reviews were completed for all employees by the manager.
Drafting Effective Paragraphs
*Compose short paragraphs:* Paragraphs with eight or fewer printed lines are most readable – and will reduce the chances your audience will fall asleep!
Use Microsoft Word to Help You With Readability and With Writing/Revising
Comprehension decreases as sentence lengthens
The higher the score, the easier it is to understand the document.
The Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level rates text on a U.S. school grade level.
Revising Tips
*Replace redundancies* (expressions that repeat meaning or include unnecessary words).
Redundant: exact same vs. concise: exact or same
*Unbury verbs that are needlessly converted to wordy noun expressions.*
Buried Verbs: give consideration to vs. Unburied verbs: consider
*Drop slang* (informal words with arbitrary and extravagantly changed meanings that quickly go out of fashion)
*Eliminate flabby expressions.*
wordy: at this point in time vs. concise: now
*Limit long lead-ins* (unnecessary introductory words).
wordy: This is to inform you that Monday is a holiday. vs. concise: Monday is a holiday.
*Drop unnecessary opening fillers* (there is/are and it is/was beginnings).
wordy: There are over 50 visitors who commented on her blog. Concise: Over 50 visitors commented on her blog.
*Purge empty words.*
*Keep it simple by avoiding indirect and pompous language.*
wordy/unclear: It would not be inadvisable for you to affix your signature at this point in time. vs. Clear: You should sign now.
*Dump trite “business” phrases* (worn-out expressions).
trite: pursuant to your request vs. improved: as you requested
*Drop clichés* (expressions that have become exhausted by overuse)
*Control exuberance* (use of intensifiers such as definitely, quite, completely, extremely, really, and totally) to sound businesslike.
Designing Documents for Readability
*Choose appropriate typefaces.:* Consider sans serif for headings, signs, and material that does not require continuous reading. EX: Arial. Consider serif for body font. Notice that serif typefaces have small features at the ends of strokes. EX: Times New Roman
*Enhance white space by:* Adding headings, Including bulleted or numbered lists, Using short sentences, Writing short paragraphs, & Setting effective margins
*Ragged-right margins* provide more white space and improve readability.
*Use 10- to 12-point font for most body text.* For special effects consider: CAPITALIZATION, SMALL CAPS, Boldface, Italic, & Underline
*Use vertical lists* or enumerated items within sentences to improve comprehension: Use a numbered list for items that represent a sequence or reflect a numbering system; use bullets otherwise. Use enumerated items such as (a) and (b) within a sentence. Make the lists and enumerated items parallel.
*Use parallel construction* by expressing similar ideas in balanced, matching constructions.
Not parallel: The task force recommends buying a software license, creating software usage policies, and the benefits of the software should be demonstrated.
Parallel: The task force recommends buying a software license, creating software usage policies, and demonstrating the benefits of the software.
*Use numbered lists* to show a sequence: During the hiring process, follow these steps:1) Examine the application. 2) Interview the applicant. 3) Check the applicant’s references.
*Use bulleted lists* to highlight without necessarily showing a sequence. Consumers expect the following information at product Web sites: Price, Quality, Performance, & Availability
*Add headings* for quick comprehension. Types of headings to consider: Main headings, Subheadings, Category headings
What to Watch for in Proofreading
names and numbers, format, spelling, grammar, punctuation
How to Proofread Complex Documents
Print a copy, preferably double-spaced. Set it aside and take a breather. Allow adequate time for careful proofing. Expect errors and congratulate yourself when you find them. Read the message at least twice – once for meaning and once for grammar and mechanics. Reduce your reading speed and focus on individual words.
How to Proofread Routine Documents
*For reading messages on screen:* Use the down arrow to reveal one line at a time. Read from a printed copy, to be safer.
*In general:* Look for typos, misspellings, and easily confused words. Study the document for inconsistencies and ambiguous expressions. Look for factual errors.
Preparing and Composing Professional Email Messages
*Direct opening* begins immediately and amplifies the main idea.
Summarizes main idea and uses REQ to remind receiver that a response is required. Opens with receiver’s name to express friendliness and to mark beginning of message. Starts directly, amplifies the main idea. Explains and discusses the topic. Uses bullets to improve readability. Also, consider columns, headings, enumerations, numbered lists, and so forth. Uses appropriate closing (action information, dates or deadlines, a summary of the message, or a closing thought). Closes with full contact information
Tips for Formatting Email Messages
Write in complete sentences; use upper and lowercase.
Single-space within and double-space between paragraphs.
Include a complimentary close before your name when added formality is needed.
Smart Email Practices
Provide a clear, complete first sentence. Double-check before hitting the Send button. Treat your subjects as headlines. Resist humor and sarcasm. Limit any tendency to send blanket copies. Assume that all email is monitored. Use capital letters only for emphasis. Use attachments sparingly. Acknowledge receipt.
Top Ten Email Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Career
1) Responding when angry
2) Making address goofs
3) Forgetting a subject line or failing to change it to match the “thread”
4) Not personalizing your message (such as skipping the salutation and closing identification)
5) Including inappropriate content (e.g., indiscretions, off-color jokes, and statements you will later regret)
6) Forgetting to check for spelling and grammar
7) Thinking no one else will ever see your email
8) Copying and forwarding recklessly
9) Completing the “To” line first (a slip of the fingers can send a message before its time, and you can never take it back)
10) Expecting an instant response
Comparing Typical Positive Messages
*email:* Useful for both internal and external communication. Appropriate for short, need-to-know messages, setting up appointments, giving updates, and getting answers to specific questions. Inappropriate for sensitive or confidential issues, building trust, or bonding
*interoffice memos:* Useful for internal messages that require formality or permanent records. Appropriate for delivering instructions, official policies, reports, long documents, and important announcements.
*business letters:* Useful for external messages that require a permanent record and confidentiality. Appropriate for conveying formality, sensitivity. Can deliver a persuasive, well-considered message
Formatting Hard-Copy Memos
Start the dateline 2 inches from the top of the page. Put sender’s initials here. Align text after guide words. Leave two blank lines between Subject and the first line of the memo. Single-space within and double-space between paragraphs. Set side margins at 1 to 11/4 inches.
Successful Positive Messages Start With the Writing Process
*Phase 1: Analyze, Anticipate, Adapt* – Do you really need to write? How will the reader react?What channel should you use? How can you save your reader’s time?
*Phase 2: Research, Organize, Compose* – Collect information. Choose the best organizational strategy. Compose the first draft. Group similar information together.
*Phase 3: Revise, Proofread, Evaluate* – Is the message clear? Correct? Did you plan for feedback? Will this message achieve its purpose?
why teamwork works
Better decisions, Faster response, Increased productivity, Greater “buy-in,” Less resistance to change, Improved employee morale, Reduced risks
Four Phases of Team Development
forming, storming, norming, performing
why teams fail
Confused goals, Mismatched needs, Unresolved roles, Senseless procedures, Bad leadership, Anti-team culture, Poor feedback
Characteristics of People Who Exhibit Positive Team Behavior
Set rules and abide by them.
Analyze tasks and define problems.
Share ideas and information.
Show interest and listen actively.
Encourage members to participate.
Synthesize points of agreement.
Characteristics of People Who Exhibit Negative Team Behavior
Block ideas of others.
Insult, criticize, and compete with others.
Waste the group’s time.
Make inappropriate comments.
Fail to stay on task.
Withdraw, don’t participate.
How to Resolve Conflict: Six Steps
1) listen
2) understand other point of views
3) show concern for the relationship
4) look for common grounds
5) invent new problem solving options
6) reach an agreement based on what is fair
Methods for Reaching Group Decisions
Majority, Consensus, Minority, Averaging, Authority rule with discussion
Over-eagerness to Agree
*Symptoms:* Group overestimates its power & morality. Group becomes closed-minded. Group members experience pressure to conform
*Prevention:* Consider multiple solutions. Establish systematic procedures . Avoid hearing leader preferences at start. Prevent insulation
What Makes a Team Successful?
Small size and diverse makeup. Agreement on purpose and procedures. Ability to confront conflict. Sound communication techniques. Collaboration, not competition. Acceptance of ethical responsibilities. Shared leadership
meetings – duties of meeting leaders
Decides whether a meeting is necessary. Includes only key participants. Prepares agenda, including topics, times, and names. Considers whether to use a digital calendar to schedule meeting. Starts on time and begin with preview, agenda. Appoints a secretary to take minutes and a recorder to track ideas. Encourages participation, avoiding digression. Deals with conflict openly, lets parties speak. Confirms agreement when consensus occurs. Ends meeting on time. Summarizes results achieved. Distributes minutes a few days later. Reminds team members of assignments.
Meetings – Duties of Meeting Participants
Arrive early and prepared. Turn off and put away electronic devices. Bring a positive attitude; stay calm, pleasant, and energetic. Contribute respectfully: wait your turn, and raise your hand. Give credit to others. Help summarize. Express your views in the meeting, not later. Follow up by completing assigned tasks.
How Virtual Meetings Are Possible
audio conferencing, video conferencing, web conferencing
Simple and effective
Most commonly used collaborative tool in business
Tools include enhanced speakerphone, telephone, and mobile phone
Also known as voice conferencing, teleconferencing, conference calling, and phone conferencing
Participants can see each other and small product details.
Collaborators connect in real time.
Although expensive, telepresence rooms are like being there.
Organizations reduce travel expenses, travel time, greenhouse gases, and worker fatigue.
Tools include video, audio, and software.
web conferencing
Inexpensive and easily accessible
Used in business to share electronic documents and demonstrate products
Participants interact in real time
Tools include computer, Internet access, software, and (optional) camera
Techniques for Successful Virtual Meetings
Be sure everyone knows how to operate technology.
Distribute documents in advance and log on early.
Explain how to ask and answer questions.
Say your name before speaking.
Decide whether to “mute” phones.
Pay attention; don’t multitask.
Ask questions of specific people and use a strong voice.
Give everyone a chance to speak with “round-the-table.”
types of workplace listening
Listening to superiors
Listening to colleagues and teammates
Listening to customers
Ten Keys to Building Powerful Listening Skills
Control internal and external distractions.
Become actively involved.
Separate facts from opinions.
Identify important facts.
Avoid interrupting.
Ask clarifying questions.
Paraphrase to increase understanding.
Capitalize on lag time.
Take notes.
Be aware of gender/cultural differences.
The Listening Process
perception–> interpretation –> evaluation –> action
Common Listening Barriers
*Mental Barriers:* Inattention, Prejudgment, Frame of reference, Closed-mindedness, Pseudolistening
*Physical and Other Barriers:* Hearing impairment, Noisy surroundings, Speaker’s appearance or mannerisms, Lag time
active listening techniques
Being non-evaluative
Paraphrasing the content
Reflecting the implications
Reflecting underlying feelings
Inviting further contributions
Using non-verbal responses
Ten Myths About Listening
1) Myth: Listening is a matter of intelligence. Fact: Careful listening is a learned behavior.
2) Myth: Speaking is more important than listening. Fact: Speaking and listening are equally important.
3) Myth: Listening is easy and requires little energy. Fact: Active listeners undergo the same physiological changes as a person jogging.
4) Myth: Listening and hearing are the same process. Fact: Listening is a conscious, selective process, while hearing is an involuntary act.
5) Myth: Speakers are able to command listening. Fact: Speakers cannot make a person really listen.
6) Myth: Hearing ability determines listening ability. Fact: Listening happens mentally – between the ears.
7) Myth: Speakers are totally responsible for the communication success. Fact: Communication is a two-way street.
8) Myth: Listening is only a matter of understanding a speaker’s words. Fact: Nonverbal signals also help listeners gain understanding.
9) Myth: Daily practice eliminates the need for listening training. Fact: Without effective listening training, most practice merely reinforces negative behaviors.
10) Myth: Competence in listening develops naturally. Fact: Untrained people listen at only 25 percent efficiency.
functions of nonverbal communication
Complement and illustrate
Reinforce and accentuate
Replace and substitute
Control and regulate
forms of nonverbal communication
Eye contact, Facial expression, Posture and gestures, Time, Space, Territory, Appearance of documents, Appearance of people
Ways to Show Professionalism When You Communicate
Speech habits, Email messages, Internet address, Voice mail techniques, Telephone habits, Cell and smart phone use
How to Gain an Etiquette Edge
Use polite words. Express sincere appreciation and praise. Be selective in sharing personal information at work. Avoid putting people down. Respect coworkers’ space. Rise above others’ rudeness. Be considerate when sharing space and equipment with others. Disagree agreeably.

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