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Communication is the process to impart information from a sender to a receiver with the use of a medium. Communication requires that all parties have an area of communicative commonality. There are auditory means, such as speaking, singing and sometimes tone of voice, and nonverbal, physical means, such as body language, sign language, paralanguage, touch, eye contact, or the use of writing. Communication is defined as a process by which we assign and convey meaning in an attempt to create shared understanding. This process requires a vast repertoire of skills in intrapersonal and interpersonal processing, listening, observing, speaking, questioning, analyzing, and evaluating. Use of these processes is developmental and transfers to all areas of life: home, school, community, work, and beyond. It is through communication that collaboration and cooperation occur. Communication is simply a method of sending a message from one person or group of persons to another. It is of vital importance to a business because it involves all the persons and organizations connected with the business - employees, customers, shareholders, suppliers, creditors, debtors - and a whole range of people outside journalists, television reporters, tax authorities, local government and national government officials, the European Union and, indeed, any person or organization throughout the world with which the business has any contact. Good communication will ensure that all these persons and organizations understand the message sent. They will also be more likely to respond favourably to the message if it appears to be reasonable and fair to both the receiver and the business. Bad communication will have exactly the opposite effect. People will be confused by the message and less likely to do what the business wants. That is why good communication is so essential. It is not only what you say (or write), but how you say it that is important. Your message should be easy to understand and take account of the receivers' own attitudes and feelings. Communication is the articulation of sending a message through different media, whether it is verbal or nonverbal, so long as a being transmits a thought provoking idea, gesture, action, etc. Communication is a learned skill. Most people are born with the physical ability to talk, but we must learn to speak well and communicate effectively. Speaking, listening, and our ability to understand verbal and nonverbal meanings are skills we develop in various ways. We learn basic communication skills by observing other people and modeling our behaviors based on what we see. We also are taught some communication skills directly through education, and by practicing those skills and having them evaluated. Communication as an academic discipline relates to all the ways we communicate, so it embraces a large body of study and knowledge. The communication discipline includes
both verbal and nonverbal messages. A body of scholarship all about communication is presented and explained in textbooks, electronic publications, and academic journals. In the journals, researchers report the results of studies that are the basis for an everexpanding understanding of how we all communicate. Communication happens at many levels (even for one single action), in many different ways, and for most beings, as well as certain machines. Several, if not all, fields of study dedicate a portion of attention to communication, so when speaking about communication it is very important to be sure about what aspects of communication one is speaking about. Definitions of communication range widely, some recognizing that animals can communicate with each other as well as human beings, and some are more narrow, only including human beings within the parameters of human symbolic interaction. Nonetheless, communication is usually described along a few major dimensions: Content (what type of things are communicated), source, emisor, sender or encoder (by whom), form (in which form), channel (through which medium), destination, receiver, target or decoder (to whom), and the purpose or pragmatic aspect. Between parties, communication includes acts that confer knowledge and experiences, give advice and commands, and ask questions. These acts may take many forms, in one of the various manners of communication. The form depends on the abilities of the group communicating. Together, communication content and form make messages that are sent towards a destination. The target can be oneself, another person or being, another entity (such as a corporation or group of beings). Communication can be seen as processes of information transmission governed by three levels of semiotic rules: 1. Syntactic (formal properties of signs and symbols), 2. pragmatic (concerned with the relations between signs/expressions and their users) and 3. semantic (study of relationships between signs and symbols and what they represent). Therefore, communication is social interaction where at least two interacting agents share a common set of signs and a common set of semiotic rules. This commonly held rule in some sense ignores autocommunication, including intrapersonal communication via diaries or self-talk.
In a simple model, information or content (e.g. a message in natural language) is sent in some form (as spoken language) from an emisor/ sender/ encoder to a destination/ receiver/ decoder. In a slightly more complex form a sender and a receiver are linked reciprocally. A particular instance of communication is called a speech act. In the presence of "communication noise" on the transmission channel (air, in this case), reception and decoding of content may be faulty, and thus the speech act may not achieve the desired effect. One problem with this encode-transmit-receive-decode model is that the processes of encoding and decoding imply that the sender and receiver each possess something that functions as a code book, and that these two code books are, at the very least, similar if not identical. Although something like code books is implied by the model, they are nowhere represented in the model, which creates many conceptual difficulties. Theories of co regulation describe communication as a creative and dynamic continuous process, rather than a discrete exchange of information. Canadian media scholar Harold Innis had the theory that people use different types of media to communicate and which one they choose to use will offer different possibilities for the shape and durability of society (Wark, McKenzie 1997). His famous example of this is using ancient Egypt and looking at the ways they built themselves out of media with very different properties stone and papyrus. Papyrus is what he called 'Space Binding'. it made possible the
transmission of written orders across space, empires and enables the waging of distant military campaigns and colonial administration. The other is stone and 'Time Binding', through the construction of temples and the pyramids can sustain their authority generation to generation, through this media they can change and shape communication in their society (Wark, McKenzie 1997).
Encoding And Decoding Communication starts or originates in the form of thoughts in the mind of the sender and ends in the form of the thoughts being received by the mind of the receiver. In communications, a code is a rule for converting a piece of information (for example, a letter, word, phrase, or gesture) into another form or representation (one sign into another sign), not necessarily of the same type. In communications and information processing, encoding is the process by which information from a source is converted into symbols to be communicated. Decoding is the reverse process, converting these code symbols back into information understandable by a receiver. Both encoding and decoding are essential to the two way communication. How Communication Works The communication process involves both one-way and two-way communication. Good Communication takes time and involves many skills that individuals often overlook. Some of the basic requirements for effective communication include: The sender should: 1. Speak or write at the level of the receiver 2. be clear and concise 3. Demonstrate a sincere interest in communicating with the receiver 4. Check for understanding of the message The receiver should: 1. Listen actively and with concentration 2. Expect the message to come from the level of the sender 3. Maintain an open mind 4. Ask questions to clarify the message. One-Way Communication One-way communication may be defined as a process in which information is given but provision for clarification is not available. The primary purpose of one-way communication is to present facts, give directions, etc. Bulletin boards, announcements, memos, and letters are examples of one-way communications. One-way communication is often used because it is a quick and easy way to get the message out to members. Activity: Have committee/chapter leaders develop a monthly bulletin board to showcase chapter activities, announcements, and upcoming conference opportunities.
Two-Way Communication Many times people who are trying to communicate find themselves in a predicament because of failure to satisfy the essential elements in communication. A communication problem easily identified is “the message.” A message can be viewed as: “What I said,” “What you heard,” and “What I thought I said.” In a two-way communication dialogue, it is essential to clarify the fact that the receiver has received and understood the intended message of the sender. “Feedback” is received in the forms of questions, clarification of facts, and sharing of thoughts insures the success of the communication process.
Components of communication
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 1. CONTEXT SENDER-ENCODER MESSAGE MEDIUM RECEIVER-DECODER. FEEDBACK.
Every message, whether oral or written, begins with context. Context is a broad field that includes country, culture, organization and external and internal stimuli. Every country, every culture and every company or organization has its own conventions for processing and communicating information. the way the message is delivered and is known as paralanguage - it is the non verbal elements in speech such as the tone of voice, the look in the sender's eyes, body language, hand gestures, and state of emotions (anger, fear, uncertainty, confidence, etc.) that can be detected. Although paralanguage or context often cause messages to be misunderstood as we believe what we see more than what we hear; they are powerful communicators that help us to understand each other. Indeed, we often trust the accuracy of nonverbal behaviors more than verbal behaviors.
Sender is the person who communicates the idea, information, material, etc. He acts in the capacity of speaker, writer, or encoder. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. The message he intends to send The message he actually sends The message the other person receives or understands. The other person interpretation of the message The other person response.
The message may be in the form of order, opinion, advice, suggestion, instruction, question answer or material. It is necessary and important that idea or message received be identical to the idea or message sent. It is possible only when both communicators sender and receiver are skillful in communication and its language. Medium of communication includes letters report telegrams fax mailgrams cables telefax postals telephones charts pictures or any other mechanical device. Medium may be a person as a postman. It may be a device as a telephone. It may also be an organization as a post office or news agency.
The receiver is the decoder. He when receives decodes or interprets the message. Since perfect communication is not possible, there is deviation between the idea sent and the idea received or interpreted. If the receiver is skillful in communication then the deviation will be small.
Feedback can be an oral or a written message, an action or simply silence. The feedback can be positive or negative. he purpose of feedback is to alter messages so the intention of the original communicator is understood by the second communicator. It includes verbal and nonverbal responses to another person's message. Providing feedback is accomplished by paraphrasing the words of the sender. Restate the sender's feelings or ideas in your own words, rather than repeating their words. Your words should be saying, "This is what I understand your feelings to be, am I correct?" It not only includes verbal responses, but also nonverbal ones. Nodding your head or squeezing their hand to show agreement, dipping your eyebrows shows you don't quite understand the meaning of their last phrase, or sucking air in deeply and blowing it hard shows that you are also exasperated with the situation. listed five main categories of feedback. They are listed in the order in which they occur most frequently in daily conversations. Notice that we make judgments more often than we try to understand:
• • • • •
Evaluative: Making a judgment about the worth, goodness, or appropriateness of the other person's statement. Interpretive: Paraphrasing - attempting to explain what the other person's statement means. Supportive: Attempting to assist or bolster the other communicator. Probing: Attempting to gain additional information, continue the discussion, or clarify a point. Understanding: Attempting to discover completely what the other communicator means by her statements.
Recognition of Barriers to Communication In two-way communication there is much more involved than the four components (sender, message, receiver, feedback) that are essential to the process. Filters including non-verbal cues, role expectations, attitudes, and emotions of each individual may serve as barriers or bridges in communication. Non-verbal cues and body language may communicate more than the verbal message being sent. When the message and body language are consistent, the leader will usually be trusted. Recognition of the importance of facial expression, eye contact, and gestures is important in developing good communication techniques. Attitudes can be barriers to communication. The individual often alters the message by reading more into the message than was said or intended. In addition, emotions may prevent the receiver from hearing or understanding the intended message. The problem usually encountered is a shift from content of the message to feelings about it. The results of strong emotions being used in communication frequently results in distorted messages being received.
Methods of Communication
A variety of methods are used in each of the three channels. Some are used mainly for internal communication, while others are used mainly for external communication.
Internal Communication Spoken Messages
Advantages: Can provide instant feedback; opportunity for discussion. Disadvantages: Often costly to arrange in both time and money; frequently no permanent record. Some of the main methods are: * Face-to-face meetings. It is estimated that managers in companies spend almost half their time in meetings. They may be one-to-one or group meetings. The bigger the company, the more meetings there are likely to be. At large formal meetings, there is a written agenda, or a list of items to be discussed. Minutes, or a written record of what was said and agreed, are usually kept. There are also many external meetings with customers, suppliers, bank managers, advisers, etc. Meetings are useful because they allow instant feedback and discussion to take place. * Presentations. A manager, often accompanied by members of his or her staff, uses a presentation to explain a project or a plan to colleagues. Visual aids, such as transparencies projected on to a screen, are often used to illustrate points in the talk. Presentations are also given externally to clients or potential clients. For example, an advertising agency might make a presentation of its campaign to a client. Presentations allow a large amount of complex information to be communicated to a number of people at the same time. They also provide opportunities for feedback and discussion.
Advantages: Permanent record; suitable for both simple and complex messages. Disadvantages: Usually takes some time for message to arrive; slow feedback, or sometimes none at all. Some of the main methods: Public notices are a cheap way of communicating the same information to a large number of people. However, notices may not be read; and, even if they are, they may be ignored. Memorandums, or memos, are still one of the main means of communication within a business. They are useful for making arrangements or requests and sendingconfirmations.
Reports. These are widely used in business. They are the written equivalent of a presentation. Visual aids, such as charts and photographs, are often used to illustrate them. There is a standard format for a report. It should include a title, a brief introduction, headings or subheadings for each section, a conclusion, a list of recommendations and the name of the author(s) and the date. Staff bulletins or magazines. Many big firms publish bulletins or larger magazines to give employees information about the company, to make them feel they are part of a team, and to increase their morale. The magazines are usually illustrated.
Advantages: Speed; accuracy; quick or instant feedback: message is usually - or can be recorded. Disadvantages: Expensive; whole systems sometimes crash. * Telephones. These were one of the earliest means of electronic communication and are still widely used for both internal and external communication. (An answerphone is an essential for external messages.) * Personal computer (PC). The PC, which processes data at enormous speed, has revolutionized communication and many other aspects of business.
Computer software By using different kinds of software, PCs can perform a variety of tasks, including wordprocessing letters and documents; storing information on a database; and making financial calculations with a spreadsheet.
Local Area Networks
Firms can link all the computers in the same building to form a local area network (LAN). The computers can communicate with each other and also share common facilities, such as a printer. The PCs are all linked to a more powerful computer, or server, which stores a vast amount of information. For example, it can send relevant parts of the business plan to computers in different departments. A LAN makes it much easier for managers to access information from other departments and also to keep a check on the work that their staff are doing and to see that they are not playing computer games!
Advantages: Can provide instant feedback; opportunity for discussion. Disadvantages: Often costly to arrange in both time and money; frequently no permanent record. * Face-to-Face meetings. * Presentations. Interviews. These are usually used for external purposes, such as interviewing a possible employee or a supplier, but they are sometimes used internally on formal occasions, e.g. in internal promotion. interviews can produce feedback and give a quick impression of a person, but the impression may be wrong or superficial. Talks. Formal talks are sometimes used to publicize the firm's activities at trade or public meetings. They are also given internally on induction courses. Annual general meetings (AGMs). Companies have to hold a general meeting for their shareholders every year. Shareholders are told about the company's financial results and activities during the past year and its plans for the future. They are invited to elect or reelect directors and to vote on other matters. Any shareholder has the right to question the board of directors. In practice, very few private investors ever attend AGMs.
Advantages: permanent record; suitable for both simple and complex messages. Disadvantages: Usually takes some time for message to arrive; slow feedback, or sometimes none at all. Business letters. Letters are still one of a firm's main means of communication with the outside world. They are particularly useful for contracts; sending the same letter to a large number of people; answering queries; explaining complex matters which it would be difficult for the receiver to understand immediately; dealing with any matters where it is important that a written record should be kept.
Letterheaded paper is used, which sometimes includes the firm's logo. There is a standard format for letters, which includes references, the date, the inside address, the salutation, the text of the letter and the close. If the salutation is 'Dear Sir' or 'Dear Madam', then the close should be 'Yours faithfully'. If the salutation uses the person's name, e.g. 'Dear Mr Brown', the close should be 'Yours sincerely'. Letters are also used occasionally for formal occasions within the firm, such as invitations, notices of promotion, dismissals, etc. Annual report and accounts. By law, companies must send a copy of their annual report and accounts to all shareholders. Business forms. A variety of forms are used for routine messages. Using pre-printed forms ensures that no relevant information is omitted. They also save time, as an individual letter does not have to be sent. Many of them are trading documents. Some of the main ones are: quotations by a firm for supply of goods or services; delivery notes, which are delivered with the goods and signed by the customer to show they have been received; invoices, which give details of the goods and show the amount of money owed; credit notes, which are sent when a customer has been overcharged or faulty goods have been returned; statements of account sent to regular customers every month giving details of transactions and the amount owed.
Advantages: Speed; accuracy; quick or instant feedback; message is usually - or can berecorded. Disadvantages: Expensive; whole systems sometimes crash. * Mobile phones. These portable telephones allow users to make calls from most locations, indoors and outdoors. The messages are transmitted by radio beacons. Satellite phones, which work anywhere in the world, were being introduced in 1998. Video-conferences. These allow business people to talk to colleagues in any part of the world. Special cameras and software are used to transmit words and images to computer screens or visual display units.
Fax. A fax, or facsimile machine can send an exact copy of a document to another fax machine anywhere in the world. The sender puts the document in a fax machine, dials the fax number of the person or organization, and the fax machine at the other end prints a copy of the document automatically. Letters, plans, diagrams and drawings can all be transmitted in this way. * Personal computer (PC): PCs and notebooks - lightweight, portable computers - have revolutionized external communication, too. At one time, big companies employed a small army of clerks to deal with trading documents. Now the work can all be done by a few computer operators in each firm. The work is done far more efficiently and speedily. Space is also saved, as all the records can be stored in the computer files instead of in large grey filing cabinets. Standard business letters, mail 'shots' to thousands of customers, letters to selected customers using a database, and many other communications can now be made far more easily and quickly. By using a modem, messages can be sent along the telephone lines. This enables the computer to become part of a WAN, a wide area network, which links it to other computers anywhere in the world.
The Internet, which links millions of computer users, is the most rapidly growing means of global communication. The Internet provides an electronic mail, or e-mail, service to other users all over the world, which is much quicker and cheaper than the traditional postal service. The service provider stores the message in an electronic mail box until the receiver views it.
Importance Of Communication In Business
Communication is life blood of a business organization. No organization can succeed or progress, build up reputation, and win friends and customers without effective communication skills. In fact successful communication is the bed rock of ground and pleasant relationship between the seniors and sub ordinates, between the workers and the management ,between the customers and the sellers good and efficient system of communication helps in better coordination and efficient control. It results in clear understanding, good production, healthy climate within the organization willing cooperation among the various levels, if businessman can communicate effectively and successfully. Profit and prosperity
shall knock at the doors of firm, organization or shop keeper through effective system of communication. Poor and ineffective communication system may result in mismanagement, bad business and sure show down. Communication can build or destroy trust depending or use of words. A poorly worded message or talk may result in communication break down. On the other hand planned and well meant communication helps in better service, removes misunderstanding and doubts; builds up good will, promotes business and earns favorable references. It is the key to success in business and trade. A good businessman believes in the saying, 'take care of communication and success shall take care of itself.'
Communication is essential for life in general but in business settings, it is critical. Communication is more than just a matter of speaking and hearing, especially within a business setting. Good communication, on the other hand, means that your message will be sent and that the people or organizations understand the message in its entirety. Further, they are much more likely to respond in a positive manner if the message was communicated effectively.A poorly communicated message will likely result in an unfavorable response. Communication is one of the basic functions of management in any organization and its importance can hardly be overemphasized. It is a process of transmitting information, ideas, thoughts, opinions and plans between various parts of an organization. You cannot have human relations without communication. However, good and effective communication is required not only for good human relations but also for good and successful business. You can use software’s like business writing software for writing effective business communication, which is required at various levels and for various aspects in an organization such as Importance of communication for manager and employee relations: Effective communication of information and decision is an essential component for management-employee relations. The manager cannot get the work done from employees unless they are communicated effectively of what he wants to be done? He should also be sure of some basic facts such as how to communicate and what results can be expected from that communication. Most of management problems arise because of lack of effective communication. Chances of misunderstanding and misrepresentation can be minimized with proper communication system. For motivation and employee morale: Communication is also a basic tool for motivation, which can improve morale of the employees in an organization. Inappropriate or faulty communication among employees or between manager and his subordinates is the major cause of conflict and low morale at work. Manager should clarify to employees about what is to be done, how well they
doing and what are can be done for better performance to improve their motivation. He can prepare a written statement, clearly outlining the relationship between company objectives and personal objectives and integrating the interest of the two. For increase productivity: With effective communication, you can maintain a good human relation in the organization and by encouraging ideas or suggestions from employees or workers and implementing them whenever possible, you can also increase production at low cost. For employees: It is through the communication that employees submit their work reports, comments, grievances and suggestions to their seniors or management. Organization should have effective and speedy communication policy and procedures to avoid delays, misunderstandings, confusion or distortions of facts and to establish harmony among all the concerned people and departments. Importance of written communication: Communication may be made through oral or written. In oral communication, listeners can make out what speakers is trying to say, but in written communication, text matter in the message is a reflection of your thinking. So, written communication or message should be clear, purposeful and concise with correct words, to avoid any misinterpretation of your message. Written communications provides a permanent record for future use and it also gives an opportunity to employees to put up their comments or suggestions in writing.
Chap-2 Methods of Communication
Channels of Communication
There are three main channels of communication. They are: spoken written electronic Visual aids, such as charts, graphs, diagrams, photographs and other illustrations, are often used to support messages. They summarize information and present it in a striking way.
Media And Modes Of Communication E-Mail Letter(conventional means)
The term E-Mail Letter refers to a letter (message) which is composed and sent as email on a computer and gets delivered as a real letter, to the receivers mailbox. It is a communication means between the virtual cyber- and the material real world. The printer or mail transfer agent prints the electronic mail on paper, the mail transport agent packs it into an envelope and the mail delivery agent or postman delivers it to the receivers mailbox. Generally there is a fee for this service; however very small amounts and single E-mail letters may be free of charge depending on the service provider
Telegraph is a communications system in which information is transmitted over a wire through a series of electrical current pulses, usually in the form of Morse code. The basic components include a source of direct current, a length of wire or cable, and a currentindicating device such as a relay, buzzer, or light bulb. The term comes from the Greek words "tele," meaning "at a distance" and "graphien," meaning "to write." The telegraph has been in use for more than 150 years. The prototype of the telegraph was demonstrated by Joseph Henry in 1830. He transmitted an electric current over a length of wire approximately 1 mile (1.6 kilometer) in length to activate a bell on the opposite end of the circuit. This device was refined and developed by Samuel F. B. Morse into a system that used a solenoid, equipped with a marker, to record multiple pulses of varying duration on a moving strip of paper. These pulses appeared as so-called
dots and dashes. Patterns of these dots and dashes were assigned to letters of the alphabet, single-digit numerals, and punctuation marks. On May 1, 1844, the first official telegraph message was sent. The telegraph was, arguably, one of the two most important technological advances that contributed to U.S. settlement of North America west of the Mississippi River. (The other was the railroad.) The telegraph is still occasionally used for communication, but the Internet and the telephone are employed far more often. A variant of the original Morse code is used by amateur radio operators today, largely for recreation, but occasionally in emergencies when all other modes of communication fail as a result of infrastructure damage or because of poor wave propagation conditions. The amateur radio operator reads the code by listening to audio tones from a radio receiver. The human ear, working in conjunction with the brain, is one of the most sensitive known data interpreters, and the Morse code, because it is binary, remains among the most efficient, albeit slow, data transmission methods. The telegraph had many advantages. First, it allowed fast communication. Businesses used it to get in touch quickly and inexpensively with far away customers and salesmen The telegraph had many advantages. First, it allowed fast communication. Businesses used it to get in touch quickly and inexpensively with far away customers and salesmen The media benefited from quick communication with reporters. The telegraph also had its disadvantages. A message can only be sent where there are cables.
Telephone (electronic communication)
The telephone is a telecommunications device that is used to transmit and receive sound (most commonly speech), usually two people conversing but occasionally three or more. It is one of the most common household appliances in the world today. Most telephones operate through transmission of electric signals over a complex telephone network which allows almost any phone user to communicate with almost anyone.
Directions of Communication
Within any organization, the character of the communication varies according to whether it is going downwards, upwards or sideways. The main uses of vertical downwards communication are: to give orders or instructions; to provide, or ask for, information. Example: a manager communicating with an employee.
The main uses of vertical upwards communication are: to describe the results of actions; to provide information that has been requested; to make requests or appeals. Example: an employee communicating with a manager. The main uses of horizontal, or sideways, communication are: to keep equals informed of actions taken, or results achieved; to discuss means of tackling problems together. Example: colleagues communicating with colleagues.
Overview of organisational communication
Communication in an organisation may be used to influence, inform, control or inspire. Organisational communication can be divided into two broad categories - formal or structured (within the 'systems' established by management) and informal (as when coworkers chat about company matters). Both areas are significant and both need to be 'healthy' for the organisation to be healthy.
Formal communication channels and networks
Formal communication channels follow the organisational structure or hierarchy and flow in four directions:
Four directions of communication flow
These four directions in which communication can travel are: downward; upward; lateral or horizontal; and diagonal. Downward (1) communication involves communication from higher to lower levels so that leadership can communicate goals, strategies or role expectations. Downward Communications Routine discussion meetings between employees and their supervisors: Supervisors should be trained in techniques for generating discussion among employees and in how to feed the information “up the line” on a routine basis. (Supervisors also need to be trained to feed information back down to employees.) Supervisor’s appraisal of individual employees: Periodic appraisal by each supervisor on each employee under his or her supervision, including specific and focused questions which the supervisor must answer about each employee with a method for passing this information “up the line” in order to fix a “status appraisal” on each employee. Manager’s appraisal of individual supervisors: Again, use focused, specific questions, recognizing that weak, arbitrary, unfair, or excessively harsh supervisors are a prime cause of employee discontent and acting out; be sure this information goes “up the line” in order to correct supervisory problems. Attitude surveys: Annual, anonymous questionnaires given to employees; use customized, specific questions that will alert management to trouble spots. Employee suggestion program: For employees and family members, give monetary awards or other forms of recognition for accepted suggestions. Grievance procedure: Have a no adversary system where employees feel uninhibited in bringing their complaints and grievances past their immediate supervisors. Open door policy: Encourage employees to ask questions and take their concerns to anyone in the company. Exit interviews: Every employee who leaves the company should be interviewed and their comments on working conditions and morale recorded. Upward (2) communication flows from lower levels to higher levels of the organisation, for example, when there is a need to communicate problems, results or suggestions. Upward CommunicationsGeneral manager’s routine staff meeting with supervisors: In addition to production issues, these staff meetings should also include topics of interest to employees with respect to business developments, company affairs, and any other topics that and any other topics that should be communicated by supervisors to rank and file. General manager’s routine meeting with non-supervisory employees: In addition to production issues, these meetings should emphasize issues that involve pay and benefits, problems, complaints, rumors, and questions. Supervisor’s routine meeting with employees: Upper management should ensure that supervisors have routine meetings that cover topics beyond production that are of interest to employees. In many environments, there is a tendency for supervisors to overlook these important communications vehicles while under pressure to produce. Employee newsletter for home delivery: The spouse should become involved in events and conditions to give the entire family a stake in and appreciation of the employee’s job.Newsletters for supervisors: Subscriptions to appropriate newsletters that provide supervisors with information on how to do their jobs better and how to handling employees and job problems. Or create a regular supervisor newsletter internally.Bulletin board program: Every attempt should be made to make the bulletin board a viable source of information—in most cases bulletin boards fall into disuse. Employee handbook: Handbooks should be published in an attractive, easy-to-use
format so that they are readily usable by employees as a source of information. Supervisor’s handbook: This document can serve as a training aid as well as communication tool. Horizontal (3) communication occurs across the same level and involves for example, coordination of activities with peers (teams, committees), dissemination of useful information from one department to another (for example sales forecasts from the sales department to production, and problems such as a problem with product design from the production department to research and development). Horizontal communication facilitates the l inking of different areas of expertise and this may encourage innovation. Diagonal (4) channels may potentially cause conflict as they involve communication between the lower level of one department to a higher level in another. In the diagram above, this may cause friction between the employee in accounting department C and the Vice-President (VP) of Accounting as the employee has gone around his or her own superior. Nevertheless this type of communication may be useful as it may simply be information relevant to the Marketing Department and the VP Accounting does not need to be involved. Formal communication networks also occur within the hierarchy of the organisation and reflect how groups of employees, for example those in a department, work together. Networking or mapping the flow of communication in an organisation can be a useful device. This can identify who is communicating with whom and whether the lines of communication are effective and efficient, or whether there is potential for destructive conflict or tension arising from the communication channels (for example, inappropriate diagonal communication).
Formal communication: problems and solutions
Many communication problems arise from the structure of the organization. Dwyer (2005) mentions three related organizational factors: centralization; the creation of too many organizational layers; and the structure of the organization. Other factors may include downsizing which leads to ambiguous reporting structure and poor leadership. Many of these problems may be overcome by:
analyzing the organization structure and communication networks for barriers to effectiveness and efficiency ensuring downsizing is well planned and the 'survivors' (those left in the organization) understand the impact of the process on communication networks and procedures Recruiting for competent communication, particularly when recruiting for leadership roles.
Informal organizational communication exists outside the formal lines of the organizational structure. An example of this is friendship groups. The informal communication channel serves two main purposes: it permits employees to satisfy their need for social interaction in the workplace and it can improve an organization’s performance by creating alternative, and frequently faster and more efficient, channels of communication (Robbins et al. 2000). One of the most common forms of informal communication is 'the grapevine' Grapevine is an informal channel of business communication. It is called so because it stretches throughout the organization in all directions irrespective of the authority levels. Man as we know is a social animal. Despite existence of formal channels in an organization, the informal channels tend to develop when he interacts with other people in organization. It exists more at lower levels of organization. Grapevine generally develops due to various reasons. One of them is that when an organization is facing recession, the employees sense uncertainty. Also, at times employees do not have self- confidence due to which they form unions. Sometimes the managers show preferential treatment and favor some employees giving a segregated feeling to other employees. Thus, when employees sense a need to exchange their views, they go for grapevine network as they cannot use the formal channel of communication in that case. Generally during breaks in cafeteria, the subordinates talk about their superior’s attitude and behavior and exchange views with their peers. They discuss rumors about promotion and transfer of other employees. Thus, grapevine spreads like fire and it is not easy to trace the cause of such communication at times.
Examples of Grapevine Network of Communication
1. Suppose the profit amount of a company is known. Rumour is spread that this much profit is there and on that basis bonus is declared. 2. CEO may be in relation to the Production Manager. They may have friendly relations with each other.
Pros and Cons of Grapevine Communication
Advantages of Grapevine Communication
1. Grapevine channels carry information rapidly. As soon as an employee gets to know some confidential information, he becomes inquisitive and passes the details then to his closest friend who in turn passes it to other. Thus, it spreads hastily. 2. The managers get to know the reactions of their subordinates on their policies. Thus, the feedback obtained is quick compared to formal channel of communication.
3. The grapevine creates a sense of unity among the employees who share and discuss their views with each other. Thus, grapevine helps in developing group cohesiveness. 4. The grapevine serves as an emotional supportive value. 5. The grapevine is a supplement in those cases where formal communication does not work.
Disadvantages of Grapevine Communication
1. The grapevine carries partial information at times as it is more based on rumours. Thus, it does not clearly depicts the complete state of affairs. 2. The grapevine is not trustworthy always as it does not follows official path of communication and is spread more by gossips and unconfirmed report. 3. The productivity of employees may be hampered as they spend more time talking rather than working. 4. The grapevine leads to making hostility against the executives. 5. The grapevine may hamper the goodwill of the organization as it may carry false negative information about the high level people of the organization. A smart manager should take care of all the disadvantages of the grapevine and try to minimize them. At the same time, he should make best possible use of advantages of grapevine.
Types of Communication
Communication can occur via various processes and methods and depending on the channel used and the style of communication there can be various types of communication. Types of Communication Based on Communication Channels Based on the channels used for communicating, the process of communication can be broadly classified as verbal communication and non-verbal communication. Verbal communication includes written and oral communication whereas the non-verbal communication includes body language, facial expressions and visuals diagrams or pictures used for communication.
Verbal Communication Verbal communication is further divided into written and oral communication. The oral communication refers to the spoken words in the communication process. Oral communication can either be face-to-face communication or a conversation over the phone or on the voice chat over the Internet. Spoken conversations or dialogs are influenced by voice modulation, pitch, volume and
even the speed and clarity of speaking. The other type of verbal communication is written communication. Written communication can be either via snail mail, or email. The effectiveness of written communication depends on the style of writing, vocabulary used, grammar, clarity and precision of language. Nonverbal Communication Nonverbal communication is the process of communicating through sending and receiving wordless messages. Such messages can be communicated through gesture, body language or posture; facial expression and eye contact, object communication such as clothing, hairstyles or even architecture, or symbols and infographics, as well as through an aggregate of the above, such as behavioral communication. Speech may also contain nonverbal elements known as paralanguage, including voice quality, emotion and speaking style, as well as prosodic features such as rhythm, intonation and stress. Likewise, written texts have nonverbal elements such as handwriting style, spatial arrangement of words, or the use of emoticons.A portmanteau of the English words emotion (or emote) and icon, an emoticon is a symbol or combination of symbols used to convey emotional content in written or message form.
Non-verbal communication includes the overall body language of the person who is speaking, which will include the body posture, the hand gestures, and overall body movements. The facial expressions also play a major role while communication since the expressions on a person’s face say a lot about his/her mood. On the other hand gestures like a handshake, a smile or a hug can independently convey emotions. Non verbal communication can also be in the form of pictorial representations, signboards, or even photographs, sketches and paintings. Nonverbal communication Nonverbal communication (NVC) is usually understood as the process of communication through sending and receiving wordless messages. Such messages can be communicated through gesture; body language or posture; facial expression and eye contact; object communication such as clothing, hairstyles or even architecture; symbols and infographics. Speech may also contain nonverbal elements known as paralanguage, including voice quality, emotion and speaking style, as well as prosodic features such as rhythm, intonation and stress. Likewise, written texts have nonverbal elements such as handwriting style, spatial arrangement of words, or the use of emoticons. However, much of the study of nonverbal communication has focused on face-to-face interaction, where it can be classified into three principal areas: environmental conditions where communication takes place, the physical characteristics of the communicators, and behaviors of communicators during interaction.
While much nonverbal communication is based on arbitrary symbols, which differ from culture to culture, a large proportion is also to some extent iconic and may be universally understood. Paul Ekman's influential 1960s studies of facial expression determined that expressions of anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness and surprise are universal.
Clothing and bodily characteristics
Uniforms have both a functional and a communicative purpose. This man's clothes identify him as male and a police officer; his badges and shoulder sleeve insignia give information about his job and rank. Elements such as physique, height, weight, hair, skin color, gender, odors, and clothing send nonverbal messages during interaction. For example, research into height has generally found that taller people are perceived as being more impressive. Melamed & Bozionelos (1992) studied a sample of managers in the UK and found that height was a key factor affecting who was promoted. Often people try to make themselves taller, for example, standing on a platform, when they want to make more of an impact with their speaking.
Environmental factors such as furniture, architectural style, interior decorating, lighting conditions, colors, temperature, noise, and music affect the behavior of communicators during interaction. The furniture itself can be seen as a nonverbal message
Proxemics is the study of how people use and perceive the physical space around them. The space between the sender and the receiver of a message influences the way the message is interpreted.
The perception and use of space varies significantly across cultures and different settings within cultures. Space in nonverbal communication may be divided into four main categories: intimate, social, personal, and public space.(Scott Mclean, 1969) The distance between communicators will also depend on sex, status, and social role. Proxemics was first developed by Edward T. Hall during the 1950s and 60s. Hall's studies were inspired by earlier studies of how animals demonstrate territoriality. The term territoriality is still used in the study of proxemics to explain human behavior regarding personal space. Hargie & Dickson (2004, p. 69) identify 4 such territories: 1. Primary territory: this refers to an area that is associated with someone who has exclusive use of it. For example, a house that others cannot enter without the owner’s permission. 2. Secondary territory: unlike the previous type, there is no “right” to occupancy, but people may still feel some degree of ownership of a particular space. For example, someone may sit in the same seat on train every day and feel aggrieved if someone else sits there. 3. Public territory: this refers to an area that is available to all, but only for a set period, such as a parking space or a seat in a library. Although people have only a limited claim over that space, they often exceed that claim. For example, it was found that people take longer to leave a parking space when someone is waiting to take that space. 4. Interaction territory: this is space created by others when they are interacting. For example, when a group is talking to each other on a footpath, others will walk around the group rather than disturb it.
Chronemics is the study of the use of time in nonverbal communication. The way we perceive time, structure our time and react to time is a powerful communication tool, and helps set the stage for communication. Time perceptions include punctuality and willingness to wait, the speed of speech and how long people are willing to listen. The timing and frequency of an action as well as the tempo and rhythm of communications within an interaction contributes to the interpretation of nonverbal messages. Gudykunst & Ting-Toomey (1988) identified 2 dominant time patterns:
Monochronic time schedule (M-time): Time is seen as being very important and it is characterized by a linear pattern where the emphasis is on the use of time schedules and appointments. Time is viewed as something that can be controlled or wasted by individuals, and people tend to do one thing at a time. The M-pattern is typically found in North America and Northern Europe. Polychronic time schedule (P-time): Personal involvement is more important than schedules where the emphasis lies on personal relationships rather than keeping appointments on time. This is the usual pattern that is typically found in Latin America and the Middle East.
Movement and body position
Information about the relationship and affect of these two skaters is communicated by their body posture, eye gaze and physical contact. Kinesics is the study of body movements, facial expressions, and gestures. It was developed by anthropologist Ray L. Birdwhistell in the 1950s. Kinesics behaviors include mutual gaze, smiling, facial warmth or pleasantness, childlike behaviors, direct body orientation, and the like. Birdwhistell proposed the term kineme to describe a minimal unit of visual expression, in analogy to a phoneme which is a minimal unit of sound.
Posture can be used to determine a participant’s degree of attention or involvement, the difference in status between communicators, and the level of fondness a person has for the other communicator. Studies investigating the impact of posture on interpersonal relationships suggest that mirror-image congruent postures, where one person’s left side is parallel to the other’s right side, leads to favorable perception of communicators and positive speech; a person who displays a forward lean or a decrease in a backwards lean also signify positive sentiment during communication. Posture is understood through such indicators as direction of lean, body orientation, arm position, and body openness.
A wink is a type of gesture. A gesture is a non-vocal bodily movement intended to express meaning. They may be articulated with the hands, arms or body, and also include movements of the head, face and eyes, such as winking, nodding, or rolling one's eyes. The boundary between language and gesture, or verbal and nonverbal communication, can be hard to identify. According to Ottenheimer (2007), psychologists Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen suggested that gestures could be categorized into five types: emblems, illustrators, affect displays, regulators, and adaptors.
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Emblems are gestures with direct verbal translations, such as a goodbye wave; illustrators are gestures that depict what is said verbally, such as turning an imaginary steering wheel while talking about driving; an affect display is a gesture that conveys emotions, like a smile; regulators are gestures that control interaction; and finally, an adaptor is a gesture that facilitates the release of bodily tension, such as quickly moving one's leg.
Gestures can be also be categorized as either speech-independent or speech-related. Speech-independent gestures are dependent upon culturally accepted interpretation and have a direct verbal translation. A wave hello or a peace sign are examples of speechindependent gestures. Speech related gestures are used in parallel with verbal speech; this form of nonverbal communication is used to emphasize the message that is being communicated. Speech related gestures are intended to provide supplemental information to a verbal message such as pointing to an object of discussion. Gestures such as Mudra (Sanskrit) encode sophisticated information accessible to initiates that are privy to the subtlety of elements encoded in their tradition.
A high five is an example of communicative touch. Haptics is the study of touching as nonverbal communication. Touches that can be defined as communication include handshakes, holding hands, kissing (cheek, lips, and hand), back slapping, high fives, a pat on the shoulder, and brushing an arm. Touching of oneself during communication may include licking, picking, holding, and scratching. These behaviors are referred to as "adaptor" and may send messages that reveal the intentions or feelings of a communicator. The meaning conveyed from touch is highly dependent upon the context of the situation, the relationship between communicators, and the manner of touch.
The study of the role of eyes in nonverbal communication is sometimes referred to as "oculesics". Eye contact can indicate interest, attention, and involvement. Gaze comprises the actions of looking while talking, looking while listening, amount of gaze, and frequency of glances, patterns of fixation, pupil dilation, and blink rate.
Paralanguage (sometimes called vocalics) is the study of nonverbal cues of the voice. Various acoustic properties of speech such as tone, pitch and accent, collectively known as prosody, can all give off nonverbal cues. Paralanguage may change the meaning of words. The linguist George L. Trager developed a classification system which consists of the voice set, voice qualities, and vocalization.
The voice set is the context in which the speaker is speaking. This can include the situation, gender, mood, age and a person's culture.
The voice qualities are volume, pitch, tempo, rhythm, articulation, resonance, nasality, and accent. They give each individual a unique "voice print". Vocalization consists of three subsections: characterizers, qualifiers and segregates. Characterizers are emotions expressed while speaking, such as laughing, crying, and yawning. A voice qualifier is the style of delivering a message - for example, yelling "Hey stop that!", as opposed to whispering "Hey stop that". Vocal segregates such as "uh-huh" notify the speaker that the listener is listening.
Verbal vs. oral communication
Scholars in this field usually use a strict sense of the term "verbal", meaning "of or concerned with words," and do not use "verbal communication" as a synonym for oral or spoken communication. Thus, vocal sounds that are not considered to be words, such as a grunt, or singing a wordless note, are nonverbal. Sign languages and writing are generally understood as forms of verbal communication, as both make use of words — although like speech, both may contain paralinguistic elements and often occur alongside nonverbal messages. Nonverbal communication can occur through any sensory channel — sight, sound, smell, touch or taste. NVC is important as: "When we speak (or listen), our attention is focused on words rather than body language. But our judgment includes both. An audience is simultaneously processing both verbal and nonverbal cues. Body movements are not usually positive or negative in and of themselves; rather, the situation and the message will determine the appraisal." Types of Communication Based on Style and Purpose Based on the style of communication, there can be two broad categories of communication, which are formal and informal communication that have their own set of characteristic features.
Formal Communication Formal communication includes all the instances where communication has to occur in a set formal format. Typically this can include all sorts of business communication or corporate communication. The style of communication in this form is very formal and official. Official conferences, meetings and written memos and corporate letters are used for communication. Formal communication can also occur between two strangers when they meet for the first time. Hence formal communication is straightforward, official and always precise and has a stringent and rigid tone to it.
Informal Communication Informal communication includes instances of free unrestrained communication between people who share a casual rapport with each other. Informal communication requires two people to have a similar wavelength and hence occurs between friends and family. Informal communication does not have any rigid rules and guidelines. Informal conversations need not necessarily have boundaries of time, place or even subjects for that matter since we all know that friendly chats with our loved ones can simply go on and on.
Chap-3 Art of Communication
Effective communication is not just a business skill - it is a life skill & the most important source of personal power at work, family & social situations. Communication is the process of understanding and being understood through ideas, facts, thoughts and emotions. Good communication is determined not by how well we say things but by how well we have been understood. To be a successful person one must have great communication skills and should be a great conversationalist. Lets see how! This goal is not very difficult to achieve, all that is required is to be geared up with the correct skills, style and ammunition. Here are some tips that will help you in making positive impressions with others and enhance your success: Be Confident The first important skill is to be confident and to have the skill of being able to gel in any environment, company and occasion. Practice good listening Skills The next important feature is to be a good listener. You can never be able to communicate and converse with someone if you don't listen to what that person says. You will get a chance to put in your views but before that be patient and listen to what the other person has to say. Think before you speak Always think before you speak. Take time to put your thoughts together rather than blurt something out that you will have to repent saying. Be Updated Be aware of the world around you and keep your current events updated so as to be able to participate in intellectual conversations and this way you will be able to communicate with more people. Don’t Pretend Don't pretend that you know everything and nod your head to everything that the other person is saying. There is no harm or shame in acknowledging that you are not aware of that topic and in fact you can get to learn something new. Stay away from Gossip Stay away from gossiping and also indulge in intelligent and healthy conversation. Always avoid sensitive topics, especially when you don't know the people very well around you, like religion, politics and personal life. You don't want to get caught up in arguments and fights. When someone starts talking about his or her problems be a good listener but don't offer
advice. If someone does ask for your advice, sharing a similar experience you've had but don't sit into the advisory chair. In Conclusion The most important thing is be yourself.
7 C’s of Communication
Effective communication involves accuracy in the sending and receiving processes and no type of barriers to encumber that accuracy. The seven qualities of effective communication that are termed as the 7 C's are namely Completeness Conciseness Consideration Concreteness Clarity Courtesy Correctness Completeness: A message is complete when it contains all the facts that are need by the listener or reader for the response you desire. Conciseness: Getting your message through in the fewest possible words, keeping in mind all the other qualities of effective communication. A concise message is complete without being wordy. Do not waste valuable time. Say what you have to say and ask what you need from your listener or team, and then let them go. When giving suggestions or advice or orders, give them with appropriate details delivered in a short, concise way . Consideration: Keeping the receiver in mind while preparing the message is what defines the quality of consideration. Putting oneself in the place of the receiver (empathy) Concreteness: Being concrete is being vivid, definite and specific rather than obscure, vague and general. Clarity: Getting the message through in an accurate manner is the purpose of clarity. Do not beat around the bush. State exactly what you want people to do, or why they should follow you. Don’t let people guess your meaning. State clearly your objectives or desires, and people will respect you for your leadership and ideas. Please still include the 3Ps (Polite, Professional, Positive) when you deliver your message though. . Courtesy: Courtesy means not only to think about the receivers reaction but also his / her feelings. It not only involves usage of polite words and gestures but also pure politeness that grow out of respect and concern for others.
Correctness: This quality means to correct use of grammar, spelling and punctuation. In terms of verbal communication, this refers to accuracy in pronunciation.
Developing Communication Skills: Listening Skills
There are a number of situations when you need to solicit good information from others; these situations include interviewing candidates, solving work problems, seeking to help an employee on work performance, and finding out reasons for performance discrepancies. Skill in communication involves a number of specific strengths. The first we will discuss involves listening skills. The following lists some suggests for effective listening when confronted with a problem at work:
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Listen openly and with empathy to the other person Judge the content, not the messenger or delivery; comprehend before you judge Use multiple techniques to fully comprehend (ask, repeat, rephrase, etc.) Active body state; fight distractions Ask the other person for as much detail as he/she can provide; paraphrase what the other is saying to make sure you understand it and check for understanding Respond in an interested way that shows you understand the problem and the employee's concern Attend to non-verbal cues, body language, not just words; listen between the lines Ask the other for his views or suggestions State your position openly; be specific, not global Communicate your feelings but don't act them out (eg. tell a person that his behavior really upsets you; don't get angry) Be descriptive, not evaluative-describe objectively, your reactions, consequences Be validating, not invalidating ("You wouldn't understand"); acknowledge other;'s uniqueness, importance Be conjunctive, not disjunctive (not "I want to discuss this regardless of what you want to discuss"); Don't totally control conversation; acknowledge what was said Own up: use "I", not "They"... not "I've heard you are noncooperative" Don't react to emotional words, but interpret their purpose Practice supportive listening, not one way listening Decide on specific follow-up actions and specific follow up dates
A major source of problem in communication is defensiveness. Effective communicators are aware that defensiveness is a typical response in a work situation especially when negative information or criticism is involved. Be aware that defensiveness is common, particularly with subordinates when you are dealing with a problem. Try to make adjustments to compensate for the likely defensiveness. Realize that when people feel threatened they will try to protect themselves; this is natural. This defensiveness can take
the form of aggression, anger, competitiveness, avoidance among other responses. A skillful listener is aware of the potential for defensiveness and makes needed adjustment. He or she is aware that self-protection is necessary and avoids making the other person spend energy defending the self. In addition, a supportive and effective listener does the following:
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Stop Talking: Asks the other person for as much detail as he/she can provide; asks for other's views and suggestions Looks at the person, listens openly and with empathy to the employee; is clear about his position; be patient Listen and Respond in an interested way that shows you understand the problem and the other's concern is validating, not invalidating ("You wouldn't understand"); acknowledge other;'s uniqueness, importance checks for understanding; paraphrases; asks questions for clarification don't control conversation; acknowledges what was said; let's the other finish before responding Focuses on the problem, not the person; is descriptive and specific, not evaluative; focuses on content, not delivery or emotion Attend to emotional as well as cognitive messages (e.g., anger); aware of nonverbal cues, body language, etc.; listen between the lines React to the message, not the person, delivery or emotion Make sure you comprehend before you judge; ask questions Use many techniques to fully comprehend Stay in an active body state to aid listening Fight distractions ( if in a work situation) Take Notes; Decide on specific follow-up actions and specific follow up dates
Chap-3 Barriers In Communication
Many people think that communicating is easy. It is after all something we've done all our lives. There is some truth in this simplistic view. Communicating is straightforward. What makes it complex, difficult, and frustrating are the barriers we put in the way. There are a wide number of sources of noise or interference that can enter into the communication process. This can occur when people now each other very well and should understand the sources of error. In a work setting, it is even more common since interactions involve people who not only don't have years of experience with each other, but communication is complicated by the complex and often conflictual relationships that exist at work. In a work setting, the following suggests a number of sources of noise: 1. Physical barriers Physical barriers in the workplace include:
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marked out territories, empires and fiefdoms into which strangers are not allowed closed office doors, barrier screens, separate areas for people of different status large working areas or working in one unit that is physically separate from others.
Research shows that one of the most important factors in building cohesive teams is proximity. As long as people still have a personal space that they can call their own, nearness to others aids communication because it helps us get to know one another. 2. Perceptual barriers The problem with communicating with others is that we all see the world differently. If we didn't, we would have no need to communicate: something like extrasensory perception would take its place. The following anecdote is a reminder of how our thoughts, assumptions and perceptions shape our own realities: A traveller was walking down a road when he met a man from the next town. "Excuse me," he said. "I am hoping to stay in the next town tonight. Can you tell me what the townspeople are like?" "Well," said the townsman, "how did you find the people in the last town you visited?" "Oh, they were an irascible bunch. Kept to themselves. Took me for a fool. Over-charged me for what I got. Gave me very poor service." "Well, then," said the townsman, "you'll find them pretty much the same here."
3. Emotional barriers One of the chief barriers to open and free communications is the emotional barrier. It is comprised mainly of fear, mistrust and suspicion. The roots of our emotional mistrust of others lie in our childhood and infancy when we were taught to be careful what we said to others. "Mind your P's and Q's"; "Don't speak until you're spoken to"; "Children should be seen and not heard". As a result many people hold back from communicating their thoughts and feelings to others. They feel vulnerable. While some caution may be wise in certain relationships, excessive fear of what others might think of us can stunt our development as effective communicators and our ability to form meaningful relationships. 4. Cultural barriers When we join a group and wish to remain in it, sooner or later we need to adopt the behaviour patterns of the group. These are the behaviours that the group accept as signs of belonging. The group rewards such behaviour through acts of recognition, approval and inclusion. In groups which are happy to accept you, and where you are happy to conform, there is a mutuality of interest and a high level of win-win contact. Where, however, there are barriers to your membership of a group, a high level of gameplaying replaces good communication. We allow our past experiences to change the meaning of the message. Our culture, background, and bias can be good as they allow us to use our past experiences to understand something new, it is when they change the meaning of the message that they interfere with the communication process. 5. Language barriers Language that describes what we want to say in our terms may present barriers to others who are not familiar with our expressions, buzz-words and jargon. When we couch our communication in such language, it is a way of excluding others. In a global market place the greatest compliment we can pay another person is to talk in their language. One of the more chilling memories of the Cold War was the threat by the Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev saying to the Americans at the United Nations: "We will bury you!" This was taken to mean a threat of nuclear annihilation. However, a more accurate reading of Khruschev's words would have been: "We will overtake you!" meaning economic superiority. It was not just the language, but the fear and suspicion that the West had of the Soviet Union that led to the more alarmist and sinister interpretation.
6. Lack of feedback - Feedback is the mirror of communication. Feedback mirrors what the sender has sent. Feedback is the receiver sending back to the sender the message as perceived. Without feedback, communication is one-way. Feedback happens in a variety of ways. Asking a person to repeat what has been said, e.g., repeat instructions, is a very direct way of getting feedback. Feedback may be as subtle as a stare, a puzzled look, a nod, or failure to ask any questions after complicated instructions have been given. Both sender and receiver can play an active role in using feedback to make communication truly two-way. Feedback should be helpful rather than hurtful. Prompt feedback is more effective that feedback saved up until the "right" moment. Feedback should deal in specifics ratherthan generalities. 7. Interruptions - A farm is a lively place. Few days are routine. Long periods of calm and quiet rarely interrupt the usual hectic pace. In this environment, conversations, meetings, instructions and even casual talk about last night's game are likely to be interrupted. The interruptions may be due to something more pressing, rudeness, lack of privacy for discussion, a drop-in visitor, an emergency, or even the curiosity of someone else wanting to know what two other people are saying. Regardless of the cause, interruptions are a barrier to communication. In the extreme, there is a reluctance of employees and family members even to attempt discussion with a manager because of the near certainty that the conversation will be interrupted. Less extreme but serious is the problem of incomplete instructions because someone came by with a pressing question. 6. Gender barriers There are distinct differences between the speech patterns in a man and those in a woman. A woman speaks between 22,000 and 25,000 words a day whereas a man speaks between 7,000 and 10,000. In childhood, girls speak earlier than boys and at the age of three, have a vocabulary twice that of boys. The reason for this lies in the wiring of a man's and woman's brains. When a man talks, his speech is located in the left side of the brain but in no specific area. When a woman talks, the speech is located in both hemispheres and in two specific locations. This means that a man talks in a linear, logical and compartmentalised way, features of left-brain thinking; whereas a woman talks more freely mixing logic and emotion, features of both sides of the brain. It also explains why women talk for much longer than men each day.
7 Interpersonal barriers There are six levels at which people can distance themselves from one another: 1. Withdrawal is an absence of interpersonal contact. It is both refusal to be in touch and time alone.
2. Rituals are meaningless, repetitive routines devoid of real contact.
3. Pastimes fill up time with others in social but superficial activities.
4. Working activities are those tasks which follow the rules and procedures of contact but no more.
5. Games are subtle, manipulative interactions which are about winning and losing. They include "rackets" and "stamps".
6. Closeness is the aim of interpersonal contact where there is a high level of honesty and acceptance of yourself and others.
7. Listening barriers: Interrupting the speaker Not maintaining eye contact with the speaker Rushing the speaker to complete what he/she has to say Making the speaker feel as though he/she is wasting the listener's time Being distracted by something that is not part of the on going communication Getting ahead of the speaker and completing his/her thoughts Ignoring the speaker's requests Topping the speaker's story with one's own set of examples Forgetting what is being discussed Asking too many questions, for they sake of probing
8. Barriers while speaking: Unclear messages Lack of consistency in the communication process Incomplete sentences Not understanding the receiver Not seeking clarifications while communicating
8. The other barriers include: An individual's subjective viewpoint towards issues/people, which leads to assumptions. An emotional block, which can lead to an attitude of indifference, suspicion or hostility towards the subject. An emotional block or bias that is based on a third party's view point, or on what you have read/heard. Words can have different meanings to different people, thus blocking communication. Use of negative words
Working on improving your communications is a broad-brush activity. You have to change your thoughts, your feelings, and your physical connections. That way, you can break down the barriers that get in your way and start building relationships that really work. Facilitating Communication In addition to removal of specific barriers to communication, the following general guidelines may also facilitate communication. 1. Have a positive attitude about communication. Defensiveness interferes with communication. 2. Work at improving communication skills. It takes knowledge and work. The communication model and discussion of barriers to communication provide the necessary knowledge. This increased awareness of the potential for improving communication is the first step to better communication. 3. Include communication as a skill to be evaluated along with all the other skills in each person's job description. Help other people improve their communication skills by helping them understand their communication problems.
4. Make communication goal oriented. Relational goals come first and pave the way for other goals. When the sender and receiver have a good relationship, they are much more likely to accomplish their communication goals. 5. Approach communication as a creative process rather than simply part of the chore of working with people. Experiment with communication alternatives. What works with one person may not work well with another person. Vary channels, listening techniques, and feedback techniques. 6. Accept the reality of miscommunication. The best communicators fail to have perfect communication. They accept miscommunication and work to minimize its negative impacts. Communication is at the heart of many interpersonal problems faced by farm employers. Understanding the communication process and then working at improvement provide managers a recipe for becoming more effective communicators. Knowing the common barriers to communication is the first step to minimizing their impact. Managers can reflect on how they are doing and make use of the ideas presented in this paper. When taking stock of how well you aredoing as a manager, first ask yourself and others how well you are doing as a communicator.
Art of Listening
Habit five in Covey's 'Seven habits for highly effective people' is: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Covey suggests that 'seek first to understand' can be difficult as most people seek first to be understood. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They're either speaking or preparing to speak... When another person speaks, we're usually 'listening' at one of four levels. We may be ignoring another person, or not really listening at all. We may practise pretending . 'Yeah. Uh-huh. Right'. We may practice selective listening , hearing only certain parts of the conversation... Or we may even practice attentive listening , paying attention and focusing energy on the words that are being said. But very few of us ever practise the fifth level, the highest form of listening, empathic listening ...listening with intent to understand. (Covey 1997, pp.239-240) Seeking first to understand and attentive and empathic listening require a high level of concentration and commitment to the communication process.
Approaches to listening
The main components of active listening are attending, encouraging, reflecting and summarising. Active listening is a dynamic process and requires the listener to actively participate in the communication process.
Informational listening is useful when the listener is trying to listen to large chunks of information or is trying to concentrate on facts. This style of listening is useful, for example, when listening to seminars, debates and lectures.
Evaluative listening is useful when you are trying to make an evaluation of the sender's information. An important part of evaluative listening is to differentiate between facts and emotion-laden words or statements, for example 'They look fantastic on you. You must buy them or you'll be disappointed with yourself for not treating yourself to such a beautiful pair of shoes.' The facts might be that you don't need the shoes and they would not suit anything in your wardrobe. In this case, objective, evaluative listening is important. Evaluative listening is also important for assertive behaviour as it allows you to think through the facts and provide objective feedback rather than be 'hood-winked' by emotion
Conversations are an everyday occurrence and we tend to take them for granted. This leads us to form conversation habits, good and bad, that may affect our communication.
Barriers to listening
In order to improve your listening skills you need to be aware of the major barriers to effective listening. Some barriers come from the listeners themselves (for example, disinterest in the topic), some from the sender (for example, a boring tone) and others from the environment (too much noise). Probably the most famous study about listening was undertaken by Ralph Nichols who examined 100 of the poorest listeners and 100 of the best listeners in a university setting.
His 10 bad listening habits are often quoted in communication texts (see Gibson & Hodgett 1990, for example). They are:
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deciding in advance that the subject is uninteresting focusing on the poor delivery of the speaker becoming overexcited and anxious to make your own point focusing only on facts a tendency to outline everything pretending to pay attention allowing distractions to interfere avoiding difficult material responding emotionally to certain words or phrases daydreaming because of the difference between speech speed and thought speed preoccupation prejudgment. lack of effort
Becoming an effective listener
There are some skills that, with practice, can improve your listening competence. First, we need to be aware of the different approaches to listening discussed above and use them appropriately based on the communication situation. Some more general skills identified in Yoder et al. (1996) are:
• • • • • •
Generate an interest in the topic to avoid boredom. Adapt to the other person's appearance and style to avoid distraction. Listen for concepts and major ideas. Don't fake attention or pretend to listen; be genuine. Listen to the entire message before evaluating. Listen to difficult material and be challenged by it.
Competence in listening is determined by how well all people in the communication process understood each other and how well they communicated this understanding. This chapter explored the process of listening and barriers that may inhibit listening. It is also emphasised that listening involves clarifying and understanding the message by taking an active interest in the communication process. • Projective listening (or ‘empathetic listening’) holds the greatest potential for mutual understanding because a projective listener pays careful attention to all of what the speaker says and tries at the same time to put him/herself into the position of the sender without necessarily agreeing with his/her point of view. Good listening skills are essential to good human relations. People want to be listened to and understood and will respond positively to anyone who listens empathetically and shows understanding.
Projective Listening In this type of listening, the listener takes and absorbs the information in accordance with the listener's own view or perspective which dominates the perspective of the speaker, even if the speaker's view is amalgamated into listener's own. In other words, broader view of the speaker is either ignored or given less predominant place and limited view of the listener retained. This also is classified as negative kind of listening. It is similar to a jaundiced person looking at the world and believing the surroundings as green. The view is far from being true. Empathic Listening Empathic listening, which is also known as 'sensitive listening' is the opposite of projective listening in that only the speaker's view is taken predominantly while that of the listener is either completely ignored or given less importance. If a proper balance between two views is struck, it could be classified as positive. Owing to dominance of only speaker's view, it has to be termed as negative listening and hence needs to be improved. Being too empathetic with others may leave the broader perspective to winds or lead to listener being exploited. But there are some features of this type of listening. They include building of trust, facilitating release of emotions, reducing of tensions, creating of positive climate for negotiations etc. The listeners must attend, support and empathize with the speaker. Since empathetic listening build relationships, it can also be called 'relationship listening'. Active Listening Active listening can also be referred as 'attentive listening' or 'deliberate listening'. Active listening takes place when the listener is active, which is born out by active participation of the listener. The listener displays forwarding-bending body posture, seeks clarification, and give feedback. Active listening is a highly involved listening. The ideal listening takes place when active listening is combined with empathetic listening wherein the views of the both listener and speaker are merged with due balance. The responsibility for active listening to happen solely lies with the speaker who should be able to generate interest on the topic by proper introduction etc. Attentive listening requires attention skills, following skills and reflecting skills. Attentive skills include a posture of involvement, appropriate body motion, proper eye contact and non-distractive environment. Following skills include proper display of interest, proper invitation to the speaker, moderate encouraging nods, infrequent questions and attentive silence. Reflecting skills include paraphrasing, restating the
emotions of the speaker, re-expressing the meaning intended by the speaker and stating the summary of the ideas at some intervals. Evaluative Listening In evaluative listening, the listener either assesses the value of the message or compares it with what is usually considered the best. He may do this either simultaneously while listening or by stopping for while. Since evaluation takes place in this kind of listening, the listener may decide either to continue listening or turn away from the listening. Alternately, he may engage himself in framing the statement of rebuttal. Hence evaluative listening may lead to either positive or negative outcome depending on the open-mindedness and intellect of the listener. Fake Listening The listener pretends to be listening though not listening actually. It is also referred to as Pseudo listening. He uses he bodily posture and fixation of eyes on the speaker to show that he is listening. This aim of such listening is to please either the speaker or the other observers. This is similar to passive listening except that there is no dishonesty on the part of listener in passive listening, whereas, the fake listening is born of dishonesty. This is the most undesirable negative kind of listening. Informative Listening Informative listening takes a lot of information with full concentration and thus helps one understand the message being given. Because of intensity of effort in taking most of the information, the message is understood almost close to what is intended. This is the best way to learn and an ideal kind of listening. While imbibing what is given by the teachers or while taking instructions from the superiors or when the subordinate is explaining the problem he is facing, the listener engages himself in informative listening. Informative listening requires a lot of attention. Informative listening is the first stage of positive listening from which other kinds of listening like attentive listening, evaluative listening, empathic listening etc originate. Informative listening requires good vocabulary, concentration and memory so as to be effective in achieving its purpose Appreciative Listening The primary purpose of appreciative listening is to appreciate and thus enjoy the way the message is being given, but not to take the benefit of the content or meaning of the message. Appreciative listening usually takes place while listening to the music or when one enjoys the style of the speaker or other features not related to the content.
The best benefit of appreciative listening is realized depending on three conditions: presentation, perception and previous experience. Presentation factors include the style, the medium, the setting and personality of the speaker. Secondly, the perception of the listener, which again depends on his attitude and expectations, determines how one appreciates the presentation. Lastly, the previous experience of the listener and his familiarity with the speaker determines whether he would enjoy the presentation or not. Existing positive opinion or familiarity with certain inherent and negligible drawbacks in the presentation may help one appreciate the presentation. Critical Listening Informative listening when combined with evaluative listening becomes critical listening.Critical listening has its value when somebody is soliciting us to buy his product or services. We critically listen when somebody makes unbelievably nice offer or presents a new idea to solve problems. Similarly, we engage ourselves in critical listening when listening to politicians, new paper accounts, presentation of revolutionary ideas towards changing existing policies etc. Aristotle has proposed three precautions to observe to make effective criticism. They are ethos (speaker's credibility), logos (logical arguments), and pathos (emotional appeals). Critical thinking leaves one as a highly logical person. But, emotions like faith and ability to see what is not visible like what great business leaders like Ambani, Bill Gates, Narayana Murthy etc saw fall outside the logic, though they are highly essential for bigticket success. A highly logical person is not emotional and hence remains mediocre all his life. Discriminative Listening Discriminative listener is one who is sensitive to the changes in the speaker's rate, volume, force, pitch and stress on different words or ideas. One who listens attentively or critically or with the intention of evaluation or to appreciate the speaker has to listen discriminatingly. Discriminative listening requires finest hearing ability shorn of any hearing defects, awareness of nuances of words, awareness of sounds and pronunciations, and ability to sense non-verbal signals from the speaker. Literal Listening In literal listening, content only is taken while ignoring the relationship between the facts in the content. Due to this, the meaning of the message is lost.Understanding the types of listening will prepare one against negative listening. The person who listens in a positive manner is to going to achieve the purpose of such listening.
Types of conflict
Dwyer (2005) provides four types of conflict: internal, external, realistic and unrealistic.
How to deal with conflict
There are many ways an individual can deal with conflict in any situation. Effective conflict management requires interpersonal and communication competence and draws on many of the concepts thus far covered in the course such as active listening, empathy, assertiveness and clear communication skills. This model can also be translated into a pictorial model of conflict styles (see below).
The terms in the two models may be different, but they illustrate the same styles where:
• • • •
yielding equates to accommodating inaction equates to avoidance contending equates to competition problem solving equates to collaboration.
The most productive style of conflict management is the problem solving or collaborative style of conflict management. However, some situations may require a different approach. See Figure 1.4, page 13 in Reading 9.2 for more information on the situational
nature of conflict management. Attempts to resolve conflict constructively to reach productive outcomes have the potential to provide (Elder 1994):
• • • • • •
an efficient solution a solution that does not cause future unresolved tension or conflict open communication growth as people learn from others' ideas and input into the problem and possible solutions a sense of achievement a sense of common purpose.
To deal with conflict productively we must try to recognise and then deal with the conflict as early as possible. This may reduce the level of conflict and increase the possibility of an efficient and constructive solution. The various levels of conflict are outlined in Figure 7.3 of the textbook. This diagram conveys the extremes between very low levels of discomfort to a crisis situation if the conflict is allowed to persist. However, not all conflict should be openly confronted immediately. There are occasions when conflict avoidance, at least in the short term, is more appropriate
The twelve skills of conflict resolution
DeVito (1992) suggests five productive conflict resolution strategies: openness, empathy, supportiveness, positive ness and equity. In addition, Elder (1994) proposes 12 skills for resolving conflict. Some of these have been covered in previous chapters: all relate to good basic communication skills.
The win/win approach
Conflict resolution, like communication, is a shared responsibility. In the win/win approach each party considers what the other people in the conflict want. The key is cooperation and a desire to achieve a fair and wise solution.
Creative responses to conflict
Conflict can be regarded as an opportunity for change so that creative thinking is needed to generate fresh ideas for new solutions.
You also need to think about the conflict from your own perspective, be confident enough to express your feelings, needs and ideas and to stand up for your rights without interfering with the rights of others.
Empathy allows you to think about the conflict from the other person's perspective. Avoid judging others: rather be open to their ideas and views.
As we have said, communication and conflict management involve mutual responsibility. Therefore, each party must co-operate to ensure a win/win solution.
Willingness to resolve problems
Treating conflict as a fight or an emotional battle rather than as a problem solving process will inevitably lead to a win/lose or lose/lose result. The more emotion involved in a problem the more difficult it is to resolve. We will cover this in the negotiation section when we discuss separating the people from the problem. Elder (1994) also provides points to consider here:
• • • •
It is important to forgive rather than hold a grudge. Conflict resolution is about putting disagreement behind you and getting on with business. Accept that other people hold different values and beliefs and because of this, empathy is required from all sides. Developing new ideas does not mean rejection of old ideas. Sometimes, past experiences can be valuable in present conditions. Acceptance involves allowing the other party to be themselves and to express their views even if they have difficulty expressing their needs and emotions. Patience is important. Managing emotions
Emotions are a natural part of existence: we cannot switch them off. However, we can manage them. Emotions such as anger, hurt, regret and resentment may surface in a conflict. If you acknowledge and understand that these are valid feelings and that they can be managed, for example, by taking a deep breath or walking away from the conflict for a short period until you are calm, then conflict resolution will be more productive. Your textbook (page 165) suggests the Four R Method for dealing with emotions in crisis. This method provides an objective and reasoned approach to managing emotions.
Mapping the conflict
If time permits, mapping is a useful way to find the cause of conflict.
It is useful to devise as many options as possible as part of mapping the conflict. Remember that ideas should be as creative as possible and that some old ideas are just as useful as new ones.
Negotiation skills will be covered in the next section. The fundamental element of negotiation is to create an environment in which people or groups who are in conflict can work towards a resolution.
Third party mediator
Some conflicts will require third party intervention to help the conflict along. The third party mediator should be someone who is distanced from the emotions of the situation and who is neutral and impartial.
A conflict provides you with the opportunity to see the situation from different points of view. This requires both openness to new ideas and willingness to listen to others.
Overview of negotiation
Negotiation can be defined as the active process of resolving conflict to reach agreement. Five characteristics of negotiation situations are:
There are two or more parties involved - two or more individuals, groups or organisations. Negotiation is an interpersonal or inter-group process. There is a conflict of interest between two or more parties: that is, what one wants is not necessarily what the other wants and the parties must search for a way to resolve the conflict. The parties negotiate because they think they can use some form of influence to get a better deal rather than simply taking what the other side will voluntarily give them or let them have. The parties, at least for the moment, prefer to search for agreement rather than to fight openly, have one side capitulate, permanently break off contact or take their dispute to a higher authority to resolve it. Finally, when we negotiate, we expect give and take. We expect that both sides will modify or give in somewhat on their opening statements, requests or demands.
More characteristics of the negotiation process are provided in Table 6.1, page 131 of the text book. As was the case with the conflict topic, the topic of the negotiation process will focus on the problem solving or principled approach to negotiation. This approach emphasises a win/win solution and allows for a more specific definition suggested by Dwyer (2005): Negotiation is a process in which two or more parties try to resolve differences, solve problems and reach agreement.
Effective negotiators aim to search for agreement and this distinguishes negotiation from fighting, debating or arguing. An effective negotiation should result in a wise, efficient and amicable agreement (Fisher, Ury & Patton 1991) and is based on competent communication.
Negotiation styles and strategies
As was the case with conflict, negotiation styles can be viewed from the perspective of dual concerns: concern for own outcomes and concern for the other negotiator's outcomes. The resultant styles are the same as those we explored in the conflict topic. Remember that negotiation is often the end result of a conflict so that the styles used in each are usually similar. The various styles of the negotiators will tend to result in one of four outcomes:
• • • •
win/win win/lose lose/win lose/lose
Personal styles in negotiation
As with communication in general, much of our interaction with others is based on habit and past experience. Similarly, with negotiation we tend to have a personal style that may or may not be effective. We may also avoid, fear or be intimidated by negotiation because of psychological barriers or because we perceive that we may not have as much power as the other party to influence the outcome.
Principled negotiation is a problem solving, win/win approach to negotiation primarily developed by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton as a part of the Harvard Negotiation Project at Harvard University . Principled negotiation attempts to advantage all parties by providing a method of negotiation that involves thinking creatively to generate as many options as possible that will satisfy both parties. This is different to a win/lose (or zero sum) approach in which one party's gains are the other's losses. For many situations it is the creative application of the elements of principled negotiation that are critical if a potential agreement satisfactory to each side is to be achieved.
The four key elements in principled negotiation are (Fisher et al. 1991):
1. Separating the people from the problem
Effective negotiators should be able to differentiate between issues related to people and the problem itself. People issues involve emotions, different perceptions and poor communication. For example, if one negotiator is angry then that anger needs to be addressed and should not interfere with solving the negotiation problem. As a negotiator you may say 'Jo, that point seems to have made you upset.' In this situation you are addressing the emotion in order to differentiate it from the problem.
2. Focusing on interests rather than positions
Positions are often pre-determined, concrete and explicit. For example, one party's position may be to accept a salary of no less than $40,000. The other party's position may be to offer no more than $35,000. These positions will tend to get the parties locked in to a contest of will. A more flexible approach is to search for the interests, desires, motivations and needs that underlie the positions. For example, why does the person want $40,000? Are there other benefits or schemes that could provide an equivalent value to the person? Why will the other party not pay more than $35,000? Is there a possibility of incremental increase over a short period of time or salary plus other benefits? Interests allow flexibility and define positions by determining the underlying needs, concerns and motivations of each party. The more interests that are found, the greater is the potential for developing options for mutual gain.
3. Developing options for mutual gain
Developing options for mutual gain involves brainstorming ideas before committing to any one option. Brainstorm first, evaluate later. There are four main obstacles to the development of options: (a) Premature judgement Judgement hinders the imagination. The solution is to separate the act of inventing solutions from the act of judging or evaluating them. (b) Searching for a single answer There is usually no single answer to a negotiation problem. Rather, there is a set of alternatives that needs to be developed before deciding on the best or most appropriate option for mutual gain. Broaden the options on the table rather than look for a single answer.
(c) Thinking that 'solving their problem is their problem' Negotiation is a joint problem solving process, and so both parties should try to solve the problem together rather than concentrate only on their own gain or outcome. (d) Assumption of a fixed pie A fixed pie negotiation is where each party sees the situation as either/or: either I lose or I gain. Negotiation does not have to be that way: the more options there are on the table, the greater the potential for mutual gain. The four types of thinking involved in developing options are:
• • • • •
problem identification and clarification analysis of what is wrong generation of ideas about what might be done specific actions for implementation Objective criteria
When there is a conflict of interest and a solution is difficult to find, negotiators may be able to research objective criteria. This is an alternative to using individual will as a negotiation tool. The use of individual will as a method leads to the belief that 'This is a good outcome because I pressured the other person into agreeing with me. On the other hand, objective criteria lead to a fair agreement as the parties yield to principle not pressure. Examples of objective criteria are industry standards (for example an industry standard salary for a particular position); professional standards (for examples standards of conduct); and market value and equal treatment (equitable pay rates). Conflicts and negotiations are part of everyday life. Whether it be in business, government or the family, conflicts occur and people reach most decisions through negotiation. Indeed, more and more occasions require negotiation as people choose to participate in decisions that affect them: fewer and fewer people will accept decisions dictated by someone else. This chapter has explored different styles and strategies used to resolve conflict and to negotiate a mutually satisfying agreement. Remember, much of our communication is based on habit. Effective communication requires a repertoire of skills that allows us to approach each situation as effectively as possible rather than relying on an habitual and consistent response to each situation.
Chap-4 Letters- For Communication
A letter is a written message from one person to another. Letters, especially a regular exchange between two persons (sometimes called pen pals), represent a kind of humanly communication and mutual friendship. The role of letters in communication has changed significantly since the 19th century. Historically, letters (in paper form) were the only reliable means of communication between two persons in different locations. As communication technology has diversified, letters have become less important as routine communication. The development of the telegraph, telephone, fax and the Internet have all had an impact on the writing and sending of letters. In modern industrialized nations, the exchange of personal letters has become less common, being replaced by technologies such as the telephone and also e-mail. With the advent of the compact cassette, tape letters became a novelty.
Letters are still used, particularly by companies and advertisers. This is because of three main advantages:
No special device needed - almost everybody has a home, which means that they are easy to reach. A mailbox is all that the intended recipient needs - not like email or phone calls where the intended recipient needs access to a computer and a telephone respectively. "Catch-all" advertising- unlike e-mails, where the recipient needs an individual e-mail address to receive messages, addresses are not chosen (per se), and so with the help of a postal service, delivering an advertisement to all homes in a particular area is not hard. Physical record - important messages that need to be retained (e.g. receipts) can be kept more easily and securely.
Inductive and Deductive Reasoning Many people distinguish between two basic kinds of argument: inductive and deductive. Induction is usually described as moving from the specific to the general, while deduction begins with the general and ends with the specific; arguments based on experience or observation are best expressed inductively, while arguments based on laws, rules, or other widely accepted principles are best expressed deductively. Consider the following example: Adham: I've noticed previously that every time I kick a ball up, it comes back down, so I guess this next time when I kick it up, it will come back down, too. Rizik: That's Newton's Law. Everything that goes up must come down. And so, if you kick the ball up, it must come down. Adham is using inductive reasoning, arguing from observation, while Rizik is using deductive reasoning, arguing from the law of gravity. Rizik's argument is clearly from the general (the law of gravity) to the specific (this kick); Adham's argument may be less obviously from the specific (each individual instance in which he has observed balls being kicked up and coming back down) to the general (the prediction that a similar event will result in a similar outcome in the future) because he has stated it in terms only of the next similar event--the next time he kicks the ball. As you can see, the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning is mostly in the way the arguments are expressed. Any inductive argument can also be expressed deductively, and any deductive argument can also be expressed inductively. Even so, it is important to recognize whether the form of an argument is inductive or deductive, because each requires different sorts of support. Adham's inductive argument, above, is supported by his previous observations, while Rizik's deductive argument is supported by his reference to the law of gravity. Thus, Adham could provide additional support by detailing those observations, without any recourse to books or theories of physics, while Rizik could provide additional support by discussing Newton's law, even if Rizik himself had never seen a ball kicked. The appropriate selection of an inductive or deductive format for a specific first steps toward sound argumentation. While you cannot make your readers accept your view, adopt your recommendations, Or change their minds; you can mediate your way toward common ground by ensuring that your logos derives from sound reasoning, that your inductive analysis and your deductive thinking weave together seamlessly. Let me illustrate, first with a simple example, then with a serious one, which will take you back to Dr. King’s efforts to persuade.
Induction Consider this scenario: You’re a first-semester college student who hopes to do well in Composition I. Your hope grows from news that your university has just opened a Writing Center staffed with trained graduate student interns who, according to your professor, can Help you grow as a writer. As you set out for your first visit to the Writing Center, you have a hypothesis in mind, a guess—based on your assumption that tutors edit papers— about how the interns will receive you: Graduate interns will gladly correct my errors for me and tell me what to do to improve my papers. Fortified by this hypothetical conviction, you ask Emily, the first tutor you meet, to “fix” your draft. Result: Emily responds, “No, I can’t.” Shocked but undeterred by Emily’s apparent rudeness or incompetence, you make the same request of Ed and Ashleigh, two other interns on duty. Result: They both say that “We can’t do your work for you; we’re here to help you to think about your problems and to find your own solutions.” Baffled by their refusal and, even more so, by their explanation, you draw an inductive conclusion based on your sampling of the evidence: Hypothesis: Graduate interns will gladly correct my errors for me and tell me what to do to improve my papers. Results of testing the hypothesis: Experiment #1: Emily refused my request. Experiment #2: Ed refused my request. Experiment #3: Ashleigh refused my request. Conclusion: Graduate interns lack competence. This use of cause-effect analysis and experimentation illustrates the inductive process, a way of thinking that has shaped our view of the world since our infancies, sometimes quite reliably. In this case, however, logicians would quickly point out the logical fallacy here: The new college writer has thought inductively but has sampled too little evidence. In other words, though the inductive process shown above is valid, the conclusion is not true because the experimenter has taken the inductive leap prematurely. Logicians often label this fallacy the sweeping generalization: the Comp student has assumed that all tutors resemble Emily, Ed, Ashleigh, lacking the competence to offer meaningful help with writing. Even more fundamentally, the Comp student has built an initial hypothesis on a false assumption about the work of tutors, who function as one-on-one teachers, not as proofreaders. In other words, the experiments have revealed the student’s lack of understanding about the mission of Writing Centers, not the incompetence of the interns. Deduction Unaware of your false assumption, disappointed and angry, you gather your papers and head for the door, only to be interrupted by Leah, the fourth intern on duty, who offers to explain in more detail what Ed and Ashleigh meant when they offered to help you “think about problem” and “find solutions.” Though tempted to listen to Leah, you grumble “no thanks” and reach for the door, knowing that you have no need for another experiment, having reached the inductive conclusion that “graduate interns lack competence.” Notice, now, how the inductive process blends with and sustains the deductive process, the process of moving from (supposedly) proven or self-evident premises to a conclusion based on
those premises: Major Premise: All graduate interns are incompetent. Minor Premise: Leah is a graduate intern. Conclusion: Leah lacks competence. Logicians call this three-part deductive statement a syllogism: the major premise makes a statement about a class or genus (in this case, graduate interns); the minor premise makes a statement about a particular member (Leah) of the family named in the major premise; then the conclusion makes a statement about Leah based on the assumed truth of both premises. In other words, if all interns lack competence, and if Leah is an intern, then it necessarily follows that Leah lacks competence. Once again, however, our logician would remind us that this valid syllogism has generated a falsehood, not a truth, because the major premise rests on insufficient evidence and mistaken assumptions about the intern’s job. Had you, our new college writer, given Leah a chance to explain about strategies for discovering ideas, organizing drafts, revising content, and diagnosing and correcting one’s own errors, you would have instantly embraced a more reliable major premise: Graduate interns guide students through the writing process. After this explanatory session with Leah, you would find yourself thinking like this: Major Premise: Graduate interns guide students through the writing process. Minor Premise: Leah is a graduate intern. Conclusion: Leah can guide students through the writing process.
Indented Form Layout
The indented layout of business letters is what people are most used to because this is how letters were written before PCs which really has been a long time, come to think of it.In a lot of countries indenting paragraphs in a business letter is still a must, and, a lot of companies still use it. Well, there are three layouts to choose from. And if you justify to yourself using this one, go for it.
Full Block Business Letter
This is the most popular business letter layout nowadays. It is the easiest to format as everything starts at the left margin.
Return Address or Letterhead?
As you can see above the letter started with the return (or sender’s) address. This is done to demonstrate to you a full block business letter without a letterhead. Such letters are usually sent by individuals; business to business letters are written on letterhead stationery as you might have guessed..
The return address (or the letterhead) is followed by the date. If you are using a letterhead, type the date of your letter two to six lines below it depending on the length of the letter. If you are an individual using your return address in the business letter, leave just one line between the return address and the date type the date in full: do not use figures as they can be confusing In the US the date starts with the month and in Europe, with the day.. But whether you start with the month or not, do not abbreviate it – this rule stands.
If you know the person’s name, write it on the first line of the inside (or receiver’s) address. It can be preceded by the courtesy title (Mr., Ms., etc.). Try to put the full name, : Margaret Edwards or at least M. Edwards. The courtesy title is shown here but it is more often omitted than not lately. The receiver’s name can be followed by his/her position in the company or the name of the department. But as you can see, the name of the company is given here, which is also acceptable.
Punctuation of Addresses
It has become common to use open punctuation, especially in a full block business letter. It means no punctuation at all at the end of the address lines. If you prefer to use punctuation, Each line of the address should be followed by a comma, except the last line.
Salutation depends on whether you know the name of the person you are writing to. If you do, you use “Dear Ms. Edwards”. Initials or first names are usually not included in salutations. On the other hand, you could write “Dear Margaret Edwards” and skip the courtesy title. If you don’t know the name use either of the following Dear Sir Ladies and Gentlemen Gentlemen (US)/Dear Sirs (UK) Dear Madam Ladies Dear Sir or Madam To Whom It May Concern
Note: it is recommended to avoid "Dear Sir or Madam" lately
The Body of the Letter
Write the body of your letter keeping it brief and to the point. Proper letter writing is a separate topic, you can find information about it on business writing and business writing resources pages of Dixie's site, but here she mostly talks about formatting. Leave a line space between the paragraphs, it is essential for the full block business letter format.
The most common complimentary close accepted in the US and UK is Sincerely It is suggested that you just use “sincerely” and forget about figuring out the difference between complimentary closes. But if you insist on using some other ones, try the following depending on your situation: Respectfully yours (very formal) Yours faithfully (UK for business letters that begin with Dear Sir, Dear Sirs, Dear Madam, Dear Sir or Madam) Very truly yours (polite and neutral for the US) Cordially yours (quite informal)
Leave four blank lines after the complimentary close to sign your name. This is a rule I would advise to stick to unless you have very little space, but three is a minimum. Sign your name between the complimentary close and your printed name. Dixie hopes you like her tidy signature above. Title is optional depending on relevancy and degree of formality.
A Few Additional Points About Punctuation
According to the US rules for business letters, you are supposed to use colon (:) after salutation and comma after complimentary close; it is called mixed punctuation. In Europe commas are used in both cases. Open punctuation (i.e. no punctuation) after salutation and complimentary close is becoming common, especially in the US.
About Line Breaks
There used to be strict rules about line breaks between different parts of the letter. For instance, you were supposed to leave two breaks after salutation and two breaks between the body of the letter and the complimentary close. Now these rules are becoming less strict and as always, I suggest you use your own judgement in choosing which rules to follow and to what extent.
A business letter is a letter written in formal language, usually used when writing from one business organization to another, or for correspondence between such organizations and their customers, clients and other external parties. The overall style of letter will depend on the relationship between the parties concerned.
Parts of a business letter
Business letters (in the United States) usually contain the following information (in this order): Business Letters A business letter is more formal than a personal letter. It should have a margin of at least one inch on all four edges. It is always written on 8½"x11" (or metric equivalent) unlined stationery. There are six parts to a business letter.
Writing An Effective Business Letter
E-mail may be the quick and convenient way to relay daily business messages, but the printed business letter is still the preferred way to convey important information. A carefully crafted letter presented on attractive letterhead can be a powerful communication tool. To make sure you are writing the most professional and effective letter possible, follow these basic business letter-writing guidelines.
Select a professional letterhead design for your small business
Your business letter is a representation of your company, so you want it to look distinctive and immediately communicate "high quality." For a convenient and economical alternative to using traditional preprinted letterhead, try using our contemporary letterhead and envelope design templates. Simply create a letter within a
predesigned color letterhead template and then print your entire piece quickly and beautifully on your Phaser® color printer.
Use a standard business letter format.
The most widely used format for business letters is "block style," where the text of the entire letter is justified left. The text is single spaced, except for double spaces between paragraphs. Typically margins are about 1 inch (25.4 mm) on all sides of the document, which is the default setting for most word-processing programs. If you are using Microsoft Word, you can turn to its built-in Letter Wizard for additional formatting assistance (look on the Tools menu). Here are the specific parts of a business letter:
1. The Heading. This contains the return address (usually two or three lines) with the date on the last line. Sometimes it may be necessary to include a line after the address and before the date for a phone number, fax number, E-mail address, or something similar. Often a line is skipped between the address and date. That should always be done if the heading is next to the left margin. It is not necessary to type the return address if you are using stationery with the return address already imprinted. Always include the date. 2. The Inside Address. This is the address you are sending your letter to. Make it as complete as possible. Include titles and names if you know them. This is always on the left margin. If an 8½" x 11" paper is folded in thirds to fit in a standard 9" business envelope, the inside address can appear through the window in the envelope. An inside address also helps the recipient route the letter properly and can help should the envelope be damaged and the address become unreadable. Skip a line after the heading before the inside address. Skip another line after the inside address before the greeting. 3. The Greeting. Also called the salutation. The greeting in a business letter is always formal. It normally begins with the word "Dear" and always includes the person's last name. It normally has a title. Use a first name only if the title is unclear--for example, you are writing to someone named "Leslie," but do not know whether the person is male or female. For more on the form of titles. The greeting in a business letter always ends in a colon. 4. The Body. The body is written as text. A business letter is never hand written. Depending on the letter style you choose, paragraphs may be indented. Regardless of format, skip a line between paragraphs. Skip a line between the greeting and the body. Skip a line between the body and the close. 5. The Complimentary Close. This short, polite closing ends with a comma. It is either at the left margin or its left edge is in the center, depending on the Business Letter Style that you use. It begins at the same column the heading does.
The block style is becoming more widely used because there is no indenting to bother with in the whole letter. 6. The Signature Line. Skip two lines (unless you have unusually wide or narrow lines) and type out the name to be signed. This customarily includes a middle initial, but does not have to. Women may indicate how they wish to be addressed by placing Miss, Mrs., Ms. or similar title in parentheses before their name. The signature line may include a second line for a title, if appropriate. The term "By direction" in the second line means that a superior is authorizing the signer. The signature should start directly above the first letter of the signature line in the space between the close and the signature line. Use blue or black ink. Business letters should not contain postscripts. Some organizations and companies may have formats that vary slightly.
Use a professional tone.
Save casual, chatty language for email - your printed business letter should be friendly but more professional. As Scott Ober suggests in his book Contemporary Business Communication, "The business writer should strive for an overall tone that is confident, courteous, and sincere; that uses emphasis and subordination appropriately; that contains nondiscriminatory language; that stresses the "you" attitude; and that is written at an appropriate level of difficulty." That said, be sure to sound like yourself - you don't want your letter to read as if a machine wrote it.
State your point early in your letter. To avoid any miscommunications, use straightforward, concise language. Skip the industry jargon and instead choose lively, active words to hold your reader's attention. Organize your information logically: Group related information into separate paragraphs. In a long, information-packed letter, consider organizing information into sections with subheads. You may want to highlight key words to make them "pop" - this technique is possible with most word-processing programs and your color multifunction printer.
Use Color to Emphasize Words In Text
It's easy to put a few words in color to draw attention to them. Just select the type and click the arrow to the right of the Font Color button, choose the color you want, then click the button. Or, try highlighting a few words in the text. Select the type you want to emphasize, and then click the Highlight button. Note: When highlighting parts of a document you intend to print, use a light color such as yellow, light green, or light blue.
If you wish to remove the highlighting, select the text and click the Highlight button again. AutoText automates applying color (or any type style), which would ordinarily take numerous clicks or commands. Say you're creating a report that compares your organization's performance against that of your competitor. Word can automatically color your company's name every time it appears, making those entries easy to locate.
Establish a positive relationship with your reader right away. If you have a connection to the reader - you've met before or have a mutual colleague, for example - mention it in your introductory paragraph. Whether you think your reader will agree with the point of your letter or not, it is important to find common ground and build your case from there. Understand your reader well enough to anticipate how he or she will react when reading your letter. Address his or her needs or wishes, or a specific problem, and then outline your solution. Provide proof in the way of examples and/or expert opinions to back up your point. Make sure to maintain a friendly tone. Conclude your letter with a "call to action." State clearly what your reader needs to do or believe to achieve the desired solution and then state what you, the writer, intend to do next to follow up
Writing job application letters
The job application letter's sole purpose is to get the recipient to read your CV. It should be clear, concise and straight to the point. Here you are simply telling the employer that you are worth having a look at. The application letter should be brief, no more than one page in length. It should be easy to read and flow through. It should include only the absolute necessary information. Like most other things, there is a formula that works extremely well for preparing job application letters. Following we discuss each paragraph and give you some guidelines.
Types of application letter
• • •
Speculative letters are sent as part of a speculative application, together with a CV. Covering letters accompany an application form or CV for an advertised job vacancy. A letter of application is sometimes sent, rather than an application form or CV, in which case the letter should include the information you would put in a CV but presented in sentences and paragraphs.
A speculative letter should sound positive and enthusiastic. It should be clearly structured to cover
• • • • •
the kind of work you’re looking for why you want to work for that organization in particular Why you are suitable - emphasize your relevant skills, experience and personal qualities by highlighting particular information in your enclosed CV. tailored to the specific organization rather than a standard letter used for a number of speculative applications Addressed to a named individual. Telephone the organization and ask if you’re not sure who to send it to.
Try to offer a number of options in your letter. If they have no vacancies, could they keep your details on file? Are you interested in unpaid work experience or an information interview as well? If so, say so.
Your covering letter is as important as the CV or application form it accompanies. It’s your opportunity to sell yourself to the employer and say why your CV or application is worth reading. Use it to highlight your enthusiasm and suitability for the job and emphasise your strengths. It should be clearly structured to cover
• • •
what you’re applying for - the job title and where you saw the advert why you’re applying to them, why the job interests you and why you want to work for that organisation in particular why you are suitable - emphasise your relevant skills, experience and personal qualities by elaborating on the information in your CV or application form. Make sure you match your skills to the person specification, and use the same key words where possible.
Your letter should
• • •
be typed and no more than one side of A4 refer to the job title and reference, as given in the application information refer to the most relevant parts of your CV, but not repeat general detail to be found there
Addressing job application letters:
The style you choose is not important, there are many different styles of job applications and professional letters, this comes down to personal preference. However somewhere on the top, whether it is on the right or left hand sides, there should be your address and the date. Following this, on the left hand side you should address it. Ensure you include the name of the person, their title, company name, address and any position reference number. This is probably obvious, but ensure that you spell their name correctly, nothing worse than receiving a letter incorrectly addressed or misspelled. It gives a poor first impression.
The Introductory Paragraph:
The first paragraph should simply state why you are writing to them. If it is an advertised position, mention the position title and where it was advertised. If you are "cold calling" a company then you should specify that you are applying for any current or future employment opportunities.
An easy way to start this paragraph is with the following statement: " Please find enclosed my CV, which I am forwarding to you as an application for the position of......."
The main body of job application letters:
The main body of the letter should be two to three paragraphs at the most. Here is where you tell them what you have to offer and why they should read your CV. This is a good time to read the job advertisement again. In one paragraph (two at the most) you need to summarize your experience and skills, at the same time, you need to respond to the position requirements as per the advertisement. Analyze your career and summarize it in a few sentences, highlight what you specialize in, or how many years in the industry you might have, or even the level that you have reached. This paragraph should direct the reader to your CV and should sell you on some unique points that you might have. A good way to start this paragraph is with a statement like this: "You will see from my enclosed CV...." then go ahead and tell them something about your career which will immediately get their interest. The next part of the body of the letter should be a brief description of your personal skills. Again read the advertisement and respond to their needs. If they are asking for someone with good co-ordination skills, then ensure you mention something to that effect. If it is communication or perhaps leadership skills they value, then tell them that you have these. Use adjectives like "demonstrated ability", "well developed", "strong".
Job Application Letters Closing Paragraph:
The closing paragraph should ask for some action from the recipient. This is where you ask for an interview. It should also state where and how they can reach you, and it should thank the recipient for giving you the opportunity to apply. You can include things like "should you require further information.....”. Finish the letter by adding a closing remark, either "yours sincerely", "yours faithfully' or whatever you feel comfortable with and obeying general letter writing etiquette. Leave a few spaces for your signature and then place your full name. Before you mail the application letter, read it over again, making sure that it is perfect. Special attention should be placed to ensure the letter:
• • • •
It is not too long. There is no grammar or spelling errors. That you have answered the job requirements. The application letter flows and is easy to read.
You might have to type and edit the letter many times before you are happy with it, but just remember that the job application letter is just as important as the CV itself. The letter should invite the recipient to read the resume; in turn the resume should raise enough interest for them to want to interview you. The Interview is where you will demonstrate your skills and abilities. Example of an application Letter Room 354, Block 6 Model Village North Point Hong Kong Phone: 24862893 Mobile: 95427415 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org 14 January 2009 Mr William Chan Personnel Manager Wong And Lim Consulting PO Box 583 Kwai Chung Kowloon Dear Mr Chan Application for the Post of Management Trainee I am writing to apply for the post of Management Trainee, which was advertised on the Student Affairs Office notice board of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on 14 January 2009. My working experience at Lucky Star Garment Manufactory Limited improved my leadership skills, communication skills and ability to work in a team environment. I have fluent spoken and written English. I also have fluent spoken and written Mandarin, and can therefore work in mainland China. Currently I am studying a B.A. in Management at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, graduating in 2009. Subjects which I am studying that are relevant to the post of Management Trainee include Operations Management, Human Resources Management, Accounting, Marketing and Strategic Management. My final year project is entitled Knowledge Management Practices in HK. Carrying out this project has improved my communication skills, my leadership skills and my ability
to lead and supervise subordinates effectively. I have also learned how to run a project from the planning stage to its completion. During my studies I have held the post of Executive in the Management Society. While leading and organizing Management Society activities I have improved my ability to lead and supervise subordinates effectively, ability to work under pressure and ability to work in a team environment. Working for Wong and Lim Consulting appeals to me because it has a good reputation and it provides excellent training. Your organization produces a high-quality service, and I can contribute to this with my leadership skills and my ability to work under pressure. I am available for interview at any time. I can be contacted most easily on the mobile phone number given above. I look forward to meeting you. Yours sincerely XYZ.
How to Write the Perfect Request Letter
This article will give you basic guidelines for writing various types of Request Letters. Typically, you would write a Request Letter when you wanted to ask for one of the following:
• • • •
a job interview a raise or promotion a specific type of information a third party to compose a letter on your behalf
Request for an Interview
(This is the most common type of Request Letter)
Use a formal letter style such as block or semi-block format. These styles begin with the date, followed by the name and address of the person to whom you are writing, a reference line, the salutation, the body, and the complimentary close. See the Internet for format details. Compose and print your letter on a computer, using bright white inkjet paper. Introduce yourself. Explain that you are writing to arrange an interview so that you could have the opportunity to discuss positions that may become available in a specific department of the company. If someone referred you, be sure to include his/her name. Briefly describe your background and why you are interested in the employer's industry, career field, or organization. Indicate that you will follow up with a phone call to see if it will be possible to schedule an interview at a convenient time so that you may bring your résumé and discuss your qualifications. Close the letter professionally. For example: "Sincerely," followed by your name. Your letter should have clear contact information, including your complete address, telephone number, and e-mail address.
Other things to keep in mind:
Do not enclose a résumé--you are just asking for an interview. If someone referred you, ask him/her beforehand about the best approach for asking for the interview.
Request a Raise or Promotion
(You may be due for a step up the ladder)
• • • •
Don't waste your employer's time. Immediately state the reason that you believe you are qualified to receive a promotion or raise. To establish credibility, give examples of your accomplishments, loyalty, years of service, etc. You are providing evidence to build your case. Confidently, but respectfully, make your request. Thank your employer for taking the time to consider your request.
Request a Specific Type of Information
(You may need copies of public records)
Get to the point. Tell the reader exactly what type of information you need and politely ask him/her to send it to you. Assure the reader you will pay any customary fees that are involved. Provide a brief explanation as to why you need this information. For example: You are compiling your family history and would like a copy of your great grandmother's marriage license. Thank the reader. Be sure to provide your contact information (complete address, telephone number, and e-mail address).
Request a Third Party to Compose a Letter on Your Behalf
(You may need a letter of recommendation)
If necessary, remind the reader how he/she knows you, and briefly review any high points of your relationship. Examples: this person was one of your professors in your M.A. program and gave you an "A" on a research project or he or she was your supervisor at one time and commended you for the quality of your work. Clearly describe the type of letter you are requesting. Be specific. Give the reader any information, details, and/or explanations that will help in writing the letter. Busy professionals will appreciate it if you provide the framework for the letter. If you take as much work as possible out of the request, you are more likely to get it! Tell the reader your projected timeline and say that you will check back at a certain date to see if any more information is needed. Invite the reader to contact you with any questions. Thank your reader for his/her time and consideration of your request.
Letter to Request Job Shadowing
2838 Camphor Lane DeLand, FL 32720 386-555-2922 Ms. Kathy Brown Harbor Federal Bank 4035 Nova Road Port Orange, FL 32127 Dear Ms. Brown, I am currently a student at DeLand High School and I am considering banking as a future career path. A family friend, Dr. Randall Hansen of Stetson University, suggested that you might be willing to let me spend a day observing you so I can learn more about banking. I know I am asking quite a bit, but I would be extremely grateful if you allowed me to quietly observe you for a half- or full-day as you go about your usual schedule. If possible, it would be helpful if we also had a short interview toward the end of the shadowing so I could ask you any questions I might have about banking after observing your activities and actions. Thank you so much for considering my request. I will call you the week of October 10 to see about scheduling the job shadowing. If you need to reach me before that time, please feel free to contact me via phone (386-555-2922) or via email (email@example.com). Thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely,
Express grief, pain, or dissatisfaction with our model complaint letters
How to write a complaint letter
Effective complaints letters (and any other way of complaining) should be:
• • • • •
concise authoritative factual constructive friendly
Keep in mind that most errors are unintentional and realize that most businesses and organizations want to address and clear up complaints quickly in order to have satisfied customers or members. Be brief Keep your complaint letter to one page, and write short paragraphs rather than long ones Be honest and straightforward Include sufficient detail to back up your claim and to show that you have thoroughly researched the subject. However, omit irrelevant details. Maintain a firm but respectful tone, and avoid aggressive, accusing language Keep your complaint letter concise and professional Send only photocopies of receipts and other documents, and retain all originals Keep a copy of the complaint letter for your records Get other signatures In many cases, you can increase the effectiveness of your letter by getting several others to sign it with you. This is particularly the case when trying to influence or change legislation, denouncing material from the media, and so forth. Do not threaten! If a company has repeatedly given you bad service and refuses to correct the situation and you feel that your only recourse is to pursue legal action, voice your feelings in a tactful but firm way. However, don't threaten legal action unless you are willing to follow through with it. Avoid making generalizations about the company or organization if your complaint letter focuses on a single individual.
Use tact, and be direct, but respectful If you need to make a complaint to or about people that you will still have contact with on a regular basis, your complaint needs to accomplish its purpose without destroying the relationship. Include your contact information Include your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address, if desired, so that the person(s) can reach you to discuss any questions or concerns. If a first letter does not bring action, assume a stronger but still respectful tone in the next one. If two or three letters do not resolve the problem, send one to the president or CEO of the company or entity. In each case, be firm but polite. Complaint letters can be a very effective way of making your voice heard. Imagine you are the person receiving customers' letters of complaints. This helps you realize that the person reading your letter is a real human being with feelings, trying to do their job to the best of their abilities. Your letter should encourage them to respond positively and helpfully to the complaint. No matter how mad you feel, aggression and confrontation does not encourage a helpful reaction to complaints.
Example Of A Complaint Letter
Flat 303 Lucky Mansions 856 Cheung Sha Wan Road Cheung Sha Wan Kowloon
9 January 2009 The Administrative Officer Exhibition Services Exhibitions International 33 Kadoorie Avenue Kowloon Dear Sir/Madam I attended your exhibition Sound Systems 2009 at the Fortune Hotel from 31 December 2008 - 2 January 2009 and found it informative and interesting. Unfortunately, my enjoyment of the event was spoiled by a number of organisational problems. I explain each of the problems below. Firstly, I had difficulty in registering to attend the event. You set up an on-line registration facility, but I found the facility totally unworkable. Even after spending several wasted hours trying to register in this way, the computer would not accept my application. I eventually succeeded in registering by faxing you. Secondly, the exhibition was held at one of Hong Kong's most prestigious hotels, but frankly the venue was better suited to a medium-sized business conference than to a large exhibition open by registration to the public. The lack of space led to serious overcrowding in the venue, particularly at peak visiting times (i.e. lunch times and early evening). On one or two occasions I was also seriously concerned about the physical safety of attendees. The final point I want to make concerns product information. It is very enjoyable to see and test a range of excellent sound systems, but it is also important to be able to take away leaflets on interesting products, so that more research can be done before deciding which system to buy. However, by the time I attended the exhibition all the leaflets had been taken. Could I please ask you to look into these matters - not only on my behalf but also on behalf of other attendees, and in fact on behalf of your company, too. I look forward to hearing from you. Yours faithfully
Sales Letters How to Write the Perfect Sales Letter
Follow the guidelines below to write the perfect sales letter, then watch your profits soar! Okay, let's get started! First, gather a few sales letters that grab your attention from your own mailbox. Give particular notice to the look, wording, and the way the information is organized. Keep those models in mind as you begin to write. Create a short, powerful headline. Center it on the page. Use large type, bold, or color-something to set it apart from the body of the letter. Experiment also with a font that is different from the one used in the text. But remember these rules of design: no more than two fonts, and do not mix two serif fonts or two sans serif fonts. Try a combination of one serif font, such as Times New Roman, and one sans serif font, such as Arial. Start the body of the letter with a polite but personal tone. Example: “Dear . . .” Use the potential customer's name. Talk to him or her as a friend. Ask a question that lists the greatest benefits of your offer. How will your product or service make your reader's life better? Why is your product or offer better than your competitor's? Example: “How would you like to receive (first benefit) and (second benefit)? Read on! This might be the most important letter you ever receive.” Tip: DO NOT ask a question that can be answered with “yes” or “no.” You should control both the question and the answer! Answer the question in one or two sentences. Explain why your product or service is essential or special. Achieving a better quality of life is a universal theme. Examples:
“Here's why . . . .” “Here's how . . . . ”
Address doubts before your potential customer has a chance to think of them: Examples:
• • •
“Sound too good to be true? I thought so when I first learned about . . .” “I know this sounds outrageous. I'd be skeptical too.” “Do these results sound unbelievable? I thought so too, but then . . . . ”
Give a convincing answer: Examples: “But the more I learned about . . . , the more I knew that I should give it a try. Here's why you should too . . . .” List three good reasons that demonstrate how your product will make the reader's life better, make him feel more secure, or motivate him to action. Keep the reasons short and powerful. Use statements that suggest positive results, facts, and figures. Examples:
• • •
“Four out of five doctors recommend . . . .” “Research shows that no other company can . . . like we can.” “Four out of five customers agree that . . . . “
Tip: Keep your vocabulary simple, short, and to the point. Now describe the special features and benefits of your product or service. A feature is something that makes your product or service extraordinary, essential or valuable. A feature describes what your product or service is or what it has. The benefit of the feature is what the feature will do for the reader. Bullet points are good to use here--they draw the eye to this important section. Benefits sell while features often do not. Many sales letters list benefits only. Others list both features and benefits. Writers often make the mistake of listing features only. List three or five features with their special benefits.
• • •
Feature 1 -- Benefit 1 Feature 2 -- Benefit 2 Feature 3 -- Benefit 3
Tip: Odd-numbered lists seem to work better than even-numbered lists. Ask and answer one final question to lead the reader into the finer points of the offer. You may expand upon the features and benefits that you included in your answer. Example: You may ask how we can possibly do all this? Here's how . . . . ” Endorsements sell because they establish credibility. List several short, enthusiastic testimonials that reinforce the features and benefits you have listed. Example: “But you don't have to take my word for it. Here's what our satisfied customers are saying.” Shoot holes in your competitors' offers.
• • •
“No one can match this offer.” “Do not buy this product elsewhere unless it has these features: One . . . Two . . . Three . . .” “Sure, others will try to sell you a product of lesser quality, but can they offer you: One . . . Two . . . Three . . . ?”
Cost-to-value ratio is enormous. Boldly state that your product or service has a real value of at least ten times the price. These value statements need to be clear and crisp, with not too many details. Perhaps your product can save valuable time, or make a huge difference in lifestyle, or replace another higher-priced product, etc. Examples:
• • •
“You'll get over ten times your money's worth in value! Guaranteed!” “Extraordinary savings!” (or quality, add-on products, longevity, warranty, etc. ) “We offer you unbelievable quality for only one-tenth the usual price.”
Summarize. Briefly describe the complete product or service. You can remind the reader about the features and benefits, but don't list them. Rather, add several similar features and benefits and place a high value on them. Example: “So here's everything you get . . . Price and urgency. Make a stipulation, and then repeat the offer: Example: “If you respond by (date), you pay only $______. That's right, for the price of two movie tickets and popcorn you pay only $______, if you respond by (date).” If this letter is to create a lead, tell your prospect what he/she must do to contact you by a certain deadline. Be sure to make it easy to respond by including your business name, phone number, web site, etc. Ask the customer for all of the information you need, such as first and last names, phone number, address, etc. Make an optional request for the customer's email address so that you can send future offers by email as well. Premiums. Bundling a free bonus (a premium) for acting by the deadline is an excellent motivator. Be sure to give the bonus value--as much or more than the purchase price is a good idea. If you don't have an idea for a premium, you can search the web for e-books or informational reports for which you can purchase reprint rights--an excellent and inexpensive idea that has a high value margin. Example:” Order today and I'll send you . . . --a $50 value! But remember, I am offering this free bonus for a limited time . . . so order now!” No-risk guarantee. You've heard and read many assurances before.
• • • •
“Buy completely at our own risk . . . ” “You pay nothing unless you are totally satisfied.” “There is no risk with our complete satisfaction, money-back guarantee!” “No questions asked. Simply return the product within 30 days and we'll refund your money in full.”
Add the clincher. Example: “Remember, you keep the free bonus (es). Even if you decide to take advantage of our No Risk, Total Satisfaction, Money-back Guarantee, the bonus(es) are yours to keep--our gift(s) to you for simply trying our . . . . ” These are all good business tactics, but consider adding a postscript to restate an important benefit and reinforce the urgency of the offer.
Don't forget the envelope: your all-important introduction!
In order to get someone to open your envelope, you first need to get past the “junk mail” perception! Use a teaser on the envelope--a few words that imply a benefit. Examples: “Free $50 gift offer enclosed.” Use labels that express urgency. Examples:
• • • • •
Urgent Time-Sensitive Express Hand Deliver Official
Use real stamps. Real stamps attract more attention than metered mail and you have your choice of which books to buy at the post office. Tip: Don't but the reptile books of stamps with the pictures of poisonous snakes!
Use a return address and choose the font carefully. Use a readable script font such as Andy that looks like you have hand-written the letter. Credibility sells. This is the first place that you sell yourself or your company. Some people include their personal photos. The absence of a return address sends a junk mail message. Use official-looking envelopes. Envelopes that appear to have been sent by a governmental agency are usually opened and read.
Additional Sales Letter Tips:
Price comes after the benefits. Unless you are offering a blowout bargain, and price is the main benefit of your offer, mention price after describing the benefits. Sell the smallest units. If you are selling multiple units, then state, for example, “$4.50 a box” rather than “$45 per carton” to solicit the lowest amount of money. Accept charge cards if you are selling a high-priced item. Supplementary Brochure. An accompanying brochure could visually show the product or graphs research data described in the sales letter. Although a brochure adds cost to your mailing, studies show results jump markedly. Design. Keep the reader's eye moving by using several “tricks of the trade.”
• • •
Vary paragraph widths Add personal notes using a script font Use different colors to mark key phrases
Example Of A Sales Letter: Closet Care
1248 SE Lancaster Blvd Tigard, OR 97225 July 7, 1999 Professor I.B. Writing, Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO 80523 Dear Mr. Writing: Are you having trouble organizing your clothes into your existing closets? If you are like most Americans, you have trouble finding your favorite shirt when you really need it. This is why it is important to have an organized closet system. At CLOSET CARE, we have the skills and experience to come in and help you with your closet needs. May we stop by and offer you a FREE estimate at how much it would cost you to rebuild your closet? If so, give us a call at 555-1212 and set up an appointment with one of your friendly operators. Sincerely, (signature here) Kent Lenoir President
A memo is:
• • • • •
a hard-copy (sent on paper) document used for communicating inside an organization usually short contains To, From, Date, Subject Headings and Message sections does not need to be signed, but sometimes has the sender's name at the bottom to be more friendly, or the sender's full name to be more formal.
When it comes to writing memos, most business people would agree. Mounting evidence shows that memos may be small, but they give big headaches to everyone from secretaries to corporate officers. They are hard to write quickly and clearly, are like "War and Peace" to read, require Miss Marple to figure out, and, if written in the wrong tone of voice, can make the nicest people sound heartless. In the office as well as out, your personality is often judged by how you write. Muddled memos can cost you dearly in career advancement. Communication skills are a top priority for business leadership -- often more important than financial, marketing and technical know-how. To keep getting raises and promotions, experts like Van Skiver and Booher say you need to literally write your own ticket. Here's how:
What is a memo? What it's not is a school essay. A memo is a written
document that stays inside the company; if it goes outside, it's a letter. A memo is also short. Most experts say two pages should be tops -- after which a memo starts to turn into a report. If you can boil down even a two-page memo to two paragraphs that take up only a half page and still convey the same facts, you get an A+ in business. Equally important, memos are written to get someone to do or understand something--be it to spend money, meet a deadline, constructively criticize, or say yes or no.
Get Personal. Use words like I, you, and we. It's a lot more human to say, "I
would like you to do this." To get action, write in the active, not the passive, voice.
Be conversational. Write the way you talk. "Use contractions," says Holly
Church, a business consultant who trains Fortune 500 executives. "You probably say 'I'm happy' more often than you say 'I am happy.'"
Don't show off. Avoid scholarly words, technical jargon, and just plain
gibberish like "as per your request" when you simply mean "Here's what you wanted. "Or how about this: "R & D wants your input because temporal considerations are of primary importance." Translation: "Our research people need your answer today."
Avoid "smothered" words. Van Skiver explains that these are simple root
words with fancy endings tacked on to puff them up. Favorites are "tion," "ance," "ent," "ment," "ize" and "ility." For example: "The continuation of our issuance of incentives is dependent upon the prioritization by employees of company objectives." Loosely translated: "If you want to keep getting incentives, meet company goals."
If you're not sure, check. "If there's an error in the memo, it will probably be in names, dates, or numbers," cautions Booher, and such mistakes may cost you dearly. One of Booher's clients, an oil company, was sued by the families of two employees killed in an on-site accident. A specialist on the scene said that the company was to blame, but when the specialist described the incident on paper, he got the date wrong. This cast doubt on his credibility regarding everything he said he had witnessed, and the upshot was the company settled out of court.
Don't be trite. One hackneyed expression Booher sees regularly is, "We're
sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you," which "just sends people up the wall," she says. "Nothing could be more insincere." "Please don't hesitate to call" is another phrase that gets no results and turns people off. A more sincere ending is, "If you need help, I'm available. Give me a call."
Visualize the reader. Memos are usually written from the writer's point of
view, not the reader's. Yet the reader usually has to do something when receiving a memo, and, not being a psychic, he is often not sure what it is. Experts suggest you pretend you're having a face-to-face discussion or a telephone conversation with the memo recipient.
Make the bottom line the top line. Memos often begin with a statement of a
problem, proceed to discuss why the problem exists, suggest a course of action, and conclude with something wishy-washy, like "I would like to hear from you soon." The action you want the reader to take should be spelled out in the first line (or at least the first paragraph).
Don't give too many whys. It's necessary to explain why you want something
done, but don't overdo it. One expert cautions that a reader can probably only absorb no more than six or seven reasons at once. If you must cite more whys, put them on a separate sheet of paper, and staple the sheets together. This way, the basic memo message doesn't get lost in a sea of details.
Keep paragraphs short. Limit each paragraph to five lines or less. Put each
reason in a separate paragraph rather than bunching them up in a forbidding 20line block of type.
Close with a call to action. Many memos don't close with anything, leaving
the reader hanging. If you want a response by Friday at 3 p.m., say so.
A memo always begins with a statement of its purpose to help busy readers sort, prioritize, and file their correspondence. Memos vs. Letters Use memos rather than letters to communicate within your organization, including members of your department, upper management, employees at another branch of your company, etc. Use a letter if you are preparing a document for someone several levels above you or in a formal situation. For example, an application for a leave of absence should be in letter form. Memos should have the following sections and content: 1. A 'To' section containing the name of the receiver. For informal memos, the receiver's given name; e.g. 'To: Andy' is enough. For more formal memos, use the receiver's full name. If the receiver is in another department, use the full name and the department name. It is usually not necessary to use Mr., Mrs., Miss or Ms
unless the memo is very formal. 2. A 'From' section containing the name of the sender. For informal memos, the sender's other name; e.g. 'From: Bill' is enough. For more formal memos, use the sender's full name. If the receiver is in another department, use the full name and the department name. It is usually not necessary to use Mr., Mrs., Miss or Ms unless the memo is very formal. 3. A 'Date' section. To avoid confusion between the British and American date systems, write the month as a word or an abbreviation; e.g. 'January' or 'Jan'. 4. A Subject Heading. 5. The message. Unless the memo is a brief note, a well-organized memo message should contain the following sections: a. Situation - an Introduction or the purpose of the memo b. Problem (optional) - for example: "Since the move to the new office in Kowloon Bay, staff has difficulty in finding a nearby place to buy lunch." c. Solution (optional) - for example: "Providing a microwave oven in the pantry would enable staff to bring in their own lunchboxes and reheat their food." d. Action - this may be the same as the solution, or be the part of the solution that the receiver needs to carry out; e.g. "we would appreciate it if you could authorize up to $3,000" e. Politeness - to avoid the receiver refusing to take the action you want, it is important to end with a polite expression; e.g. "Once again, thank you for your support.", or more informally "Thanks". 6. Signature. Concluding a Memo In the past, memos required no signature or conclusion other than “Please contact me if you have questions.” Today, it is common for memos to close like letters, with a “Sincerely,” and a typed name under a hand-written signature. If in doubt about how to close a memo, ask for a template that indicates your organization's standard practice.
Format of A Memo
Date: To: From: Subject:
Text of the memo
Example of A Memo MEMO To: From: Date: Subject: Katherine Chu, Regional Manager Stephen Yu, Sales 15 January 2009 Notification of My Resignation
I am writing to inform you of my intention to resign from G & S Holdings. I have appreciated very much my four years working for the company. The training has been excellent and I have gained valuable experience working within an efficient and professional team environment. In particular, I have appreciated your personal guidance during these first years of my career. I feel now that it is time to further develop my knowledge and skills base in a different environment. I would like to leave, if possible, in a month's time on Saturday, 14 February. This will allow me to complete my current workload. I hope that this suggested arrangement is acceptable to the company. Once again, thank you for your support.
When you ask for permission to use something that belongs to someone else you have to do your best to make them believe in the importance of your project. You want them to know that you're going to use their image or text in a VERY RESPECTFUL WAY. They will want to know how you are going to use their image or text and who you think the audience for your project will be. If they believe that you're purpose is only educational and you don't commercialize it, you have a better chance that they will grant your request. Make sure before you ask for permission that you check their copyright policy on the website and check FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions) before you write to them
Steps 1. Address it to the authority of the person who is requiring the letter. If it's for a school trip, address it to the headmaster (but have your kid deliver it to the teacher in charge of the trip). If in doubt, use "To whom it may concern". 2. Put in a subheading. This is line below the introductory line, saying what the letter regards, for example "re: permission for joe bloggs to attend school museum trip". Underline this line, and write it in the center or left alignment. 3. Decide how to start the letter. "I hereby give permission for..." is a good way to start the main body of the letter, if you don't know how to phrase it. For legal reasons, be clear about what you are granting permission for e.g. if it's for a school trip, give the dates of the trip. 4. Sign off with "Signed this (n)th day of (month) (year)," if you opened with "To whom it may concern", otherwise if it's to a specific person or group of people use "Yours Faithfully," 5. Sign the letter and print your name beneath it.
Format Of A Permission Letter Sample format for permission letter for a thesis or dissertation Request to use copyright material owned by other than the thesis writer.
[Your return address] [Date] [Name and address of addressee] Dear________________: I am completing a [Master’s thesis, Doctoral dissertation] at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The thesis title is: Title underlined. I would like your permission to reprint in my [dissertation / thesis] excerpts from the following: [Insert full citation and description of the original work] The excerpts to be reproduced are: [insert detailed explanation or attach a photocopy]. The requested permission extends to any future revisions of my [thesis / dissertation], to the public circulation of my [thesis /dissertation] by the Saint Mary’s University Library, and to the prospective reproduction of the [thesis / dissertation ] by the National Library of Canada or its agents. If these arrangements meet with your approval, please sign this letter where indicated below and return it to me in the enclosed return envelope. Thank you very much. Yours truly,
[Your name and signature] PERMISSION GRANTED FOR THE USE REQUESTED ABOVE:
[Type name of addressee below the signature line]
Sample Permission Letter: Electronic Reserves
[Date] Permission Department Publishing Company 1608 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10019 Dear Publisher/Copyright Holder: The following copyrighted material is required reading for my course _________________[course number and name] at ___________[university]. I am requesting permission to duplicate and place the cited material in the Electronic Reserve System in digital format. Online access is strictly limited to students, faculty and staff of our university. The material will be used for educational purposes only and not for profit. Title: Copyright: Material to be duplicated: Distribution: Type of Reprint: Use: Philosophical and Literary Essays Publishing Co., 1986, 1991 Essays 7, 12 ans 22 Students in my classes using electronic course reserves. PDF digital format. Supplementary teaching materials.
Thank you for your prompt consideration of this request. I have enclosed a self-addressed envelope for your convenience in replying. Your response by _____________ [date] would be most appreciated. If you are not the copyright holder or do not have authority to grant this request, I would appreciate any information you can provide concerning the current copyright holder. Sincerely yours, Faculty Member I (We) grant permission to faculty member to reproduce the above material. ________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________ Date Please use the following credit line.
An order letter, also known as a purchase order or PO, begins the paper trail of a specific purchase. The objective is to provide the vendor with detailed instructions for fulfilling an order. It also serves as a legal record of the transaction and, consequently, should be written with care. Your intentions need to be clear and concise. Attention to detail is crucial. The reader will fill your order only according to your instructions; your satisfaction will depend largely upon their accuracy. The scope should include only the information needed to fulfill the order. The vendor does not need to know why you are placing the order, what it is going to be used for or for whom it is intended. The vendor only needs to know when you expect delivery and how you intend to pay the bill. In the sample order letter the writer purchases three specific widgets from an out of date vendor catalogue. The reader can infer that either an infrequent customer or a new customer is placing the order.
Establish Your Objective
The objective of an order letter is to clearly indicate to the recipient that you are making a purchase. You should be brief. In the body of the sample order letter, the writer begins by saying that he is placing an order. He concludes his order with some specific instructions.
Determine Your Scope
The scope of an order letter should provide only that information relevant to accomplishing the objective of making a purchase: what the item is, the terms of the purchase and any specific shipping instructions. It provides the reader with an exact description of what is expected. In the body of the sample order letter the writer has formatted his list of purchases in a table and provided a brief instruction linking his payment instructions to his shipping instructions. He has also included a phone number at which he can be reached should there be any difficulties fulfilling the order.
Organize Your Letter
Organizing your order letter will establish a logical order in which to present your information. You have already begun this task by establishing an objective and determining your scope. Refer back to them. Together they include much of the content that will become the body of your letter. A simple outline will get you organized. Begin by creating a list of points that your letter will address and put them in the sequential order that will best help your reader comprehend your order. These points will become the backbone of your draft; your outline will become a checklist.
Draft Your Letter
Working from an outline is the simplest way to draft an order letter. You have already organized yourself by creating a list. Refer back to it and turn each fragment into a full and complete sentence expressing a single thought or idea. In order that your thoughts and ideas are conveyed in a cohesive manner, write in as natural a sounding voice as possible. Try writing your draft quickly and then read it out loud. Concentrate on communicating your objective to your reader. Make sure that the scope of your letter contains all the relevant information included in your organizational list. Keep in mind that you are writing a rough draft. For the moment you can ignore spelling, grammar, punctuation, and sentence and paragraph structure. Those are technical details that you will pay attention to in the final step when you review and revise your work.
Close Your Letter
An order letter should close in a professional manner. Once your last paragraph is written, sign off between a complimentary close such as "Sincerely," or "Thank you," and your printed name. If you are writing in conjunction with an official duty, place your title below the printed name as in the sample order letter. Additional information such as dictation remarks, notification of attachments, enclosures and copies sent to other individuals should be placed beneath the title line.
Review and Revise Your Order Letter
Reviewing and revising your order letter is the final step in the writing process. You will check your draft in this step, making sure that your objective is clear and your scope is concise. Put yourself in the reader's shoes as you examine the rough draft. Ask yourself,
as the recipient, whether you are able to comprehend the request quickly and if enough information has been included to enable a timely response. Look for the obvious errors first. Check for spelling, sentence structure and grammar mistakes. Remember that a passive voice is not as commanding as an active one. You want your order to be strong, so write with an active voice. The important thing to keep in mind is the overall cohesiveness of the whole unit. Look for accuracy, clarity and a sense of completeness. Ask yourself if the transitions between paragraphs are working and if your point of view, tone and style are consistent throughout the text. Examine your word choices carefully. Ambiguous words lead to confusion. Jargon and abstract terms may not be understood at all and affectations, clichés and trite language serve no real purpose and will obscure your objective. You want to help your reader understand exactly what it is that you want, so remove all that is not helpful. And finally, if you have not written an opening or a conclusion now is the time. The introduction should lead into the letter with a firm statement about the details of your order. The conclusion should reiterate your objective and, when appropriate, contain any explicit instructions. As shown in the sample order letter, the actual details are formatted into a table bracketed by very short opening and closing paragraphs.
Précis writing is one of the most useful skills you can acquire for your work both as a student and as a professional (the 'executive summary' of a report is an example of a précis). Précis writing involves summarizing a document to extract the maximum amount of information, then conveying this information to a reader in the minimum number of words. In reducing the number of words, it is usually necessary to paraphrase from the original document. Paraphrasing simply means the expressing of ideas from the original document in your own words. When you paraphrase, you should try to write as concisely as possible, cutting out all the unnecessary verbiage, but you must always be very careful not to lose or distort the original meaning.
Guidelines for writing an effective précis
• • • • • • •
Identify the reader and purpose of the précis Read the original document Underline the key ideas and concepts Write a note-form summary of each paragraph Write a précis Review and edit Example of précis writing
Identify the reader and purpose of the précis
This determines how much detail should be included and how formal the précis needs to be. For instance, the précis you make of a textbook chapter for your own study purposes does not have to be as carefully refined as the executive summary of a formal report for an important client.
Read the original document
Skim-read the document to get an overview, then read it again more slowly to identify the main themes and to distinguish the key ideas and concepts from the unimportant ones.
Underline the key ideas and concepts
Each paragraph should have one key topic, which the rest of the paragraph clarifies, supports and develops.
Write a note-form summary of each paragraph
Use the words of the original document, but omit all irrelevant material.
Write a précis
Paraphrase to express the summarised points more concisely and to develop them into coherent sentences, expressing all important points in a generalised form. Eliminate any repetitions or irrelevant details.
Review and edit
Compare your précis with original document and make sure that it emphasises the same points. Ensure that the précis is clear, concise and coherent.
Example of précis writing
Original document Because the ability to communicate effectively plays an important part in an accountant's success on the job, many employers screen prospective accountants for adequate skills in oral and written communication. In fact, one study shows communication skills to be the most important factor in decisions to hire. Employers view the ability to write and speak effectively as even more important than a prospective employee's academic results. (66 words) Action: underline key words or ideas Action: write note-form summary
• • •
ability to communicate effectively important to accountant's success important factor in decision to hire employers value communication skills even more than academic results
Action: Use your own words to express these key ideas more concisely and to develop a full sentence paraphrase which conveys the original message accurately and is clear, concise and coherent. Employers recognise the importance of oral and written communication in accounting, and therefore prefer to hire graduates with effective communication skills. (21 words) [Note that the words have been changed to express the key ideas more concisely. In changing the words in this way, always make sure the key ideas are not lost or distorted].
Tips for Writing a Précis
Goals of the Précis Compress and clarify a lengthy passage, article, or book, while retaining important concepts, key words, and important data Remove what is superfluous and retain the core essence of the work. Give a brief description of key terms Give a brief description of methods – an idea of the general approach used by the researchers. State the purpose of the research or piece of writing (why was it important to conduct this research or write on this topic?) When finished, the précis should clearly state: This is what was studied (argued, discussed). This is how it was done (this was the focus). This is what was learned. This is what it means (why it is important).
A CV or Curriculum Vitae is:
• • • •
Your Life History Your Job History Your Achievements Your Skills
A CV or curriculum vitae is a marketing tool. With your CV you will be able to promote yourself. Imagine the CV as being a brochure that will list the benefits of a particular service The service being your time and skills! When writing a CV look at it from your employers point of view. Would you stand out against the competition (the other candidates) and would the manager want to talk you for a possible job? You have to ask yourself these questions when writing your CV or curriculum vitae. Networking and interviewing are essential for your job hunt and your CV is just the first step in the job search. However a CV will be your first contact with potential employers and will open the door. If you are invited for an interview you would then be in a position to explain and expand on what is in your CV.A CV is an essential tool in your job search. When applying for a vacancy you generally first have to send your CV to present yourself to the prospective employer. Print the CV on plain-white A4 paper, save some of the same type for the cover letter did we say that you should never, but never! Send a CV without a cover letter - and find matching A4 envelopes. If the announcement does not say anything about a cover letter, you stills should send one. It introduces your CV to the reader, attracts attention to certain parts of it that you want to bring to light, or mentions aspects that for some reason could not be listed in your CV. To make it look neat, we suggest you use one of the Word pre-made formats, unless you are a computer-savvy and feel confident that you can produce an even better-structured and easier-to-read format. You will be able to introduce you own headers in that format; below we have a word of advice for those most-often met in a CV. Personal details - here you should include your birth date, contact address, email, telephone number and nationality. In case you have both permanent and study address, include both, with the dates when you can be contacted at each of them. Personal details can be written with smaller fonts than the rest of your CV, if you want to save space. They do not have to jump in the reader attention - you will never convince somebody to hire you because you have a nice email alias! If your CV managed to awaken the reader's interest, he or she will look after contact details - it is important that they be there, but not that they are the first thing somebody reads in your CV. You should write your name with a bigger font than the rest of the text, so that the reader knows easily whose CV is he or she reading. If you need to save space, you can delete the Curriculum Vitae line on the
top of your CV. After all, if you have done a good job writing it, it should be obvious that piece of paper is a CV, no need to spell it out loud. Objective - this is a concise statement of what you actually want to do. It's not bad if it matches the thing you are applying for. Don't restrict it too much "to get this scholarship", but rather "to develop a career in… “The thing that you're going to study if you get the scholarship. If you apply for a job, you can be even more specific - "to obtain a position in.., where I can use my skills in・. You can use a few lines to describe that specifically, but keep in mind that you should show what you can do for the company more than what the company can do for you. Writing a good objective can be tough; take some time to think about what exactly you are going to write there.
Format Of CV
You’re Contact Information Name Address Telephone Cell Phone Email Personal Information Date of Birth Place of Birth Citizenship Visa Status Gender Optional Personal Information Marital Status Spouse's Name Children Employment History List in chronological order, include position details and dates Work History Academic Positions Research and Training Education Include dates, majors, and details of degrees, training and certification High School University Graduate School Post-Doctoral Training Professional Qualifications Certifications and Accreditations Computer Skills Awards Publications Books Professional Memberships
All cover letters should: Explain why you are sending a resume. Don't send a resume without a cover letter. Don't make the reader guess what you are asking for; be specific: Do you want a summer internship opportunity, or a permanent position at graduation; are you inquiring about future employment possibilities? Tell specifically how you learned about the position or the organization — a flyer posted in your department, a web site, a family friend who works at the organization. It is appropriate to mention the name of someone who suggested that you write. Convince the reader to look at your resume. The cover letter will be seen first. Therefore, it must be very well written and targeted to that employer. Call attention to elements of your background — education, leadership, experience — that are relevant to a position you are seeking. Be as specific as possible, using examples.
Reflect your attitude, personality, motivation, enthusiasm, and communication skills. Provide or refer to any information specifically requested in a job advertisement that might not be covered in your resume, such as availability date, or reference to an attached writing sample.
Cover Letter Format Guidelines: Your Street Address City, State Zip Code Telephone Number Email Address Month, Day, Year Mr./Ms./Dr. FirstName LastName Title Name of Organization Street or P. O. Box Address City, State Zip Code Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. LastName: Opening paragraph: State why you are writing; how you learned of the organization or position, and basic information about yourself. 2nd paragraph: Tell why you are interested in the employer or type of work the employer does (Simply stating that you are interested does not tell why, and can sound like a form letter). Demonstrate that you know enough about the employer or position to relate your background to the employer or position. Mention specific qualifications which make you a good fit for the employer’s needs. This is an opportunity to explain in more detail relevant items in your resume. Refer to the fact that your resume is enclosed. Mention other enclosures if such are required to apply for a position. 3rd paragraph: Indicate that you would like the opportunity to interview for a position or to talk with the employer to learn more about their opportunities or hiring plans. State what you will do to follow up, such as telephone the employer within two weeks. If you will be in the employer’s location and could offer to schedule a visit, indicate when. State that you would be glad to provide the employer with any additional information needed. Thank the employer for her/his consideration. Sincerely, (Your handwritten signature) Your name typed Enclosure(s) (refers to resume, etc.) (Note: the contents of your letter might best be arranged into four paragraphs. Consider what you need to say and use good writing style. See the following examples for variations in organization and layout.)
Sample Cover Letter - Entry Level Finance Position
Your Contact Information Address City, State, Zip Code Phone Number Cell Phone Number Email Employer Contact Information Name Title Company Address City, State, Zip Code Date Dear Mr./Ms. LastName, I am very interested in the entry-level position that is available at ABC Investment Partners. I recently graduated from XYZ University College and am actively seeking employment with firms in the San Francisco area. My courses in investments, finance and business have given me a solid base upon which I plan to build to build my career. During my college internships, I dealt with a variety of budgets and conducted market research while handling numerous administrative duties. The experience allowed me to learn important skills and to develop the confidence needed to succeed in a competitive environment. I have enclosed my resume for your review. Thank you for your time and consideration. It would be a pleasure to interview with you and I look forward to hearing from you soon. Sincerely, Your Signature Your Typed Name
Writing your resume
There are many resources out there advising you on how to write your resume including books, web-sites, and software. All of these can be very helpful when going through the writing process. However, it is important to keep in mind the end goal: to acquire an interview for a potential job with the company. As you organize your resume, keep the following points in mind:
• • •
• • • •
Write a clear objective statement. Knowing what you want and what the employer are looking for can help you write a clear objective. Also, keep in mind that you do not want your objective statement to be too broad or too specific. Make it easy for the reader to pick out specific skills by selecting appropriate categories, presenting relevant experience and skill areas higher on the page, and using underlining, boldfacing or capitalizing. Present information in reverse chronological order within categories. Good quality writing and clear communication are critical. You might be the most qualified candidate out there, but that is not the message you will be sending if your resume is disorganized and ambiguous. Use job titles and skill headings that relate to and match the jobs you want. Employers make quick judgments when reviewing your resume. If they see unrelated job titles or skills, they are likely to make the assumption that you are not qualified for the job. Keep your writing style and formatting consistent throughout. Adjust the specifics of your resume and cover letter so that they address each employer and position individually. If you are applying for an entry level position, focus more on your grades and extracurricular activities rather than on work experience that is not related to the desired position. Be as succinct as possible while still conveying all important information. Try to consolidate everything into one page if possible. Although the design and appearance of your resume matters, the content is what is really important. Be sure to double and triple check your grammar, spelling, formatting, etc. A mistake in this area says a lot about you as a candidate! Do not misrepresent yourself in your resume or cover letter.
Format Of A Resume
Company #1 City, State Dates Worked Job Title Responsibilities / Achievements Responsibilities / Achievements Company #2 City, State Dates Worked Job Title Responsibilities / Achievements Responsibilities / Achievements Education In the education section of your resume, list the colleges you attended, the degrees you attained, and any special awards and honors you earned. College, Degree Awards, Honors Skills Include skills related to the position / career field that you are applying for i.e. computer skills, language skills. References available upon request There is no need to include references on your resume. Rather, have a separate list of references to give to employers upon request.
Report Writing How to Write A Good Report
These are some general things you should know before you start writing. I will try to answer the questions of the purpose of report writing, and the overall approach as well. Purpose of a report: writing to be read A key thing to keep in mind right through your report writing process is that a report is written to be read, by someone else. This is the central goal of report-writing. A report which is written for the sake of being written has very little value. Before you start writing your report, you need to have in mind the intended audience. In the narrowest of possibilities, your report is meant for reading by yourselves, and by your advisor/instructor, and perhaps by your evaluation committee. This has value, but only short-term. The next broader possibility is that your report is readable by your peers or your juniors down the line. This has greater value since someone else can continue on your work and improve it, or learn from your work. In the best case possibility, your report is of publishable quality. That is, readable and useful for the technical community in general. Overall approach: top-down Take a top-down approach to writing the report (also applies to problem solving in general). This can proceed in roughly three stages of continual refinement of details. 1. First write the section-level outline, 2. Then the subsection-level outline, and 3. Then a paragraph-level outline. The paragraph-level outline would more-or-less be like a presentation with bulleted points. It incorporates the flow of ideas. Once you have the paragraph-level flow of ideas, you can easily convert that into a full report, by writing out the flow of ideas in full sentences. While doing the paragraph-level outline, think also about (a) figures, (b) tables, and (c) graphs you will include as part of the report at various stages. You will find that many things can be better explained by using simple figures at appropriate places. Another thing to nail-down while doing the paragraph-level outline is the terminology you will be using. For instance, names of various protocols/algorithms/steps in your solution. Or names/symbols for mathematical notation.
The overall approach also includes multiple stages of refinement, and taking feedback from others (peers/advisor/instructor). I will talk about these in more detail after talking about the overall report structure.
Structure of a report
The following should roughly be the structure of a report. Note that these are just guidelines, not rules. You have to use your intelligence in working out the details of your specific writing.
Title and abstract: These are the most-read parts of a report. This is how you attract attention to your writing. The title should reflect what you have done and should bring out any eye-catching factor of your work, for good impact. The abstract should be short, generally within about 2 paragraphs (250 words or so total). The abstract should contain the essence of the report, based on which the reader decides whether to go ahead with reading the report or not. It can contain the following in varying amounts of detail as is appropriate: main motivation, main design point, essential difference from previous work, methodology, and some eye-catching results if any.
Introduction: Most reports start with an introduction section. This section should answer the following questions (not necessarily in that order, but what is given below is a logical order). After title/abstract introduction and conclusions are the two mainly read parts of a report. o What is the setting of the problem? This is, in other words, the background. In some cases, this may be implicit, and in some cases, merged with the motivation below. o What exactly is the problem you are trying to solve? This is the problem statement. o Why is the problem important to solve? This is the motivation. In some cases, it may be implicit in the background, or the problem statement itself. o Is the problem still unsolved? Constitutes the statement of past/related work crisply. o Why is the problem difficult to solve? This is the statement of challenges. In some cases, it may be implicit in the problem statement. In others, you may have to say explicitly as to why the problem is worthy of a BTech/MTech/PhD, or a semester project, as the case may be. o How have you solved the problem? Here you state the essence of your approach. This is of course expanded upon later, but it must be stated explicitly here. o What are the conditions under which your solution is applicable? This is a statement of assumptions.
What are the main results? You have to present the main summary of the results here. What is the summary of your contributions? This in some cases may be implicit in the rest of the introduction. Sometimes it helps to state contributions explicitly. How is the rest of the report organized? Here you include a paragraph on the flow of ideas in the rest of the report. For any report beyond 4-5 pages, this is a must.
The introduction is nothing but a shorter version of the rest of the report, and in many cases the rest of the report can also have the same flow. Think of the rest of the report as an expansion of some of the points in the introduction. Which of the above bullets are expanded into separate sections (perhaps even multiple sections) depends very much on the problem.
Background: This is expanded upon into a separate section if there is sufficient background which the general reader must understand before knowing the details of your work. It is usual to state that "the reader who knows this background can skip this section" while writing this section. Past/related work: It is common to have this as a separate section, explaining why what you have done is something novel. Here, you must try to think of dimensions of comparison of your work with other work. For instance, you may compare in terms of functionality, in terms of performance, and/or in terms of approach. Even within these, you may have multiple lines of comparison -functionality-1, functionality-2, metric-1, metric-2, etc. Although not mandatory, it is good presentation style to give the above comparison in terms of a table; where the rows are the various dimensions of comparison and the columns are various pieces of related work, with your own work being the first/last column. See the related work section of my PhD thesis for an example of such a table :-). While in general you try to play up your work with respect to others, it is also good to identify points where your solution is not so good compared to others. If you state these explicitly, the reader will feel better about them, than if you do not state and the reader figures out the flaws in your work anyway :-). Another point is with respect to the placement of related work. One possibility is to place it in the beginning of the report (after intro/background). Another is to place it in the end of the report (just before conclusions). This is a matter of judgment, and depends on the following aspect of your work. If there is lots of past work related very closely to your work, then it makes sense to state upfront as to what the difference in your approach is. On the other hand, if your work is substantially different from past work, then it is better to put the related work at the end. While this conveys a stronger message, it has the risk of the reader
wondering all through the report as to how your work is different from some other specific related work.
Technical sections: The main body of the report may be divided into multiple sections as the case may be. You may have different sections which delve into different aspects of the problem. The organization of the report here is problem specific. You may also have a separate section for statement of design methodology, or experimental methodology, or proving some lemmas in a theoretical paper. The technical section is the most work-specific, and hence is the least described here. However, it makes sense to mention the following main points: Outlines/flow: For sections which may be huge, with many subsections, it is appropriate to have a rough outline of the section at the beginning of that section. Make sure that the flow is maintained as the reader goes from one section to another. There should be no abrupt jumps in ideas. o Use of figures: The cliché "a picture is worth a thousand words" is appropriate here. Spend time thinking about pictures. Wherever necessary, explain all aspects of a figure (ideally, this should be easy), and do not leave the reader wondering as to what the connection between the figure and the text is. o Terminology: Define each term/symbol before you use it, or right after its first use. Stick to a common terminology throughout the report. Results: This is part of the set of technical sections, and is usually a separate section for experimental/design papers. You have to answer the following questions in this section: o What aspects of your system or algorithm are you trying to evaluate? That is, what are the questions you will seek to answer through the evaluations? o Why are you trying to evaluate the above aspects? o What are the cases of comparison? If you have proposed an algorithm or a design, what do you compare it with? o What are the performance metrics? Why? o What are the parameters under study? o What is the experimental setup? Explain the choice of every parameter value (range) carefully. o What are the results? o Finally, why do the results look the way they do?
The results are usually presented as tables and graphs. In explaining tables and graphs, you have to explain them as completely as possible. Identify trends in the data. Does the data prove what you want to establish? In what cases are the results explainable, and in what cases unexplainable if any?
While describing a table, you have to describe every row/column. And similarly while describing a graph; you have to describe the x/y axes. If necessary, you have to consider the use of log-axes. If you are presenting a lot of results, it may be useful to summarize the main takeaway points from all the data in a separate sub-section at the end (or sometimes even at the beginning) of the results section.
Future work: This section in some cases is combined along with the "conclusions" section. Here you state aspects of the problem you have not considered and possibilities for further extensions. Conclusions: Readers usually read the title, abstract, introduction, and conclusions. In that sense, this section is quite important. You have to crisply state the main take-away points from your work. How has the reader become smarter, or how has the world become a better place because of your work?
No report is perfect, and definitely not on the first version. Well written reports are those which have gone through multiple rounds of refinement. This refinement may be through self-reading and critical analysis, or more effectively through peer-feedback (or feedback from advisor/instructor). Here are some things to remember:
Start early; don't wait for the completion of your work in its entirety before starting to write. Each round of feedback takes about a week at least. And hence it is good to have a rough version at least a month in advance. Given that you may have run/rerun experiments/simulations (for design projects) after the first round of feedback -for a good quality report, it is good to have a rough version at least 2 months in advance. Feedback should go through the following stages ideally: (a) you read it yourself fully once and revise it, (b) have your peers review it and give constructive feedback, and then (c) have your advisor/instructor read it.
Feedback: evaluating someone else's report
Evaluation of a report you yourself have written can give benefits, but it usually is limited. Even in a group project, it is not good enough to have one person write the report and the other person read it. This is because all the group members usually know what the project is about, and hence cannot critique the paper from outside.
It is best to take feedback from your peer (and of course return favours!). The feedback procedure is quite simple. The one reading has to critically, and methodically see if each of the aspects mentioned above in the "structure of the report" are covered. It may even help to have a check-list, although with experience this becomes unnecessary.
• • • • • •
Check if the title/abstract make sense, are effective/eye-catching. Are all the relevant questions answered in the introduction? Is the overall structure of the rest of the sections meaningful? Is the difference from related/past work crisp and meaningful? Are the technical sections understandable? Are the figures/tables explained properly? Is the terminology clear? Are the symbols used defined appropriately? Are the results explained properly? Are the conclusions drawn from the graphs/tables sound? Or are there technical holes/flaws? Do the results show how the work presented is better/worse that the other cases of comparison?
When I give feedback on a peer's report or a student's report, I usually take a print-out and mark-up at various points in the paper. You may follow a similar procedure, or something suited to you. Be as critical as possible, but with the view that your peer has to improve his/her work, not with the view of putting him/her down. Your comments have to be impersonal. Likewise, while taking feedback from a peer, take the comments on their technical merit.
Recommended strategy for producing a high-quality report
Based on the above, I recommend the following strategy for students who want to produce a high-quality report, which would then have a high potential for being turned into a publication:
Think through the outline of the report even as you are working on the details of the problem. Such thinking will also lend focus to your work and you will end up optimizing the returns on the time invested. Two months before the actual deadline, you have to have at least a paragraphlevel outline of the report, with all details worked out. After one round of critical analysis by yourselves (or by your group), have another student or another group review it, perhaps in exchange for you reviewing their work. Have them check your flow of ideas. While it may be good to get someone working in the same area, for much of the feedback, this may not really be necessary. Now you are probably about 6-7 weeks from the deadline. At this point, have your advisor/instructor give feedback on the paragraph-level outline. Getting this early is important since, based on this; you may have to reorganize your report, rework your theorems, or rerun your experiments/simulations. Have a pre-final version of the report ready 2 weeks before the deadline. Again, go through one round of self/peer-feedback, and then advisor/instructor feedback.
With these 3-4 rounds of revision and critical analysis, the quality of your report is bound to improve. And since many of the student theses are of good quality, quality of writing dramatically improves chances of publication.
Example of a Report
Newspaper reports cocaine use in British Parliament
By Hasan Suroor LONDON, NOV. 5. In an embarrassing disclosure, The Sunday Times has reported discovering ``evidence'' of cocaine being used inside the British Parliament. It claims to have picked up samples from the MPs' toilets and bars in the House of Commons and from the ``gents'' on the first floor of the House of Lords. One sample was picked up from a place close to the offices of Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, who has a reputation for being tough on drug users. The newspaper takes pains to emphasise that ``there is no suggestion that Irvine, who has taken a hard line on barristers using drugs, was aware of any abuse so close to his office.'' This is claimed to be the first time that a ``class-A drug'' has been found in the premises of Parliament, and coincides with the recent controversy over tackling drug abuse. The shadow home secretary Ms. Ann Widdecombe's suggestion for a summary œ 100 fine on anyone found possessing any drug had provoked a sharp reaction from many of her own colleagues calling it an authoritarian measure. Several shadow ministers openly admitted that they had tried drugs at some point in their life, and said it would be going too far to give people a criminal record for simplifying possessing it or using it occasionally. The Tory leader, Mr. William Hague, was forced to tone down Ms. Widdecombe's rhetoric. Today's disclosure is likely to reopen the debate.
Group Discussions Group Discussions are an important part of the short-listing process These are the four main areas tested in your GD: i. Content ii. Communication skills iii. Group dynamics iv. Leadership Content Content is a combination of knowledge and the ability to create coherent, logical arguments on the basis of that knowledge. Merely memorizing facts is pointless. We need an in-depth understanding of various issues as well as the ability to analyze the topic and build arguments. For example, take the topic 'Are peace talks between India and Pakistan useless or useful?' The candidate should be clearly aware that this is not a test of patriotism. Nor should he or she forget that the purpose of the discussion, and that his or her influence on India's foreign policy is zilch. So, an emotional response would, in all probability, get you disqualified. Go for a balanced response like, "Even though little has resulted from talks, it is certainly good to see the talks continue." Please remember that your opinion does not matter. The depth of knowledge and logical analysis you show is critical. Unfortunately, such analytical skills are rarely taught at the school and graduate level, so learn and practise first. ii. Communication skills Communication is a two-way process, and the role of the listener is critical.
The listener has his own interpretation of what you say. Unless you listen to him, you cannot figure out whether he or she has understood you. Unless you listen, the points you make may not fit in with points made by others. It is easy for an experienced evaluator (moderator) to realise you aren't listening.
Besides listening, you also need the ability to:
• • •
Express your ideas in a clear and concise manner. Build on others' points. Sum up the discussion made by the entire group.
iii. Group dynamics As mentioned before, a GD is a formal peer group situation and tests your behaviour as well as your influence on the group. Formal language and mutual respect are obvious requirements. In addition, you need to have:
• • • •
Willingness to listen and discuss various points of view. Do not take strong views in the beginning itself; try and analyse the pros and cons of a situation. Learn to disagree politely, if required. In fact, it is far better to put forward your point of view without specifically saying 'I disagree' or 'You're wrong'. Show appreciation for good points made by others. You can make a positive contribution by agreeing to and expanding an argument made by someone else. Size the opportunity to make a summary near the end or, even better, a part summary. Partial agreement or part consensus is a sign of the group's progress. Complete agreement is impossible in the timeframe allotted.
Leadership One of the most common misconceptions about leadership is that it is all about controlling the group. However, for the GDs we are talking about, leadership is all about giving direction to the group in terms of content. It is about initiating the discussion and suggesting a path on which the group can continue the discussion. A good leader is one who allows others to express their views and channels the discussion to a probable decision or conclusion on the given topic. Types of GDs i. Topic-based ~ Knowledge intensive: Here, the background knowledge of a subject is required for effective participation (for example: Should India go in for full convertibility of the rupee?). ~ Non-knowledge intensive: Requires structured thinking, but subject knowledge is not required (for example: Do women make better managers?) ~ Abstract: Requires out-of-the-box thinking, analogy and example-based discussion (For example: Money is sweeter than honey, blue is better than red).
ii. Case studies A structured discussion of a specific situation is given as a case. Sometimes, you will be asked to enact a role play where each participant is allotted a role to play, with relevance to the case study. iii. Group tasks These are an extension of case studies where specific objectives are to be achieved as a group. Conducting GDs While there is a great deal of variety in the methodology of conducting a Group Discussion, Normally 8-10 students are taken as a group, though in some cases, up to 16 people may be included in a group. The GD lasts for 10-15 minutes. For a topic-based GD, 2-3 minutes of thinking time may be given; though the group is often told to start right away. For case studies, however, about 15 minutes is given. The evaluation is done by one or two experts, usually professors. Please remember that these people are experts with a lot of experience and can be counted upon to observe all details, even if the GD is chaotic. The candidates may be seated in a circle or in a rectangular arrangement, with or without a table. Seating arrangements may be prefixed or there may be free seating. The discussion may be stopped at the set time or even earlier. A conclusion or consensus may be asked for, though it usually does not occur. A written or oral summary may asked for at the end from each candidate. How to prepare? i. Content ~ Develop subject knowledge on current affairs, general awareness and business trends. ~ Structure arguments on selected topics, considering both sides to the argument. ~ Plan for short and lucid points. ii. Practice ~ GD skills cannot be learned from books. Get into practice groups. ~ Get skilled people to observe and give feedback. ~ Spend a lot of time analyzing each GD performance. Plan specific improvements
1. Be as natural as possible. Do not try and be someone you are not. Be yourself. 2. A group discussion is your chance to be more vocal. The evaluator wants to hear you speak. 3. Take time to organize your thoughts. Think of what you are going to say. 4. Seek clarification if you have any doubts regarding the subject. 5. Don't start speaking until you have clearly understood and analyzed the subject. 6. Work out various strategies to help you make an entry: initiate the discussion or agree with someone else's point and then move onto express your views. 7. Opening the discussion is not the only way of gaining attention and recognition. If you do not give valuable insights during the discussion, all your efforts of initiating the discussion will be in vain. 8. Your body language says a lot about you - your gestures and mannerisms are more likely to reflect your attitude than what you say. 9. Language skills are important only to the effect as to how you get your points across clearly and fluently. 10. Be assertive not dominating; try to maintain a balanced tone in your discussion and analysis. 11. Don't lose your cool if anyone says anything you object to. The key is to stay objective: Don't take the discussion personally. 12. Always be polite: Try to avoid using extreme phrases like: `I strongly object' or `I disagree'. Instead try phrases like: `I would like to share my views on…' or `One difference between your point and mine…' or "I beg to differ with you" 13. Brush up on your leadership skills; motivate the other members of the team to speak (this surely does not mean that the only thing that you do in the GD is to say "let us hear what the young lady with the blue scarf has to say," or "Raghu, let us hear your views" - Essentially be subtle), and listen to their views. Be receptive to others' opinions and do not be abrasive or aggressive. 14. If you have a group of like-minded friends, you can have a mock group discussion where you can learn from each other through giving and receiving feedback. 15. Apart from the above points, the panel will also judge team members for their alertness and presence of mind, problem-solving abilities, ability to work as a team without alienating certain members, and creativity.
GD Mistakes Here's a list of the most common mistakes made at group discussions: Emotional outburst Rashmi was offended when one of the male participants in a group discussion made a statement on women generally being submissive while explaining his point of view. When Rashmi finally got an opportunity to speak, instead of focusing on the topic, she vented her anger by accusing the other candidate for being a male chauvinist and went on to defend women in general. What Rashmi essentially did was to • Deviate from the subject • Treat the discussion as a forum to air her own views. • Lose objectivity and make personal attacks. Her behavior would have been perceived as immature and demotivating to the rest of the team. Quality Vs Quantity Gautam believed that the more he talked, the more likely he was to get through the GD. So, he interrupted other people at every opportunity. He did this so often that the other candidates got together to prevent him from participating in the rest of the discussion. • Assessment is not only on your communication skills but also on your ability to be a team player. • Evaluation is based on quality, and not on quantity. Your contribution must be relevant. • The mantra is "Contributing meaningfully to the team's success." Domination is frowned upon. Egotism Showing off Krishna was happy to have got a group discussion topic he had prepared for. So, he took pains to project his vast knowledge of the topic. Every other sentence of his contained statistical data - "20% of companies; 24.27% of parliamentarians felt that; I recently read in a Jupiter Report that..." and so on so forth. Soon, the rest of the team either laughed at him or ignored his attempts to enlighten them as they perceived that he was cooking up the data.
• Exercise restraint in anything. You will end up being frowned upon if you attempt showing-off your knowledge. • Facts and figures need not validate all your statements. • Its your analysis and interpretation that are equally important - not just facts and figures. • You might be appreciated for your in-depth knowledge. But you will fail miserably in your people skills. Such a behavior indicates how self-centered you are and highlights your inability to work in an atmosphere where different opinions are expressed. Get noticed - But for the right reasons Srikumar knew that everyone would compete to initiate the discussion. So as soon as the topic - "Discuss the negative effects of India joining the WTO" - was read out, he began talking. In his anxiety to be the first to start speaking, he did not hear the word "negative" in the topic. He began discussing the ways in which the country had benefited by joining WTO, only to be stopped by the evaluator, who then corrected his mistake. • False starts are extremely expensive. They cost you your admission. It is very important to listen and understand the topic before you air your opinions. • Spending a little time analyzing the topic may provide you with insights which others may not have thought about. Use a pen and paper to jot down your ideas. • Listen! It gives you the time to conceptualize and present the information in a better manner. Some mistakes are irreparable. Starting off the group discussion with a mistake is one such mistake, unless you have a great sense of humor. Managing one's insecurities Sumati was very nervous. She thought that some of the other candidates were exceptionally good. Thanks to her insecurity, she contributed little to the discussion. Even when she was asked to comment on a particular point, she preferred to remain silent. • Your personality is also being evaluated. Your verbal and non verbal cues are being read. • Remember, you are the participant in the GD; not the evaluator. So, rather than evaluating others and your performance, participate in the discussion.
• Your confidence level is being evaluated. Decent communication skills with good confidence are a must to crack the GDs. Focus on your strengths and do not spend too much time thinking about how others are superior or inferior to you. It is easy to pick up these cues from your body language. Knowledge is strength. A candidate with good reading habits has more chances of success. In other words, sound knowledge on different topics like politics, finance, economy, science and technology is helpful. Power to convince effectively is another quality that makes you stand out among others. Clarity in speech and expression is yet another essential quality. If you are not sure about the topic of discussion, it is better not to initiate. Lack of knowledge or wrong approach creates a bad impression. Instead, you might adopt the wait and watch attitude. Listen attentively to others, may be you would be able to come up with a point or two later. A GD is a formal occasion where slang is to avoid. A GD is not a debating stage. Participants should confine themselves to expressing their viewpoints. In the second part of the discussion candidates can exercise their choice in agreeing, disagreeing or remaining neutral. Language use should be simple, direct and straight forward. Don't interrupt a speaker when the session is on. Try to score by increasing your size, not by cutting others short.
Current GD Topics
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A Unipolar World spells disaster for underdeveloped countries like India Is Globalization Really Necessary? What shall we do about our ever-increasing Population? Corruption is the price we pay for Democracy Foreign Television Channels are destroying our culture What India needs is a Dictatorship. With media publishing and telecasting trivia, censorship is the need of the hour.
Kaun Banega Krorepati is less about knowledge but more about money and personality.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Beauty contests degrade womanhood The rise of regional blocs threatens independent nations like India Six billion and one bronze! Is dependence on computers a good thing? Should the public sector be privatized? China and India are similar nations with contrasting ways Is India a Soft Nation? Value based politics is the need of the hour Religion should not be mixed with politics How to deal with high oil prices Our cricketers are not to blame for match fixing Why can’t we be world players in industry as we are in software? Multinational corporations: Are they devils in disguise? Should there be limits on artistic freedom (the controversy on Fire). Should there be private universities? Does banning fashion shows and New Year parties save our culture
PI There are many types of interviews that take place in the work environment. For example, interviews may be used to recruit, counsel or reprimand a worker or to gain information. As with other types of formal communication in an organization, the key to a successful interview is planning. Poorly planned interviews can waste time and result in poor decisions. An interview is an interaction between two parties where they exchange information and accomplish a predetermined purpose (Rasberry & Lemoine 1986, p.298). It is the responsibility of the interviewer to ensure that the purpose is achieved. You should ensure that there is only one purpose for the interview and that this purpose is known and understood by the interviewee. You must be well prepared by, for example, structuring questions well, organizing an appropriate environment and understanding your legal and ethical responsibilities. You should also prepare suitable recording documentation to ensure you focus on the most important information in an interview and that you appropriately follow through with the results of the interview. The purposes of an interview The main purposes of an interview are to exchange information, to gain understanding for and acceptance of ideas, to develop and change attitudes and behaviours , and/or to motivate others to improve performance. Whether the purpose is achieved is often dependent upon the communication skills of the interviewer. Well, a personal interview could actually be challenging and fun if you just relax and remain focused. Think of it as a conversation between the interview panel and yourself, so enjoy it thoroughly. To begin with, there are four main focus areas in any personal interview:
• • • •
Personal details Academic details Your background Current affairs
Commandments for every personal interview 1. Whenever the interviewer asks any questions, listen carefully. Do not interrupt him midway. Ask for a clarification if the question is not clear. Wait a second or two before you answer. And don't dive into the answer! 2. Speak clearly. Don't speak very slowly. Be loud enough so that the interviewers don't have to strain their ears.
3. Brevity is the hallmark of a good communicator. An over-talkative or verbose person is disliked and misjudged instantly, so keep it short. 4. If you don't know an answer, be honest. The interviewer will respect your integrity and honesty. Never exaggerate. 5. Never boast about your achievements. Don't be overconfident -- it is often misinterpreted by interviewers for arrogance. 6. Don't get into an argument with the interviewer on any topic. Restrain yourself, please! 7. Remember your manners. Project an air of humility and be polite. 8. Project enthusiasm. The interviewer usually pays more attention if you display enthusiasm in whatever you say. 9. Maintain a cheerful disposition throughout the interview, because a pleasant countenance holds the interviewers' interest. 10. Maintain perfect eye contact with all panel members; make sure you address them all. This shows your self-confidence and honesty. 11. Avoid using slang. It may not be understood and will certainly not be appreciated. 12. Avoid frequent use of words and phrases like, 'I mean'; 'You know'; 'I know'; 'Well'; 'As such'; 'Fine'; 'Basically', etc. 13. When questions are asked in English, reply in English only. Do not use Hindi or any other languages. Avoid using Hindi words like matlab, ki, maine, etc. 14. Feel free to ask questions if necessary. It is quite in order and much appreciated by interviewers. 15. Last but not the least, be natural. Many interviewees adopt a stance that is not their natural self. Interviewers find it amusing when a candidate launches into a new accent that s/he cannot sustain consistently through the interview or adopts a mannerism that is inconsistent with their own personality. It is best to talk naturally. You come across as genuine. Mind your body language! 1. Do not keep shifting your position. 2. Your posture during the interview adds to or diminishes your personality. Be a little conscious of your posture and gestures. They convey a lot about your personality.
3. Sit straight. Keep your body still. You may, of course, use your hand gestures freely. 4. Avoid these mannerisms at all costs:
• • • •
Playing with your tie Theatrical gestures Shaking legs Sitting with your arms slung over the back of the adjoining chair
Post interview etiquette 1. Make sure you thank the interviewers as a mark of respect for the time they have spared for you. 2. As you rise and are about to leave, make sure you collect up your pen/ pencil/ all other stationery. 3. After getting up, place your chair in its original position. The last word 1. Some institutes ask you to deliver an extempore speech suddenly while the interview is going on. Be mentally prepared for the same. 2. Competition will be very tough. Every mistake you commit will turn into an advantage for the other candidates. Hence, be very particular about your preparation. Do not leave anything to chance or the last minute. 3. Remember you have to sell yourself in an interview. 4. be very particular about what you write in your resume. Check and re-check your resume for facts, spelling errors, etc. Ensure that there are no grammatical errors in the descriptive type questions in the sheet. Use these hints, and say goodbye to your interview phobia! Maintain rapport with fellow participants. Eye contact plays a major role. Non-verbal gestures, such as listening intently or nodding while appreciating someone's viewpoint speak of you positively. Communicate with each and every candidate present. While speaking don't keep looking at a single member. Address the entire group in such a way that everyone feels you are speaking to him or her.
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