Communication Methods

7.1.1 Introduction

We all know the importance of communication in our daily lives. Nothing can take place without some method of communication being used to express ourselves for whatever purpose. Communication is even more valuable in a business environment as there are several parties involved. Various stakeholders, whether customers, employees, or the media, are always sending important information to each other at all times. Without the various methods of communication available today, it would be very difficult to carry out business efficiently and quickly (Tutorials Point, 2019).

  • 7.1.2 Communication Types and How to Improve Them
  • 1. Verbal (in-person) communication. Face-to-face communication in the workplace can eliminate many misunderstandings. Speaking directly with someone allows both of you to see and hear the bigger picture. You can see the other person’s facial expressions and body language. The emphasis on focusing on one another and the conversation promotes a feeling of value and credibility. Having one quick conversation rather than a multitude of emails can be more efficient in the end.
  • 2. Body language and facial expressions. As mentioned above, body language and facial expressions play a vital role in how effective or ineffective a person’s communication will be. Eye contact makes people feel acknowledged as they talk and listen. A relaxed stance with your arms by your sides encourages others to feel comfortable in a meeting. If you rehearse what you're going to say before a meeting, do so in front of a full-length mirror so you can see if what your body language says matches up with your words. People will receive your words more positively if your facial expressions and body language don’t put them on edge.
  • 3. Phone conversations. The phone is a common part of most business days and, as such, is a vital aspect of communication. Some people enjoy talking by phone. Others dislike it so much that they put it off until the last minute. You can positively impact the effectiveness of your phone communication by doing three simple things. Smile while you talk, as it gives your voice a friendlier tone. Take notes before the conversation and use them to ensure you cover all points. Finally, speak clearly and slowly so your words are understood.
  • 4. Written communication. Emails, memos, and notes are common forms of written communication. Of all four modes of communication, this one can lead to the most misunderstandings. People often read between the lines or feel there are implied messages or emotions in written forms of communication. Before sending an important email, have an objective pair of eyes read it first and provide constructive criticism (Miller, 1996).
  • 7.1.3 Why Do We Need Different Communication Methods?

Communication plays a pivotal role in the effective functioning of a business, and the various modes are suitable for different purposes. For example, email allows a customer to send an important proposal quickly and directly to the right person. Similarly, if a person is not in the country but must give a presentation, he or she can turn to video conferencing. The most effective businesses will tailor their methods of communication to the context (Tutorials Point, 2019). Choosing the Right Method

It is important that the most cost-effective methods of communication are chosen for any organization. Simply choosing a method of communication because it is a well-known type is not going to help.

To select a method, ask the following questions:

  • • What is our target audience?
  • • How much are we willing to spend?
  • • Will it increase productivity in the long run?
  • • What kind of information do we send out most often?

There may be more questions based on the type of work and the message sent. There is no “right” method of communication. Different methods suit different purposes and tasks (Tutorials Point, 2019).

7.1.4 Effective Methods of Communication

Most of the time, when the word communication comes to the mind, people think about exchanging ideas and information by means of words, but this is a small component of communication. In the 21st century, businesses have access to a number of methods of communication with internal and external audiences. These include traditional business meetings, print, videoconferencing, and social media. While a lot of attention is paid to newer methods, traditional methods have value and relevance. The determination of the method that is right for a certain occasion is a vital decision (Rohn, 2017). Ways to Communicate Effectively in the Workplace

This section looks at types of communication commonly used in the workplace (Rohn, 2017). Oral Communication

Oral communication involves the use of words to deliver a message. It can be one-on-one, over the phone, in group settings, etc. The oral form is personal and effective. Seeing the person with whom face- to-face communication is taking place helps to gauge the response of that person by understanding his or her body language and assists in his/her active participation in the dialogue (Rohn, 2017).

Oral communication can be informal, such as the rumor mill or the grapevine, or formal such as conferences and lectures. How effective it is will depend on the speed, volume, pitch, voice modulation, and clarity of speech, as well as the various nonverbal visual cues and body language. While using verbal communication, the person needs to be aware of his or her tone of voice and inflection. Use of sarcasm and angry tones should be avoided.

Oral communication makes the conveying of thoughts faster and easier and is the most successful method of communication. However, it makes up just 7% of all human communication. Some important oral methods of communication are the following (Rohn, 2017):

1. Face-to-face communication

This is a preferred method of communication although it is not realistic all the time, especially in organizations with several locations around the globe. However, tools like video- conferencing make face-to-face communication possible and help large organizations create personal connections between management and staff.

2. Meetings

Meetings are common in most business settings; it is now possible to augment them using technology. People in remote locations can participate in discussions, although they are not physically present.

3. Storytelling

Storytelling is an effective form of oral communication that helps in the construction of common meanings. Stories assist in clarifying key values and demonstrating the way things are done. The tone, strength, and frequency of the story have a relationship with higher organizational commitment. The quality of stories told is often related to the capability of securing capital. Stories can also reinforce and perpetuate the culture of an organization.

4. Crucial conversations

Even though the process is similar, more skill, reflection, and planning are needed for high-stakes communications than for daily interactions at work. Examples of communication involving high stakes include presenting a venture capitalist with a business plan or asking for a raise. Apart from these, at times in our professional lives, we have conversations that are crucial—discussions in which stakes are high, emotions are strong, and opinions may differ. Written Communication

Written communication cannot be avoided in the workplace. It comes in the form of traditional paper and pen documents and letters, text chats, emails, typed electronic documents, reports, SMS, and anything else that might be conveyed by the use of written symbols like language. Written communication includes formal business proposals, press releases, memos, contracts, brochures, handbooks, and the like. Such methods of communication are indispensable for any organization.

The effectiveness of the written communication depends on the style of writing, vocabulary, grammar, and clarity. Written communication is most suitable in cases requiring detailed instructions, when something has to be documented, or when someone is too far away to speak in person or over the phone (Rohn, 2017). Two increasingly common forms of written communication are social media and email.

1. Social media

Social media tools such as Facebook can be used by organizations to communicate between locations, divisions, departments, and employees. Certain tools such as Yammer are specifically designed to create social media networks in the confines of a particular domain of business.

2. Email

Email communication in organizations is very common and has become an essential tool for sharing information with one or thousands of persons. It is usually a significant component of an organization’s communication plan, and even though it may not be a replacement for face-to- face or other methods of written communication, it is easily accessible and inexpensive. Nonverbal Methods of Communication

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.

Communication by sending and receiving wordless messages, for example, through facial expressions, is a part of nonverbal communication. Such messages are a vital part of any communication and generally reinforce oral communication (Rohn, 2017). Types of nonverbal communication include the following:

1. Physical nonverbal communication

Physical nonverbal communication or body language includes body posture, facial expressions, eye contact, gestures like a pointed finger, a wave and the like, touch, tone of voice, overall movements of the body, and others.

Movements, eye contact, gestures, and the way you sit and stand all convey a message to the person with whom you are communicating. Gestures should be used appropriately or the hands should be left at your sides. Avoid fidgeting, as it is distracting, and don’t cross your arms, as it sends a signal of being closed off or angry. Always look in the eyes of the person to whom you are speaking and never stare or roll your eyes when he or she is talking.

The most common physical nonverbal communication method is facial expression. For example, a frown or a smile conveys emotions that are distinct but difficult to express otherwise. Our emotions are conveyed by our facial muscles. A silent message can be sent without uttering a word. A change in our emotional state is visible in the change of our facial expression. For example, if we focus on being confident prior to an interview, the confidence will be conveyed to the interviewer by our face. Smiling even when feeling stressed can reduce the stress levels of the body (Rohn, 2017).

2. Paralanguage

A significant component of nonverbal communication is how something is said, not what is said. This consists of style of speaking, tone, emotion, stress, pitch, intonation, and voice quality. It helps in the communication of interest, approval, or the absence of either. The following nonverbal communication forms generally communicate the personality of a person:

  • • Aesthetic communication or creative expressions such as painting and dancing.
  • • Personal appearance or style of grooming and dressing.
  • • Space language (e.g., landscapes or paintings).
  • • Ego-building, status, and religious symbols (Rohn, 2017).
  • Visual Communication

Visual communication takes place with the help of visual aids such as color, illustration, graphic design, drawing, typography, signs, and other electronic resources. Visual communication comprising charts and graphs generally reinforces written methods of communication and sometimes replaces written communication completely. As the adage says, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and developments in technology have made visual communication easier today than ever before (Rohn, 2017).

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