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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Business Communication I Notes: Practices in Business Communication


Unit – 3: Practices in Business Communication
Effective Listening:
Listening is an essential part of spoken communication. Speaking and listening go together and oral communication can not be effective without proper listening. Poor listening defeats the very purpose of spoken words. Listening is a deliberate effort and is much more than hearing. It requires getting the full meaning of what is being said.
Listening effectively takes skill, self-motivation, and practice. Effective listening means concentrating on what the speaker says rather than on how it is said. Lack of attention and respectful listening can be costly - leading to mistakes, poor service, misaligned goals, wasted time and lack of teamwork.
Reasons for Effective Listening
Listening is an important aspect of business communication. It stands third after writing and speaking. A business communicator has to listen to various customer, employees, officer, suppliers, financiers etc. Obviously, it is an unavoidable task for a business person. This important reason as to why a business communicator should known about listening is enumerated as under.
(1) To gain new information and ideas.
(2) To question and test evidence and assumptions.
(3) To be inspired and motivated.
(4) To improve overall communication.
The explanation of these points is as under:
1. To gain new information and ideas: A business person has to get new information and ideas from various parties. For example he gets the information from customers regarding the product. He takes various ideas from the employees inside the organization. He receives order or instruction forms his superiors. He gets training form his instructor. All these activities require him to be a good listener.
2. To question test evidence and assumptions: Any activity, particularly business, activity requires good analytical skill to survive in the environment. A good listener does not feel much difficulty in doing so. The message of speaker mostly consists of facts (Verifiable data) or opinions (inferences). Good listeners test those facts and opinions against assumptions and then question the speaker. In this way he is able to analyze the massage and treat it on its merit.
3. To be inspired a motivated: A dynamic business man wants to be motivated again and again. Good listening enables him to take inspiration from the message and brings about enthusiasm in his attitude.
4. To improve overall communication: A business person needs strong communication skills to survive in the market. And to face a high degree of competition. This can only be achieved by having strength in all areas of communicating i.e. writing, reading, speaking and particularly listening.
Listening is of various types depending upon the speaker
a)      Discriminative Listening:  When the listener differentiates between different parts of the speaker messages.
b)      Evaluative Listening: Listening is said to be evaluative when the listener evaluates the evidence and reaches a conclusion.
c)       Appreciative Listening: - Here the listener shows by words or his body language that he likes some part of a speech and agrees with the speaker.
d)      Empathic Listening: When the listener puts himself in the place of the position of the speaker it is called Empathic Listening.
e)      Active Listening: When the listener genuinely interested in understanding what the other person is thinking, feeling, wanting or what the message means, and active in checking out our understanding it is called active listening.
LISTENING -PROCESS
Listening is a seven stage process of:
a)      Hearing
b)      Selecting
c)       Attending
d)      Understanding
e)      Evaluating
f)       Remembering
g)      and responding actively with feedback
This process can be summarized in to four steps. The Four Steps of Listening are:
a)      Hearing is the first step in the process. At this stage, Listener has to pay attention to make sure that he heard the message.
b)      The second step is interpretation. Failure to interpret the speaker's words correctly frequently leads to misunderstanding. People sometimes interpret words differently because of varying experience, knowledge, vocabulary, culture, background, and attitudes.
c)       A good speaker uses tone of voice, facial expressions, and mannerisms to help make the message clear to the listener. During the third step, evaluation, Listener has to decide what to do with the information he has received. The judgments make in the evaluation stage are a crucial part of the listening process.
d)      The final step is to respond. This is a verbal or visual response that lets the speaker know whether Listener has gotten the message and what his reaction is.
IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING
a)      It helps us to understand the people and the world around us.
b)      In our society, listening is essential to the development and survival of the individual.
c)       Relationships depends more on listening skills than on speaking skills.
d)      A good listener is always in a better position to deal with his problems and relationships.
e)      It helps a person to grow in his career.
f)       It keeps a person well informed
g)      It helps an organization to meet its objectives.
h)      Being listened to spells the difference between feeling accepted and feeing isolated.
i)        A good listener rarely involves himself in controversies and misunderstanding.
j)        Listening skills are critical to effective leadership.
k)      Good listeners are often the best speakers because they have taken the time to find out what people are truly interested in.
Guidelines for effective Listening
Listening is very important aspect of communication. Around 20% of overall communication is listening. Therefore, one should strive for adopting good listening habit. There are following guidelines for good listening:
(1) Preparation before listening.
(2) Listening to understand, not to refute.
(3) Focusing the attention.
(4) Concentration on context.
(5) Taking notes.
(6) Curbing the impulse to interrupt.
(7) Asking questions.
(8) Summary & evaluation.
The details of each point are as follows:
1. Preparation before listening: As already mentioned that listening plays important role in communication. So one should prepare himself before starting listening. In preparation, there are following guidelines:
(i) Stop talking: Human brain can perform one activity efficiently at a time, so during listening there should be no talking by the listener.
(ii) Remove distraction: Noisy fan, traffic noise, entrance of unauthorized persons may interrupt the listening process. All these barriers should be removed.
(iii) Good environmental conditions: There should not be extraordinary cold or warm environment and ventilations should be proper.
2. Listening to understand, not to refute: There could be many topics to which the listener has reservations. Apart form these reservations, the listener should try his best to understand the message.
3. Focusing the attention: There may be many objects on which the listener should construct a mental outline of where the speaker is going in his speech.
4. Concentration on context: The listener should keep in mind the background and theme of speech. This thing enables him to absorb the material quickly and efficiently.
5. Taking notes: Listener should keep on taking notes. Hence, he should jot down ideas rather than sentences. In this way, he/she could make the message safe for a long time.
6. Curbing the impulse to interrupt: One should avoid interrupting the speech until the speaker invites questions. This habit puts the speaker and listener both at ease.
7. Asking questions: Asking right question on right time is quite different form interruption. Listener should have an idea to know right time to ask questions.
8. Summary & evaluation: The listener should summarize and speech but not during listening process.
Hearing Vs Listening
Hearing
Listening
It is a physical ability and not a conscious act.
It is a skill and is a conscious act (Psychological)
Everyone hears unless there is a physical disability
Not everyone listens.
Perceiving sound by the ear
Making an effort to hear and it involves reception, analysis, interpretation and response
It is an Involuntary act.
It is Voluntary act.
In case of hearing, We hear sound and noise but do not understand much
In case of listening, we understand what is being said or heard
Does not need focus.
Needs focus and care.
Hearing uses only one of the five senses which is hearing.
Listening uses hearing, seeing and sometimes the sense of touch too.
It is Passive in nature.
It is Active in nature.
Group Discussion
Group Discussion is an important tool in the selection process. It is mostly used for selecting candidates for management posts. Here, the candidates are divided into small groups. Each group contains six to eight candidates. Each group is given a topic for discussion. They are also given a time limit for discussing this topic. The topic may be a general or current topic. For e.g. "Leaders are born, not made". Each participant has to give his or her views about this topic. The selectors observe the full discussion. After the time limit is over, the best candidate from the group is selected. The same process is followed for other groups.
Group discussion is mostly unstructured. That is, every single step is not planned in advance. Each candidate is not given a time limit for speaking. Similarly, the order of speaking, that is, who will speak first and who will speak last is not fixed in advance. The candidates have to decide how to conduct the group discussion. The selectors see how the group takes shape, and who contributes most to it. They also judge the knowledge of each candidate, time management, leadership quality, behaviour, etc.
Purposes/Objectives of group discussion:
Group discussion actually detail the area of approach to a problem or topic. A fruitful group discussion should include the following objectives:
1. Suggestions: Advice and ideas, together with suggestions, they form the core heart of a group discussion. It is through these tools that a meaningful and practically implementable solution can be reached. Intermingling of these suggestions give rise to a new ones, creating a space for best possible output.
2. Wide approach: Group discussion helps to provide wide approach to any matter under consideration, as it include members from a large number of different sections of a particular business organisation. The beauty of entire process is in the area of span it can give to a problem’s redressal.
3. Decision Making: Group discussion should be able to justify itself as a tool for rational evaluation of a problem and thereon reach to a suitable decisions, based on erstwhile suggestions made by the members. It also makes it easier for the leader to able to take even the toughest of decision with an ease, because by group discussion he can know what is supported by other members of the organisation.
4. Exchange of ideas: Group discussion should also be able to tap the working of every mind, engaged in the process, by the exchange of ideas put forth.
5. Productive activity: Group discussion is always supposed to be a productive activity in a business concern. It always a method which helps to procure the best possible decision for a concern.
Advantages of Group discussions: A group discussion has the following advantages:
1. More rational decision: The Group can produce more rational decisions because of deep understanding and application of many minds in comparison to a single mind.
2. More means: The group can pull together better resources. The joint resources of the group would be superior to the resources of an individual.
3. Division of labour: The group decision may lead to division of labour. People specializing in different fields will contribute their expertise separately to achieve a better goal. In group discussions, the process of sharing of views helps to eliminate errors of judgement.
4. Commitment: Group discussions results in commitment as it gives a feeling of involvement and acceptance of the decision.
5. Increase in knowledge: Group discussion increases the knowledge and understanding of the participants. They exchange ideas, views, opinions and discuss the same at length. There is practically no chance of ambiguity.
6. Solution for complex problems: Modern organisations face sufficiently complex problems. Their solution calls for group discussion wherein persons with different abilities express their valued opinions.
7. Encouragement of democratic and innovative thinking: All members enjoy full freedom and opportunity to express their opinion in group discussion. As a result of it, development of democratic and innovative thinking get encouraged.
Limitations of group discussions: A group discussion also suffers from certain limitations:
1. Delay: Group discussion take time to be arranged and to take decisions.
2. Conflicts: The members whose views are not accepted may feel offended. Personal conflicts and rivalry may obstruct proper and timely decision.
Why are Group Discussions used as a part of the selection process? 
Nowadays, be it any stream or field, interaction skills are highly valued. By means of group discussions recruiters judge candidates capabilities in and out. Group discussions have become an integral step of evaluation for process of recruitment and admissions. These discussions are aimed at appraising various aspects of personality like confidence, communication skill, patience, etc. At the same time Group discussions are also important to evaluate one’s command on the given topic. 
Group Discussions measure certain attributes of the candidates that are otherwise difficult to identify and time consuming to assess. A number of people who can communicate their ideas well and discuss effectively with others in a one-to-one situation become tongue-tied in a group situation. They will just not be able to present their ideas or discuss their ideas with the other members of the group. A Group Discussion will identify people who have such group communication skills and people who do not possess such group communication skills.
In today's context, the organizations are interested in team players rather than individual contributors. During the Group Discussion, the panel essentially evaluates the candidate's potential to be a leader and also his/her ability to work in teams. Most organizations today are very clear about the skills and knowledge that they look for in a candidate while screening. This was not the case a couple of years ago. Group Discussion has been a part of the Selection process for admission into most of the top Business Schools  Earlier, some of the Pharmaceutical Companies like Ranbaxy, Glaxo, Cipla, Lupin, etc used to conduct Group Discussions as a part of their Screening Process for Selection of candidates as Medical Representatives. Most of the other companies also used to conduct GD while selecting candidates for marketing related Posts. Today, almost every company, (including TCS, SATYAM, WIPRO, INFOSYS, INFOTECH, ORACLE, CTS, CANBAY, POLARIS, etc) both IT and non-IT has GD as part of their Selection Process. 
The skills that are usually assessed in a Group Discussion are: 
• Communication Skills 
• Interpersonal Skills 
• Leadership Skills 
• Motivational Skills 
• Team Building Skills 
• Tolerance to Ambiguity 
• Divergent Thinking 
• Listening skills 
• Presentation Skills 
• Analytical / Logical skills,
So, it's important to assess candidate’s current strengths in all these areas and accordingly put efforts to strengthen their weaknesses.
Tips for Success in GDs (Group Discussions) 
a)      Initiate - Break the ice, be the first one to start the discussion, if somebody else has started, relax. There are a lot of opportunities later. 
b)      Listen - Carefully. Communication is a lot about listening. Listen, Comprehend, Analyse. When you listen carefully, it allows you to contemplate and analyse which helps in speaking the right thing at the right time. 
c)       Remember - Names, Facts, Figures, Quotations. It helps a lot if you know who has spoken what. If permitted, you can use a notepad to write. 
d)      Observe - Body language, how conversation shapes up, gets diverted. Then do the right thing at the right time. 
e)      Manage - People. At times there are people who create difficult situations. These are best opportunities to demonstrate assertive attitude. 
f)       Communicate - Be frank, clear, firm and jovial in your communication. Your voice should reach out but not irritate people. 
g)      Summarise - If you did not initiate the talk, this is the right time. If you have been listening carefully, your summary will be the best one. 
Mock Interview
A Mock Interview is a practice interview designed to simulate a real job interview as closely as possible.  Mock interviews are one of the best ways to improve interview skills and prepare for an interview.  The practice gained in a mock interview is invaluable. Mock interviews can be completed in person, by phone or by video conference.  All three methods work well.  The key to success in a mock interview is recreating the interview experience as much as possible.
Purposes/Objectives of mock interview
a)      Practicing for actual interview.
b)      Describes the manner of actual interview.
c)       Develops the strategy of interview.
d)      Minimize worry and anxiety prior to actual interview.
e)      Aims at making firms impression effective.
f)       Practicing communicating of one’s skill clearly.
Importance/Significance of Mock Interview
Mock interviews enable candidates to have a fair idea about the sort of things they are going to experience at actual interviews, and prepare them how accurately they can deal with it. Generally these interviews are organized by career services where a career coach trains the students and recent alumni for the new opportunities they can explore by being perfect at the actual interview sessions. But, accuracy does not come automatically. It needs a thorough practice and guidance from an expert trainer. Mock interviews do just the exact thing with the candidates to bring them to perfection and boost their confidence.
Mock interviews help candidates reduce their anxiety about interviewing by training them for the typical interview questions. The person conducting the mock interview session is most likely an experienced interviewer and a skilled trainer, who can guide candidates whether or not their responses are suitable, along with providing them the most appropriate set of response they should practice. In the process the candidates gain their confidence by having the knowledge about their strengths and shortcomings. No one is perfect enough to execute everything faultlessly, so the purpose of these mock interviews is to point out one’s weaknesses and guide them to bring perfection by rectifying those.
Mock interviews also prepare job seekers for behavioral-based issues in an interview. In a real interview the behavioral standard is judged much by the interviewee’s body language. So, it is very important to know how one can appear best by employing those standard set of gestures. From the moment of entry in the interview room everything about the posture will be marked minutely. Therefore, one needs to know very accurately about what the things are that one should do and what not. Right from the way of stepping into the room, greetings to the panelists, way of looking at them, style of sitting and manner of responding to them – everything counts on. And mock interview sessions are the best ways to gather knowledge about all these little details which are too important to overlook.
16 Questions which are asked normally during mock interview:
The biggest style decision in a mock interview deals with follow up questions.  Some interviewers foster a dialog with a lot of follow up questions, while others take the answer from the job seeker and move on to the next question.  In most cases, candidates struggle more when they are not asked follow up questions, but each job seeker is different.  The mock interview should mimic the style of the upcoming interview if possible.  Questions which are asked during mock interview:
What was the toughest decision you had to make?
Why do you want to work for this organisation?
Why should we employ you?
If we hire you, what changes would you make?
Can you offer a career path?
What are you greatest strengths?
What are you greatest weakness?
What didn’t you like about your previous jobs you have held?
How do you spend your leisure time?
Are there weakness in your education or experience?
Where do you want to five years from now?
What are your salary expectations?
What would you do if your computer broke down during an audit?
What type of position you interested in?
Tell me something about yourself.
Do you have any questions about the organisation or job?
Seminar
A seminar may be defined as “a discussion in a small group in which the result of research or advance study is presented through oral or written reports.” Seminar is simply group communication in which open person makes a presentation or speech on a topic by highlighting it contents in the light of present and pressing problems. This presentation or speech is followed by questions and expect comments from the audience. Thus seminar is mixture of speech and group discussion. During seminar one person acts as chairman of the session and conducts the seminar by introducing the topic and the speaker. At the end of the session, he asks the audience to raise questions and ensures that the discussion follows in the light of the theme.
Significance of seminar
Seminar helps bring expert in a particular subject together to present their experiences and vies. There is a meaningful discussion on the papers, presented, their summaries and recommendations, if any, of these papers are published in the form of a report for wider circulation.
A seminar is an effective method of oral communication. Thus, one important aspect of a seminar is thorough and indepth knowledge of the subject and proper delivery. This involves careful articulation, stress on important words and effective modulation of the voice.
How to Make Seminar Effective
The effectiveness of seminar depends upon how different parties and persons play their role in effective way. These parties and persons include organizations, speakers, chairperson and audience.
Organizer’s Role: To make seminar effective, organizers should
a)      Plan the seminar in advance by deciding the date, venue and theme of the seminar.
b)      Publish the relevant material in advance.
c)       Advertise it is newspapers and invite various participants within time.
d)      Ensure the proper arrangement of OHP, slides, lighting, and other audio visual aids.
e)      Facilitate arrangement of sitting, tea or lunch, etc.
Speaker’s Role: The speaker of seminar should
a)      Prepare the topic before hand by searching the material from library and websites, organizing the in the topic in logical order and pondering over the various relevant issues.
b)      Ensure that his speech is informative, illuminating and interesting.
c)       Use the appropriate visual aids like OHP, transparencies, slides, etc.
d)      Take the time limits into consideration.
e)      Try to answer maximum questions of the audience of the end.
f)       Convey thanks to the audience for their patient listening.
g)      How speech or presentation can be made effective, have been discussed in the chapter on speech and presentation.
Chair Person’s Role: The chairperson of the session should
a)      Introducer the topic briefly. This should be followed by the speaker’s introduction in brief by highlighting ht area of his specialization and his achievements.
b)      Ensure that the speaker finishes his speech within the time limit.
c)       Invite questions from audience at the end of the speech.
d)      Ensure that the discussion follows in the light of the theme and no one hurts the feelings of another during question/answer session.
e)      Sum up findings of the speech after question answer session.
f)       Thanks the speaker and the audience at the end.
Audience’s Role: The audience should
a)      Occupy seats before the start of the seminar.
b)      Listen patiently to the speeches of various speakers.
c)       Note down important points and citations.
d)      Avoid distributing the speaker during the speech.
e)      Ask relevant question
f)       Stay till the conclusion of the seminar.
Individual and Group presentation
In business communication, the word presentation means a “prepared speech on a given topic that is made to a small audience”. A presentation can be classified into two categories: Individual Presentation and Group Presentation.
In Individual type of presentation, there is only one speaker who expresses his views on a given topic to an audience. Individual presentations allow a person to completely control the thoughts, ideas and methods of presenting without outside influence if they choose. An individual presentation is based solely on one person's thoughts, time, and effort.
A group presentation is supposed to be a subject matter with content that is agreed upon by all of the members present. A group presentation needs to incorporate the thoughts and opinions of the people in that group. This allows for more viewpoints and can lead to an overall improved and effective presentation. While individual presentations allow someone to work at their own leisure and pace, group projects require a sacrifice of time and increased effort to meet outside of class and possibly at crazy times. Group projects usually offer less flexibility and can be much harder to accomplish things if too many people are running in too many different directions.

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