Effective Communication Skills A Compilation of Lecture Notes for DEN 5048 Edited Version 3 2011 1|Page DEN 5048 CONTENTS Introduction to Communication ………………………………… Non-verbal Verbal Written Development of Self ……………………………………………… Written Communication Writing business messages ……………………………….. Letter-writing …………………………………………….. Curriculum vitae (resume)………………………………… Memorandum ……………………………………………… Formal report ……………………………………………… Electronic mail ……………………………………………. Oral and Visual Presentation Oral Presentation ……………………………………………….
Visual Presentation …………………………………………….. Negotiation Skills …………………………………………………. Telephone Skills …………………………………………………… Procedures in Meetings …………………………………………… 2 13 19 25 31 34 37 41 44 48 55 57 61 2|Page INTRODUCTION TO COMMUNICATION What is Communication? Communication is the process of transmitting and receiving of information through verbal or nonverbal behavior. At the center of any definition of communication must be the intention of conveying a message, even if the message is abstract (e. g. modern poetry).
Why We Communicate The purpose of any given communication may be: To initiate some action To impart information, ideas, attitudes, beliefs or feelings To establish, acknowledge or maintain links or relations with other people. How We Communicate Effective communication is a two-way process, perhaps best expressed as a cycle. Signals or ? messages‘ are ? sent‘ by the communicator and ? received‘ by the other party. He ? sends‘ back some form of confirmation that the ? message‘ has been received and understood: this is called ? feedback‘. Message SENDER Feedback RECEIVER 3|Page The Stages of Communication Process
SENDER’S ACTIVITY RECEIVER’S ACTIVITY Impulse to communicate Encoding the Message Relay of Message Decoding the Message Feedback Impulse to communicate Deciding to communicate and deciding what to communicate is the first stage of the process. Messages should ideally be reviewed and put into some working order in the brain before mouth, body or machinery are used to articulate and present the idea for someone else‘s benefit. Encoding the message At this stage, the sender puts his message into words, gestures and expressions in the form that both sender and receiver understand.
We have to bear in mind however, that a symbol that we use and understand may be ambiguous (have more than one possible meaning) or mean something different to a person of different age, nationality, experience or beliefs. Just because we understand what we mean, it does not necessarily mean that someone else will. Relaying the message Once the idea has been encoded as a message, the sender needs to choose how to ? transmit‘, or get it across to the receiver. The particular route or path, via which the message is sent, connecting the sender and receiver, is called the channel of communication. (e. g. notice board, newspaper column, online bulletin board). The tool which is used to communicate is called the medium which often takes the form of: i. Visual communication – e. g. gesture, chart, picture or screen display ii. Written communication – e. g. a letter, memorandum, note, report or list; or iii. Oral communication which includes both face-to-face and remote communication – e. g. : by telephone or television. 4|Page Choice of medium The choice of medium will depend on such factors as: the Time, depending on its urgency. the Complexity, which medium will enable it to be most easily understood. he Distance, the message is required to travel and in what condition it must arrive. the need for a written record, e. g. for legal documents. the need for interaction, immediate exchange or instant feedback. the need for confidentiality or conversely, the spreading of information widely and quickly. Sensitivity to the effect of the message on the recipient: the need for personal involvement, persuasive power or impersonality. Cost, for the best possible result at the least possible expense. Decoding the message The first step in communication from the receiver‘s point of view is the ? ecoding‘ of the message i. e understanding what it says. The receiver must: grasp the meaning of the words or symbols used by the sender interpret the message as a whole. What it says is not necessarily what it means. Reading between the lines or inferring may be necessary to establish the underlying meaning of the message Giving feedback Feedback is the reaction of the receiver which indicates to the sender that the message has (or has not) been successfully received, understood and interpreted. There are 2 types of feedback – negative & positive.
Feedback is vital to success in communication because there are so many potential barriers and breakdowns to guard against Positive feedback i. ii. iii. Action taken as requested A letter/memo/note sent confirming receipt of message, or replying to question/invitation Smile, nod, thumbs up. Negative feedback i. ii. iii. No action, or wrong action taken No written response at all or written request for more information, repetition etc. Silence, gesture, blank look, shrug. 5|Page Types of communication Intrapersonal communication: Communication with oneself eg. f you want to remind yourself to do something, Interpersonal communication: Communication between two individuals, or between a number of individuals on a personal level: a. individual to individual. b. individual to group – address the group as a whole. c. group to individual – transmit message on behalf of an organization/group etc. The medium of interpersonal communication may be written, oral, visual, non-verbal or may mix of them, through channels such as face-to-face discussion, telephone or postal systems, notice boards and so on.
Impersonal communication/Mass communication: ? mass‘ communication, in which the message is directed to large, diffuse audience, with no direct contact between source and receiver. Like interpersonal communication, it can be oral, visual or non-verbal, using written, pictorial, or simulated interpersonal messages. eg. someone ? talking to‘ the audience in a TV or radio advertisement. Public communication: Takes place when the organization communicates with a number of receivers. For example: staff newsletter, reports, meetings etc.
Potential Problems In Communication Two technical terms used to describe problems or breakdowns, which occur in communication, are distortion and noise. (a) Distortion Distortion refers to the way in which the meaning of a communication is lost in ? handling‘ i. e during the encoding and decoding stages of communication. (b) Noise Noise refers to distractions and interference in the environment in which communication takes place, obstructing the process of communication by affecting the accuracy, clarity or even the arrival of the message. a. Physical noise, eg. ther people talking, passing traffic. b. Technical noise, eg. bad handwriting, crackle on a telephone line. c. Social noise, eg. interference created by differences in personality/culture or outlook of the sender and recipient. 6|Page d. Psychological noise, eg. excessive emotion (anger, fear), prejudice or nervousness can also interfere with effective transmission of a message. The problem of noise can be reduced by redundancy: using more than one channel of communication so that if a message fails to get through one channel, it may succeed by another.
Personal differences There are many factors in an individual‘s personality, mentality, experience and environment which can cause distortion or noise in the communication process. For example: racial, ethnic or regional origins religious beliefs and traditions social class and socio-economic education and training age sex occupation personality traits and types- a wide range of characteristics which shape attitudes and behaviour: introvert/ extrovert, stable/neurotic, active/passive etc. ntelligence- in terms of mental ability and understanding, linguistic or numerical ability Perception Perception is the process by which the data gathered by the senses is selected, sorted, organized and interpreted by the brain in order to form meaningful and coherent messages or information. Selective perception The sub-conscious mind ? decides‘ which stimuli/information are (subjectively) relevant and which are irrelevant and can be safely ignored. When we focus on selected stimuli, we say we give them our attention. This is important for the communicator: 1. s listener and reader, because of the need to minimize potential distractions and to be aware that some parts of a message may be ignored thus, distorting the overall meaning. 2. as creator and sender, because the need to attract and hold the recipient‘s attention to the key points and meaning of the message. 7|Page NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION What is non-verbal communication? Non-verbal communication is basically anything that conveys a message without using words or symbols. It may be linked to words (eg. a tone of voice), or it may be independent of any verbal message.
Movement is highly communicative. Think what you can convey through, for example, frowning or smiling, nodding, scratching your head, putting your head in your hands or slamming a door. There are two broad categories of non-verbal communications: First, Non-verbal communication linked to verbal communication, which adds meaning over and above what the speaker is saying in the words themselves ? between the lines‘ of a message. Words Really, I‘m fine. Other factors Quivering lips, pale face, curled up in chair, arms folded around body. Sarcastic smile, patronising tone.
Meaning I‘m upset, or ill, and either trying to be brave or not wanting your help. You and I both know I‘m right. Correct me if I‘m wrong. Second, Non-verbal communication independent of any verbal message, so that meaning is conveyed by non-verbal cues. If you forget a friend‘s birthday, for example, this in itself may be enough to communicate that you don‘t care about them any more, or that you are angry with them for some reason. Channels/Types of Non-verbal Communication Because so much of human interaction is non-verbal, this system includes many kinds of communication.
There are 9 forms of non-verbal behaviour and each is used to establish personal identity, relational messages and express personal identity and cultural values. i. Kinesics Kinesics refer to body position and body motions including facial expressions. Our bodies communicate a great deal about how we see ourselves. For instance, someone who walks briskly conveys determination; someone who moves without purpose (or ? can never sit still‘) signals nervousness, impatience or distractions. Our faces also communicate messages; we can indicate happiness (smiles), doubt (raised eyebrows) or anger (stares).
How we position ourselves relative to others also expresses our feelings toward them – friends often sit together while competitors typically maintain distance. 8|Page ii. Haptics Haptics refer to physical touch. Touching or contact communicates closeness as well as power and status. People with high status touch others and invade others‘ spaces more than those with low status. Between the two genders, women tend to engage in touch while men more typically rely on touch to assert power and control. iii. Physical Appearance High value is often placed on physical appearance.
People form initial evaluations based on individual‘s appearance. We first notice physical qualities such as gender, skin colour and features. Then we form judgements of how attractive others are and make inferences about their personalities. For example, plump, rounded bodies are often associated with laziness and weakness while thin, angular physiques are thought to reflect youthful, stubborn personalities. Though these associations have no factual basis, they can affect decisions about hiring, placement and promotion. iv.
Artifacts Artifacts are personal objects we use to announce our identities and personalize our environments. We craft our image by how we dress and what objects we carry and use. For instance, doctors wear white and drape stethoscopes around their necks while the military requires uniforms with stripes and medals to signify rank and accomplishments. Artifacts communicate important relational meaning – we use them to perform our identities and express how we perceive and feel about others. v. Proxemics Proxemics refer to space and how we use it. Space reflects intimacy – e. . when we are angry with someone, we tend to move away from him and resent it if he approaches us. Space also announces status with greater space being assumed by those with higher status. How people arrange space reflects how close they are and whether they want interaction. E. g. Those who enjoy interaction arrange furniture to invite conversation and eye contact. For less interaction, chairs may be far apart and face the television instead of each other. vi. Environmental factors Environmental factors are elements of settings that affect how we feel and act.
We respond to architecture, colours, temperature, sounds, smells and lighting. e. g. dimly-lit room can enhance romantic feelings while dark rooms can be depressing. Rooms with comfortable chairs invite relaxation while stiff chairs prompt formality. Thus, environmental factors influence not only patterns of interaction but also feelings and moods. 9|Page vii. Chronemics Chronemics refer to how we perceive and use time to define identities and interaction. E. g. cultural rule stipulates important people with high status can keep others waiting. It‘s standard practice to wait to see a doctor even if you have an appointment.
Chronemics also express cultural attitudes toward time. In western societies, for example, time is valuable so, speed is highly valued but Malaysian have more relaxed attitudes toward time and punctuality. viii. Paralanguage Paralanguage refers to vocal sounds such as murmurs and gasps and vocal qualities such as volume, rhythm, pitch and intonation. These vocal cues act as signals for others to interpret what we say as a joke, threat, statement, question etc. Voices can also be used to communicate feelings eg whispering indicates secrecy and intimacy while shouting conveys anger. x. Silence Silence can communicate powerful messages. It can communicate different meanings. For instance, it can signal awkwardness – we deliberately ignore others when we‘re angry with them. VERBAL COMMUNICATION What is verbal communication? Verbal communication is anything that conveys a message using words or symbols. It is the spoken, oral, and unwritten way of communicating. It makes use of words, vocabulary, numbers and symbols and is organized in sentences. Therefore, speaking is a form of verbal communication. Why is good verbal communication so important?
In the business world, verbal communication is very important because you are dealing with a variety of people throughout the day. In some cases you may deal with people who have different culture, ages and with different levels of experience. Now take for example the way you converse with a family member or friend around your same age, you interact with them with a lot of confidence, there is without doubt that verbal communication is expressed with much ease, and perhaps you may speak differently from the way you speak with a person related to business. 10 | P a g e
Imagine if you expressed yourself the same way with a customer who has different culture, is much older than you and have many years of experience in his field. Most likely your thoughts will be difficult to express. Thus it is necessary to have proper skill when using verbal communication while dealing with different people. How to acquire better verbal communication First of all you need to be aware of the fact that you must be flexible with people depending on the circumstances. Let us say you are presenting a speech in front of an audience at work, and you express your thoughts using business vocabulary.
Now what if your audience where to be unfamiliar with the terms you are using, it is without question you will notice the audience lose focused attention to what you are saying , so then you must be flexible and change the way you are expressing your thoughts by using words that are more comprehendible to the audience. You could also build skills by attending a course related to business communication. When you are attending the class, you will then be forced to communicate in a more organized way.
Try to use the opportunity to overcome the fear of talking to a big crowd and a stranger while you are in class. Besides attending a class that teaches business communication, you may also want to consider working in a job-field that involves working with strangers, such job can be a form of practice to gain confidence in yourself and help reduce shyness and intimidation. Another form of practice can be talking to older relatives and friends, about a topic that involves expressing emotions and strong opinions or a discussion that may concern experiences.
Such communication helps you to accumulate skills to express yourself in a more formal and proper manner. When practicing with your relatives or friends it is important for you to back up your opinions or statements with facts. In order to have references about your subject it is suggested to read and study about it. Like for example, if you where to discuss the issue that we are all facing today such as the world’s economy for instance, then you may obtain the facts from the news paper, the news, Internet, and you can even get it from books. 1 | P a g e WRITTEN COMMUNICATION Advantages The advantages of written messages include the following: They provide a permanent record of transaction or agreement for confirmation and recollection of details. Evidence may also be necessary for legal purposes. They provide supporting confirmation and clarification of verbal messages, again in case evidence should be needed, but also an aid of memory. They are easily duplicated and sent out to numerous recipients: this ensures that everyone receives the same message.
It also enables office personnel to write one message (to adapt or copy) instead of making numerous phone calls. They are capable of relaying complex ideas, aided by suitable layout and the permanence of the record, which allows the recipient to pore over it at length if necessary. They can be stored and later retrieved for reference and analysis as required. They are perceived as impersonal, and can be used in situations where unusual formality or ? distance‘ need to be established within an otherwise personal relationship (for example, formal disciplinary proceedings). Disadvantages Time.
A written message can be take time to produce, and to send, especially if it has to go by post and if expensive technology is beyond the user‘s reach. Because of the time factor, swift ? interactive‘ exchanges of opinion, attitude and so on are impossible. Inflexibility. Once sent, the message cannot immediately be altered or amended, even if circumstances change or errors are discovered. Impersonality. Written communication also tends to more across as formal and impersonal, so in situations requiring greater sensitivity or persuasion, the personal presence or voice of the sender may be more effective.
Accessibility. People‘s ability to read and interpret written messages will vary according to background, education, knowledge of the topic and so on. Eg. If the vocabulary is difficult, the reader may not understand the message. Distance. Non-verbal signals (eg. gesture, facial expression) are not available to help in interpreting the message – the receiver is left with only the words, presentation and written style. Instant feedback is also not available which means errors in interpretation may not be corrected immediately. 12 | P a g e
DEVELOPMENT OF SELF Introduction What constitutes the “self” has been pondered by philosophers, poets, artists, and others for millennia. More recently, psychologists have sought to define and research a range of self constructs. “Self” in the 20th Century Previous to the 20th century, social institutions, including schooling and psychology (which barely existed) did not emphasize the development of positive beliefs about self. There was greater emphasis, for example, on developing relationship to divinities and organized systems of government.
With the ousting of religion as the dominant organizational culture in Western society, and the rise of capitalism with its emphasis, particularly in North America, on expression and valuing of personal freedom, a ‘cult of the self’ has blossomed. Indeed, self-constructs seem to be positively associated with other desirable qualities, such as better quality of life, higher academic performance, and so on, but there is a debate about whether improving self-esteem, self-concept, etc. causes improved performance, or vice-versa. What’s more, there is evidence that high self-esteem when combined with prejudice can lead to increased aggression.
Developing oneself At the level of self-improvement one can potentially elaborate personal development to include such areas as: becoming the person one aspires to integrating social identity with self-identification increasing awareness or defining of one‘s priorities increasing awareness or defining of one‘s values increasing awareness or defining of one‘s chosen lifestyle increasing awareness or defining of one‘s ethics strategizing and realizing dreams, aspirations, career and lifestyle priorities developing professional potential developing talents developing individual competencies learning on the job improving the quality of lifestyle (in such areas as health, wealth, culture, family, friends and communities) learning techniques or methods to expand awareness learning techniques or methods to gain control of one’s life 13 | P a g e learning techniques or methods to achieve wisdom Developmental Patterns In The Development Of Self-Constructs Early on in development, children tend to have a vague, general concept of themselves, which gradually diversifies nto concepts about themselves as students at school, in relation to peers, in relation to family, emotionally, physically, and so on. It is unclear whether self-concepts are formed top-down (specific beliefs flow from general beliefs) or bottom-up (general beliefs flow from specific beliefs). Definitions Of Self-Constructs (a) Self-esteem: What is Self-Esteem? It‘s the way you feel about yourself. It comes from within. Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves. It is our thoughts and feelings about ourselves. For example: I am good looking. I feel good about myself. I am kind. I am competent. The level of our self-esteem determines how we operate in life – how we interact with others, spouse, children, friends, and strangers.
It determines our goals and what we strive for, our achievements, and our satisfaction and happiness in life. The importance of self-esteem can be seen when we look at the relationship between healthy self-esteem and other psychological traits. Self-esteem and personality are closely related. It is interesting how we define self-esteem. We define it by declaring feelings. We talk about how we feel. High self-esteem is associated with positive feelings and low self-esteem with negative feelings. Healthy self-esteem is related with: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Creativity Rationality Flexibility Willingness to admit mistakes Openness Honesty Acceptance Cooperativeness Independence 14 | P a g e
People with low self-esteem have negative thoughts about themselves, both physically and mentally see others as better or worse are easily pressured to conform to peers People with high self-esteem accept themselves, despite their shortcomings, mistakes and disabilities are responsible for their actions do not succumb to peer pressure tend to be more ambitious in what they want to experience in life have a drive to express themselves and to communicate openly and honestly about their needs and desires recognize the value of relationships treat others with respect, non judgmental attitude, and fairness How to increase your self-esteem? be assertive learn to like yourself be responsible. earn to deal with criticism in positive way learn to give and receive compliments easily Building Positive Self-esteem to Achieve Success Self-esteem can cut across a wide variety of concepts and situations. It occurs in every facet of life. It is the force behind most success and failure, the force behind peak performance, successful achievement, living your dream – living your world! Self-esteem is the feeling of being happy with your character and abilities. It is manifested in a wonderful feeling of inner balance, grounded on self acceptance and a healthy, comforting self-respect towards you. This is entirely different from self-confidence which is deeply rooted in what you believe you can achieve.
There are several cases of self-confidence acts without Self-esteem. Positive Self-esteem is knowing who we are and living in harmony with ourselves without needing to have the approval of others. Really, other people’s opinion about yourself does not have to be your reality. The definition of positive Self-esteem is that of a life of happiness, of sound mind, of health. When we are happy about ourselves, not caring about what people say about us, we live a happier life, a healthier one, a more successful one – Best of all, we live in peak performance. Happier lifestyle comes from within, it enables happy and relaxed cells, and it controls stress.
Happy cells lead to a prolonged life expectancy which means extended period to lead a even 15 | P a g e happier life! What a great attribute if you can only come to terms with who you are, regardless of whatever any person says about you. Remember, life’s too short to live other people’s opinion and reflections. Live yours! It will take courage though, but it’s worth living. It’s the best. (b) Self-confidence: What is self-confidence? Most of us now what self-confidence means: we usually define it in relation to what we want to do, but feel too anxious, nervous or worried about! In the end, we will not do it. For one person, self-confidence might be about speaking in public. For another, it might be about being confident in social situations.
Whatever the situation that reveals our lack of confidence, the definition of confidence that is implicit here is always something about being self-assured, showing self-reliance, or not being anxious or nervous. Another common definition of self-confidence centres on being assertive, on getting what you want. This is about standing up for yourself, about having the presence, the personal power, if you like, to regard yourself as equal to others and to behave in a way that reflect this. Self-confidence is essentially an attitude which allows us to have a positive and realistic perception of ourselves and our abilities. It is characterised by personal ttributes such as assertiveness, optimism, enthusiasm, affection, pride, independence, trust, the ability to handle criticism and emotional maturity. Confidence is learnt; it is not inherited. If you lack confidence, it probably means that, as a child, you were criticised, undermined, or suffered an inexplicable tragic loss, for which you either blamed yourself or were blamed by others. A lack of confidence isn’t necessarily permanent but it can be if it isn’t addressed. Our religion, the influence of the culture which formed our perspectives, our gender, social class and our parents, in particular, are all factors which influence and contribute to our level of confidence and esteem. Confident people have deep faith in their future and can accurately assess their capabilities.
They also have a general sense of control in their lives and believe that, within reason, they will be able to do what they desire, plan and expect, no matter what the foreseeable obstacle. But this faith is guided by more realistic expectations so that, even when some of their goals are not met, those with confidence continue to be positive, to believe in themselves and to accept their current limitations with renewed energy. However, having high self-confidence does not mean they will be able to do everything they want. That view is unrealistic, one for the perfectionists. A desire to be good at everything we do in order to impress others stems from a competitive instinct and lack of personal reinforcement.
Any truly successful life has both rewards and the ability to learn from any setbacks, which increase our resilience, self- belief and determination. Real confidence 16 | P a g e requires that we face the possibility of failure constantly and deal with it. However, if we consistently lose out on both achievement and validation, even our identity is called into question. Research has suggested that athletes can also gain confidence from viewing the successful performances of others at a similar level. This second source of information is known as ? modelling’ or ? vicarious experience‘. For example, a tennis player lacking confidence in her volleying might find it useful to have a peer who has overcome similar difficulties demonstrate the skill.
By viewing others, we begin to see that, with effort, success is attainable. The very common use of celebrities in fitness videos is an example of modelling. Confidence can also be built through verbal persuasion. By means of careful reasoning, athletes can be shown that other people (ie the coach) have confidence in their abilities and believe they can achieve set goals. Coaches may even use deception to persuade their athletes that goals can be achieved – of which more later. Verbal persuasion can also take the form of ? self-talk‘, whereby the athlete convinces himself that success will follow. Finally, emotional arousal can influence confidence as well.
Although this is the least influential factor, it is important that physiological symptoms are perceived positively rather than negatively. Confidence can be enhanced by perceiving increases in heart and respiration rate as the body‘s natural preparation for top performance rather than as triggers for anxiety. Clearly, confidence is enhanced by good preparation, planning and a sense of optimism. Conversely, negative thinking and pessimism can undermine performance and limit progress. By expecting failure, we set our belief system to a negative channel and start favouring information that is consistent with these beliefs. Lack of confidence People who lack confidence may be shy and quiet, although this isn’t always the case.
Those with little confidence may pass up opportunities because they assume they wouldn’t stand a chance competing against others. They doubt themselves and their abilities. They don’t have enough confidence to even try. They fear rejection and failure. These people often don’t achieve their potential in life simply because they have already viewed themselves as failures. When people lack self-confidence they are overly preoccupied with what others think. They need to build confidence and take charge of their lives, although it is not easy for someone who suffers from low self-esteem. Over-Confidence Confidence is a necessary component in reaching our goals but over-confidence can be interpreted in negative ways.
Simply stated, over-confidence is confidence that is unwarranted. For example, a person may be very confident in an area that he actually has little knowledge and expertise. Over-confidence can be projected as an inflated ego. A person may appear egotistical, 17 | P a g e arrogant and somewhat of a braggart. Over-confidence may also be a smokescreen for lack of confidence. People often try to build their own confidence by tearing others down. In this way, they feel better about themselves. It doesn’t mean that they are bad people; it simply means that they don’t know how to build their own level of confidence. Attitude Self-confidence is an attitude.
It is about how you view yourself, not how others view you. A confident person is comfortable with the person he is. He knows he is not perfect and he doesn’t try to act perfect. He accepts himself as he is, along with his imperfections. He is confident enough to admit his mistakes. He can laugh at himself. A confident person can accept rejection and criticism, and learn from them rather than taking them personally and wallowing in self-pity. A confident person believes in himself and his abilities, yet he knows there is always room for improvement and therefore continually strives to improve. Positive Outlook A confident person has a positive outlook.
He doesn’t dwell on his failures. If he doesn’t get a promotion, he views it not as a loss but as an opportunity for something better. Confident people often do get what they want because self-confidence is an important element in accomplishing their goals and manifesting their desires. They know that self-confidence is an ingredient in the recipe for success. Respect A confident person likes himself. If you don’t like yourself, how can you expect others to like you? Confident people also respect themselves. Anyone can develop self-confidence but it can take time, especially if you are steeped in negativity. People aren’t born with self-confidence.
They learn to put fear and doubt aside and to trust their own instincts. They trust their abilities and choose to react positively rather than negatively. Self-confidence hears the voice of doubt but chooses not to listen to it. 18 | P a g e WRITTEN COMMUNICATION WRITING BUSINESS MESSAGES Introduction Messages are constantly being sent by people all over the world. They can be verbal through talking, or written through mail. In business world, the style in sending a message is different. Here you are dealing with executives of the companies, sales agents, managers, employees and clients. Generally a business message has precise content related to the business.
It can be a message for internal purposes such as the employees or board of directors; or external – for clients, creditors and service providers. Whoever the recipient of the business message is, it is necessary to comply with a degree of formality in conveying the message to achieve the goal of disseminating the message to the recipients. There are two types of business messages: (a) Verbal Business Messages: Verbal messages are the primary mode of passing a message. There is no need of much structure and strict compliance compared to written messages. Verbal Messages are frequently passed on in-order to carry out routine business activities. b) Written Business Message: Written messages are used whenever the information being passed on needs to be compiled and filed. This is where some of the employees may commit mistakes while drafting a written business message. In case any mistakes occur in the written business message, it can become permanent and get filed. It is important to be extremely careful when writing a business message. Written business message is not just an ordinary message but a message that will either make or break the business. Due diligence should be considered so that there are no mistakes and loss of money arising out of incorrectly written business message.
Understanding the Three-Step Writing Process Business messages are very important when it comes to business communication. For a person who knows English language very well, does not mean that he will write a business message perfectly. There is a structure, standards or guidelines that needs to be followed in order to come up with a business message which conveys the correct meaning. 19 | P a g e A well-structured business message can go a long way and can even earn millions to the company in return. This is a matter of knowing how to structure the business message to give the reader a sense of professionalism and being treated well as a person with whom the company is doing business.
To ensure that the message is conveyed effectively, and is well-organised, follow these threestep writing process: Step 1: Planning a business message Planning is a very vital step, and if one commits an error in this stage, it will create an irreversible error that can cause the business to lose millions in the worst case scenario. It is necessary that all the steps are taken into full consideration along with adequate emphasis on planning a business message. Do not begin writing until you have planned what you want to say. This avoids writer‘s block and poorly developed messages. When planning on how to write a business message, one should ask the following question, Who is this business message designed for?
Is it for a client, a service provider, a creditor, government agency or an employee? It is important to identify who is the recipient of the business message so that certain precautionary measures should be adopted in order to structure the message that will fit for the person who is receiving the message. Second question is for what purpose is this business message written for? Is it to give appreciation, a constructive criticism or to persuade the reader? If the purpose is identified then the contents of the message will be designed in relation to the purpose. The answers to these questions will serve as a guide with regard to writing a good business message.
Among the other important factors to consider in the planning stage include the following: (a) Know your audience: When you write a business letter, you are trying to persuade the reader (the audience) to either take an action or change the way they think. Therefore, a business message aims to convince the audience that what is written is true. Knowing your audience is only the first step. The information you get about your audience can help you develop and organize the content of your message so that the message can be easily read. (b) Audience’s expectations: When you know your audience, you will know what they expect from you. Your message will be most successful if it matches the readers‘ expectations. Generally, your audience will have three expectations: (c) Get to the point: state the main point(s), including bad news, immediately. 20 | P a g e d) Keep it simple: Do not feel compelled to use big words or complex sentences in order to impress your audience, or to build your credibility with them. The reason is, when you do this, you might confuse the audience. Furthermore, the audience might think that you are a con artist. (e) Use active and passive voices appropriately: Use the passive voice to sound more diplomatic. Sentences in the passive voice sound less confrontational, so these sentences do not appear to blame someone. On the other hand, active sentences put the subject in front of the sentence. Thus, they appear more harsh to a reader. (f) Content: Content refers to information included in the message.
By knowing your audience, you will know what to include in the content of your message. In addition, you should include enough information to maintain the readers‘ interest, while at the same time not too much information until it bores the audience or wastes their time. There are three common methods of determining content: brainstorming outlining clustering (g) Organisation: The order in which you present your messages (or information) is called organization. You need to know what information that you want to include in your message. Only then can you decide how to organise it. In general, present the main ideas first, followed by the supporting details and finally, conclusion.
A good organization facilitates the readers‘ understanding of your message. Step 2: Writing a business message After planning comes the actual writing stage of a business message. This is most the crucial stage, since one mistake of a word may give a wrong impression to the reader. Make sure that the reader will read the business message and understand its purpose. Writing a business message is the same as writing an ordinary letter, but there are some modifications that need to be considered. 1. The salutation, make sure that the name of the recipient is correctly spelled. 2. It should be justified or in block form, to make it look neat and organized. 3.
The message should contain brief and concise information with regard to the information being partake with. 4. Always, check the message for grammar and spelling mistakes. It is very important that the message is proof-read so that the message will convey the correct meaning to the reader. 21 | P a g e 5. The font size or style should be in a manner that is readable to the normal eye so that the reader will not need eyeglasses to read the message. It does not mean it should be in bold or large font size, but just enough to be read without straining the eyes. Step 3: Completing a business message A business message does not end at the writing stage; it needs to be sent to the correct recipient in order to serve the purpose for which it was written.
If it is a post mail, the address of the recipient should be clearly written and double checked the recipients‘ address. It is important that the address is written correctly so that the message will definitely reach the recipient and will get the message across. It is also important to update and keep proper reference of changed address whenever the recipient so that mails are addressed to the latest address. If it is through e-mail, be sure the e-mail address is correctly entered and the subject is properly designated. As a matter of assurance purposes, send a carbon copy to the person who instructed the letter to be sent. This will give a signal to the people within the business organization that an e-mail is being sent to a certain person.
Improving Readability in Business Messages Writers can adopt the following techniques to make messages easier to skim: (a) Vary sentence length: Keep paragraphs short Use lists and bullets Add headings and subheadings (b) Varying sentence length helps readers skim your message: Use both short and long sentences to increase interest. Avoid too many short sentences, or your writing will be choppy. Keep sentences to an average length of 20 words or fewer. (c) Keeping paragraphs short helps readers skim your message: Avoid long paragraphs that may intimidate readers. Compose paragraphs of 100 words or fewer. Use one-sentence paragraphs only occasionally and only for emphasis. 2 | P a g e (d) Using lists and bullets helps readers skim your message: Set off important ideas in a list to help readers find key points. Introduce a list clearly so that readers know what they‘re about to read. Add further discussion after a list to complete your thoughts. Compose list items in parallel form. (e) Adding headings and subheadings accomplishes the following: Cues readers into the content of the following section Helps reader determine how a document is organized Grabs reader attention Makes copy easier to read Indicates shifts from one idea to the next (f) Use one of two categories of headings: Descriptive headings identify a topic.
Informative headings guide readers to think in a certain way about the topic. Tone in Business Writing When we speak, our words form only a portion of the message we convey. Our meaning is also relayed through our body language and eye contact, as well as the intonation, pitch and speed of our voice. This is called tone. In business writing, the tone of our message refers to the meaning between the lines and the meaning conveyed in the words we choose rather than just in the message we are sending. Thus, when you write a business message, choosing the correct tone is important because the same words could be interpreted differently by two different readers.
The overall tone of a written message affects the reader just as one’s tone of voice affects the listener in everyday exchanges. Business writers should consider the tone of their message, whether they are writing a memo, letter, report, or any type of business document. Tone is present in all communication activities. Ultimately, the tone of a message is a reflection of the writer and it does affect how the reader will perceive the message. Here are some ways to write a business message with good tone: (a) Be confident: You can feel confident in writing business messages if you have carefully prepared, and are knowledgeable about the material you wish to express. The way you write should assume a confident tone as well.
As you prepare business documents, you want the reader to do as you ask, or to accept your decision. In order to make the document effective, you must write confidently because a confident tone will have a persuasive effect on your audience (the reader). Employers are inclined to hire individuals that appear confident and 23 | P a g e sure of their abilities. However, this does not mean that you should appear over-confident. Over-confidence can easily be interpreted as being arrogant. Bad: ? You must have noticed from my resume that I am very qualified for the job.? Good: ? My qualifications in the areas of information technology and multimedia meet your job requirements.? b) Be courteous and sincere: A writer builds friendliness and trust by using a tone that is polite and sincere. Consider the words and phrases you use in your document, and how your reader will likely receive them. If you are respectful and honest, readers will be more willing to accept your message, even if it is negative. Bad: ? If you have read the conditions carefully, the company would have gained profit.? Good: ? The company could gain profit provided that the conditions are met.? (c) Use non-discriminatory language: Avoid biasness when you write. Do not use any discriminatory words, remarks or ideas that might offend the reader. It is very important to communicate in a way that expresses equality and respect for all individuals.
Discriminatory language can come between your message and your reader. Make sure your writing is free of sexist language and free of bias based on such factors as race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation and disability. Bad: ? Women who do not have marketing skills will be assigned desk jobs instead.? Good: ? Employees without marketing skills will be assigned desk jobs instead.? (d) Stress the benefits for the reader: Write from the reader’s perspective, or point of view. That means, write from the perspective of what you can do for the reader. A reader will often read a document wondering: “What’s in it for me? ” or ? How do I benefit from this??
As such, it is your job to customize your message to suit the reader. Bad: ? I would like to see your paper qualification.? Good: ? Your paper qualification would help us speed up your job application process.? (e) Write at an appropriate level of difficulty: Consider your audience and prepare your writing so that the reader will clearly understand what it is that you are saying. In other words, prepare your style of reading to match the reading abilities of your audience. Do not use complex passages or terms that the reader will not understand. Accordingly, do not use simple terms or insufficient examples if the reader is capable of understanding your writing.
A competent writer will match the needs and abilities of their reader and find the most effective way to communicate with a particular reader. It is important to remember that it is not possible to please all the people all the time with the “right” tone. Writing is an art, not a science, and tone is the most subjective, challenging part of writing. Exercise caution when you write. 24 | P a g e LETTER WRITING Types Of Business Letter Enquiry and reply Enquiries for information about goods or services are sent and received in business all the time. They should be acknowledged as soon as possible or business may be lost. Complaint and adjustment Complaints about goods or services are inevitable and need to be investigated immediately.
Steps should be taken to rectify matters if goodwill is to be retained. Job application, offer and reference A wide variety of letters pass back and forth in the recruitment process. Financial Collection letters, credit requests and credit rating enquiries all come under this heading. Circulars and mailshots To promote goods, services or special events, an organisation may send a letter simultaneously to many recipients. Word processors may be used to personalise such messages. Sales letters Attracting potential customers in future promotions, new products or services, and special writing techniques have to be adopted in order to put over the products or services in an interesting and enthusiastic way.
Congratulations, sympathy, thanks Maintaining goodwill is important in business. Thank you letters are often sent after a dinner or other function. Messages of condolence may be sent on the death of a business associate or colleague. Congratulations may be sent to associates on promotion or other achievements. Fully Blocked Layout With Open Punctuation The fully-blocked layout is now the most widely used method of display for all business documents. In the business letter, it is only necessary to leave one clear line space between each section of the letter. 1. Letterhead – Company‘s name, address and telephone/fax numbers 2. Reference – Initials of writer/typist (often a filing reference) 25 | P a g e 3.
Date – in order: day/month/year 4. Inside address – shows name, full postal address, name of state (in lowercase) 5. Salutation – Dear Sir/Madam, Dear Ms Wong 6. Heading – Use ALL capital letters only without underlining. 7. Body of Letter – Separate into paragraphs with a new idea each, with one line spacing between each paragraph. 8. Complimentary Close – match ? Dear Sir‘ with ? Yours faithfully‘ & ? Dear John‘ with ? Yours sincerely‘ (leave 4/5 lines for signing) 9. Sender’s Name 10. Title or Department 11. Enclosure indication (attachment/s) – ? Enc‘, if more than one, use ? Encs‘ Open Punctuation Open punctuation is often used with the fully blocked layout.
All punctuation marks (mainly commas and periods) that are not necessary to ensure grammatical sense are omitted. Some examples of the use of open punctuation are shown below: Dates – 12 December 2002 Names – Mr & Mrs J Sirley Mr Rahimi Yusof Mdm Kavitha Balakrishnan Addresses – Mr Aris Yahya Department of ADP Multimedia University Jalan Ayer Keroh Lama 75450 Melaka Salutation and Complimentary close – Dear Mr Rahimi Yours sincerely Abbreviations – e. g. : BA MA PhD ie am pm PS NB VIP 26 | P a g e In the body of a message, open punctuation should be used when appropriate: Our engineer, Mr D Yew, will be visiting you on Tuesday 14 July at 2 pm in order to investigate the cause of the malfunction.
If this appointment is inconvenient, please telephone him on 062523456, ext 123, to make alternative arrangements. Paragraph Division 1 INTRODUCTION (Background and basics) – Reason for writing, in reply to a previous letter, contact or document DETAILS (Details and figures) – Give instructions, Ask for information, Provide all relevant details (separate into paragraphs for separate themes) RESPONSE – Action for recipient to take, Action you will take, A conclusion CLOSE – A simple, relevant closing sentence (one-liner) 2 3 4 WRITING THE LETTER OF APPLICATION I) II) Essential qualities Format – the most widely used is the complete block format, all principal parts of the letter begin at the left – hand margin. Principal parts of a letter.
Punctuation- block format requires open punctuation style. That is, no punctuation used except for the body of the letter. III) IV) LETTER OF APPICATION-: Your letter should sound like you, conveys something of your own personality. It creates attention and leads the reader to the accompanied resume. The aim of the letter is to show enthusiasm and interest in the company and the position. The opening paragraph – designs to create attention. Like summary‘ name request and question. The middle paragraph – creates desire namely discusses your academic Qualification/educational back ground, work experience in various companies and 27 | P a g e responsibilities, ability to work, interest in your field.
Elaborate on the strongest traits and reemphasize listed points of resume, additional facts not covered. The closing paragraph – shows action. State clearly when you are available for a talk with the employer/ for an Interview. Be specific, give reachable telephone numbers. The stationary used should be of high quality and similar to that of your resume. In the signature, just print your name not your designation. Keep a carbon copy of your letter for further reference/follow- up. REMEMBER-: 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) Use good quality paper Should be Type-written Use simple English Date in full, check your spelling, punctuation and grammar errors Should contain all relevant information.
Spell the advertiser‘s name and name of the firm correctly Don‘t exaggerate your achievements Stress your willingness to attend an interview THE OPENING PARAGRAPH creates attention. Use one of the following – 1) summary opening 2) name opening 3) request opening 4) question opening Here you state your interest in applying for the post and also the source and date of advertisement. Few possible expressions are – 1) I would like to apply for the position of ________ as advertised in the _______ dated _______. I would like to be considered as a candidate for the __________ position advertised in the ________ dated _________. With reference to your advertisement in the __________, I have much pleasure in applying for the position of _________.
I am very interested in the vacancy you have advertised in the ______ dated _____ for a _______ and wish to offer my service. 2) 3) 4) 28 | P a g e The CLOSING PARAGRAPH calls for Action/Asks for action. You ask for an interview and show willingness to attend one. Leave your phone number for them to contact you or say you will call for an interview. And lastly show gratefulness and thank the recipient. Possible useful expressions are-: 1) 2) 3) I hope you will call me for an interview. I am enclosing a resume and look forward to a call from you. I trust you will consider my application favourably and grant me an interview etc. 29 | P a g e LETTER WRITING FORMAT Reference
ST/zj Multimedia University Jalan Ayer Keroh Lama 75450 Melaka 29 January 2010 General Manager Flexibletron Sdn Bhd Cheng Industrial Area 73200 Melaka Dear Sir/Madam Recipient‘s address Sender‘s address Date Salutation Subject COMPLAIN ABOUT STAFF ATTITUDE Introduction or opening I am writing this letter to complain about how my staff and I were treated by your customer service officers when we visited your facility two weeks ago. When one my staff asked the clerk for help, she ignored him. Instead, she continued gossiping to her colleague, pretending not to hear. When I interrupted, one of them stared at me, while the other one filed her fingernails.
I politely asked her for assistance, and she unwillingly gave me a form and told me to fill it up quickly as she was about to have her tea break. Our university has been regularly visiting your facility as part of our collaborative effort for our students. The bad experience I had obviously shows that your customer service needs a lot of retraining. It is hoped that the management will do something about it, or we will consider collaborating with another company in the future. Thank you. Yours faithfully Complimentary Close The details The response or action SThemoli Prof Dr Sharmila Themoli Director of Academic Affairs Signature, full name & position 30 | P a g e
WRITING A CURRICULAM VITAE (Resume) A resume is a highly personal and individual summary of a person‘s background, experience, training and skills. The French word RESUME` means ? a summary? , OR ? a short history‘. It contains certain amount of essential information, which may vary from individual to individual, depending on his experience and qualification. Do’s and Don’ts for compiling your CV Make sure your CV is ? ? ? ? ? relevant easy to read and easy to follow selling your achievements and skills accurate and detailed truthful Make sure your CV is not ? ? ? ? ? full of irrelevant information jumbled up, cramped and untidy a list of job titles and duties vague and lacking in details dishonest
Parts of the resume-: Personal Particulars 1) 2) 3) 4) HEADING – The name of the individual ADDRESS – Your complete address CONTACT NO – Your telephone number where you can be reached easily. PERSONAL DETAILS – Where ever appropriate add date and place of birth, I. C Number, Nationality, Race, Religion, weight, Height, Marital Status etc). THE POSITION SOUGHT – An objective statement that clearly describes the type of position you hope to obtain. 5) 31 | P a g e 6) PROFILE – A profile is your banner- a summary of your selling points. The aim of a profile is to hold the reader‘s attention and give a brief overview of who you are, mainly to : ? highlight your main skills and experience ? emphasise your personal attributes ? otivate the reader into wanting to know more Write in short note form and use third person. E. g: ? A flexible and well- motivated individual who takes great pride in her work. Excellent communication skills at all levels. Able to form effective working relationships quickly. Excellent administrative skill, well organised and good time Manager. ? An experienced and qualified trainer with experience in business, administrative and management skills. Able to develop a rapport with people easily. Dynamic presenter with a lively and humorous style which creates a highly stimulating learning environment. 7) EDUCATION – A detailed record of your education, both formal and informal.
Start with the highest qualification first. QUALIFICATIONS – List all your academic qualifications individually. WORKING EXPERIENCE – A detailed record of your employment history in reverse chronological order- the present job first. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION – Any information relevant to the job sought after, anything you have published if relevant to the job objectives, hobbies, special achievements etc. REFEREES – At least two names are to be mentioned with complete address and contact numbers. They can be your previous employer, teacher etc. Prior permission must be obtained from the referees before quoting their names. 8) 9) 10) 11) 32 | P a g e
Skeleton Layout- Using such a simple display your CV will look neat and attractive, and a potential employer will be able to see all your details at a glance CURRICULAM VITAE Personal Details Name Address Telephone Nationality Date of Birth Marital Status POSITION SOUGHT The vacant position you are seeking Compose a summarised personal profile Tabulate in 3 columns in chronological order List them all individually Present job first, working backwards Hobbies? Special achievements? Results awaited? Previous employer, teacher etc. PROFILE EDUCATION Dates QUALIFICATIONS School/College Course Dates Examining Body Subject WORKING EXPERIENCE Dates Employer Position/Duties ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REFEREES 1 Month and year only Date 2 3 | P a g e MEMORANDUM Memorandum, or memos as they are usually called, form a widely used communication channel throughout an organisation, operating in all directions- vertically, horizontally and diagonally. Purposes of a Memorandum: ? ? ? ? ? to convey information, instructions or requirements to put forward suggestions or ideas for consideration to ask for assistance or co-operation to seek information to clarify some details etc. To instruct or to inform staff MEMO to make suggestions To request action to report on progress To remind something to provide information 34 | P a g e Tips for Better Memos 1. Make a plan first before writing your memo.
Group your points together into a logical sequence. 2. Ensure your message is as clear as possible, stating all the background information and putting forward all the facts without being long winded. 3. Separate the message into points, grouping related points together in paragraphs. Make sure the paragraphs are organised in a logical sequence for easier reading and understanding. 4. Take time to improve your presentation so that the message looks good. 5. Use numbered points and sub-headings where appropriate. 6. Use simple, clear and business-like language. 7. Keep your message brief and to the point, without any unnecessary information. 8.
Make sure the tone of your message is appropriate, considering the reader, sender and the topic. 9. Adopt the personal ? you‘ and ? I‘, with a natural, conversational style. 10. Keep your tone positive where possible. 35 | P a g e Example of a memo: MEMO Use typical memo heading TO : All Staff at Rennaisance Centre Burger King FROM : Johnson Muthu, Manager DATE : 13 December, 2009 SUBJECT : New Educational Incentives Plan Open with the specific information Do not include inside address or salutation Beginning January 2010, you can take advantage of an exciting new education programme for all employees of our Rennaisance Centre Burger King. The programme will allow you to receive free books and tuition to Bukit Beruang Community College.
Anyone who works at least 10 hours a week is eligible although you are not required to participate. The programme is open to all employees regardless of how long they‘ve worked at this centre. Those who participate will continue to earn their usual salary for the time they work. All participants are encouraged to do their best in their courses. Salaries won‘t be affected by the academic performance in their courses. I‘ll be happy to answer any questions you might have about how working for Burger King can help you earn free college tuition; jus