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Communication has become indispensable today. Human activity will come to a standstill if there is no communication. All human transactions become possible only through communication. It is the life-blood of every business organization. Especially in today's globalized market economy, effective communication is vital to the success and survival of any organization.
Businesses need people with good communication skills because communication is an essential part of the kind of work that is done in business organizations. It extends across all areas of business, including managerial, technical, clerical and social positions.
In present times, several factors have contributed to the significance of communication, especially in business. They are-
the availability of highly sophisticated means of communication because of scientific and technological advancements
the world is becoming a smaller place because of the faster means of transport that are available to us nowadays
the rise of the multinational companies that has resulted in the creation of a globalized market economy
the generation of highly advanced management techniques as a result of the growing importance of professionalism in the management of business
the information revolution that has brought with it highly advanced networking technologies
the change and increase in means and methods of communication at all levels of organization because of the emphasis on the need for specialized knowledge that has also brought about departmentalization in modern business
the developments in the field of social sciences such as psychology and sociology that have created an awareness about the functioning of the human mind and how it shapes behaviour and how both of these in turn influence communication
Communication undertaken by a business organization with the purpose of achieving certain specific goals is known as business communication. In fact, business communication is a special type of communication undertaken to meet the needs of the organization. Various concepts in modern management like participation, motivation, involvement revolve around communication.
According to R. Ludlow, "Business communication is a process of transfer of information and understanding between different parts and people of a business organization. It consists of various modes and media involved in communication interchanges."
Effective communication is needed for growth and development of any organization. H.G. Hicks has rightly pointed out- "Communication is basic to an organization's existence from birth of the organization; when communication stops, organized activity ceases to exist."
Effective business communication depends not only on the skills of the sender of the message but also on the skills of the one who receives that message. Thus, improving communication skills improves the chances for success of a business. Effective communication brings progress and prosperity to it.
Thus, business communication is not only essential but critical for successful business. It is a force that binds and keeps the entire organizational structure in place. One may say that communication is not an end in itself; rather, it is a means to achieve an end.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION
There is no human action that is done without any purpose. Even the simplest and most natural action like breathing has a purpose- to stay alive. Communication is also always carried out with some purpose.
Communication begins with two-fold objectives or purposes that occupy the sender's mind:
Immediate or Primary to convey or to share
Ultimate or Secondary to convince or to
To inform and to persuade are the two basic purposes (goals) that are ever present in the mind of a communicator. Sometimes, he seeks only to inform, as in scientific writings; sometimes, his goal is to persuade the reader, as in journalistic writings; and oftentimes, he wants both to inform and to persuade the reader, as in sales letters, advertisements, etc.
Communication is vital to business. The communication activities of an organization fall into three broad categories:
Business 2. Inter-organisational
3. Personal INFORMAL
1. Intra-Organisational Communication
It is communication within an organization. It is done to implement business plans. It takes many forms like orders, instructions, reports, emails, etc.
2. Inter-Organisational Communication
It is communication that a business organization does with people outside the organization i.e. with other companies, customers, clients, general public, etc. It takes the form of planned publicity to improve its image and public relations with the help of business messages, advertising, displays, etc.
The success of a business depends on its ability to fulfill the customers' needs. Besides providing services, it must communicate effectively with outside people and groups for its success.
3. Personal Communication
It is communication without a specific business objective i.e. without an ulterior motive or purpose. Man is a social animal, therefore we have a compulsive need to communicate even when we have nothing substantial to convey. Such communication also occurs in the workplace. For example, personal conversations, gossip, Grapevine phenomenon, etc. If one is not allowed to engage in such casual communication, it may lead to frustration and other such psychological problems.
(For a more detailed discussion on corporate communication, refer Chapter 7 Formal and Informal Networks of Communication.)
The primary objective of communication is to convey or share information. Business organizations have to deal with a large and varied amount of information on a daily basis in order to conduct various business activities. Thus, proper flow of information helps them to make right decisions.
Another equally important objective of communication is to persuade people to accept a point of view or to change their attitude. Such persuasion can be achieved either through logical arguments or through an emotional appeal. Advertisements are an apt example of the persuasive nature of communication. Essentially, all communication is a deliberate and intentional act of persuasion. A communicator wants the reader not only to understand the message but also to be influenced as intended by him. (For a detailed discussion, refer '10.6 Persuasive Communication', Chapter 10 Nature of Attitude and its Influence on Communication)
Moreover, in this age of specialization, planning, production, sales, advertising, finance, welfare, etc. are handled by different departments. In absence of effective communication, there would be a serious problem of co-ordination among these departments and there would only be chaos and confusion in the organization. Thus, by means of conferences, meetings, suggestions, reviews, discussions, etc. the management can bring about co-ordination of various intra-organisational and inter-organisational activities and business transactions. Without communication, coordinating the activities of different persons engaged in running a business is a remote possibility.
Communication is also quite significant keeping in mind the growing importance of human relations and human resource management in today's world. The management-employee relationship is held together by effective communication. Communication is an effective tool in the hands of the managers to motivate and to boost the morale of the employees.
Most of the crises and conflicts of interests in an organization arise because of the failure to communicate well. If a manager fails to convey the information and the decisions to be executed to the employees or if he never appreciates the good work done by them, it may lead to low morale or resentment among his subordinates. So in order to avoid such a situation, the management can and should appreciate the work of the employees with the help of communication, i.e. by means of letters of appreciation, special mention in reports, minutes of meetings, etc.
Thus, communication helps a manager in developing meaningful relationships with the subordinates, changing their attitudes, boosting their morale and soliciting their cooperation. The management and the subordinates come closer through communication. Communication promotes cooperation and good industrial relations as it conveys feelings, ideas, opinions, and viewpoints of one party to the other party. This enables the organization to achieve higher productivity.
Effective communication is required not only to deal with crises in an organization but also in order to impart adequate training to the employees to handle new technology or to adapt to the changes in the work environment. Subordinates often resent the introduction of changes in the methods of working. This poses a challenge to the management to educate the employees so that they can smoothly adapt to the dynamic character of the organization. They also have to work at alleviating the fear that these changes are likely to generate unemployment. Thus, effective communication helps in changing the negative attitude of the employees towards technological advancements.
Communication links people together to achieve common goals. It also facilitates meetings which play an important role in the functioning of an organization. It is also required to maintain good public relations (i.e. outside the organization). Thus, executives are often expected to give speeches and interviews to the media in order to project a favourable image of the organization.
With the help of communication, the management can advise and counsel the employees. It can help them in coping with their emotional problems and also give career guidance. The management can also use the communication channels to take disciplinary action against the striking employees by issuing warnings in the form of legal notice.
The policies and programs formulated by the organization to guide the workforce have to be conveyed to those who are responsible for the execution of work to achieve the organizational objectives. Only effective communication can translate the plans into actions. It aids teamwork by enabling people to work together. It helps perform basic management functions like instructing, coordinating, staffing, planning, etc.
Thus, these are the few important objectives of communication in the context of business organizations.
So far, we have discussed what comprises communication and the significance of communication in our personal, social as well professional life. We have also highlighted some of the fundamentals of communication. Let us now analyse the process of communication and see how it is accomplished.