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Business Communication

Introduction......................................................................................................... 2
Definitions of Communication............................................................................. 2
Components of Communication..........................................................................3
Effective Listening............................................................................................... 6
Business Communication.................................................................................... 7
Formal vs. Informal Communication....................................................................8
Verbal Communication vs. Non-verbal Communication.....................................10
Oral vs. Written Communication.......................................................................10
The 7 C’s of effective communication...............................................................12
Enhancing Communication................................................................................ 12
Communication and Organisational Culture......................................................15
Characteristics of Nonverbal Communication...................................................22
Using and Interpreting Nonverbal Messages.....................................................23
Gestures and Body Movement..........................................................................25

Business Communication

The word “communication” derives from the Latin word ‘communicare’ that means to impart,
to participate, to share or to make common. It is a process of exchanging verbal and non
verbal messages so, it demands a two-way interaction. Communication is not static and it
pushes forward through interaction with another person or other persons. Communication is
neither transmission of message (informing) nor message itself (information). It is the mutual
exchange of understanding, originating with the receiver. Communication is not an innate, but
a learned process.

Definitions of Communication
‘Communication is any behaviour that results in an exchange of meaning’. American
Management Association
‘Communication is the process by which information is transmitted between individuals
and/or organizations so that an understanding response results’. Peter Little
‘Communication is an exchange of facts, ideas, opinions or emotions by two or more
persons’. Newman and Summer Jr.
‘The process of passing the information and understanding from one person to another. It is
essentially a bridge of meaning between the people. By using the bridge a person can safely
across the river of misunderstanding’. Keith Davis
‘Communication is the sum total of all the things that a person does, when he wants to create
an understanding in the mind of another. It involves a systematic and continuous process of
telling, listening and understanding’. Louis A. Allen
Human communication is the process of making sense out of the world and sharing that
sense with others by creating meaning through the use of verbal and nonverbal
COMMUNICATION IS ABOUT MAKING SENSE. We make sense out of what we
experience when we interpret what we see, hear, touch, smell, and taste. To make sense out of
a message we look for patterns or structure. We relate what happens to us at any given
moment to something we’ve experienced in the past. An effective communicator attempts to
learn as much as possible about his or her listeners so that the message crafted makes sense to

COMMUNICATION IS ABOUT SHARING SENSE. We share what we experience by
expressing it to others and to ourselves. We use words as well as nonverbal cues (such as
gestures, facial expressions, clothing, music) to convey our thoughts and feelings to others.
It’s through the process of sharing our understanding of our experiences that we connect to
other humans.
COMMUNICATION IS ABOUT CREATING MEANING. Meaning is created in the hearts
and minds of both the message source and the message receiver. We don’t send meaning by
sending a letter to someone; we create it based on our experiences, background, and culture.
Succinctly stated, meanings are in people, not in words. A word or a nonverbal expression
triggers meaning within us. The only meaning a word has is when you ascribe meaning to
what you read and see. When, for example, you hear a rumor that there may be companywide
layoffs you may think, “My job is safe; I’m a hard worker”; but someone else may hear the
rumor and think, “Yikes, I may get fired!” The same rumor creates different meaning in
different people.

Components of Communication
Theory 1
The main components of the effective communication process are: the Sender-Encoder
(making use of symbols – words, graphic or visual aids - to convey the message and produce
the required response), the Message (the key idea, the sign that elicits the response of
recipient), the Context (physical, social, chronological or cultural), the Medium (the Channel
used to transmit the message), the Receiver-Decoder (the person for whom the message is
intended / aimed / targeted), the Feedback (the main component of the communication
process which helps the sender in confirming the correct interpretation of message by the

Theory 2

The most basic components of communication include the source, message, channel,
receiver, noise, feedback, and context. Understanding these elements can help you analyze
your own communication with others.
Source. The source of the message is the originator of the ideas and feelings expressed. The
source puts a message into a code that can be understood by a receiver. Putting ideas, feelings,
and thoughts into a code is called encoding. Just the opposite of encoding is the process of
decoding; this occurs when the receiver interprets the words or nonverbal cues.
Message. The message is the information being communicated by the source. As you
transactively communicate with others, it’s important to understand two key dimensions of
human communication message: the content and relational dimensions that are present during
every communication episode. The content of a communication message is the new
information, ideas, or suggested actions the speaker wishes to express. Another name for the
content dimension that may be more appropriate for the workplace is task dimension. Leaders,

managers, supervisors, or those who take charge of a particular project,

communicate content messages with others to accomplish certain tasks, to get work
completed. The relational dimension of a communication message is usually more implied; it
offers cues about the emotions, attitudes, and amount of power and control the speaker feels
toward others. The relational dimension focuses more on nonverbal messages and conveys
relational cues. Another way of distinguishing between the content and relational dimensions
of communication is to consider that the content of a message refers to what is said. The
relational cues are provided in how the message was communicated. Although your
supervisor may say “great job,” about a project you’ve been working on, her lack of eye
contact, monotone vocal inflection, and lackluster enthusiasm may actually suggest she is not
all that pleased with your work.
Receiver. The receiver of the message is the person or persons who interpret the message.
When communicating with others, it’s the receiver that will ultimately determine if your
message was successful—whether it was understood and was appropriate. Effective
communicators are receiver oriented; they understand that the listener is the one who
ultimately makes sense of the message you express. If you’re selling a product, for example,
your prime focus should be on whether the customer understood your message.
Channel. The channel is the means by which the message is expressed to the receiver. If
you’re typical, you receive messages from a variety of channels. Increasingly, in business and

professional settings (as well as in all communication situations), you are receiving messages
via a mediated channel such as text messages, email, phone, video conference, or even a
Facebook post or tweet.
Noise. Noise is anything that interferes with the message being interpreted as it was intended.
As we’ve emphasized, what we express isn’t always interpreted as we intend. Noise happens.
If there were no noise, then all of our messages would be interpreted accurately. But noise is
always present. It can be literal—such as beeps coming from a BlackBerry or computer that
tells you that you have incoming email—or it can be psychological, such as competing
thoughts, worries, and feelings that capture our attention.
Feedback. Another element integral to communication is feedback. Feedback is the response
to a message. Without feedback, communication is less likely to be effective. When your boss
says, “Would you please give me a copy of the Williamson proposal?” you may say, “Is that
the James Williamson proposal or the Kyra Williamson proposal?” Your quest for clarification
in response to the request is feedback. Feedback can seek additional information, or simply
confirm the message has been interpreted: “OK, I’ll have the Williamson proposal on your
desk by this afternoon.”
Context. One final component of communication is context—the physical, historical, and
psychological communication environment. As the saying goes, everyone has to be
somewhere. All communication takes place in some context. A meeting held in the executive
boardroom in comparison to a brief conversation held around the water cooler is likely to
have different communication expectations. The context of the designer decorated executive
boardroom will likely result in more formal communication exchanges than conversation with
people standing around a workroom water cooler. The physical environment has an effect on
how people communicate. The communication-as-transaction perspective acknowledges that
when we communicate with another, we are constantly reacting to what our partner is saying
and expressing.

Effective Listening

Tips to effective listening
"We were given two ears but only one mouth, because listening is twice as hard as talking."

Expressing our wants, feelings, thoughts and opinions clearly and effectively is only half of
the communication process needed for interpersonal effectiveness. The other half is listening
and understanding what others communicate to us. When a person decides to communicate
with another person, he/she does so to fulfill a need. The person wants something, feels
discomfort, and/or has feelings or thoughts about something. In deciding to communicate, the
person selects the method or code which he/she believes will effectively deliver the message
to the other person. The code used to send the message can be either verbal or nonverbal.
When the other person receives the coded message, they go through the process of decoding
or interpreting it into understanding and meaning. Effective communication exists between
two people when the receiver interprets and understands the sender’s message in the same
way the sender intended it.
Sources of Difficulty by the Speaker:
Voice volume too low to be heard.
Making the message too complex, either by including too many unnecessary details or
too many issues.
Getting lost, forgetting your point or the purpose of the interaction.
Body language or nonverbal elements contradicting or interfering with the verbal
message, such as smiling when anger or hurt is being expressed.
Paying too much attention to how the other person is taking the message, or how the
person might react.
Using a very unique code or unconventional method for delivering the message.
Sources of Difficulty by the Listener
Being preoccupied and not listening.
Being so interested in what you have to say that you listen mainly to find an opening
to get the floor.
Formulating and listening to your own rebuttal to what the speaker is saying.
Listening to your own personal beliefs about what is being said.

Evaluating and making judgments about the speaker or the message.
Not asking for clarification when you know that you do not understand.
Three Basic Listening Modes
Competitive or Combative Listening happens when we are more interested in promoting
our own point of view than in understanding or exploring someone else’s view. We either
listen for openings to take the floor, or for flaws or weak points we can attack. As we pretend
to pay attention we are impatiently waiting for an opening, or internally formulating our
rebuttal and planning our devastating comeback that will destroy their argument and make us
the victor.
In Passive or Attentive Listening we are genuinely interested in hearing and understanding
the other person’s point of view. We are attentive and passively listen. We assume that we
heard and understand correctly. but stay passive and do not verify it.
Active or Reflective Listening is the single most useful and important listening skill. In
active listening we are also genuinely interested in understanding what the other person is
thinking, feeling, wanting or what the message means, and we are active in checking out our
understanding before we respond with our own new message. We restate or paraphrase our
understanding of their message and reflect it back to the sender for verification. This
verification or feedback process is what distinguishes active listening and makes it effective.

Business Communication
The term business communication is used for all messages that we send and receive for
official purpose like running a business, managing an organization, conducting the formal
affairs of a voluntary organization and so on. Communication needs to be effective in business
and that’s why it must be goal oriented. The basic functions of management (Planning,
Organizing, Staffing, Directing and Controlling) cannot be performed well without effective
communication. Business communication involves constant flow of information. The rules,
regulations and policies of a company have to be communicated to people within and outside
the organization. Business communication is regulated by certain rules and norms. In early
times, business communication was limited to paper-work, telephone calls etc. But now with
advent of technology, we have cell phones, video conferencing, emails, etc.


Formal vs. Informal Communication
Formal communication typically occurs through prescribed reporting channels established by
a company's hierarchy structure. With formal communication, more accountability is
expected. Informal communication is commonly known as the grapevine and includes
conversations among employees that take place outside of regular work activities.
Read the two letters below which deal with the same subject but are different in degrees of
Dear Jim
I’m very glad that you’ll be here with us at the end of June. I can certainly pick you up at the
Otopeni airport at 20.30.
I already booked you into Intercontinental Hotel, and I hope we’ll have dinner together. I’m
looking forward to seeing you again.
Best regards,

Dear Mr. Windford
We are delighted to know that you will be in Bucharest on June 20 th. This is to confirm our
telephone conversation. We shall meet you at the Otopeni airport at 20.30.
We have reserved a room for you at the Intercontinental Hotel for the 20th and 21st.
I look forward to meeting you on the 20th.
Yours sincerely



More complex sentences

Short sentences

Abstract nouns (words of Latin origin)

Short words (mostly of Anglo-Saxon origin)

Avoiding contractions and abbreviations

Contractions and abbreviations

Colloquial language

Avoid using words denoting gender.
Workmen’s compensation

News anchor
Business executive
Member of Congress
Letter carrier
Police officer
Workers’ compensation

Avoid using words that demean a person because of age:
Young, upstart intern
For our elderly employees

Newly hired intern
For experienced employees

Avoid using words that show racial and ethnic bias:
Blacks who are less fortunate …
Mary, the Jewish secretary who was …

Individuals who are less fortunate …
Mary, the secretary who was …

Verbal Communication vs. Non-verbal Communication
Verbal communication refers to the form of communication in which the message is
transmitted verbally; communication is done by word of mouth or a piece of writing. Verbal
Communication is divided into: Oral Communication and Written Communication

Oral vs. Written Communication
Advantages of Oral Communication

There is high level of understanding and transparency in oral communication as it is


There is no element of rigidity in oral communication. There is flexibility for allowing

changes in the decisions previously taken.

The feedback is spontaneous in case of oral communication. Thus, decisions can be

made quickly without any delay.

Oral communication is not only time saving, but it also saves upon money and efforts.

Oral communication is best in case of problem resolution. The conflicts, disputes and

many issues/differences can be put to an end by talking them over.

Oral communication is essential for teamwork and group energy.

Disadvantages/Limitations of Oral Communication

Relying only on oral communication may not be sufficient as business communication

is formal and very organized.

Oral communication is less authentic than written communication as it informal and

not as organized as written communication.

Oral communication is time-saving as far as daily interactions are concerned, but in

case of meetings, long speeches consume lot of time and are unproductive at times.

There may be misunderstandings as the information is not complete and may lack


It requires attentiveness and great receptivity on part of the receivers/audience.

Oral communication (such as speeches) is not frequently used as legal records except

in investigation work.

Advantages of Written Communication

Written communication helps in laying down apparent principles, policies and rules

for running of an organization.

It is a permanent means of communication. Thus, it is useful where record

maintenance is required.

It assists in proper delegation of responsibilities. While in case of oral communication,

it is impossible to fix and delegate responsibilities on the grounds of speech as this can be
taken back by the speaker or he may refuse to acknowledge.

Written communication is more precise and explicit.

Effective written communication develops and enhances an organization’s image.

It provides ready records and references.

Legal defenses can depend upon written communication as it provides valid records.

Disadvantages of Written Communication

Written communication does not save upon the costs. It costs huge in terms of

stationery and the manpower employed in writing/typing and delivering letters.

Also, if the receivers of the written message are separated by distance and if they need

to clear their doubts, the response is not spontaneous.

Written communication is time-consuming as the feedback is not immediate. The

encoding and sending of the message takes time.

Effective written communication requires great skills and competencies in language

and vocabulary use. Poor writing skills and quality have a negative impact on the
organization’s reputation.

Too much paper work and e-mails burden is involved.

The 7 C’s of effective communication
There are 7 C’s of effective communication which are applicable to both written as well as
oral communication. These are as follows:
Completeness - The communication should convey all facts required by the audience. The
sender of the message must take into consideration the receiver’s mind set and convey the
message accordingly.
Conciseness - Conciseness means wordiness, i.e, communicating what you want to convey in
least possible words without forgoing the other C’s of communication.
Consideration - Consideration implies “stepping into the shoes of others”. Effective
communication must take the audience into consideration, i.e, the audience’s view points,
background, mind-set, education level, etc.

Clarity - Clarity implies emphasizing on a specific message or goal at a time, rather than
trying to achieve too much at once. Clarity in communication has following features:
Concreteness - Concrete communication implies being particular and clear rather than fuzzy
and general. Concreteness strengthens the confidence. Concrete message has following
Courtesy - Courtesy in message implies the message should show the sender’s expression as
well as should respect the receiver. The sender of the message should be sincerely polite,
judicious, reflective and enthusiastic.
Correctness - Correctness in communication implies that there are no grammatical errors in

Enhancing Communication
Five fundamental principles can enhance your communication skills and leadership abilities.
Together, these five principles provide you with a framework for understanding how
communication works at work:
Principle One: Leaders are aware of their communication with themselves and others
Principle Two: Leaders effectively use and interpret verbal messages
Principle Three: Leaders effectively use and interpret nonverbal messages
Principle Four: Leaders listen and respond thoughtfully to others
Principle Five: Leaders appropriately adapt messages to others
Principle One: Leaders Are Aware of their Communication with Themselves and Others
The first principle is to be aware of your interactions with others while at work. Effective
communicators who skillfully lead others are conscious or “present” when communicating.
Ineffective communicators mindlessly or thoughtlessly say and do things they may later
regret. Being aware of your own (and others’) communication involves two important
processes. First, it’s important to be aware of what motivates or drives a person to
communicate. For example, if you know that one of your colleagues is going through a
divorce, you may want to cut your coworker some slack when she or he seems a bit edgy or
tense during a staff meeting. Becoming aware of what motivates you and others to

communicate will help you adapt your communication to make it more effective, which is the
focus of our fifth communication principle. Second, it’s important to be aware of how people
perceive or see situations differently. No two people perceive a situation similarly. You may
see a situation one way and a person who works for you sees it differently. For example, if
you have no children but a colleague does have a child, you may not be interested at all in the
new child-care facility that will be opened near your work, but your coworker is ecstatic not
to have to pick up his daughter across town. Often perceptual differences result in a number of
communication problems at work simply because of differences; people can view the same
situation with different interpretations. To be an effective leader or follower, regardless of the
type of work involved, it’s important to be aware of your own thoughts, assumptions, and
communication behavior, and the behavior of others as well.
Principle Two: Effectively Use and Interpret Verbal Messages
We communicate through a language, which consists of symbols and a system of rules that
makes it possible for people to understand one another. Symbols are words, sounds, visual
images, or even gestures that represent thoughts, concepts, objects, or experiences. The
effective communicator both encodes and decodes messages accurately; he or she selects
appropriate symbols to form a message and interprets carefully the messages of others. The
words on this page are symbols you use to derive meaning that makes sense to you. Because a
number of today’s organizations are global, with offices located throughout the world, it’s
becoming more important for employees to be bilingual. People who are bilingual can read
and write at least two languages. As a leader you will have ample opportunity to instruct
others in how to complete a particular task. It’s essential that your followers understand your
verbal messages and that you understand their verbal messages. Mastering the principle of
effectively using and interpreting verbal messages will enhance your role as a VIP—a
verbally important person who understands the power of words to influence others.
Principle Three: Effectively Use and Interpret Nonverbal Messages
Nonverbal communication is communication other than written or spoken language that
creates meaning for someone. Unspoken messages can communicate powerful ideas or
express emotions with greater impact than mere words alone. Understanding and interpreting
nonverbal messages are especially important in the workplace. A survey of more than 550
managers from fifty businesses and organizations found that 92 percent of respondents
indicated that nonverbal communication was either important or very important in a variety of

business situations. A leader patting an employee on the back or an employee slamming shut
an office door not only conveys a message but also communicates emotions. Our emotions are
communicated primarily through our use of nonverbal messages. If you have ever said, “It’s
not what he said that bothered me, but it’s how he said it that bothered me,” then you already
understand the power of nonverbal communication. You may have a potential customer telling
you that she will call you next week (the verbal message). However, you know she will not
call you because her message was lacking sincerity (the nonverbal message). Again, it’s not
what she said (“I will call you next week”) but how she said it (insincere voice, lack of eye
contact, or fidgeting) that created and conveyed the meaning to you.
Principle Four: Listen and Respond Thoughtfully to Others
Although effective leadership requires people to develop and send messages to others that are
meaningful, it is equally if not more important for leaders to listen and receive messages from
others. Listening involves being other-oriented, which is when we consider the needs,
motives, desires, and goals of others. A crucial part of leadership is being able to meet the
needs of the people you lead. There is evidence that the skill of being other-oriented or
empathic is decreasing. One study found that college students in the early part of the twentyfirst century are 40 percent less empathic than college students in the 1980s and 1990s—
empathy skills seemed to drop off after about 2000. Listening to others is essential to being
empathically other-oriented. The only way you know what people need, is to listen to them.
What are they telling you? What are they not telling you? Seek first to understand, then to be
Listening is a process. It not only involves receiving messages, but it also includes responding
thoughtfully to what others are saying. Responsive messages involve asking questions related
to what the person is talking about, restating in your own words what you hear the other
person saying, and being nonverbally responsive by leaning forward, making eye contact, and
nodding your head. Responsive messages are affirming. They communicate to other people
that they have been listened to and that you understand them.
Principle Five: Appropriately Adapt Messages to Others
Leading others requires you to develop and use communication that is appropriately adapted
to the people you lead. When you adapt a message to others you make choices about how best
to develop a message to achieve your communication goal. The workplace is full of diversity;

a one-size-fits-all approach to communication doesn’t work in the twenty-first century. For
messages to have an impact, they must be tailored to the people receiving them. Chances are
that you will be working with people from all over the globe. Even men and women don’t
always understand each other because of gender differences in communication. Your ability to
lead and influence others effectively depends on your ability to adapt messages appropriately
to others. Another way to tailor your communication is to adapt to another person’s
personality. Some people are talkative; others are quiet. Some people enjoy a good argument;
others find arguing upsetting. Your ability to adapt and adjust your communication makes
others more comfortable and enhances understanding.

Communication and Organisational Culture
Relating to Others: Interpersonal Communication
A relationship is an ongoing connection we make with others through interpersonal
communication. To relate to someone is to give and take, listen and respond, act and react.
When we talk about a good or positive relationship with someone, we often mean that we are
together, or “in synch.” You will develop and manage relationships with your manager, your
coworkers, with the people you lead, and with your customers and clients. Communication
allows the relationships to develop. Without communication, there are no relationships. To
relate to others effectively, you should be aware of your communication, effectively use
verbal and nonverbal messages, listen and respond, and appropriately adapt your messages to
others in interpersonal situations. Interpersonal communication occurs when at least two
people interact with each other to mutually influence each other, usually for the purpose of
developing and managing their relationship. You engage in interpersonal communication
when you interview for a job or visit with a colleague. You communicate with an interviewer
with the hope of influencing the person and developing a relationship—convincing him or her
that you’re the most qualified for the position. When talking with a colleague, you may be
swapping office stories or just talking about the weather. Yet true interpersonal
communication occurs not simply when you interact with someone, but when you treat the
other person as a unique human being. Think of all human communication as occurring on a
continuum ranging from impersonal communication to interpersonal communication.
Impersonal communication occurs when you treat people as objects, or when you respond to
their roles, such as responding impersonally to a sales clerk or server, rather than to the unique

person. People who are skilled interpersonal communicators are able to establish quality
relationships with others, know how to manage conflict effectively and appropriately, and
connect with people from all walks of life including those who may have a different cultural
or ethnic background.
Be Aware of Organizational Culture
There are many things to be aware of as you communicate with others in business and
professional settings: your own perceptions of yourself as well as how you are perceived by
others, your social style and the social styles of others, and underlying assumptions about
leadership. A key factor that has a pervasive influence is the culture of an organization.
Culture is a concept that anthropologists use to describe the distinctive beliefs, values,
assumptions, and rules that distinguish one group of people from another group. A culture is
revealed to others in a number of different daily routines and practices, ranging from how
people interact and treat each other to how they spend their free time and money.
Organizational culture is the learned pattern of beliefs, values, assumptions, rules, and norms
that are shared by the people in an organization. Organizational culture includes what it feels
like to be in an organization; whether the organization maintains a rigid, do-it- by-the-book
approach or is a more relaxed, informal place to work. The culture of an organization also
affects all aspects of how the work is accomplished.
Why is it important to be aware of organizational culture? Because it influences how you
communicate with others. If you’re not aware of the organizational culture and so fail to adapt
to either implicit or explicit cultural expectations, you may create conflict and stress. Imagine
that your first job was at Google, where you enjoyed an open and flexible organizational
culture, and then you changed jobs and worked for another software company that had a more
traditional and rigid organizational culture. If you couldn’t adapt to the change in culture,
you’d likely experience anxiety and uncertainty. Or if you’re working in an organization that
has a strict dress code, you clearly need to be aware of those rules. But other rules and
assumptions may be less obvious and less formal, such as whether you address your boss as
Ms. Valdes or Sharon.
The culture of an organization influences more than just such superficial choices as what style
of clothes you wear or what you call your boss. The culture influences the way you do your
work. How closely you adhere to deadlines, how quickly you respond to email messages, and
how you observe unwritten rules (such as whether it’s acceptable to hang out in the coffee

room when the supervisor is there) may influence whether you get a pay raise or not, or even
whether you’ll keep your job. To be aware of more than just surface features of organizational
culture, it’s important to understand how organizational culture is developed and evolves.
What it feels like to be in an organization, as well as the way things get done there, are
ultimately rooted in how people communicate with other people. The rules (explicit
requirements), roles (who does what), assumptions (underlying beliefs about the nature of
work and human relationships), and values (what is good and what is bad) don’t just happen;
the forces that contribute to organizational culture are created through interaction among the
people there. Some aspects of the culture may be explicitly spelled out in writing. But most
cultural aspects are not; instead, people learn them by observing as well as by talking with
other people. You learned the organizational culture at your school not just by reading the
student handbook, but also by observing other students and talking with them. There is
considerable research about how we are socialized to a particular job or organization. To be
“socialized” means to understand what is expected of us when we work in an organization. It
is through our communication with others—whether it’s our boss, our colleagues, or our
customers—that we truly understand the culture of an organization.
Sometimes organizational culture is explicitly spelled out in written policies and verbal
directives; and in other instances, the culture is conveyed indirectly through the example set
by others. You can work in an organization that has explicit rules prescribing when you should
arrive at work and take breaks; perhaps you have to punch a time clock. Yet in another
organization, rules are more relaxed—you don’t have to report in at a precise time and you
can come and go as you like as long as the work get done. There were no written rules about
work time; new workers just followed the example set by others. Employees at Google, for
example, have a relaxed culture that includes free gourmet meals, exercise rooms, and even
laundry and dry cleaning services. These perks are not included in a contract. However, they
are an aspect of the corporate culture at Google that was explicitly established by Google’s
founders—and they are part of what people who work at Google have implicitly come to
expect from the organization.

There is not just one factor that contributes to what it feels like to be in an organization, but
many factors. The forces that contribute to the organizational culture include what you see,
what you read, and what you hear when you visit an organization. What should you observe to
get a sense of organizational culture? Here are a few of the factors that simultaneously shape
and reflect organizational culture:
Written rules and policies: Sometimes organizational culture is explicitly expressed in written
policies. These rules and policies may be found on a website or in a handbook or presented
during orientation sessions. But if you only looked at the written policies, you’d miss a lot of
the forces that shape the culture. It’s often more informal communication channels that give
you the most important clues about organizational culture.
Stories: “Hey, did you hear what happened to Marciale last night?” Not only will such an
opening line get your attention, but the story itself can offer clues to the culture of an
organization. The stories and gossip that circulate in an organization reveal information about
the values and expectations of the organization. Are supervisors valued or made fun of? Are
staff members respected? Do people express genuine warmth for others, or are suspicion and
mistrust embedded in the tales that are told? Listening to the stories and how they are
expressed (whether with playful humor or mean spirits) can help you identify organizational
Metaphors: Noting the metaphors—the comparisons or analogies that are used to describe the
organization—can provide clues about organizational culture. “We’re all like family here,”
says your new coworker. That metaphor sends a different message than someone saying,
“Welcome to the crazy house.”
Ceremonies: Noting organizational rituals and what gets celebrated and rewarded can give
you insights into what is valued. If employees get awards for perfect attendance or for
achieving high work output, then those achievements are clearly valued by the organization. If
people get recognition for working ten, twenty, or thirty years at the organization, then you
know that longevity is valued and rewarded. Do colleagues frequently go out to lunch
together to celebrate birthdays? What gets celebrated and the behaviors that are spotlighted
provide significant clues about organizational culture.


Artifacts and decor: Do people have cubicles or private offices? Is there matching furniture, or
do people have a hodgepodge of chairs and desks in their workspace? The attention given to
what the physical space in the organization looks like is another clue that helps decode the
organizational culture. Fine art on the office walls rather than tattered and torn posters
suggests that top management wants to create an inviting work experience. For example,
Facebook’s corporate offices in Palo Alto, California, reflect an organizational culture that
promotes cooperation. Rather than working in offices, Facebook staff members work in large
open spaces or in conference rooms, which are called aquariums because they are glassed
cubes within a room. One reporter described it this way: “No cubicles, no offices, no walls,
just a rolling tundra of office furniture.” The appearance of an organization can give you
insight into whether it’s an austere, serious work environment or a place where people are
encouraged to have fun and be innovative.
Jargon is language used by a particular group, profession, or culture and may not be
understood or used by other people. Most professional workplaces are full of jargon. When
we’re new on the job, it usually takes us a while to learn the new language. Part of any new
employee orientation program is to teach new trainees the language of the workplace. New
employees at Walt Disney World, for example, attend the Disney University where they are
introduced to a new vocabulary: the language of the theater. Rather than being an employee,
you’re a “cast member.” Uniforms are referred to as “costumes” and customers are “guests.”
Use of jargon helps us fit in, makes our communication faster and easier, and makes us more
likable to our coworkers. Although jargon serves a useful purpose, it can be confusing to those
who are not familiar with it. Who is receiving your verbal messages? Will they understand
your jargon? Many working professionals quickly internalize new jargon and vocabulary;
they forget that not long ago this jargon didn’t make any sense. Just as jargon can create
positive identity and affiliation among those who share it, it can also create negative identity
and a lack of affiliation or a feeling of exclusion among those who are not familiar with the
Use Concise Messages
A concise verbal message is brief and one from which unnecessary words and phrases have
been removed. For example, assume you’re an employee listening to a human resource
representative explain company policy regarding the use of the Internet while on the job. He

says the following in his presentation: “Although it is our policy to provide Internet access to
enable employees to conduct the online communications necessary to enact their job
responsibilities, the Internet should not be used for personal communications or nonbusinessrelated activities.” You lose interest in the message because it’s too wordy. Here’s a concise
message that conveys the same meaning: “Use the Internet only for company business.” This
message is targeted, concise, and efficient. It clearly articulates the company’s policy on the
Internet using as few words as possible. In fact, communication researchers have identified
communication efficiency or conciseness as one of the criteria used to differentiate competent
from incompetent communicators.

In the U.S. workplace, where “time is money” and

productivity is highly valued, concise communicators are considered more competent than
long-winded and verbose communicators.
Following are some ways you can make your verbal messages more concise:
Use simple words and phrases. Rather than talking about the Health Maintenance
Organization, you discuss the health plan. Instead of talking about procurement processes,
you refer to it as purchasing.
Reduce unnecessary contextual information. Don’t discuss detailed background information
leading up to the point. Instead, get to the point.
Communicate solutions. The workplace is about finding and implementing solutions to
problems. Many professionals don’t need to know all of the people and situations that
contributed to a particular problem. They’re not interested in learning about the problem.
They are interested in solutions to problems.
Use Relevant Messages
Relevant messages are messages that satisfy others’ personal needs and goals. Much of your
communication in the workplace will be instructional: Your goal will be to help others learn.
Informing a coworker about a new procedure or training a group of new employees in a skill
are examples of when you would want to use relevant messages. When you make messages
relevant to others, you put yourself in the other person’s shoes for a while and you answer the
question “How does this information benefit me?”
Understanding Nonverbal Messages


It’s your first day on the job and you’re being introduced as the new leader of the team. You
walk into a crowded room and notice that the only empty chair is at the front of the room. The
person introducing you invites you to sit down in this chair. Although where people sit in a
meeting may seem trivial, it’s quite important. The positions of chairs in a room or around a
conference table send nonverbal messages that communicate power and status. Understanding
the significance and power of nonverbal messages will enhance your ability to lead
Researchers have found that people form impressions of strangers within as few as two
seconds of meeting them by observing their nonverbal messages. What’s interesting is that
these instant impressions rarely change, even after the two people have become better
acquainted. If you are to interpret others’ nonverbal messages accurately, it’s important to
understand what makes nonverbal communication unique, including its characteristics and

Characteristics of Nonverbal Communication
A number of characteristics make nonverbal messages unique from verbal messages,
including their ability to convey feelings, form relationships, express truth, and reveal a
NONVERBAL MESSAGES CONVEY FEELINGS Social psychologist Albert Mehrabian
concluded that as little as 7 percent of the emotional meaning in messages is communicated
through verbal channels. The most significant source of emotional communication is our face
—according to Mehrabian’s study, it carries as much as 55 percent of the emotional meaning
in messages. Vocal cues such as volume, pitch, and intensity communicate another 38 percent
of the meaning. In all, 93 percent of the emotional meaning in our messages is communicated
through nonverbal channels. Although these percentages do not apply to every
communication situation, the results of Mehrabian’s study do illustrate the potential power of
nonverbal messages in communicating emotion. Researchers continue to find new ways to
measure the impact of nonverbal messages in the communication of emotions.
connect with others. Whereas verbal messages convey the content of a message (what is being
said), nonverbal messages (how it is said) convey or establish the nature of the relationship.
Nonverbal messages tend to convey meaning about the quality of the interaction that is taking

place. For example, upon leaving a job interview, the applicant hears the interviewer saying,
“Thanks for coming to the interview. I will be giving you a call.” The verbal message (what is
said) sounds promising, and the nonverbal messages (how it was said) suggests that the
interviewer is sincere and will probably be calling soon to extend the job offer: The
interviewer makes direct eye contact and shakes the applicant’s hand firmly and vigorously. If
the interviewer had avoided eye contact and seemed awkward or rushed, the applicant would
have been right to feel doubtful that the interviewer would call.
NONVERBAL MESSAGES EXPRESS TRUTH If you want to know how people really feel
or what they think about a particular topic, pay attention to their nonverbal messages.
Although people try to hide their true feelings, especially at work when others may be
evaluating them, feelings have a tendency to “leak out” through nonverbal messages.
Nonverbal leakage cues reveal how you really feel or think about a topic or a problem. For
example, a man may say, “Her comment didn’t bother me,” but you know the comment did
bother this person: You saw his face drop and his posture slump when his coworker made the
comment. When someone’s verbal and nonverbal messages don’t match, we have a tendency
to trust the nonverbal messages. Why do we have a tendency to believe nonverbal more than
verbal messages? Research suggests that people are not always consciously aware of their
nonverbal messages. When you speak, you have a tendency to think about what you’re going
to say; even if it’s just a brief statement, you encode your verbal message consciously. With
nonverbal messages, there is very little, if any, conscious encoding. Nonverbal messages are
more spontaneous and are conveyed by means outside of your conscious awareness. Your
nonverbal messages “leak” from your body. You can slow down the leaking by becoming
more aware of how you use nonverbal messages.
NONVERBAL MESSAGES ARE CULTURE BOUND The nonverbal messages that work in
one culture may not work in another culture. Every culture has its own rules and standards.
For example, in the United States the thumbs-up sign usually conveys a positive meaning;
however, in the Middle East the thumbs-up sign is an obscene gesture. The Shanghai World
Financial Center is a skyscraper that faced protest by the Chinese because of its design by an
American architect. The original design included a small narrow opening at the peak in the
form of a circular moon. The Chinese considered the design to be too similar to the rising sun
depicted in the Japanese fag. A trapezoidal hole replaced the circle at the top of the tower,
changing the controversial circular design. This example illustrates what can happen when

someone (in this case, the American company) with good intentions simply misunderstands
what a symbol might represent to those from another culture.

Using and Interpreting Nonverbal Messages
Your ability to use and interpret nonverbal messages effectively at work depends on your
ability to recognize various sources of nonverbal messages, including physical appearance,
vocal qualities, gestures, eye contact, space, use of time, touch, and the environment. Physical
Appearance Leaders in most organizations must project a professional image through their
physical appearance. Enhancing your physical appearance, so that others in the workplace
perceive you as a leader, is important.
PHYSICAL ATTRACTION Our attraction to others because of their appearance—their bone
structure, weight, stylishness, and grooming—is referred to as physical attraction. Although
many people don’t want to believe that physically attractive people do better on the job than
physically unattractive people, research suggests otherwise. For example, over a ten-year
period, attractive MBA graduates earned more than unattractive MBA graduates. (Individuals
were deemed “attractive” based on a set of criteria established by the research, such as
symmetrical facial features, among other characteristics.) Somewhat surprisingly, in the MBA
study, good looks were more of a factor in men’s salaries than in women’s salaries. In another
study examining tipping behavior in restaurants, researchers concluded that female (and not
male) servers earned more tips on average if they were physically attractive. Another
important aspect of physical attraction, especially for men, is height. According to Henry
Biller, a professor at the University of Rhode Island, “men of average or above- average
height are seen as more mature, uninhibited, positive, secure, masculine, active, complete,
successful, optimistic, dominant, capable, successful, and outgoing.” Other research studies
concluded that graduating college seniors who were 6 feet 2 inches tall or taller enjoyed
starting salaries $4,000 higher than seniors 5 feet 5 inches tall or under. Although some people
may be disappointed in these research findings, they allow us to become more aware of how
physical appearance affects communication.
CLOTHING Dressing for success has been the subject of many books, for good reason. How
we dress on the job not only conveys our personal sense of style, it also creates meaning in the
minds of others. In other words, people notice our clothing and they form impressions of us
based on what we’re wearing. This is one of the reasons some companies invest huge sums of


money developing and designing company uniforms that communicate the appropriate image
to customers.
ARTIFACTS An artifact is a personal object we use to convey our identity; it’s an accessory.
Examples of artifacts include jewelry, eyeglasses, sunglasses, scarves, hairpieces, Artifact a
personal object used handbags, briefcases, and hats, to name a few. In many ways, we use
artifacts to decorate to communicate some part of the body. If used in moderation, artifacts
signal to others our style and our unique sense of self.
When researchers asked recruiters to determine the appropriateness of jewelry for men and
women on the job, their findings were very stereotypical and sex typed. Recruiters found
three items of jewelry acceptable for women: button earrings, chain chokers, and necklaces.
And although necklaces, rings, and earrings were considered acceptable for women, they were
less acceptable for men.
Communication researchers John Seiter and Andrea Sandry found that job candidates with
either a nose piercing or an ear piercing were perceived by interviewers as significantly less
trustworthy, less sociable, and less knowledgeable than candidates not wearing any jewelry.
Although a nose or an ear piercing did not significantly affect how attractive the interviewer
perceived the candidate to be, a single body piercing lessened the perceived hirability of the
candidate—candidates with a single body piercing were less likely to be hired. Another
researcher examining the effect of eyebrow piercing on employer perceptions of job
candidates’ hirability found a similar result, and found that neither the type of business nor the
size of the organization made a difference in perceptions of hirability.
Vo i c e
How many times have you heard “It’s not what you said, but how you said it that bothered
me”? This common expression reveals the importance of vocalics (also referred to as
paralanguage), which are the nonverbal aspects of our voice, including pitch (how high or low
a speaker’s voice is), rate (how fast the person speaks), and volume (how loudly the person
speaks). Verbal messages help us to “say what we mean,” whereas nonverbal messages, and
especially vocalics, help us to “mean what we say.” Researchers have documented how our
use of vocalic cues influences how others perceive us. In general, Americans who speak faster
and louder than average are usually perceived as more powerful, knowledgeable, confident,
trustworthy, and socially attractive by other Americans. Of course, there are situations when

speaking fast and loud would be entirely inappropriate. We are expected to adapt our vocalics
based on the situation. For example, if you were to make a sales presentation to Japanese
clients whose English comprehension was limited, it would be wise to speak more slowly and
perhaps more quietly. One study found that managers who were perceived by their employees
as varying their vocalic cues were more well liked than those who did not vary the pitch,
volume, and rate of their voices and were perceived as being more credible and influential
than managers whose vocalic cues were more monotonous or fat. People who alter their
vocalic cues are perceived as expressive and sociable, two perceptions that serve leaders well.

Gestures and Body Movement
The study of gestures and body movement is referred to as kinesics. In one of their most
comprehensive contributions to nonverbal research, Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen
classified movement and gestures according to their functions. They identified three
categories of gestures that are important for leaders: emblems, illustrators, and regulators.
EMBLEMS An emblem is a gesture that has a direct verbal translation and may substitute, for
a word or phrase. If you walk into your manager’s office and he holds up an open palm
without looking at you, you immediately know that your manager doesn’t want to be
interrupted. If you’re giving a presentation and your supervisor holds up two fingers, you
know you have two minutes to wrap up the presentation. Other common emblems that
substitute for verbal messages include the time-out sign (a referee using two extended hands
to direct verbal translation and form a T) and the quiet sign (placing an index finger up to the
lips). Emblems are shortcuts that allow you to communicate with others, especially in
situations when you cannot use phrase.
ILLUSTRATORS We frequently accompany a verbal message with an illustrator that
illustrates (draws a picture) or complements the verbal message. Illustrators allow you to
clarify or intensify the meaning of the message. For example, when we are giving directions
to another person, most of us use our hands to draw a picture in the air of where the other
person should go. Not only does your use of illustrators help others decode and interpret your
message, but illustrators also help you in encoding or developing a message. Research has
also suggested that our use of illustrators helps us to remember our messages. People who
illustrated their verbal messages remembered 20 percent more of what they said than those
who didn’t illustrate, or use gestures, when communicating.


REGULATORS A regulator is a non-verbal cue that helps control the interaction and flow of
communication between people. Regulators help you manage turn-taking in a conversation.
When someone tries to cut you off in a conversation, you hold up a hand or give the person a
raised eyebrow, which signals “Wait, I’m not finished.” When you’re finished and you want
the other person to speak, you give the other person a head nod, which signals his or her turn.
One type of regulator that is important in the development of quality relationships is a back
channel cue. Back channel cues are nonverbal behaviors that signal to the other person that
we are listening to them and we wish for them to continue talking. When listening to a friend,
many of us will interject sounds such as “um,” “uh-huh,” and “hmm” to signal that we are
listening and that we are interested in the conversation.
Facial Expression and Eye Contact
Although there’s a saying that some people “wear their emotions on their sleeves,” they
actually wear their emotions on their faces and in their eyes. In business and professional
settings, it’s important to monitor what your face and eyes reveal about who you are and how
you’re feeling. Researchers have found that although our faces provide a great deal of
information about emotions, we quickly learn to control our facial expressions. In fact, some
jobs require people to mask or hide their feelings. These employees have learned to control
the facial muscles that ultimately convey their feelings. Others try to mask their feelings and
are less successful; their emotions leak from their faces and eyes. In addition to conveying
your emotions, your facial expressions and eye contact also influence how others perceive
you. Researchers have concluded that people who smile more often are perceived to be more
intelligent than those who smile less often. Also, smiling behavior has been shown to enhance
sales. The research examining eye contact is equally powerful. Direct eye contact has been
associated with a number of positive relational qualities that are valued and rewarded in the
workplace. For example, researchers have concluded that direct eye contact enhances others’
perceptions of your credibility, self-esteem, and emotional control or calmness, all perceptions
that enhance leadership effectiveness. Use of direct eye contact allows you to be more
persuasive in getting others to comply with your wishes than someone who uses evasive or
indirect glances. Also, increased eye contact enhances your chances of being hired for a job
and perceptions of your leadership potential.
Virginia Evans: Sucessful Writing - Proficiency, Express Publishing, 2000.

Steven A. Beebe, Timothy P. Mottet: Business and Professional Communication, Pearson,