Business Communication

Breaking Down Business Communication

The word Communication (derives from the Latin word “communis” meaning “common”), literally means to show, tell, disseminate or transmit a specific message to another person (or people) by whatever method.

The word Business stands for any economic activity which is undertaken primarily to earn profit. The communication undertaken in the process of this activity is termed as Business Communication.

In simple words, Business Communication is the transmission of business-related information among employees, management, and customers.

The information shared in business communication is messages related to products, services, or activities of the company or organization; the channel through which the information is conveyed include memos, telephone calls, email, and voice mail.

Goals of Business Communication

Effective communication is essential to both you and the organization for which you work. To achieve effective business communication, both the senderOpens in new window and the receiverOpens in new window must be sensitively involved, but the sender must take responsibility for achieving the four basic goals of business communication:

  1. Receiver understanding
  2. Receiver response
  3. Favorable relationship
  4. Organizational goodwill

Each of these is discussed in-depth below.

Receiver Understanding

Receiver understanding is the first and most important goal of business communication. Receiver understanding emphasizes clarity and unambiguous meaning — the message must be so clear that the receiver understands it as the sender intends it to be understood.

To achieve successful communication, the sender and receiver must achieve shared meaning. Suppose a supervisor sends an e-mail to a subordinate saying, “No one plans for a meeting like you do.” Should the worker react with pleasure or disappointment? Is the supervisor praising or criticizing the worker’s attention to detail?

The message is too vague to guarantee receiver understanding. If one worker texts another, “Join me 4 lunch 2da?” the sender and receiver might have different ideas about who will pay for the receiver’s meal.

It can be challenging for the sender to achieve the goal of receiver understanding. To develop a clear message, the sender must consider the following four issues:

Receiver Response

Receiver response, the second goal of business communication is crucial to know if the message is understood.

The receiver response may be positive, neutral, or negative. It may be conveyed through words, action or both. The situation often determines the appropriate format of response. If the chair of a committee distributes a memo announcing the time and date of a meeting, those who receive the memo may act in any of four ways. They may (a) notify the chair that they will attend, (b) notify the chair that they will be unable to attend, (c) attend without having notified the chair in advance, or (d) miss the meeting without providing advance notice. The first three actions achieve the goal of receiver response; the fourth does not.

Since this goal is achieved when the receiver demonstrates understanding of the message by providing an appropriate response, a sender should assist the receiver to respond. The wording of the message should encourage response. In a face-to-face conversation, the sender (speaker) can ask the receiver (listener) if he or she understands the message. Further, the sender can ask directly for a specific response.

When written messages are used, the sender can encourage a response by asking questions, enclosing a reply envelope, including an e-mail address, asking the receiver to telephone, or using any one of many other possibilities.

Favorable Relationship

The third goal of business communication is to foster favorable relationship with the people involved in the communication process. To establish a strong business relationship, the sender and the receiver should relate to each other in three important ways: positively, personally, and professionally.

Favorable relationship generally benefits both the sender and the receiver. If the sender manufactures goods or provides services, a favorable relationship might mean job satisfaction, increased productivity, and more profits. If the sender is a customer, a favorable relationship could lead to a continued source of supply, better prices, and assistance if problems develop.

The sender is primarily responsible for fostering and maintaining a favorable relationship. Some of the ways the sender might do so include but not limited to the following:

  • Stressing the receiver’s interests and benefits
  • Using positive wording
  • Doing more than is expected

The following example paints a picture of a situation that fosters a favorable relationship:

Suppose you are a customer service representative for a company that operates an online travel site. A customer phones to say that her credit card bill shows a charge for a transaction that was begun on your site but not completed. After verifying that the customer’s claim is correct, you offer to initiate a conference call among her, you, and the bank that issued her credit card. Within minutes, the matter is resolved. Not only have you provided outstanding customer service, but you also have taken a positive approach to the situation and done more than the caller might have expected.

Organizational Goodwill

The fourth goal of business communication, organizational goodwill is an intangible asset that generates benefit to the organization. The goodwill of customers or clients is essential to any business or organization.

A company that has the goodwill of its customers or clients will ultimately win their confidence and maintain their continued business relationship. The more goodwill a company has, the more successful it can be.

The people that send messages carry huge responsibility to try to increase goodwill for their organizations. They do so by making sure their communications reflect positively on the company’s reputation as well as the quality of its products, services, and personnel.

The way in which an employee handles a returned merchandise situation can be used as an example of how to build organizational goodwill. If store policy dictates that employees should accept returned merchandise even when the customer doesn’t have a receipt, the employee could say, “Would you prefer a refund or a replacement?” After the customer has chosen, the employee should complete the transaction quickly and courteously. Doing so might lead to repeat business for the company and enhance its reputation. This behavior allows the employee to generate goodwill for the store and achieve the fourth goal of business communication – organizational goodwill. — Business Communication By A.C. Buddy Krizan, Patricia Merrier et al.