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. Ineffective communication is a major obstacle in business. Management
needs to encourage effective communication but can only effectively do so by
example. To communicate in the best interest of the organization, all parties
have to understand each other. You also need to get the attention of the person
that you are attempting to communicate with. It is necessary to introduce business
writing in the program at schools, universities.
communicators have many tools at their disposal when they want to get across a
message. Whether writing or speaking, they know how to put together the words
that will convey their meaning. We transmit the message in spoken or written
form, hoping that someone will hear or read what we have to say. Business
people devote much time to various types of verbal communication. They use
speaking and writing to send messages; they use listening and reading to
receive them. When it comes to sending business messages, speaking is more
common than writing. Giving instructions, conducting interviews, working in
small groups, attending meetings, and making speeches are all important
activities. Even though writing may be less common, it is important too. When
people want to send a complex message of lasting significance, they will
probably want to put it in writing.
Language Barriers to Business Communication
Even for American
people business communication is a difficult field to study and to deal with.
For our people it is much more difficult and that is why takes more time to
grasp business communication skills. We may encounter a few unusual terms or
accents in the 29 countries in which English is an official language, but our
problems will be relatively minor. Language barriers will also be relatively
minor when we are dealing with people who use English as a second language (and
some 650 million people fall into this category). Some of these millions are
extremely fluent; others have only an elementary command of English. Although
you may miss a few subtleties in dealing with those who are less fluent in
English, we’ll still be able to communicate. The pitfall to watch for is assuming
that the other person understands everything we say, even slang, local idioms,
and accents. One group of English-speaking Japanese who moved to the United
States as employees of Toyota had to enrol in a special course to learn that
"Jeat yet?" means "Did you eat yet?" and that
"Cannahepya?" means "Can I help you?"(David, 1992).
One survey of 100
companies engaged in international business revealed that between 95 and 99
percent of their business letters to other countries are written in English.
Moreover, 59 percent of the respondents reported that the foreign letters they
receive are usually written in English, although they also receive letters
written in Spanish and French. Other languages are rare in international
business correspondence (Goodin, 1987).
Because many international
business letters are written in English, North American firms do not always
have to worry about translating their correspondence. However, even when both
parties write in English, minor interpretation problems do exist because of different
usage of technical terms. These problems do not usually pose a major barrier to
communication, especially if correspondence between the two parties continues
and each gradually learns the terminology of the other.
problems arise in other forms of written communication that require
translation. Advertisements, for example, are almost always translated into the
language of the country in which the products are being sold. Documents such as
warranties repair and maintenance manuals and product labels also require
translation. In addition, some multinational companies must translate policy
and procedure manuals and benefit plans for use in overseas offices. Reports
from foreign subsidiaries to the home office may also be written in one
language and then translated into another.
translations are not very good. For example, the well-known slogan "Come
alive with Pepsi" was translated literally for Asian markets as
"Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave," with unfortunate
results. Part of the message is almost inevitably lost during any translation
process, sometimes with major consequences (Bennett, 1986). Sometimes we can
find out barriers to oral communication in the language.
usually presents more problems than written communication. If we have ever
studied a foreign language, we know from personal experience that it's easier
to write in a foreign language than to conduct a conversation. Even if the
other person is speaking English, we are likely to have a hard time
understanding the pronunciation, if the person is not proficient in English.
expressions are another source of confusion. If the person tells a foreigner
that a certain product "doesn't cut the mustard," chances are that
this person will fail to communicate. Even when the words make sense, their
meanings may differ according to the situation. For example, suppose that we
are dining with a German woman who speaks English quite well. We inquire,
"More bread?" She says, "Thank you," so we pass the bread.
She looks confused, then takes the breadbasket and sets it down without taking
any. In German, «thank you (danke)» can also be used as a polite refusal. If
the woman had wanted more bread, she would have used the word «please» (bitte in German).
Small talk can
take place between people who know each other or at first-time meetings.
Obviously, when meeting someone for the first time, we are limited in what we
may say and what we may not say. We do not want to be rude by asking personal
questions or saying anything negative.
particular, engage in so much talk that they are often seen as superficial or
boring. Foreigners may not have the opportunity to see them in a more serious
mode and assume they continue to talk about the weather and sports long after
they have gone home. Of course, some people do; however, for the most part,
small talk is a restrictive and unnatural type of communication, not typical of
In the business
world, there is small talk until a relationship is established, after which one
may talk specifically about business or personal concerns. After business
hours, when socializing with colleagues or associates, it is necessary to know
the acceptable topics of conversation: weather, sports, and good news, and
travel, positive comments about host country, movies, entertainment, food, or
the challenges of learning a foreign language. If asked, we may discuss work,
where we live, or where we are staying. After work hours, when people want to
relax, discussions about work or anything too serious are usually not welcomed.
Finally, we should
be careful about jokes. Humor varies from culture to culture, and we may offend
without realizing it; there are few things more awkward than an unfunny joke,
or one that is in bad taste. People have very specific ideas about good and bad
taste; we may be walking on dangerous ground when we attempt a joke and we may
never realize how our joke was received because people may laugh out of
politeness – or perhaps sympathy.
Small talk may
last from a few minutes to over an hour, depending upon circumstances. As its
best, it results in a nice impression being made, a common interest being explored,
or a rapport created that could be the basis of a future meeting or more
although it may not seem important, is actually quite important in society. It
plays a role in Peoples’ getting to know one another, it establishes a polite
and friendly tone and it is a time for quiet observations. We form impressions
from how people look, dress, speak, and express attitudes by non-verbal means
such as gestures, eye movements or posture. Skipping the formality of small
talk would be in bad taste in business as elsewhere; minimizing its importance
would be a mistake
The importance and
necessity of inculcating the business correspondence course into their
curriculum is explained by the following assumptions: firstly, nowadays business
writing skills is not an option, it is a must for those who want to participate
in different international programs and be competitive, as it is not enough to
be able to write well in English, it is necessary to be able to write according
to the universal standards, secondly, to be second to none in business writing,
learn to synthesize, organize the ideas, analyze the selected material and
present it in a well-structured way, thirdly, to be able to write a good letter
of recommendation or a curriculum vitae even just to apply for a job in an
international company. Unfortunately, we haven’t paid much attention to this
subject so far. We should keep up with the world-wide standards to enable our
students and ourselves to be competitive on the world market.
(e-mail) is becoming a very fashionable form of business correspondence.
Because of its speed and informality, e-mail is ideal for routine communication
between coworkers. For instance, an e-mail message is usually the best means of
announcing a new policy, introducing a recent hire, informing colleagues of a
meeting time, and reminding an employee of an approaching deadline. E-mail
messages are useful for day-to-day or extremely timely exchanges with people outside
the company. Because of their low cost, they are often preferred for
communicating with overseas contacts. When using e-mail, people should keep in
mind certain unique considerations and drawbacks.
difference between a piece of e-mail and a memo on standard stationery is that
the reader will normally look at our message, which is about 60% smaller than a
sheet of paper. Readers do not like to scroll through several screens to find
out what we have to say, so we should keep our message succinct and to the
point. Each piece of e-mail should focus on only one subject. If possible, it should
be kept to one screen, but do not intimidate the reader by filling the screen
with an unbroken wall of words. Think of the screen as a page of text
comprising a block of information. To enhance readability, it should be
separated into several paragraphs no longer than three or four lines on a
screen, written in short sentences, and framed by margins.
On the other hand,
in an attempt to be concise, people should not turn their e-mail into
telegrams. Their sentences should not be short, clipped commands (e.g., «Fax
report ASAP») or phrases in telegraphic style, omitting articles, pronouns,
conjunctions and other transitional expressions (e.g., then, too, as a result).
A telegraphic message may save space and it may save time, but it may sound discourteous
and it may make the reader work harder to decipher it or it may even be misunderstood.
Memos and reports
sent overseas fall into two general categories: those written to and from
subsidiaries, branches, or joint venture partners and those written to clients
or other outsiders. When the memo or report has an internal audience, the style
may differ only slightly from that of a memo or report written for internal use
in North America. Because sender and recipient have a working relationship and
share a common frame of reference, many of the language and cultural barriers
that lead to misunderstandings have already been overcome. However, if the
reader's native language is not English, you should take extra care to ensure
clarity. Use concrete and explicit words, simple and direct sentences, short
paragraphs, headings, and many transitional devices.
fundamental considerations of audience and purpose still theoretically apply to
this form of writing. E-mail seems to be «democratizing» the channels of
communication in hierarchical organizations, allowing junior employees to send
messages directly to senior administrators. If a message is intended for
readers «above» the writer, attention to correctness, clarity, level of detail,
organization, layout and tone is still advised.
Another pitfall of
e-mail is assuming that a message sent is a message received. A writer sending
a message should not assume that it has been received, read, understood and
acted upon. Studies show that many people now dread logging on to their
computers because they know a pile of work awaits them. Data collected from
interviews and questionnaires indicate that some users feel overwhelmed with as
few as 20 messages per day and some felt they could not keep up with the
barrage of e-mail. To deal with the proliferation of messages, some recipients
read their e-mail as soon as it arrives, treating it like an interrupting phone
call, but other users set aside only one or two times a day to check their
messages. They quickly scan through the waiting messages, deleting many,
responding to a few, and perhaps filing a few others.
has been widely used for several years, we are still just learning how to use
it. We have the tools for sending and receiving messages, but there remain the
basic problems of workload, time management, organization and archival storage.
In addition, this new communication mode has created new kinds of documents
messages are now used instead of memos for most intercompany communication,
memos are still suitable for notes sent to people higher in the company
hierarchy, especially in conservative companies.
The memo is also
appropriate for lengthy, formal communications to coworkers that may eventually
be circulated to supervisors or to contacts in other companies.
communication, certainly, is not the same as casual conversation, it bears only
the same power of thoughts, reflections, and observations as in conversational
talk, but the form may be quite different.
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