Lecture 1 Essentials of Business Communication Contents 1. The communication process 2. Strategies of BC 3. Categories of BC 4. Internal and external BC 5. Formal and informal BC Why is communication vital to your career? practitioners in Big Six accounting firms: spent 80% of their work time communicating with others William Schaffer, international business development manager for Sun Microsystems: “If there’s one skill that’s required for success in this industry, it’s communication skills.” 500 managers in a wide range of industries: oral communication skills as the top factor in hiring decisions (see “Importance of Competence in Hiring Decisions” on Page 1) subscribers to the Harvard Business Review: “the ability to communicate” as the most important factor in making an executive “promotable” a 20-year study on the progress of Stanford University MBAs: the most successful graduates shared such personality traits as a desire to persuade, an interest in talking and working with other people, and an outgoing personality Knowledge is power, but communication is everything! 1. Communication model -- proposed by Ronald. B. Adler, professor of Santa Barbara City College; also called the “Interactive Model” Communication model Source: Adler & Elmhorst, Communicating at Work, 2005: 9. Elements of communication: sender: the one who sends the message message: verbal (oral or written) vs. nonverbal message encoding: choosing words or nonverbal symbols to send a message channel: the method used to deliver a message receiver: the one who receives the message decoding: attaching meaning to the words or symbols feedback: the receiver’s reaction to the sender’s message noise: factors that interfere with the exchange of messages context: the overall setting where the communication takes place Act it out: Nonverbal messages You celebrated your promotion in the pub with your team members last night, and got up very late this morning. Now you are hurrying to your office for the talk with the CEO. When you arrive at a cross-section, a car slows down to let you pass (the car window is closed). What would you do? As you are about to step onto the elevator of your office building, a young lady who you have never met before (probably a new colleague? A client?) is also walking in that direction. What would you do? And what do you expect the lady to react? On some occasions, nonverbal messages can be more economical and timely than verbal ones. back Case study: The plumber’s three letters Read the plumber’s case on Page 2-3. (hydrochloric acid 盐酸) The poor plumber took three letters to get a plain answer he should have received much earlier. What is the cause of this ineffective communication? The bureau officers didn’t put themselves in the receivers’ shoes when encoding the message. back Noise: -- one of the greatest sources of communication failure external noise: the babble of voices in the next room, the annoying ring the someone’s cell phone, an overcrowded room, a smelly cigar physiological noise: illnesses, disabilities, exhaustion psychological noise: egotism, defensiveness, hostility, preoccupation, fear, stereotype back Context: physical context: the physical setting social context: the nature of the relationship between the communicators, as well as who is present chronological context: the ways in which time influences interaction cultural context: both the organizational and the ethnic and/or national background of the communicators Case study: Physical context When asking our boss for a raise, under which of the following physical contexts are you more likely to receive a positive result? In you boss’s office. In your work area, with others observing the conversation. Over lunch at a local restaurant. At a company picnic or party. Case study: Social context When asking our boss for a raise, under which of the following social contexts are you more likely to receive a positive result? You and the manager have been friends for several years, or you and the manager have no personal relationship. You are the same age as your manager, or he/she is 15 years older/younger than you. You and the manager have gotten along well in the past, or you have had an ongoing personality conflict with the manager. You and the manager are alone on a trip, or your only change to ask for the raise comes with other employees around. Chronological context: some time-related considerations in communication: What time of day is it (first appointment in the morning, or last in the afternoon)? What are the communicator’s personal preferences for time (a morning person or a late starter)? Is it before, during, or after work hours? Is this a busy time of year (holiday season, tax time, annual report season)? Has there just been a major layoff, downsizing, or profit loss? Cultural context: some cultural differences that might influence communication: baby boomers and generation Y-ers post-60’s and post-80’s Euro-Americans and Hispanics local Cantonese and migrants New Yorkers and Californians Beijingers and Shanghaiers Americans and Japanese 2. Strategies of business communication You may communicate and receive a random response, which might be to ignore, misunderstand, or disagree with you; but if you intend to receive desired response, you need to communicate strategically. 2.1 Sender strategy What is your objective? general objective – action objectives – communication objectives (see “Examples of Objectives” on Page 4) What communication style do you choose? tell – sell – consult – join (see “Examples of Objectives and Styles” on Page 5) What is your credibility (initial & acquired)? rank, goodwill, expertise, image, common ground (see “Factors and Techniques for Credibility” on Page 6) 2.2 Receiver strategy You not only need to know where you want your audience to be, but also need to know where they are right now. Who are they? primary audience (familiar or unknown), key influencers (decision- makers, opinion leaders, gatekeepers), secondary audience (“hidden” but not to be overlooked ) What do they know and expect? • identify and define the jargon/metaphors • simplify the information • deal with mixed background needs (provide background information for novices, acknowledge the experts, and aim your message toward the key decision-maker) What do they feel? • What is their current emotional level? • How interested are they in your message? (high/low) • What is their probable attitude towards your ideas? (positive/negative) • How much efforts should they exert to do your desired action? (easy/hard) 2.3 Message strategy A data dump is easy for you, but hard for your audience. emphasize your conclusion: • never “bury” important conclusions in the middle of your message • state your main conclusions emphatically – at the beginning (direct approach) or at the end (indirect approach) • use the direct approach whenever possible (though opposite the thought process: audience-centered, easy to follow, time- saving • use the indirect approach with caution (though most of us do it by habit or academic training), unless: (1) a highly sensitive or unpopular idea, (2) a negatively biased or hostile audience, (3) an analysis-oriented decision maker (4) against cultural norms • keep your audience’s attention in the middle of your message by using intermediate conclusions The Audience Attention Curve organize your message: -- choose an organizational pattern of your main ideas for informative message (the “tell” style): • key points • key questions • steps in a process • alternatives to compare for persuasive message (the “sell” style): • list of recommendations • list of benefits • problem and solutions choose your design cascade: -- the way you show the organization of your message to your audience on your document or slide • How do you place your title, main headings, subset headings, and example headings? Centered, flush left, indented, or run-in? • Which size do you choose for headings, tables, labels and the text? • Which font style do you use? ALL CAPS, boldface, italics, underlined, or regular text? (see “Choices for Design Cascade” on Page 7) 2.4 Channel strategy If channel choice was difficult before the Internet, it is exponentially much more difficult today. written channels: hard copy (letter, memo, report, bulletin), fax, Webpage, blog, microblog, wiki, email (blast), email (individual), TM, IM oral-only channels: telephone, voicemail, conference call, podcast (online broadcasting in audio) blended channels: face-to-face conversation, TS (tell/sell) presentation, CJ (consult/join) meeting, teleconferencing, Webcast (online broadcasting in video) (see “Channels of Communication” on Page 8) Guidelines for channel choice: take the time to choose the best channel, instead of always using channels you prefer and feel comfortable with if you don’t have a choice, think about how you can overcome its shortcomings if possible, blend both oral and written channels: e.g. provide hard copy along with your oral presentation, follow up an email with a face-to-face conversation to minimize the possibility of misunderstanding, send a report or proposal and then make appointment with your superior to discuss it for highly detailed but not urgent information: hard copy (to create a formal tone), email attachments to reach a public audience immediately: Websites, blogs, wikis for fast transmission of brief messages to a targeted audience: telephone, email, IM, TM for complicated decision-making process: face- to-face conversation, CJ meeting, teleconferencing ideas that have a strong need for visual support: TS presentation (see “Considerations in Choosing a Communication Channel” on Page 9-10) 2.5 Culture strategy What are the cultural attitudes toward: communication style: group-oriented (CJ), individualistic (TS), autocratic (T), democratic (C) credibility: age, wisdom, rank and social class valued in relationship-oriented culture, youth, innovation, expertise and individual achievement valued in task-oriented culture message structure: indirect structure for cultures valuing slow, ritualistic negotiations, direct structure for cultures valuing fast, efficient negotiations, direct structure downward and indirect structure upward in authoritarian cultures channel choice: oral channels for cultures valuing personal trust, written channels for cultures valuing hard facts and efficiency time: relaxed and past-oriented, or precise and future- oriented fate: believing in deterministic fate, or believing in human control over fate posture and gesture eye contact and direction of gaze facial expression touching behaviors silence space and objects greetings and hospitality more … 3. Categories of business communication 5 dimensions: within the organization or between different organizations: internal communication vs. external communication serious and prepared, or casual and unprepared: formal communication vs. informal communication with feedback or not: one-way communication vs. two- way communication using words or not: verbal communication vs. nonverbal communication within a culture or between different cultural backgrounds: innercultural communication vs. intercultural communication 4. Internal and external communication 4.1 Internal communication -- takes place within a given organization downward communication 下行沟通 upward communication 上行沟通 horizontal communication 平行沟通 4.1.1 Downward communication -- goes from the top to the bottom, from the management to the subordinates one-way in nature often carries instructions, decisions, suggestions, announcements, adjustment, coordination, etc. authoritative and influential, plays the leading role Which channel to use? -- inside the office: memo, bulletin, report, newsletter, telephone talk, presentation, speech, video conference -- outside the office: walking talk (MBWA, or H-P Way), on-the- site inspection, MBC the manager’s preference the actual situation the consideration over the efficiency Communication practice: Which channel to use? If the top management wants its new decisions to be implemented by all its employees… company meeting: impressive and influential, but one-way and less personal oral directive through the hierarchy: might be distorted not even partially lost, but two-way and richer in information printed bulletin/email: lean, but clearer and more consistent, better for understanding and digest memo: lean, but would serve as a reminder to the target receiver 4.1.2 Upward communication -- goes from the a lower level to a higher level, from the subordinate one to the managerial one may come at the request of the manager, or from the subordinate’s own initiatives (if the leadership style is democratic) one-way in nature reliable and valuable only when it is of the subordinate’s own will, but seldom the case measures to foster true and desired messages: cultivate a sense of mutual trust; reward productive opinions and suggestions, and make it a model to follow Communication practice: Which channel to use? If the GM wants to know the situation of an imported production line… ring and talk with the production manager ask him to come to his office for a talk send a memo to him requesting a report invite him to have a walking talk after lunch 4.1.3 Horizontal communication -- at the same level in an organization informality, closeness, speediness two-way in nature informal in form, but serious in content sometimes neglected by the managerial level 4.2 External communication -- takes place between the organization and the outside persons and institutions concerned with public: media communication, advertising with individuals: with customers and shareholders with other organizations: with government departments, banks, suppliers, distributors, investors, rivals, Chamber of Commerce 商会, Commercial Counsellor’s office 商务参赞 4.2.1 With public: media communication The No. 1 principle: In business it is impossible to manage the media. Don’t expect to control the media so that only positive stories are carried. Do seek to assist the media and offer the information and access that will allow your organization to be seen in a positive light Which channel to use? (1) press release 新闻稿: include essential information, i.e. the W’s be relevant be brief include the contact details of someone who can provide further information (2) press conference 新闻发布会: make sure that everyone involved, within the organization and within the media, understands the purpose prepare a careful checklist of organizational details: the venue, press invitation and registration, staff allocation, the stage and seating, the public address (and interpretation) system, photo-taking prepare materials to distribute: a press release, background papers, photographs/illustrations provide as clear information as you can; don’t expect all reporters are specialists in the field (3) press events 公关宣传活动: options: a factory visit, a familiarisation visit, the opening of a new facility, a major donation to charity, a sponsored sport event, celebrity endorsement signing ceremony as creative as you like, since the more interesting news angle, the happier the reporters are to attend and to report make sure that there is a staffed desk where reporters can register, collect information and ask questions; the staff as the desk must be completely familiar with all the arrangements for the event give reporters a separate room with desks and chairs, so that they can write up their stories, or carry out interviews tell over-eager security personnel not to obstruct media representatives; make them clear that the media are welcome and to be assisted (4) the big interview 重要专访: prepare in advance: • cultivate and maintain media relationships • analyze two audiences: the reporter and the readers/viewers • think of questions; if possible, communicate with the reporter to know the topics he/she is most interested in • plan your response bring with you sufficient materials dress appropriately: avoid plaids, patterns, prints, and the color of the backdrop; keep accessories decent and simple listen carefully and mind the tricks use “bridging” to move from the reporter’s question to the message you want to convey bring your points to life by using short anecdotes, analogies and simple statistics (5) bad press/crisis communication 负面报道/危 机沟通 What is a crisis? – unpredictable and negative a explosion in one of your factories that results in loss of life and destruction of property a food poisoning incident in your staff canteen a crime that is reported to concern a senior executive or the big boss a very negative article on the quality of your products in a major newspaper action against a production facility for breach of health and safety regulations a protest by a large group of workers as a result of a downsizing program Communication in a crisis is vital. Communication in a crisis is difficult. Ten golden rules in crisis communication 危机沟通十条黄金准则： Prepare in advance. -- Crisis Communications Plan Make sure everyone knows his/her role. Accept responsibility (not liability). Act quickly. Communicate your position clearly and immediately. Communicate regularly. Tell your staff what is happening. Integrate communications into the management response. Watch out for exhaustion. Keep records. (see “Ten Golden Rules in Crisis Communication” on Page 11-21) Case study: Making looking bad look good A reporter has telephoned you from a major local newspaper, saying that “We’ve had a call from a woman who claims that your fruit juice made her son ill. She says that she has noticed that he feels sick whenever he drinks your orange and mango juice. She says that she has spoken to several other mothers and their children say the same thing. ” The reporter wants your comment right away: not in half an hour, an hour, or the next day. You have to say something. What do you say? Here is what you could say: We are very concerned about this report. We produce millions of fruit drinks every day with the highest quality and safety controls rigorously enforced. We fully comply with all national, regional and local laws on food safety. We have received no other complaints like this. However, we treat all complaints seriously, and we feel regretful for the mother and other mothers who have the similar trouble. We would like your reader to contact us urgently so that we can investigate, and we are willing to offer any possible help. You can call me anytime to my mobile number ****, and please give me your number so that we can follow it up. Close-up: You have given the reporter an immediate response. You have used the opportunity to restate the quality and safety message of your company. You have made it clear that you have had no other similar complaints. You have extended your compassion and understanding to the mother. You have offered to investigate further and to help, which shows a concerned and responsible attitude. You have conveyed the message that you are available anytime. At no point have you admitted liability, or apologized. (6) inward communication 反向沟通 For effective media communication, it is vital that organizations listen as well as speak. media monitoring: regular reading of media reports to know: what the media is saying about them what is being said about rivals, and relevant business environment recent crisis in the industry and the impact more… 4.2.2 With individuals (1) with customers: personal selling after-sales service: supreme customer service to achieve supreme customer satisfaction (2) with shareholders: often take place at the shareholders’ annual meeting start-and-finish policy: common practice in the past, but not working today as shareholders are taking more and more active roles in communicating with the firm open-door policy: offer more access to communication at the yearly meeting 5. Formal and informal communication 5.1 Formal communication -- e.g. a business talk, a speech at a meeting, a product presentation, a business letter, a memo, a report should be planned and prepared To prepare for a product presentation to a prospect: choose collect prepare set your your information visual aids & goals focus materials should be serious and exact: you have to take all the responsibilities for whatever messages you send, and that is why you have to weigh each word over before you actually speak or write it 5.2 Informal communication -- also called “grapevine” (see “The Network for Grapevine” on Page 22) negative impact: spread rumors and weakens authority features: unpredictable, cross-level, thrived by active “messengers”, highly selective, speedy motive: the formal communication fails to satisfy employees’ demand for information What the management should do to minimize the negative impact of grapevine: have direct communication with employees listen sincerely to their suggestions or complaints care about their welfare benefits give earnest explanations about any bad news What employees can to do to network, i.e. to strategically meet people and maintain contacts to get career information: view everyone as a networking prospect (see “Sources of information from personal networks” on Page 23), and treat everyone you deal with respectfully get referrals to further connections: “Can you suggest someone who can help me?” seek a mentor: Rule 1: Keep it professional; Rule 2: Keep it confidential; Rule 3: Don’t expect extra favors. become a bridge: “You are looking for a financial analyst? I know someone who would be perfect for you!” ask questions: “What is going on here?” After-class assignments 1. Communication practice: Standard Charters’ press conference You are the public relations assistant for the Standard Charters Bank, and your bank is about to open five new branches in Guangzhou. This represents a considerable development for the bank in the Mainland market, and it is part of its expansion in the retail-banking sector. You are asked to organize a press conference to announce the opening the new branches. You have two weeks and RMB10,000 as budget. What would you do? Make a list the tasks and procedures. 2. Case analysis: Ikea’s customer complaint Read the IKEA case on Page 24-25. You are the newly-arrived Customer Service manager of IKEA. As soon as you arrive, you hear the whole matter. What do you think of this? And what action would you take to handle it?
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