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Methods of Communication

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In this article you will learn about methods of communication along with methods of communication within an organisation as well as methods  to overcome communication barriers.

Methods of communication – 1. verbal communication and non-verbal communication 2. formal communication and informal communication 3. interpersonal and intrapersonal communication 4. group communication 5. public communication 6. mass communication

Methods of communication within an organization – 1. one way communication 2. two-way communication 3. collaborative communication 4. internal communication 5. written messages 6. electronic messages8. external communication 9. business letters

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Methods of overcoming communication barriers – 

(1) Organisational action –  1. encourage feedback 2. create a climate of openness 3. use multiple channels of communication


(2) Individual action –  1. active listening 2. careful wording of messages 3. selection of appropriate channels

Methods of Communication 

1. Verbal Communication and Non-verbal Communication 

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Communication can be through direct and specific words or through body movements. Verbal communication is communication through spoken or written words. This verbal communication can be oral as well as written. Oral communication may be face to face, or by telephone or by video conferencing system. Written communication can take the form of letters, memos, reports, etc. 

Non-verbal communication means transmission of meaning other than oral or written words. This transmission can be through facial expression, body postures, eye contacts, clothing, silence, etc. Studies reveal that more than 65% of human communication is through non-verbal clues than through written or spoken words. 

2. Formal Communication and Informal Communication 

Formal communication is communication structured on the basis of hierarchy, authority and accountability. Departmental meetings, conferences, circulars, company news, interviews, etc. are examples of formal communication. This is designed to ensure uniformity in dissemination of information and to insure accountability. 

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This may be Downward, Upward or Lateral. Upward communication is sending of messages from subordinates to superiors. 

Downward communication refers to the flow of information from superior to subordinate in the organisation hierarchy. Lateral is the horizontal flow of messages among colleagues. Each form as a channel of communication has its own importance. To Dalmar Fisher, ‘Downward communication commands and instructs, upward communication informs, lateral communication coordinates.’ 

Informal communication is relatively less structured and spontaneous communication arising out of day-to-day routine and meetings among peers. Examples of informal communication are conversation at lunch or tea, talks at social gatherings. 

3. Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Communication 

Interpersonal communication is communication among two or more persons. 

Intrapersonal communication is internal dialogue occurring within the mind of an individual. It may be clear or confused, depending upon the individual’s state of mind. If the individual’s mind is in trouble and turmoil, the message will be unclear, vague and confused. On the other hand, if the mind is silent and still, the internal dialogue will become clear and perceptions of the individual will be more wide and broad.

 To convey a message in an effective way with desired effect, it is essential that intra-personal communication should be clear. For this, it is imperative that an individual’s mind should be silent and still and the individual should be more aware, alert and alive to know the depth of message occurring in his conscious and unconscious crust of mind. 

4. Group Communication 

Group communication is an extension of interpersonal communication. A group is an association of two or more persons who interact with each other in such a way that each influences the other.

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 Groups may be formal such as committees, board of directors, quality circles, teams, etc. which are formed intentionally or voluntarily to achieve specific goals or norms. Informal groups are groups which emerge spontaneously without deliberate design to meet social needs. 

5. Public Communication 

Public communication involves speech by one person to a large group at a time. This is one way communication as the speaker gives speech and the audience listens only. Political leaders, religious preachers, trade union leaders, etc.—dealing with groups of people have to deliver speeches to large gatherings or gatherings. 

6. Mass Communication 

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Mass communication, the extension of public communication, is the process of communicating to the public at large through mass media such as television, internet, films, publications, etc. It plays a pivotal role in boosting the image of the business organization and attracting the customers. But it requires heavy investment. 

Methods of Communication within an Organization

1. One way communication: Where only ‘sending messages’ is possible in an organization. Some examples of one way communication tools employed in an organization are: 

  1. Memo 
  2. Fax 
  3. E-mail 
  4. Voice mail 
  5. Letters 

2. Two-way communication: Here sending and receiving messages between people is possible simultaneously, for example by: 

  1. Telephone, or 
  2. In person 

3. Collaborative communication: This is when multiple parties are involved in the communication process and ideas can be exchanged, as in: 

  1. Team meetings 
  2. Consulting 
  3. Consensus 
  4. Decision making 
  5. Group problem solving 
  6. Video conferencing 
  7. Audio conferencing 
  8. Chatting on the Net 

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4. Internal Communication:

It Can provide instant feedback; opportunity for discussion. But costly to arrange in both time and money; frequently no permanent record.

Some of the main methods are:

i. Face-to-Face Meetings:

It is estimated that managers in companies spend almost half their time in meetings. They may be one-to-one or group meetings. The bigger the company, the more meetings there are likely to be. At large formal meetings, there is a written agenda, or a list of items to be discussed. Minutes, or a written record of what was said and agreed, are usually kept. There are also many external meetings with customers, suppliers, bank managers, advisers, etc. Meetings are useful because they allow instant feedback and discussion to take place.

ii. Presentations:

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A manager, often accompanied by members of his or her staff, uses a presentation to explain a project or a plan to colleagues. Visual aids, such as transparencies projected onto a screen, are often used to illustrate points in the talk. Presentations are also given externally to clients or potential clients.

For example, an advertising agency might make a presentation of its campaign to a client. Presentations allow a large amount of complex information to be communicated to a number of people at the same time. They also provide opportunities for feedback and discussion.

5. Written Messages:

These are  permanent records; suitable for both simple and complex messages. But usually takes some time for a message to arrive; slow feedback, or sometimes none at all.

Some of the Main Methods:

i. Public notices are a cheap way of communicating the same information to a large number of people. However, notices may not be read; and, even if they are, they may be ignored

ii. Memorandums, or memos, are still one of the main means of communication within a business. They are useful for making arrangements or requests and sending confirmations

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iii. Reports. These are widely used in business. They are the written equivalent of a presentation. Visual aids, such as charts, and

iv. Photographs are often used to illustrate them. There is a standard format for a report. It should include a title, a brief introduction, headings or subheadings for each section, a conclusion, a list of recommendations and the name of the author(s) and the date

v. Staff bulletins or magazines. Many big firms publish bulletins or larger magazines to give employees information about the company, to make them feel they are part of a team, and to increase their morale. The magazines are usually illustrated

6. Electronic Messages:

They  are speed; accuracy; quick or instant feedback: message is usually or can be recorded. At the same time expensive; whole systems sometimes crash.

i. Mobile phones:

These portable telephones allow users to make calls from most locations, indoors and outdoors. The messages are transmitted by radio beacons. Satellite phones, which work anywhere in the world, were introduced in 1998.

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ii. Video-Conferences:

These allow business people to talk to colleagues in any part of the world. Special cameras and software are used to transmit words and images to computer screens or visual display units.

iii. Fax:

A fax or facsimile machine can send an exact copy of a document to another fax machine anywhere in the world. The sender puts the document in a fax machine, dials the fax number of the person or organization, and the fax machine at the other end prints a copy of the document automatically. Letters, plans, diagrams and drawings can all be transmitted in this way.

iv. Personal Computer (PC):

PCs and notebooks, lightweight, portable computers have revolutionized external communication, too. At one time, big companies employed a small army of clerks to deal with trading documents. Now the work can all be done by a few computer operators in each firm. The work is done far more efficiently and speedily. Space is also saved, as all the records can be stored in the computer files instead of in large grey filing cabinets.

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Standard business letters, mail ‘shots’ to thousands of customers, letters to selected customers using a database, and many other communications can now be made far more easily and quickly. By using a modem, messages can be sent along the telephone lines. This enables the computer to become part of a WAN, a wide area network, which links it to other computers anywhere in the world.

v. The Internet:

The Internet, which links millions of computer users, is the most rapidly growing means of global communication. The Internet provides an electronic mail, or e-mail, service to other users all over the world, which is much quicker and cheaper than the traditional postal service. The service provider stores the message in an electronic mail box until the receiver views it.

In addition there are also millions of ‘sites’, or pages, on the World Wide Web (WWW), which provide information in words and pictures on almost every conceivable topic. Using a software browser, computer users can surf the Net from site to site all over the world. The Internet is also used for shopping, research, education and games.

7. Local Area Networks:

Firms can link all the computers in the same building to form a Local Area Network (LAN). The computers can communicate with each other and also share common facilities, such as a printer. The PCs are all linked to a more powerful computer, or server, which stores a vast amount of information.

For example, it can send relevant parts of the business plan to computers in different departments. A LAN makes it much easier for managers to access information from other departments and also to keep a check on the work that their staff are doing and to see that they are not playing computer games!

8. External Communication:

i. Spoken Messages:

It can provide instant feedback; opportunity for discussion.Often costly to arrange in both time and money; frequently no permanent record.

a. Face-to-Face meetings.

b. Presentations.

c. Interviews – These are usually used for external purposes, such as interviewing a possible employee or a supplier, but they are sometimes used internally on formal occasions, e.g. in internal promotion, interviews can produce feedback and give a quick impression of a person, but the impression may be wrong or superficial.

d. Talks – Formal talks are sometimes used to publicize the firm’s activities at trade or public meetings. They are also given internally on induction courses.

e. Annual general meetings (AGMs) – Companies have to hold a general meeting for their shareholders every year. Shareholders are told about the company’s financial results and activities during the past year and its plans for the future. They are invited to elect or re-elect directors and to vote on other matters. Any shareholder has the right to question my board of directors. In practice, very few private investors ever attend AGMs.

9. Business Letters:

Letters are still one of a firm’s main means of communication with the outside world.

They are particularly useful for:

i. Contracts.

ii. Sending the same letter to a large number of people.

iii. Answering queries.

iv. Explaining complex matters which it would be difficult for the receiver to understand immediately.

v. Dealing with any matters where it is important that a written record should be kept.

vi. Letter-headed paper is used, which sometimes includes the firm’s logo. There is a standard format for letters, which includes references, the date, the inside address, the salutation, the text of the letter and the close.

vii. If the salutation is ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Madam’, then the close should be ‘Yours faithfully’. If the salutation uses the person’s name, e.g. ‘Dear Mr. Brown’, the close should be ‘Yours sincerely’.

viii. Letters are also used occasionally for formal occasions within the firm, such as invitations, notices of promotion, dismissals, etc.

ix. Annual report and accounts. By law, companies must send a copy of their annual report and accounts to all shareholders.

x. Business forms. A variety of forms are used for routine messages. Using pre-printed forms ensures that no relevant information is omitted. They also save time, as an individual letter does not have to be sent. Many of them are trading documents.

Some of the main ones are:

a. Quotations by a firm for supply of goods or services;

b. Delivery notes, which are delivered with the goods and signed by the customer to show they have been received;

c. Invoices, which give details of the goods and show the amount of money owed;

d. Credit notes, which are sent when a customer has been overcharged or faulty goods have been returned;

e. Statements of account sent to regular customers every month giving details of transactions and the amount owed.


Methods of Overcoming Communication Barriers

Certain steps or methods can be taken, both at the organisational level as well as at the individual level, to effectively deal with the barriers to communication, in order to try to minimise them, if not eliminate them entirely – 

(1) Organisational Action: 

1. Encourage Feedback: 

Organisations should try to improve the communication system by getting feedback from the messages already sent. Feedback can tell the managers whether the message has reached the receiver in the intended way or not. 

2. Create a Climate of Openness: 

A climate of trust and openness can go a long way in removing organisational barriers to communication. All subordinates or junior employees should be allowed to air their opinions and differences without fear of being penalised. 

3. Use Multiple Channels of Communication: 

Organisations should encourage the use of multiple channels of communication, in order to make sure that the message reaches the intended receivers without fail. This means using a combination of both oral and written channels, as well as formal (official) and informal (unofficial) channels of communication. 

(2) Individual Action: 

1. Active Listening: 

This means listening to the meaning of the speaker’s words, rather than listening without hearing, or “passive listening”. Passive listening is a barrier to communication, whereas real communication takes place when we listen actively, with understanding. Listening is a skill which can be developed through proper training. 

2. Careful Wording of Messages: 

Messages should be worded clearly and without ambiguity, to make sure that the message that is received is the same as the message is sent. 

3. Selection of Appropriate Channels: 

Individuals should be competent enough to choose the right communication channel, depending on the situation.

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