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There are two distinct parts to this assignment. The first is to
provide reflective ideas for the following three course outcomes. The three course outcomes of interest:1. Apply communication
theories to organizational communication challenges.2. Recognize and respond
constructively to cultural differences in communication.3. Analyze and assess the
communication dynamics of an organization through the completion of a communication
audit.*************************************************************************************Begin with an Introduction page, develop at least one page for each of the three outcomes you’ve selected. Be sure to include a Reference page at the end. You will have a minimum of 5 pages. On each outcome page:Provide the specific course outcome previously selected.Explain in 1-2 paragraphs how each outcome relates to the course. Use only the e-resources providedPost one artifact for each outcome (video, paper, chart, clipart or any type of file you wish to use) and that demonstrates understanding of each outcome. Explain, in detailed sentences and approx. 2-3 paragraphs how each artifact relates to the course outcome.
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This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative
Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without
attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.
Chapter 1
Effective Business Communication
Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual
valuing.
Rollo May
I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure
you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
Robert J. McCloskey, former State Department spokesman
Getting Started
Communication is an activity, skill, and art that incorporates lessons learned across a
wide spectrum of human knowledge. Perhaps the most time-honored form of
communication is storytelling. We’ve told each other stories for ages to help make sense
of our world, anticipate the future, and certainly to entertain ourselves. The art of
storytelling draws on your understanding of yourself, your message, and how you
communicate it to an audience that is simultaneously communicating back to you. Your
anticipation, reaction, and adaptation to the process will determine how successfully
you are able to communicate. You were not born knowing how to write or even how to
talk—but in the process of growing up, you have undoubtedly learned how to tell, and
how not tell, a story out loud and in writing.
You didn’t learn to text in a day and didn’t learn all the codes—from LOL (laugh out
loud) to BRB (be right back)—right away. In the same way, learning to communicate
well requires you to read and study how others have expressed themselves, then adapt
what you have learned to your present task—whether it is texting a brief message to a
friend, presenting your qualifications in a job interview, or writing a business report.
You come to this text with skills and an understanding that will provide a valuable
foundation as we explore the communication process.
Effective communication takes preparation, practice, and persistence. There are many
ways to learn communication skills; the school of experience, or “hard knocks,” is one of
them. But in the business environment, a “knock” (or lesson learned) may come at the
expense of your credibility through a blown presentation to a client. The classroom
environment, with a compilation of information and resources such as a text, can offer
you a trial run where you get to try out new ideas and skills before you have to use them
to communicate effectively to make a sale or form a new partnership. Listening to
yourself, or perhaps the comments of others, may help you reflect on new ways to
present, or perceive, thoughts, ideas and concepts. The net result is your growth;
ultimately your ability to communicate in business will improve, opening more doors
than you might anticipate.
As you learn the material in this text, each part will contribute to the whole. The degree
to which you attend to each part will ultimately help give you the skills, confidence, and
preparation to use communication in furthering your career.
1.1 Why Is It Important to Communicate Well?
L EA RNING O B JEC T IV ES
1. Recognize the importance of communication in gaining a better understanding of
yourself and others.
2. Explain how communication skills help you solve problems, learn new things, and build
your career.
Communication is key to your success—in relationships, in the workplace, as a citizen of
your country, and across your lifetime. Your ability to communicate comes from
experience, and experience can be an effective teacher, but this text and the related
business communication course will offer you a wealth of experiences gathered from
professional speakers across their lifetimes. You can learn from the lessons they’ve
learned and be a more effective communicator right out of the gate.
Business communication can be thought of as a problem solving activity in which
individuals may address the following questions:

What is the situation?

What are some possible communication strategies?

What is the best course of action?

What is the best way to design the chosen message?

What is the best way to deliver the message?
In this book, we will examine this problem solving process and help you learn to apply it
in the kinds of situations you are likely to encounter over the course of your career.
Communication Influences Your Thinking about Yourself and Others
We all share a fundamental drive to communicate. Communication can be defined as
the process of understanding and sharing meaning. [1] You share meaning in what you
say and how you say it, both in oral and written forms. If you could not communicate,
what would life be like? A series of never-ending frustrations? Not being able to ask for
what you need or even to understand the needs of others?
Being unable to communicate might even mean losing a part of yourself, for you
communicate your self-concept—your sense of self and awareness of who you are—in
many ways. Do you like to write? Do you find it easy to make a phone call to a stranger
or to speak to a room full of people? Perhaps someone told you that you don’t speak
clearly or your grammar needs improvement. Does that make you more or less likely to
want to communicate? For some, it may be a positive challenge, while for others it may
be discouraging. But in all cases, your ability to communicate is central to your selfconcept.
Take a look at your clothes. What are the brands you are wearing? What do you think
they say about you? Do you feel that certain styles of shoes, jewelry, tattoos, music, or
even automobiles express who you are? Part of your self-concept may be that you
express yourself through texting, or through writing longer documents like essays and
research papers, or through the way you speak.
On the other side of the coin, your communications skills help you to understand
others—not just their words, but also their tone of voice, their nonverbal gestures, or the
format of their written documents provide you with clues about who they are and what
their values and priorities may be. Active listening and reading are also part of being a
successful communicator.
Communication Influences How You Learn
When you were an infant, you learned to talk over a period of many months. When you
got older, you didn’t learn to ride a bike, drive a car, or even text a message on your cell
phone in one brief moment. You need to begin the process of improving your speaking
and writing with the frame of mind that it will require effort, persistence, and selfcorrection.
You learn to speak in public by first having conversations, then by answering questions
and expressing your opinions in class, and finally by preparing and delivering a “standup” speech. Similarly, you learn to write by first learning to read, then by writing and
learning to think critically. Your speaking and writing are reflections of your thoughts,
experience, and education. Part of that combination is your level of experience listening
to other speakers, reading documents and styles of writing, and studying formats similar
to what you aim to produce.
As you study business communication, you may receive suggestions for improvement
and clarification from speakers and writers more experienced than yourself. Take their
suggestions as challenges to improve; don’t give up when your first speech or first draft
does not communicate the message you intend. Stick with it until you get it right. Your
success in communicating is a skill that applies to almost every field of work, and it
makes a difference in your relationships with others.
Remember, luck is simply a combination of preparation and timing. You want to be
prepared to communicate well when given the opportunity. Each time you do a good
job, your success will bring more success.
Communication Represents You and Your Employer
You want to make a good first impression on your friends and family, instructors, and
employer. They all want you to convey a positive image, as it reflects on them. In your
career, you will represent your business or company in spoken and written form. Your
professionalism and attention to detail will reflect positively on you and set you up for
success.
In both oral and written situations, you will benefit from having the ability to
communicate clearly. These are skills you will use for the rest of your life. Positive
improvements in these skills will have a positive impact on your relationships, your
prospects for employment, and your ability to make a difference in the world.
Communication Skills Are Desired by Business and Industry
Oral and written communication proficiencies are consistently ranked in the top ten
desirable skills by employer surveys year after year. In fact, high-powered business
executives sometimes hire consultants to coach them in sharpening their
communication skills. According to the National Association of Colleges and
Employers, [2] the following are the top five personal qualities or skills potential
employers seek:
1. Communication skills (verbal and written)
2. Strong work ethic
3. Teamwork skills (works well with others, group communication)
4. Initiative
5. Analytical skills
Knowing this, you can see that one way for you to be successful and increase your
promotion potential is to increase your abilities to speak and write effectively.
In September 2004, the National Commission on Writing for America’s Families,
Schools, and Colleges published a study on 120 human resource directors
titled Writing: A Ticket to Work…Or a Ticket Out, A Survey of Business Leaders. [3] The
study found that “writing is both a ‘marker’ of high-skill, high-wage, professional work
and a ‘gatekeeper’ with clear equity implications,” said Bob Kerrey, president of New
School University in New York and chair of the commission. “People unable to express
themselves clearly in writing limit their opportunities for professional, salaried
employment.” [4]
On the other end of the spectrum, it is estimated that over forty million Americans are
illiterate, or unable to functionally read or write. If you are reading this book, you may
not be part of an at-risk group in need of basic skill development, but you still may need
additional training and practice as you raise your skill level.
An individual with excellent communication skills is an asset to every organization. No
matter what career you plan to pursue, learning to express yourself professionally in
speech and in writing will help you get there.
[1] Pearson, J., & Nelson, P. (2000). An introduction to human communication: understanding
and sharing (p. 6). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.
[2] National Association of Colleges and Employers. (2009). Frequently asked questions.
Retrieved from http://www.naceweb.org/Press/Frequently_Asked_Questions.aspx?referal=
[3] National Commission on Writing for America’s Families, Schools, and Colleges. (2004,
September). Writing: A Ticket to Work…Or a Ticket Out, A Survey of Business Leaders. Retrieved
fromhttp://www.writingcommission.org/pr/writing_for_employ.html
[4] The College Board. (2004, September). Writing skills necessary for employment, says big
business: Writing can be a ticket to professional jobs, says blue-ribbon group. Retrieved
fromhttp://www.writingcommission.org/pr/writing_for_employ.html
1.2 What Is Communication?
L EA RNING O B JEC T IV ES
1. Define communication and describe communication as a process.
2. Identify and describe the eight essential components of communication.
3. Identify and describe two models of communication.
Many theories have been proposed to describe, predict, and understand the behaviors
and phenomena of which communication consists. When it comes to communicating in
business, we are often less interested in theory than in making sure our communications
generate the desired results. But in order to achieve results, it can be valuable to
understand what communication is and how it works.
Defining Communication
The root of the word “communication” in Latin is communicare, which means to share,
or to make common. [1] Communication is defined as the process of understanding and
sharing meaning. [2]
At the center of our study of communication is the relationship that involves interaction
between participants. This definition serves us well with its emphasis on the process,
which we’ll examine in depth across this text, of coming to understand and share
another’s point of view effectively.
The first key word in this definition is process. A process is a dynamic activity that is
hard to describe because it changes. [3] Imagine you are alone in your kitchen thinking.
Someone you know (say, your mother) enters the kitchen and you talk briefly. What has
changed? Now, imagine that your mother is joined by someone else – someone you
haven’t met before – and this stranger listens intently as you speak, almost as if you were
giving a speech. What has changed? Your perspective might change, and you might
watch your words more closely. The feedback or response from your mother and the
stranger (who are, in essence, your audience) may cause you to reevaluate what you are
saying. When we interact, all these factors—and many more—influence the process of
communication.
The second key word is “understanding”: “To understand is to perceive, to interpret, and
to relate our perception and interpretation to what we already know.” [4] If a friend tells
you a story about falling off a bike, what image comes to mind? Now your friend points
out the window and you see a motorcycle lying on the ground. Understanding the words
and the concepts or objects they refer to is an important part of the communication
process.
Next comes the word sharing. Sharing means doing something together with one or
more people. You may share a joint activity, as when you share in compiling a report; or
you may benefit jointly from a resource, as when you and several coworkers share a
pizza. In communication, sharing occurs when you convey thoughts, feelings, ideas, or
insights to others. You can also share with yourself (a process called intrapersonal
communication) when you bring ideas to consciousness, ponder how you feel about
something, or figure out the solution to a problem and have a classic “Aha!” moment
when something becomes clear.
Finally, meaning is what we share through communication. The word “bike” represents
both a bicycle and a short name for a motorcycle. By looking at the context the word is
used in and by asking questions, we can discover the shared meaning of the word and
understand the message.
Eight Essential Components of Communication
In order to better understand the communication process, we can break it down into a
series of eight essential components:
1. Source
2. Message
3. Channel
4. Receiver
5. Feedback
6. Environment
7. Context
8. Interference
Each of these eight components serves an integral function in the overall process. Let’s
explore them one by one.
Source
The source imagines, creates, and sends the message. In a public speaking situation, the
source is the person giving the speech. He or she conveys the message by sharing new
information with the audience. The speaker also conveys a message through his or her
tone of voice, body language, and choice of clothing. The speaker begins by first
determining the message—what to say and how to say it. The second step involves
encoding the message by choosing just the right order or the perfect words to convey the
intended meaning. The third step is to present or send the information to the receiver or
audience. Finally, by watching for the audience’s reaction, the source perceives how well
they received the message and responds with clarification or supporting information.
Message
“The message is the stimulus or meaning produced by the source for the receiver or
audience.” [5] When you plan to give a speech or write a report, your message may seem
to be only the words you choose that will convey your meaning. But that is just the
beginning. The words are brought together with grammar and organization. You may
choose to save your most important point for last. The message also consists of the way
you say it—in a speech, with your tone of voice, your body language, and your
appearance—and in a report, with your writing style, punctuation, and the headings and
formatting you choose. In addition, part of the message may be the environment or
context you present it in and the noise that might make your message hard to hear or
see.
Imagine, for example, that you are addressing a large audience of sales reps and are
aware there is a World Series game tonight. Your audience might have a hard time
settling down, but you may choose to open with, “I understand there is an important
game tonight.” In this way, by expressing verbally something that most people in your
audience are aware of and interested in, you might grasp and focus their attention.
Channel
“The channel is the way in which a message or messages travel between source and
receiver.” [6] For example, think of your television. How many channels do you have on
your television? Each channel takes up some space, even in a digital world, in the cable
or in the signal that brings the message of each channel to your home. Television
combines an audio signal you hear with a visual signal you see. Together they convey the
message to the receiver or audience. Turn off the volume on your television. Can you
still understand what is happening? Many times you can, because the body language
conveys part of the message of the show. Now turn up the volume but turn around so
that you cannot see the television. You can still hear the dialogue and follow the story
line.
Similarly, when you speak or write, you are using a channel to convey your message.
Spoken channels include face-to-face conversations, speeches, telephone conversations
and voice mail messages, radio, public address systems, and voice over Internet protocol
(VoIP). Written channels include letters, memorandums, purchase orders, invoices,
newspaper and magazine articles, blogs, e-mail, text messages, tweets, and so forth.
Receiver
“The receiver receives the message from the source, analyzing and interpreting the
message in ways both intended and unintended by the source.” [7] To better understand
this component, think of a receiver on a football team. The quarterback throws the
football (message) to a receiver, who must see and interpret where to catch the ball. The
quarterback may intend for the receiver to “catch” his message in one way, but the
receiver may see things differently and miss the football (the intended meaning)
altogether.
As a receiver you listen, see, touch, smell, and/or taste to receive a message. Your
audience “sizes you up,” much as you might check them out long before you take the
stage or open your mouth. The nonverbal responses of your listeners can serve as clues
on how to adjust your opening. By imagining yourself in their place, you anticipate what
you would look for if you were them. Just as a quarterback plans where the receiver will
be in order to place the ball correctly, you too can recognize the interaction between
source and receiver in a business communication context. All of this happens at the
same time, illustrating why and how communication is always changing.
Feedback
When you respond to the source, intentionally or unintentionally, you are giving
feedback. Feedback is composed of messages the receiver sends back to the source.
Verbal or nonverbal, all these feedback signals allow the source to see how well, how
accurately (or how poorly and inaccurately) the message was received. Feedback also
provides an opportunity for the receiver or audience to ask for clarification, to agree or
disagree, or to indicate that the source …
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