Master of Business Administration-MBA Semester 1 MB0039 – Business Communication - 4 Credits

(Book ID: xxxxxxx)

Assignment Set- 1 (60 Marks) Note: Each question carries 10 Marks. Answer all the questions. Q.1 Describe any situation in your experience where the communication went wrong.Analyze the situation by pointing out the type of barrier to communication and suggest how to overcome this barrier.[10 Marks]. Q.2 Describe any two aspects of non verbal communication and give examples of how each of them could be used to convey positive messages at the workplace.[10 Marks] Q.3 Which types of listening would be required the most at the workplace? Explain with suitable examples. [10 Marks] Q.4 Imagine that you have to make a presentation on your MBA project to a group of your professors and industry experts. Prepare the following – a) A general statement of purpose b) A specific statement of purpose c) The key idea d) A brief audience analysis e) Delivery style. [10 Marks]
Q.5 In your opinion, does the success of a meeting depend more on the

chairperson or the participants? Justify your answer. [10 Marks]
Q.6 How do memos differ from other written communication channels? Give examples of two business situations that would require either an informational or a persuasive memo. [10 Marks]

Master of Business Administration-MBA Semester 1
Spring 2010(Jan-June)

Master of Business Administration-MBA Semester 1 MB0039 – Business Communication - 4 Credits
(Book ID: xxxxxxx)

Assignment Set- 1 (60 Marks) Note: Each question carries 10 Marks. Answer all the questions. Q.1 Describe any situation in your experience where the communication went wrong. Analyze the situation by pointing out the type of barrier to communication and suggest how to overcome this barrier.[10 Marks]. Answer- Once I had gone for an interview for air hostess trainer, that time I had not much experience for this kind of job and my communication was not that good. Apart from that the room was over crowded and

so much disturbance and noise was there. Later I realize there are some barriers because of which I did not performed up to the mark. After analyzing my experience there are some points I found which could be barrier for healthy communication and analysis of which are needed before coming up with ways to eliminate or minimize them. These barriers may be classified as follows – Barriers to Communication 1. Environmental Barriers – This is the same as physical noise, which could be in the form of distracting sounds, an overcrowded room, poor facilities and acoustics, all of which may hinder the ability to listen to and understand the message. 2. Individual Barriers – A major barrier to interpersonal communication is a tendency to judge, evaluate, approve or disapprove of the views of another person. This happens particularly in situations where we have strong feelings about something. In such cases, we tend to block out the communication and form our own viewpoints. 3. Organizational Barriers – In organizations that are too hierarchical, that is, where there are multiple “layers”, messages may have to pass through many levels before they finally reach the receiver. Each level may add to, modify or completely change the message, so much so that it becomes distorted by the time it reaches the intended receiver. In other words, there is likely to be loss of meaning and the message may not reach the receiver in the same way as it was intended by the sender.

Another type of organizational barrier is a departmental barrier. This means that each department in an organization functions in isolation and there is no co-ordination or communication between them. 4. Channel Barriers – In the earlier section, it was pointed out that communication can fail due to any of the different elements going wrong. Wrong choice of channel is one of the main barriers to communication. Using a wrong medium of advertising, or conveying a message orally when a written letter would be more appropriate, are examples. The written channel is more appropriate when the communication is more formal or for keeping things on record, while emotional messages such as feelings about co-workers are better conveyed orally. 5. Linguistic and Cultural Barriers – When the sender of the message uses a language that the receiver does not understand, the communication will not succeed. Either the sender may be using a different or foreign language, or the language used may be too highly technical for the receiver to understand.

Linguistic barriers may also occur in cross-cultural advertising and distort the communication, when translating campaigns or slogans literally from one language to another. For example, Pepsi’s slogan “Come Alive with Pepsi”, when translated into Chinese, read “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave!” Cultural differences refer to differences in values and perceptions, which may affect the interpretation of the message by the receiver. For example, a joke about women may be taken in the wrong sense if the receiver belongs to a culture where women are highly respected. 6. Semantic Barriers – The word “semantics” refers to the meaning of words and the way in which they are used. For example, different words may have different meanings in different cultures. Failure to take this into consideration could lead to serious blunders. Example : Saying “ The new product launch went like a bomb” in British English would mean that the new product launch was a success. On the other hand, saying “The product launch bombed” in American English would mean that the new product was a disaster.

7. Non-verbal Barriers – This refers to the non-verbal communication that goes with a particular message. Non-verbal communication includes tone of voice, body language such as gestures and facial expressions, etc. We will be discussing this in great length in a later unit. If the tone of voice and body language are negative, the communication will fail, however positive the spoken and written message. For example, if you happen to meet a long lost friend and say “I am delighted to meet you”, but in a sad tone of voice, the exact opposite message will be conveyed! Therefore, it is important to avoid giving conflicting signals, through the use of nonverbal communication. Overcoming the Barriers to Communication Certain steps can be taken, both at the organizational level, as well as at the individual level, to effectively deal with the barriers to communication, in order to try to minimize them, if not eliminate them entirely –

Organizational Action 1. Encourage Feedback – Organizations should try to improve the communication system by getting feedback from the messages already sent. Feedback can tell the managers whether the message has reached the receiver in the intended way or not. 2. Create a Climate of Openness – A climate of trust and openness can go a long way in removing organizational barriers to communication. All subordinates or junior employees should be allowed to air their opinions and differences without fear of being penalized. 3. Use Multiple Channels of Communication – Organizations should encourage the use of multiple channels of communication, in order to make sure that messages reach the intended receivers without fail. This means using a combination of both oral and written channels, as well as formal (official) and informal (unofficial) channels of communication. The types of channels will be discussed in detail later, in a separate unit. Individual Action 1. Active Listening – This means listening to the meaning of the speaker’s words, rather than listening without hearing, or “passive listening”. Passive listening is a barrier to communication, whereas real communication takes place when we listen actively, with understanding. Listening is a skill which can be developed through proper training. 2. Careful wording of messages – Messages should be worded clearly and without ambiguity, to make sure that the message that is received is the same as the message that is sent.

3. Selection of Appropriate Channels – Individuals should be competent enough to choose the right communication channel, depending on the situation. Channels of communication and the criteria for selection of channels will be discussed in detail in a later chapter. Q.2 Describe any two aspects of non verbal communication and give examples of how each of them could be used to convey positive messages at the workplace? Answer- Non-verbal communication goes with a particular message. Non-verbal communication includes tone of voice, body language such as gestures and facial expressions, etc. We will be discussing this in great length in a later unit. If the tone of

voice and body language are negative, the communication will fail, however positive the spoken and written message. For example, if you happen to meet a long lost friend and say “I am delighted to meet you”, but in a sad tone of voice, the exact opposite message will be conveyed! Therefore, it is important to avoid giving conflicting signals, through the use of nonverbal communication. Although there is no single and correct definition of communication, most communication theorists and writers on the subject agree that communication has certain characteristics · It is a non-stop process like breathing, since we communicate all the time in some form or another. · Communication is not only through the spoken and written word. A large part of it is also non verbal. Body language is a part of non-verbal communication. · For communication to take place, there must be a sender and receiver of a message. · Communication usually involves a two-way exchange of information, where the receiver provides some feedback in some form or the other. · Communication may be said to be accurate when the intended message is understood in the same way by the receiver. This unit also described the communication process in detail. Irrespective of the number of people involved, communication always includes some key elements – a sender who transmits a message, a receiver who decodes or attaches meaning to a message, a channel or medium through which the message is sent, feedback given by the receiver to the sender, noise that can disrupt the communication at any time and the context in which the communication takes place. Communication is not always successful and can go wrong if any of the above elements go wrong. There are a number of barriers or obstacles to smooth communication. These may be categorized as follows· External or physical barriers, such as distracting sounds · Individual barriers, such as ego problems · Organizational barriers, such as lack of coordination between departments · Linguistic or cultural barriers, such as use of a foreign language

· Semantic barriers, such as multiple meanings of words · Channel barriers, such as use of a wrong medium · Non-verbal barriers, such as conflicting signals This unit also dealt briefly with organizational communication and how effective communication can enhance performance in the workplace. As one goes up the corporate ladder, communication skills are more important for success than technical skills. Communication contributes to success in the workplace, in the following ways – · It leads to better information flow and teamwork · It creates a climate of openness and trust · It strengthens employer-employee relationships · It helps to resolve conflicts · It improves morale and enhances performance · It links managers with the external environment of the organization

Q.3 Which types of listening would be required the most at the workplace? Explain with suitable examples. Answer- Active listening is the skill which is required at most of the work places. This means listening to the meaning of the speaker’s words, rather than listening without hearing, or “passive listening”. Passive listening is a barrier to communication, whereas real communication takes place when we listen actively, with understanding. Listening is a skill which can be developed through proper training.
Active listening is an intent to "listen for meaning." Active listening requires the listener to understand, interpret, and evaluate what they heard. The ability to listen actively can improve personal relationships through reducing conflicts, strengthening cooperation, and fostering understanding. When interacting, people often are not listening attentively. They may be distracted, thinking about other things, or thinking about what they are going to say next (the latter case is particularly true in conflict situations or disagreements). Active listening is a structured way of listening and responding to others. It focuses attention on the speaker. Suspending one’s own frame of reference and suspending judgment are important to fully attend to the speaker.

Tactics
It is important to observe the other person's behavior and body language. Having the ability to interpret a person's body language lets the listener develop a more accurate understanding of the speaker's words.[1] Having heard, the listener may then paraphrase the speaker’s words. It is important to note that the listener is not necessarily agreeing with the speaker—simply stating what was said. In emotionallycharged communications, the listener may listen for feelings. Thus, rather than merely repeating what the speaker has said, the active listener might describe the underlying emotion (“You seem to feel angry,” or “You seem to feel frustrated, is that because…?”). Individuals in conflict often contradict each another. This has the effect of denying the validity of the other person’s position. Either party may react defensively, and they may lash out or withdraw. On the other hand, if one finds that the other party understands, an atmosphere ofcooperation can be created. This increases the possibility of collaborating and resolving the conflict. In the book Leader Effectiveness Training, Thomas Gordon, who coined the term "active listening",[2] states "Active listening is certainly not complex. Listeners need only restate, in their own language, their impression of the expression of the sender. ... Still, learning to do Active Listening well is a rather difficult task..."[3] A four step process (termed "Nonviolent Communication" or "NVC")—conceived by Marshall Rosenberg—can help facilitate active listening. "When we focus on clarifying what is being observed, felt, and needed [and requested] rather than on diagnosing and judging, we discover the depth of our own compassion. Through its emphasis on deep listening—to ourselves as well as others—NVC fosters respect, attentiveness, and empathy, and engenders a mutual desire to give from the heart."[4] Rosenberg further clarifies the intricacy of perception and adaptiveness of what he calls "deep listening" by saying; "While I conveniently refer to NVC as a “process” or “language,” it is possible to express all four pieces of the model without uttering a single word. The essence of NVC is to be found in our consciousness of these four components, not in the actual words that are exchanged."[5]

Use
Active listening is used in a wide variety of situations, including public interest advocacy, community organizing, tutoring,[6] medical workers talking to patients,[7] HIV counseling,
[8]

helping suicidal persons,[9] management,[10] counseling and journalistic settings. In groups it

may aid in reaching consensus. It may also be used in casual conversation to build understanding, though this can be interpreted as condescending. A listener can use several degrees of active listening, each resulting in a different quality of communication. The benefits of active listening include getting people to open up, avoiding misunderstandings, resolving conflict, and building trust. In a medical context, benefits may include increased patient satisfaction,[7] improving cross-cultural communication,[11] improved outcomes,[7] or decreased litigation[12]. Active listening can be lifted by the Active Listening Observation Scale.

Barriers to Active Listening
All elements of communication, including listening, may be affected by barriers that can impede the flow of conversation. Such barriers include distractions, trigger words, vocabulary, and limited attention span[14]. Listening barriers may be psychological (e.g. emotions) or physical (e.g. noise and visual distraction). Cultural differences including speakers' accents, vocabulary, and misunderstandings due to cultural assumptions often obstruct the listening process. Frequently, the listener's personal interpretations, attitudes, biases, and prejudices lead to ineffective communication.

Overcoming Listening Barriers
To use the active listening technique to improve interpersonal communication, one puts personal emotions aside during the conversation, asks questions and paraphrases back to the speaker to clarify understanding, and one also tries to overcome all types of environment distractions. Furthermore, the listener considers the speaker's background, both cultural and personal, to benefit as much as possible from the communication process. Eye contact and appropriate body languages are also helpful.

Q.4 Imagine that you have to make a presentation on your MBA project to a group of your professors and industry experts. Prepare the following – a) A general statement of purpose b) A specific statement of purpose c) The key idea d) A brief audience analysis e) Delivery style. Answer-

Q.5 In your opinion, does the success of a meeting depend more on the

chairperson or the participants? Justify your answer. Answer- According to me the success of a meeting depends more on chairperson. Because he is the one who has to take control and give the direction for successful meeting. It is the chairperson responsibility to make sure that each one of them are involved and participating in the meeting. The chairperson should create an environment for common understanding between them. The chairperson should have great communication skill. The chairperson should involve each participant because communication is sharing of information between two or more persons, with continuous feedback. Irrespective of the setting in which communication takes place or the number of people that are involved, all communication consists of certain key elements. The key elements are as follows: Sender or Encoder – This is the person who transmits a message. For example, a manager is writing a letter of apology to a customer regarding a defective product, or a sales manager making a presentation to his sales team. Receiver or Decoder – The person who notices and decodes, or attaches some meaning to a message. Decoding may not always be accurate and a wrong meaning may be attached to a message. For example, a friendly joke might be taken as an offense, or feedback given to a subordinate by a superior might be taken in the wrong sense. Message – This is any signal that triggers the response of a receiver. Messages may be intentional (as in the example of the sales presentation given above) or unintentional (non-verbal signals such as yawns that convey the message of boredom). Channel – This refers to the medium or the method used to deliver the message. As a business executive, you will often have a choice of channels. For example, you could communicate with a customer through a letter, through email or telephone. Feedback – Most communication is two-way. Receivers generally respond to messages – for example, students may ask questions during a lecture session and an employer may tell an employee that he has to think about his proposal. This response to a sender’s message is called feedback. This kind of feedback is oral. Sometimes feedback could also be written, as when you respond to a customer’s letter of complaint, for example. At other times, feedback could be non-verbal, as in smiles and nods of appreciation during a talk or presentation. Even failure to respond could be considered as feedback, since it may indicate a lack of interest or indifference to the sender’s message. Due to the element of feedback, people are simultaneously senders and receivers of information in face-toface communication.

Noise – Communication fails when the message received is not identical to the message that is sent. Several factors could interfere with the exchange of messages. “Noise” refers to all these factors that disrupt the communication and could be classified under the following typesPhysical Noise – Distracting sounds, poor acoustics, or just information overload could interfere with the listening process. Physiological Noise – Hearing or other disabilities, fatigue, or physical illness could come in the way of both speaking and listening. Psychological Noise – Sometimes emotions within the sender or receiver such as preoccupations, hostility, fear or lack of interest could interfere with the speaking or listening process. Context – This refers to the setting in which the communication takes place and could sometimes determine the success or failure of the communication. Context could be classified as followsPhysical context refers to the physical surroundings – for example a work or social environment, in which the communication takes place. Asking your boss for a promotion might be received differently, depending on whether the communication takes place in your office, your boss’s office, at a company party or over lunch at a restaurant. Social context refers to the relationship between the sender and the receiver. Taking the same example, asking for a promotion is likely to be received differently, depending on how well you get along with your boss and whether you are personal friends or not. Chronological context refers to time related factors that could influence the communication. For example, is your request made first thing in the morning or at the fag end of the day? Is it made during or after work hours? Is it made at a time when the company is going through problems such as a strike in the factory, or major losses? Cultural context refers to the similarity of backgrounds between the sender and the receiver, such as age, language, nationality, religion and gender. These factors could influence the communication favorably or unfavorably. Each of the elements discussed above contributes to the success of the communication. In other words, communication can go wrong if any of the following elements go wrong – 1. The wrong person sends the message. For example, a junior accountant in a company writing a letter to a bank, asking for a loan for a project worth several crores, is not likely to get the bank’s approval. 2. The message is unclear or badly worded. Or there are too many messages, leading to confusion and information overload.

3. The wrong channel of communication is chosen. Placing an ad for a liquor product in a religious magazine for example, is not likely to be received favorably! 4. The message is wrongly interpreted, i.e., the receiver attaches the wrong meaning to the message. 5. The feedback is not adequate to ensure understanding. 6. Physical, physiological or psychological noise distorts the message. 7. The communication takes place in the wrong physical, social, chronological or cultural context. The above examples and information clearly indicates that the chairperson is the most important person for the success of any meeting.

Q.6 How do memos differ from other written communication channels? Give examples of two business situations that would require either an informational or a persuasive memo. Answer - The word “memo” is a short form for “memorandum”, which is derived from
the Latin word which means “a thing which must be remembered.” It is also referred to as an “inter office memorandum”, since it is used primarily as a tool for communicating within the organization. The memo is essentially a condensed or a brief report, that can be used to convey information and decisions, or to make short requests to co-workers, superiors and subordinates. It is relatively informal in style, compared to letters and long reports, and is unpretentious and concise. It is important for the business executive to know how to write condensed reports or memos. Often, business executives may also be asked to condense business articles for their superiors. This is essentially the same as “précis writing”, where an article is condensed to one fourth its size, without losing the essence or meaning. The condensed article could then be put in memo format and sent to the superior. Given its importance, we shall briefly discuss how to write a “précis”. rinciples of Precis Writing As mentioned, précis writing is regularly done by many assistants of top executives, to help them in keeping up with their business reading. There are three main principles of précis writing, which may be referred to as the three “C” s of précis writing. They are –

1. Condensation – This means that the précis should be a brief, shortened version of the original article. In general, the précis should be one fourth the length of the original. 2. Comprehension – While it is important to reduce the article to one fourth its size, the article should not lose its meaning in the process of doing this. It should be as easy to understand the condensed article as it is to understand the original article. 3. Coverage – In the process of condensing the article, all the main points or ideas in the original article should be retained and adequately covered, so that the shortened article comes across as complete. Precis writing requires a lot of skill and is not just about chopping sentences and words to reduce the length alone. All the three “C’s” are equally important for a précis to be meaningful and readable. A perfectly condensed article is of no value, if it cannot be understood. Similarly, an article which is perfectly understood but which omits some key ideas is not of much use, since it does not reflect the original. A writer needs to look for the following, in order to fulfil the three C’s of précis writing – · Main Theme – What is the article about? This is usually indicated in the caption itself, e.g., “The Future of the Indian Auto Industry.” If not, it is important to read the article fully and grasp the main theme. · Components – These are the main ideas, or the ideas used to support the main theme. For example, the fact that the growth of light commercial vehicles is a trend which is likely to continue in the future may be considered as one of the components or main ideas, since it will have a bearing on the future of the auto industry. · Elements – These are the key words that are used to express the main ideas. For example, “the number of light commercial vehicles hasincreased fourfold in urban and suburban areas this year, compared to the last year.” The words in bold are the key words. Once a précis has been written, it may be written in a memo format, as in the example given below –

In the above précis, the main theme is contained in the subject line “The Changing Face of CRM.” The components, or the main ideas are expressed by the different paragraphs, each with a subhead. Some of the key words that are used to express these ideas are “revolutionary technology” , “long-term benefits”, “in-depth cost-benefit analysis”, “functional aspects”, “customized solutions” and “survival of the fittest.” Note that the précis is written in a one-page memo format. This brings us to the next section on the components and format of a memo.

Components and Format of a Memo As shown in the example above, a memo is a brief, one page or maximum two page report, and includes the following components – 1. Header – This compact block of information which appears at the top of the memo includes the “To, From, Date and Subject” headings, which is similar to the title page of a longer, more formal report. The “To” heading should mention the name of the receiver or the primary target audience. In the above example, this is the Marketing VP. The “From” heading should include the name of the sender or writer of the memo (Marketing Executive). The “Subject” line should include the specific purpose of the memo (the title of the précis in the above example). This helps the writer in the development of the message and lets the reader know what the memo is all about. 2. Body – This is the text of the memo which contains the details and major topics. Unlike as in letters, the memo need not have a formal salutation (Dear …). Unlike a formal report which has to be completely objective, personal pronouns such as “I” and “you” are acceptable in a memo, as in the opening sentence of the memo shown above. This is because a memo is purely for internal use in the organization. 3. Close/Action – Unlike formal letters, memos need not include a formal close (e.g. Sincerely…) and a signature line. However, unless the purpose of the memo is just to

inform, there should be a clear call for action. For example, “I request you to review my proposal and to grant approval.” 4. c.c. – This is an abbreviation for “Carbon Copy”. Sometimes a copy of the memo may go to another person(s). This is indicated by c.c., followed by the name(s) of the person(s). A memo may follow one of two types of formats, depending on its nature and purpose – a) The direct organizational plan or deductive organization and b) The indirect organizational plan or inductive organization. a) Direct Organizational Plan – This format is used when a memo is purely informational, as in the example shown above. Since the purpose is only to convey information, the purpose is mentioned right at the outset and all the details are presented right away. It is also used sometimes when the purpose of the memo is to persuade. This is appropriate when you are sure that your proposal or request will be accepted without any resistance. In this case, the writer will make the request right at the beginning and then list out the reasons. An example of a persuasive memo that is written following the direct organizational plan or deductive organization is shown on the page –

In the above example, the sales manager is confident that his request for strengthening the sales force will be granted, since it has obvious benefits. Therefore, the request is made right at the outset, followed by the reasons. b) Indirect Organizational Plan or Inductive Organization – This type of memo format is appropriate when the purpose of the memo is to persuade, but when the writer feels that the reader might object to the request or the proposal. Therefore, the writer will try to convince the reader by presenting the reasons first and then make the request or recommendation right at the end. An example of a memo written using this format is given on the page –

Note that in the above memo, the writer delays his request or proposal to the end and justifies the need for a bigger advertising budget first, by listing out the reasons. Since he is suggesting that the budget be doubled, he is not sure if the request will be granted. That is why the indirect organizational plan is used instead of the direct plan. Unlike the direct plan, the subject line does not reveal the real purpose of the memo, which is a request for Language and Writing Style of a Memo Since a memo is a short, informal report, the following points have to be remembered regarding the language and style that is used· Be concise – It is important to be brief and to the point, so that the memo does not exceed two pages in length. Make the sentences and paragraphs short, limit each paragraph to five lines or less and use bullet points wherever possible. If you are giving reasons, number them, or put them in separate paragraphs with double line spacing. Otherwise use single line spacing between lines. · Use active not passive voice – As mentioned earlier, use of personal pronouns and active voice is permitted in a memo, unlike a formal report where the passive voice should be used for the sake of objectivity. In other words, it is appropriate to say for example that “Based on myexperience, I feel that the budget is not adequate.” · Use simple language – In an earlier unit, the importance of using simple English was emphasized.Use short, uncomplicated words and avoids trying to impress by using unnecessary jargon and technical terms. · Avoid giving too many reasons – Although it is important to provide a justification when you make a request, or try to persuade someone to do something, do not overdo it. In general, a reader can only absorb a maximum of six or seven reasons at once. Therefore, do not overstate your reasons. · Close with a call for action – Do not leave the reader hanging. If you wish to persuade him to accept your request or recommendation, you must say so clearly, using action words and indicating a time frame or limit. For example, “I would like to discuss this in person with you and get your approval before the end of this week.”

Principles of Business Letter Writing Business letters are used primarily to communicate with external stakeholders such as consumers, intermediaries, government and bankers. The principles of business letter writing are somewhat different from the principles of writing general letters. Business letters are much more formal than general letters. Before we go into the specifics of business letter writing, let us look briefly at some of these principles* Consideration and Courtesy – It is very important to retain the goodwill of customers and other external publics. A discourteous, rude letter can make you lose business. Therefore, the business letter should be extremely polite at all times and mindful of the “P”s and “Q”s, i.e., the words “please, thank you and sorry.” Even if you happen to get a rude letter from a customer, you must respond politely, in order to retain the customer. If the company has been at fault, it is important to apologize to the customer for the mistake and for the inconvenience caused. The overall tone should not be negative. For example, avoid saying “We cannot grant your request.” Instead state it in a more tactful way, explaining the reasons for not being able to grant the request. If you are sending a job rejection letter to a candidate, it should be worded politely and in a positive tone. Consideration means that you should appeal to the reader’s interest. The importance of stressing the “you attitude” rather than the “me attitude” was dealt with in an earlier unit. This is similar to the language of advertisements, which talk about the benefits of the product to the end user. For example, instead of saying “We will be open 24 hours”, say “You can avail of round-theclock service.” * Directness and Conciseness – Business letters should be brief and to the point, avoiding unnecessary details and round about expressions. A typical Indian tendency is to be too wordy or “verbose”, using redundancies and unnecessary words. Business letters should give maximum information to the reader, using minimum words. * Clarity and Precision – Business letters should be clearly worded, avoiding the use of jargon or technical terms, and slang words. Concrete words should be used, so that there is no ambiguity. Example : Instead of saying “I received your communication”, it is better to be more precise by saying “I received your letter.” The letter should include a single main idea and paragraphs should be used to elaborate on sub ideas. * Appearance – Apart from the content, the format, layout and overall look of the letter should be equally appealing to the reader. Attention should be paid to the quality of paper used. The margins should be appropriate, including one inch on each side and one and a half inches on top and at the bottom. A business letter should include the following standard components – 1. Date in the upper right hand corner 2. The “To” address above the salutation in the upper left hand corner. 3. The Salutation – When addressing a firm, “Messr” should be used before the name of the firm. Since business letters are formal, the appropriate salutation when addressing an individual is “ Dear Mr./Ms., followed by the last name, rather than the first name, which is informal. If the gender of the reader is not known, it is better to use a neutral salutation, such as “ Dear Customer or Investor.” 4. Sometimes, an “Attention Line” may be included below the salutation, in order to ensure prompt action. For example, “Attention : John Smith, HR Manager”. 5. A “Subject Line” indicates the purpose of the letter and is placed between the salutation and the first line of the letter. 6. The “Body” of the letter includes an explanation of the main idea(s). 7. The “Close” is the ending of the letter and should be polite and friendly, so as to retain goodwill. A standard close for a business letter is “ Yours faithfully or sincerely.”

8. Enclosures – Sometimes, a business letter may include an enclosure such as a pamphlet or a brochure, in which case this should be indicated at the end, below the signature line, as “Encl : 2”, meaning two enclosures. Self Assessment Question Are the following statements true or false? 1. The language of business letters is similar to the language of advertising. 2. Every business letter should have a salutation, a body and a close. 3. The tone of a business letter is more important than the format. 11.3 Types of Business Letters Business letters may be used to communicate for a variety of purposes, including routine correspondence, building good rapport, conveying pleasant or unpleasant news and persuading customers to buy the company’s products. The types of messages conveyed through business letters may be categorized into three broad types – 1. Routine messages 2. Bad news messages 3. Persuasive messages We shall discuss these three categories in detail, including the guidelines and appropriate format to be used in each case. 11.3.1 Routine Letters Routine letters are letters on routine matters pertaining to day-to-day operations. Most of the business correspondence of the typical manager is on routine matters. The most common types of routine letters are – 1. Routine Requests and Replies – A routine request is a letter from a customer, asking for information on the company’s products, or for product catalogs and brochures. It is termed a routine request, since the receiver of the letter is expected to do what is asked in the letter, without having to be persuaded. In general, all organizations will respond to such requests spontaneously, since it is an opportunity for them to promote their products. The response to such requests is known as a routine reply. A sample routine reply letter in response to a customer request, is shown below – March 27th, 2008 Thomas Mathew Purchasing Director Home Security Products

6/1 Benson Cross Rd. , Bangalore – 560 046 Dear Mr. Mathew, I am writing this in response to your request for information regarding our HP 340 portable printer, to be used by your marketing representatives with their notebook computers when they travel. I would like to inform you that the HP 340 is an advanced portable printer, which incorporates the latest technology and is compatible with all types of notebook computers. I would also like to provide specific answers to each of your questions – 1. The HP 340 is a laser printer, with a wide range of applications. It is quicker, has more printout capability and consumes less ink cartridge than other laser printers. 2. The HP 340 is battery operated and comes with a back-up battery, so

that it may be used while traveling. It has a back-up of 5 – 6 hours, depending on the uses of the printer. 3. The HP 340 has a 15-inch cartridge and is compact and easy to carry while traveling. 4. The HP 340 comes with a three-year guarantee and all services will be free of cost. The product can be ordered either by calling our toll-free number 1-800-3537857, or online, through our website www.hewlettpackard.com. As an incentive for purchase within the next one week, we are offering a 25% discount for our first 500 customers. I look forward to your order and would be happy to give you information regarding our other products in future. Sincerely, Joe D ‘Silva, Sales Manager, Hewlett Packard Company,

Bannerghatta Rd. , Bangalore – 560 028 The above letter is concise and to the point, providing answers to each of the customer’s queries regarding the product. The last paragraph provides details that make it easy for the customer to order the product, along with a special incentive for early purchase. The close is positive and tries to build a long-term relationship with the customer. 2. Routine Claim and Adjustment Letters – A routine claim letter is written by a buyer or a customer to a seller, requesting some type of action or adjustment, to correct a problem with the seller’s product or service. It is more than just a letter of complaint and may be written by an individual or an organization. The action sought in a claim letter may be replacement or repair of a defective product, a full or partial refund, or just an apology for poor service or unfair practices. A claim letter is considered as a routine letter, since the seller or the organization will normally comply with the request for remedial action. For example, if you order a product from a catalog that mentions a particular price, but the seller charges you more, you can expect the seller to respond to your request to make an adjustment in the price. A routine adjustment letter is the seller’s response to a routine claim letter, informing the buyer or customer about the action that has been taken. The reason for the problem should also be explained in a detailed and straightforward manner, along with the measures taken to prevent the problem from recurring. The letter should sound credible, so that the customer’s faith in the company and the product is restored. A sample routine claim letter regarding a defective product, is shown below – March 28th, 2008 The Customer Service Representative Color View Graphics 14, Airport Rd. , Bangalore – 560 001

Dear Customer Service Representative, Subject : Inferior quality of color slides The poor quality of the color slides that you developed for me on March 20thmade them unsuitable for use in my marketing strategy presentation to my marketing team last week. As a consequence, I had to use transparencies with an overhead projector instead. I have enclosed one of the dozen slides sent to me, as proof of the defective quality. As you can see, the colors overlap and the type is not clear. The slides do not meet the high quality standards promised in your recent color advertisement in Business Today. Since I have already made the presentation for which I required these slides, redeveloping them now would not solve the problem. Instead, I request you to cancel the charge of Rs. 5000 in your invoice 3063 dated March 22 nd, which I have not yet paid. I can return the remaining eleven slides to you, if required. I am aware that mistakes like these happen sometimes, in spite of one’s best efforts. I am confident that you will accept my request and correct this mistake promptly. Sincerely, Walter Thompson, Marketing Manager Enclosure : 1 In the above letter, the buyer can reasonably expect the seller of the defective product to make an adjustment by canceling the charges, since the quality of the slides is clearly inferior to what was promised. 3. Goodwill Letters – These are routine letters that have no business objective, but are sent purely for building good rapport with external stakeholders. Such letters may express appreciation, sympathy or congratulations. Examples include letters to express sympathy over a business setback, appreciation for winning an award, gratitude for being on a panel of judges, or congratulations for opening a new branch office. 4. Other Routine Letters – Routine letters may also be addressed to external audiences other than consumers. For example, letters inviting“quotations” may be sent to several suppliers, asking for the prices of raw material or components. The idea is to ensure getting the best price. Such letters should state the details of the material required, the information needed regarding price, guarantee, service, etc. provided by the supplier and the time within which the material is required. Once a quotation is accepted, an order letter will be sent to the supplier, placing the order for the required material. “Tenders” are letters inviting a provider of a service, such as construction of roads, to quote the rates for that particular service. They are usually sent for work that is spread over a period of time. Letters requesting purchase of goods on a credit basis, letters granting credit and collection letters addressed to customers, are some other common types of routine letters. 11.3.2 Bad News Letters A bad news letter conveys unpleasant news to customers or other external stakeholders. Typical examples of this type of letter are rejection of customer claims or requests for adjustments, job rejection letters to prospective employees, letters giving news about sudden price increases, products being discontinued, or about problems faced by the organization, such as losses and lay offs. When conveying bad news, the letter should be written tactfully and worded in a positive manner. A sample bad news letter refusing a customer claim is shown below – March 28th, 2008 Mr. John Smith, Dean XYZ School of Business

Cunningham Rd. , Bangalore – 560 034 Dear Mr. Smith, We make no money when our customers are forced to take long trips by train, rather than by flying Kingfisher Airlines and when that happens, we try to find out the reasons. A review of the March 19th flight records of the cancelled Kingfisher Airlines flight 1256 shows that it was scheduled to leave at 6 am and was cancelled at 5.30 am, because of foggy weather. Passengers were asked to remain in the boarding area and those who did were rebooked on flight 1257, which departed an hour later at 7 am. This flight arrived in Bangalore just an hour later than the scheduled arrival of flight 1256. Therefore, our ticket agent was correct in refusing to grant a refund on tickets to you and other passengers who did not take the later flight. You have mentioned in your claim letter that you are a frequent flyer of Kingfisher Airlines. Although we cannot grant you a refund, I have asked our Scheduling Department to add your name to our mailing list, for receiving a free subscription to our in-flight magazine. A complimentary copy of our current flight schedule is also enclosed. From now on, you will know exactly when every Kingfisher Airlines flight arrives and departs from Bangalore airport. Sincerely, Service Representative, Kingfisher Airlines Enclosure 1

In the above letter, the bad news, namely, the refusal to grant a refund to the passenger for not boarding the flight is conveyed indirectly. The airline tries to compensate for the bad news, by offering a free subscription to their magazine and a complimentary copy of their flight schedule. 11.3.3 Persuasive Letters The most common type of persuasive letter is a sales letter addressed to a customer, persuading him to buy your company’s product.A sales letter is similar to an advertisement and uses the same “AIDA” (Attention, Interest, Desire and Action) format. This means taking the consumer through different mental stages in a particular sequence – first getting his attention, creating interest by highlighting unique features of the product, inducing desire by convincing him that the product is better than others and then motivating him to try the product. Sales letters are used to sell industrial products such as machinery, consumer durable products and other high-value items. A sample sales letter written in the above format is given below – SAMPLE SALES LETTER FOR A HOME SECURITY SYSTEM March 27th, 2008 Dear Home Owner, The saying goes that an Englishman’s home is his castle. Do you see your home as an investment in real estate or as your castle? Is it a means of getting tax exemptions, or a place where you can unwind and relax after a

stressful week at work? Homes should be viewed as places where we feel safe and free from outside intrusions. Unfortunately, this is not the case, since recent statistics show that 10% of households in Bangalore city were robbed last year. How can you protect yourself? Home Security Products offers a simple and dependable solution – the Safe Home Burglar Alarm System, which can protect up to 2500 square feet of your home. Just plug it in, adjust the sensitivity to the size of the room and turn the key. Safe Home’s microprocessor screens out normal sounds like dogs barking, babies crying rain and traffic. Only hostile sounds such as glass breaking, will trigger the alarm. The alarm is also loud enough to alert the neighborhood and to drive away the smartest burglars. You may wonder what might happen if a clever burglar disconnects the electricity to your home. You need not worry, since Safe Home has built-in batteries that recharge automatically and ensure that it operates in spite of power failures. The best thing about Safe Home is the ease of installation. You simply have to mount it on a wall and plug it in. Security now comes at a price that you can afford – just Rs. 999, along with a one year warranty and a ten day return policy, to ensure complete satisfaction. With Safe Home, burglaries will soon be a thing of the past. Ordering it is easy – just call our toll-free number 1-800-222-3333 and use your credit card. Safe Home will be home delivered to you within a couple of days. Soon, your home will be a haven of peace. Sincerely, National Sales Manager Home Security Products

Format for Business Letters Unlike general letters, business letters should be written following a specific plan or format. Two alternative types of formats may be used, depending on the type of message that is conveyed – 1) The Direct Organizational Plan, or the Deductive Pattern and 2) The Indirect Organizational Plan or the Inductive Pattern. We will discuss each of these in detail, with an example of each. 11.4.1 Direct Organizational Plan This plan is followed for all routine letters and for messages that convey good news. The pattern followed is – 1. Present the main idea first 2. Provide explanations, reasons, details and background information 3. End with a friendly closing The advantages of following this plan are – • The first sentence can be written with very little hesitation and there is a logical flow to the letter, since the explanation or details follow the main idea. • Presenting the main idea first will attract the attention of the reader • If pleasant news is being conveyed to the reader, presenting it first puts the reader in a good frame of mind. He/she will be more inclined to read the rest of the letter. • Once the reader gets the main idea, he/she can quickly scan through the rest of the letter, thus saving time.

The routine claim and adjustment letters given below are written using the direct organizational plan. Dear Customer Service Representative, I am writing this to request you to replace the music CD “ Golden Tunes of the Sixties”, which you had mailed to me last week. I was very impressed with your TV advertisement of the CD “Golden Tunes of the Sixties”. Your statement “100% satisfaction guaranteed” made me place an immediate order and send you a check for Rs. 1000. This seems to be an outstanding CD with great music, but it arrived with a visible scratch on one side, which distorts the music when it is played. I am confident that you will live up to this guarantee. I am returning the CD to you and would like another one in first class condition. In case you do not have one in stock, I would like to request a refund. Sincerely, John Smith

Note that in the above letter, the action or adjustment is requested in the very first sentence. The second paragraph explains the details supporting the request for action. The closing is friendly, expressing confidence that the request will be granted. Given below is a routine adjustment letter, granting a request for exchange of defective shirts, also written in the direct organizational format. Dear Customer, In view of the fact that you are a regular customer, we are sending you two new wash-and- wear shirts for free, to replace the two shirts that turned grey, due to use of strong bleaches. Your account will not be charged. Compared to conventional shirts, our shirts stay whiter, remain more wrinkle free and last longer. However, they must be hand washed rather than machine washed with bleaches, in order to keep them white and to maintain them in good condition. When you take the shirts to your laundry, just ask them to follow the washing instructions on the label. We will be sending you our annual clearance sale catalog in a few days and look forward to your future orders. Sincerely, Customer Service Representative In the above letter, the main idea – granting the customer’s claim for exchange of shirts that have changed color, due to use of a washing machine – is mentioned in the very first sentence, following the direct plan. An explanation follows, giving the reasons for the spoiled shirts and instructions for future care. The letter ends with a friendly closing. Note that in the above letter, a dramatic question is asked to grab the attention of the reader, followed by startling figures – the fact that a high percentage of homes have been robbed. Interest is then created by mentioning the product’s unique selling proposition (USP), or the features and benefits that are unique to the product. The product is highlighted as simple, dependable and easy to install. Desire is induced by overcoming any doubts or objections that the reader may have, such as the product functioning during a power failure. Finally, the reader is motivated to take action, by making it easy for him/her to order the

product, by calling toll free and using a credit card. The product benefit is reinforced at the end of the letter.

MB0039– Business Communication - 4 Credits
(Book ID: xxxxxxx)

Assignment Set- 2 (60 Marks) Note: Each question carries 10 Marks. Answer all the questions.
Q.1 What are some of the relative advantages and disadvantages of email, as compared to other written communication channels? Suggest two ways to overcome the disadvantages of email communication. [10 Marks] Q.2 Imagine that you are the Marketing Manager of a multinational FMCG company.Write a job rejection letter to a prospective candidate in the appropriate format, explaining why he/she was not selected for a Management Trainee position with the company. [10 Marks] Q.3 Select and briefly describe two corporate ads that you have seen recently which you feel are effective. Explain how they benefit the company [10 Marks] Q.4 List and explain five important principles of business report writing. [10 Marks]

Q.5 As a recent MBA graduate from Sikkim Manipal University, write your resume with a specific career objective, including all the other standard components. [10 Marks]
Q.6 Prepare a list of ten questions to ask during a job interview, in order to make the interview a two way process and to show that you are interested in the company and the job you are applying for.[10 Marks]

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