Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Business Communication: Meaning, Types, Barriers and Improvements



Meaning of the term “Communication”
The term communication is derived from a Latin word „communis‟ which means common. This means establishing a common ground. Now whatever is common is shared by all. But what is that which is shared by all in communication? It is fact, ideas, understanding, opinions, information etc.
In the words of Newman, Summer & Warren, “communication is an exchange of facts, ideas, and opinions by two or more persons.”
According to Keith Davis, Communication is the process of passing information and understanding from one person to another.”
Communication should not be interpreted as merely sending or receiving messages. It involves a systematic and continuous process of telling, listening and understanding. It is a two way process and is complete only when there is some response from the receiver of information.
Nature or Characteristics of communication

An analysis of various definitions of communication revel the nature or characteristics of communication which are as follows:-
1.       Communication involves at least two persons: Communication involves at least two persons the sender and the receiver. The sender sends the messages and is known as the communicator. The receiver receives the message and is known as communicate.
2.       Communication is a two way process: Communication is essentially a two way process. It does not merely means sending and receiving messages. It is not complete unless and until the message has been understood by the receiver in the same sense.
3.       Purpose of communication: This basic purpose of communication is to create an understanding. The receiver should understand the message sent and should response accordingly.
4.       Form of communication: Communication may take several form e.g. order, instruction, report, queries etc. it may be verbal or written. It may be formal or informal.
5.       Scope of communication: communication pervades all human relationship. It is essential in all type of organizational and at all levels of management.
6.       Communication is a dynamic process: Communication is influenced by the mood and thinking of the sender and receiver. The way a message is accepted depends upon the fact that which of the fine sensory organs of the receiver is active at that time.
7.       Communication is much more than words: Communication is not merely sending or receiving facts, expressed in words. It also involves ideas and emotions. A lot of communication is done through signs, symbols and gestures.
8.       Communication is a goal oriented process: Communication is a goal oriented and effective only when there is congruence of goals of sender and receiver.
Significance (Need) of Business communication
Communication is the life blood of business. It is an all pervasive function of management. Today the organizational structure is designed on the basis of specialization and division of labour. Large number of people work together who are functionally related to each other. Thus, co ordination is must amongst the workmen. Co-ordination can be achieved only when there is mutual trust and understanding between them. This understanding is created by effective communication. Thus communication is an essential ingredient for effective management. Further the role of communication may be summed up as:-
1.       The objectives, plans and policies of the organization are cleared to the workers through communication.
2.       It provides unity of direction to various activities of the enterprise.
3.       It helps in controlling and coordinating the various activities of the organization.
4.       It helps in motivating the workers of an organization.
5.       It helps the managers to develop their managerial skill.
According to Sir John Harvey-Jones, “Communication is the single most essential skill. Effective   communication is the need of the day.” In recent times communication has become all more essential due to the following reasons:-
1.       Growth in the size of the business organization: An efficient system of communication is required because the business organizations are growing tremendously. Thousands of people work in the organization. Organizations have factories or offices in different parts of the country or even world.
2.       Advance technology: Day by day rapid changes are taking place in science and technology leading to obsolescence of old technology. Thus in order to upgrade or modernize technology proper communication between the superior and subordinate in an organization is a must.
3.       Tough competition in the market: Globalization and liberalization have resulted in cut throat competition. Thus to survive such competition, persuasive communication in form of advertisement, publicity, personal contacts are essential.
4.       Growing specialization: Division of work paved way for specialists to work in different department’s sound communication is thus essential for ensuring mutual cooperation and understanding between different departments.
5.       Trade union movement: trade union movement is on its growth. Management now has to consult trade unions on various matters. A strong and meaningful relation between management and trade union is possible only by effective communication.
6.       Human relation: Employee’s participation in management helps to develop among them a sense of loyalty and belongingness towards the organization. Thus effective communication between management and employee is necessary to develop mutual trust and confidence.
7.       Public relations: Public relations help an organization to improve its image in society as the organization has a social responsibility especially towards the customers.
Objectives of Business Communication
The objectives of business communication are wide and large. Information, Order, permission, Warning, Motivation, Advice and Raising morale are activated through the means of communication. The objectives of business communication are stated below:
1. To Exchange Information: The prime objective of communication is to exchange information internally and externally i.e. to deal within the organization and outside the organization.
2. To Achieve Goal: The goal of the organization can be obtained through effective organizational communication. Everybody tries to acquire such goal and therefore it requires effective organizational communication.
3. To Maintain Co-ordination and Co-operation: Co-ordination and co-operation among three levels i.e. corporate level, divisional level and functional level of an Organization are maintained through communication.
4. To Plan: Planning decides what is to be done in future. All the information and data which are required to make a plan for business can be obtained or gathered through communication.
5. To Facilitate Direction and Motivation: The boss gives direction or order to his subordinate. And managers need to motivate their employees to increase the concentration and productivity. Hence, communication helps to facilitate direction and motivation.
6. To Achieve Efficiency: Communication can provide information regarding past and present. It also helps to anticipate about future. So, Communication increases efficiency of the workers by providing instant information.
7. To Solve Problem: Communication can remove the gap between employees and employer. Fruitful communication ensures a network in an Organization to solve problems. Conflict arises and exists in an Organization. Fruitful communication ensures a network to solve conflict. It also removes the gap between employee and employer.
8. To Create Consciousness: Communication helps both employer and employee to be conscious about their respective roles, duties and activities. As a result, responsibility and accountability is located among the concerned persons.
9. To Increase Job Satisfaction: Job satisfaction requires better job environment and better job environment is possible if there exists communication chain. Strong chain helps to overcome job related stress.
10. To Improve Employer-Employee Relationship: To achieve the Organizational objectives, there must be good relationship between employee and employer. And to improve such relationship, there must be effective communication.
Process of Communication
The process of communication is the inter relationship between several independent components. It consists of a chain of related actions and reaction which together result in exchange of information. In order to understand the process of communication, it is necessary to describe each of these components. A model of communication process is as follows:-
1.       SENDER
2.       IDEATION
3.       MESSAGE
4.       INCODING
5.       TRANSMISSION
6.       RECEIVER
7.       DECODING
8.       BEHAV IOUR OF RECIEVER
9.       FEEDBACK
1.       Sender: The sender is the first component of the process of c communication. The sender may be a speaker, a writer or any other person. He is the one who has a message and wants it to share it for some purpose.
2.       Ideation: Ideation is the preliminary step in communication where sender creates an idea to communicate. This idea is the content and basis of the message to be communicated. Several ideas may generate in the sender’s mind. The sender must identify, analyze and arrange the ideas sequentially before transmitting them to the receiver.
3.       Message: Message is the heart of communication. It is what the sender wants to convey to the receiver. It may be verbal i.e. written or spoken or non verbal i.e. body language, space language, etc.
4.       Encoding: To encode is to put an idea into words. In this step the communicator organizes his ideas into a series of symbols or words which will be communicated to the intended receiver. Thus the ideas are converted into words or symbols. The words and the symbols should be selected carefully, it should be understandable and most of all it should be suitable for transmission and reception.
5.       Transmission: Next in the process of communication is transmission of the message as encoded messages are transmitted through various media and channels of communication connects the sender and the receiver. The channel and media should be selected keeping in mind the requirement of the receiver, the communication to be effective and efficient the channel should be appropriate.
6.       Receiver: Receiver is the person or group for whom the message is meant. He may be a listener, a reader or a viewer. Any neglect on the part of the receiver may make the communication ineffective. Receiver is thus the ultimate destination of the message. It the message does not reach the receiver the communication is said to be incomplete.
7.       Decoding: Decoding means translation of symbols encoded by the sender into ideas for understanding. Understanding the message by receiver is the key to the decoding process. The message should be accurately reproduced in the receiver’s mind. If the receiver is unable to understand the message correctly the communication is ineffective.
8.       Behaviour of the receiver: It refers to the response by the receiver of the communication received from the sender. He may like to ignore the message or to store the information received or to perform the task assigned by the sender. Thus communication is complete as soon as the receiver responses.
9.       Feedback: Feedback indicates the result of communication. It is the key element in the communication and is the only way of judging the effectiveness of communication. It enables the sender to know whether his message has been properly interpreted or not. Systematic use of feedback helps to improve future message. Feedback, like the message could be oral, written or non verbal. It has to be collected from the receiver.
Forms of Communication
Communication is the transfer of ideas and information from one person to another person. It is a bridge of meaning among people so that they can share what they fell and know. By using this bridge, a person can safely cross the river of misunderstanding that sometimes separates people. To make successful communication there are different methods/ ways:
(A) On the basis of location of the receiver: Depending on the location of the receiver there are two types of communication:
1. Internal Communication
2. External Communication
1. Internal Communication: Communication among the members of an organization is known as internal communication. That is when executives and employee of an organization communicate each other within the organization then it will be labeled as internal communication.
2. External Communication: When executives and employees of an organization communicates or exchanges information with outsiders of the organization then it is called external communication.
Both internal and external communication can be subdivided into two types:
i. Formal Communication
ii. Informal Communication 
i. Formal Communication:  When information exchanged through formal organization channels by following fixed rules then it is knows as formal communication.
ii. Informal Communication: Fixed rules and system cannot prevent people from talking with each other. Thus the communication that takes place within and outside of an organization through unofficial lines can labeled as informal communication.
(B) On the basis of media of presentation: From this point of view communication can be of three types:
(1) Written communication 
(2) Oral / Verbal Communication
(3) Non-Verbal Communication
(1) Written Communication: When information, ideas, or feelings exchange in written form that is known as written communication. Written communication has its own importance and for some particular purposes it has no other alternatives.
(2) Oral / Verbal Communication: It is a process of communication through words. Verbal communication consists of words arranged in meaningful patterns. Oral communication normally takes place in a face to face situation. It may be formal or informal.
(3) Non-Verbal Communication: Communication without using words or writings known as non-verbal communication. In other words, non-verbal communication means communication through physical movements and facial expressions. Gestures, posture, eye movements, etc. are examples of non-verbal communication.
(C) On the Basis of Information flow: Depending on the flow of information there are different types of communication:
(1) Vertical Communication
(2) Horizontal Communication
(3) Cross / Diagonal Communication
(1) Vertical Communication: When communication takes place between superior and subordinates than it is known as vertical communication. Here flow of information can be of two types:
(i) Downward
(ii) Upward 
(i) Downward: it is the flow of information from higher authority to lower authority.
(ii) Upward: Here the flow of information goes to higher authority from subordinates.
(2) Horizontal Communication: This type of communication flows between employees of equal level.
(3) Cross / Diagonal Communication: Communication across the formal chain of command is known as cross or diagonal communication. In this case executives and employees of different departments and of different levels communicate each other without maintaining the official channels.
(D) Other forms of Communication:  Besides the above types of communication there can be some other forms of communication like mass communication.
Mass Communication: When communication takes place among large group of people then it can be termed as mass communication. There is no formal system for mass communication, it is situational. For different social and political purposes mass communication can takes place.

Barriers of Communication:
Communication is the process of passing information and understanding from one person to another, anything that obstructs the free flow of communication is referred to us Barrier of communication. E.g. Problem in encoding and decoding, wrong or defective communication channel, noise in the channel etc. Barrier may arise at any of the following level:
a)      Sender oriented,
b)      Receiver oriented
Sender-oriented barriers could be voluntary or involuntary. At any cost, efforts should be made on the part of the sender to identify and remove them. As the sender is the originator of communication, he should be extremely careful not to erect barriers. If his interaction gives rise to or indicates that there are barriers, the communication comes to a grinding halt. Some of the barriers that are sender-oriented are as follows:
Receiver can also have some barriers in the course of the interaction. Although his role in the initial phase is passive, he becomes active when he starts assimilating and absorbing the information. He is equally to blame if the situation goes awry and communication comes to a stop, or there is miscommunication. Some of the barriers emanating from the side of the receiver are as follows:
Types of Barriers in communication: The barriers to communication in an organization may be broadly categorized into following groups:
1. Physical barriers (RECEIVER’S ORIENTED)
2. Socio- psychological or personal barriers (RECEIVER’S ORIENTED)
3. Organizational barriers (SENDER’S ORIENTED)
4. Semantic barriers (SENDER’S ORIENTED)
5. Mechanical barriers (SENDER’S ORIENTED)
However, such a classification does not suggest that these are mutually exclusive. Rather, it is helpful in understanding the nature of communication barriers.
1. Physical Barriers: There are the environmental factors that also obstruct or reduces the sending and receiving of communication, such as physical distance distracting noises and other interferences difficulty arises in communicating a message, when the physical distance increases:-
Noise: Noise is first and foremost barrier to effective communication. Noise may be caused by machines, equipment, communication device, disturbances in the time of transmission etc. noise also encompasses many other factors such as the sender may use ambiguous or confusing signal. The receiver may misinterpret the message. Thus communication is likely to be spoilt due to noise.
Time and distance: Time and distance also acts as a barrier in smooth flow of communication. Distance between the sender and receiver acts as a hurdle. Although this barrier can be overcome by technology but still in case of breakdown, this exists. Different timing of shifts at workplace also act as barriers in imparting on vital information.
2. Socio-psychological or personal Barriers: There are certain socio psychological factors which restrict the free flow of communication. They are the attitude and opinions, status consciousness, ones relations with fellow workers, seniors, and junior’s etc. family background. These restrict participative communication:
I. Motives, attitudes, judgments, emotions, and social values of people from the part of the personal barriers. Psychological distance is also developed with this.
II. Individual Differences: There are differences in the motives, attitudes and sentiments of the people. So this causes problems in encoding and decoding other’s sentiments, attitudes and motives.
III. Differences in interest: The interest of people also differs. A problem may be important for one person but may not carry weight for another. The ideas, question, attitudes, feelings etc of other party may represent an obstacle to one’s own personal goal.
IV. Division of People: Communication is ideas and viewpoint also gets affected by the division of people into classes, castes and communities.
V. Difference of viewpoints: Communication suffers when there are differences in view point of the different people.
VI. Lack of planning: Good communication never happens but has to be planned. When people take it lightly and communicate without planning it turns into miscommunication or mal communication.
VII. Cultural barriers: Due to difference in the cultural background the same word, phrases, symbols, actions etc. may mean different to different group of people. Mis understanding may take place due to this.
3. Organizational Barriers: Organisational barriers arise due to defects in the organization structure and the communication system of an organization:
I. Hierarchical distance: Downward communication promotes hierarchical distance. The chances of information being filtered are more at this structure, because there are several layers. Information received from the top may not reach at bottom in the same shape. The information gets coloured which brings hierarchical distance.
II. Diversion: Diversion of information is also one of the causes which brings barrier to communication process. For example sometimes a manager diverts the information meant for one person or group to another.
III. Colouring: Information are also coloured by the manager intentionally with a view to twist the situation in their favour. For example, an office may quote his subordinate wrongly, to spoil his career or his chance of promotion or his image in the eyes of the boss.
IV. Status barriers: Status is a barrier of communication in a formal organization. Organizational interaction and communication are influenced by the status and the expectations.
V. Goal conflicts: Goal conflict acts as communication reducers. Different goal lead to bifurcation of interest. Due to this communication suffers.
4. Semantic Barriers: Semantic means the relationships of signs of their reference. Semantic barrier arises from the disadvantages of the symbolic system. Symbols have got number of meaning and one has to choose any one of them according to the requirement of communication. Symbol or the language is the most important tool of communication which has to be used very carefully:-
I. Words with different meaning: Some words convey more than one meaning. When the receiver assigns a different meaning to a word than what the sender intended, there occurs miscommunication.
II. Denotation and connotation: Words have two types of meaning = Denotation and connotation. Denotation is the literal meaning of the words connotation are the suggestive meaning of the words. Connotation is the suggestive meanings of the words. Connotation may be positive or negative.
III. Offensive style of communication: Badly expressed messages lose their impact. Offensive style of communication leads to communication breakdown causing loss of time and money.
IV. Wrong assumptions: Communication should not be based on assumption as it may lead to wrong interpretation. All possible efforts should be made to clarify assumptions.
V. Selective perception: many a time the message is decoded by the receiver in a way which may be selective. In other words most of the receivers protect their own interest and expectations leading to a particular type of feedback which becomes a communication problem.
5. Mechanical Barriers: Mechanical barriers include inadequate arrangement for transmission of news, facts and figures. Example poor office layout and defective procedure and the use of wrong media led to poor communication.
I. Information overload: Excess of communication is called information overload. Brevity is the soul of communication. The receiver cannot comprehend and absorb beyond his mental capacity. His mind will remain closed for the excess part of the communication. Therefore one should be brief and to the point.
II. Loss of transmission: When messages are transmitted from person to person they are filtered. In other words they are diluted and distorted on the way. In oral communication about 30% of the information is lost in each transmission.
Steps to overcome the barriers of communication in an organization
In order to remove barriers to communication an open door communication policy should be prepared and followed by managers at all levels. The superiors in the organization must create an atmosphere of confidence and trust in the organization so that the credibility gap may be narrowed down. Major efforts in this direction are:
1.       Two-way communication: The organization’s communication policy should provide for a two-way traffic in communication upwards and downwards. It brings two minds closer and improves understanding between the two parties the sender and the receiver. There should be no communication gap.
2.       Strengthening Communication Network: The communication network should be strengthened to make communication effective. For this purpose the procedure of communication should be simplified, layers in downward communication should be reduced to the minimum possible. Decentralization and delegation of authority should be encouraged to make information communication more efficient.
3.       Promoting Participative Approach: The management should promote the participative approach in management. The subordinates should be invited to participate in the decision making process. It should seek cooperation from the subordinates and reduce communication barriers.
4.       Appropriate Language: In communication certain symbols are used. Such symbols may be in the form of words, pictures and actions. If words are used, the language should be simple and easily comprehensible to the subordinates. Technical and multi-syllable words should, as far as possible be avoided. The sender must use the language with which the receiver is familiar.
5.       Credibility in Communication: One criterion of effective communication is credibility. The subordinates obey the orders of their superior because they have demonstrated through their actions that they are trustworthy. They must practice whatever they say. The superior must also maintain his trust worthiness. If the superior is trusted by the subordinates, communication will be effective.
6.       Good Listening: A communicator must be a good listener too. A good manager gives his subordinates a chance to speak freely and express their feelings well before him. The manager also gets some useful information for further communication and can also have a better understanding of the subordinates needs, demands etc.
7.       Selecting on Effective Communication Channel: To be effective the communication should be sent to the receiver through an effective channel. By effective channel mean that the message reaches its destination in time to the right person and without any distortion, filtering or omission.
8.       Preventing Predictable Decision Making Errors: Predictable errors in decision making are preventable errors. And a few simple techniques can help in clear of the most common wrong turns in decision making.

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