Self-Concept_Individual

Business Communication for Success

 

 

Business Communication for Success

[ A u t h o r r e m ove d a t r e q u e s t o f o r i g i n a l p u b l i s h e r ]

U N I V E R S I T Y O F M I N N E S OTA L I B R A R I E S P U B L I S H I N G E D I T I O N , 2 0 1 5 . T H I S E D I T I O N A D A P T E D F R O M A W O R K O R I G I N A L LY P R O D U C E D I N 2 0 1 0 B Y A P U B L I S H E R W H O H A S R E Q U E S T E D T H AT I T N OT R E C E I V E AT T R I B U T I O N .

M I N N E A P O L I S , M N

 

 

Business Communication for Success by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

This book was produced using Pressbooks.com, and PDF rendering was done by PrinceXML.

 

 

 

Contents

Publisher Information x

About the Author xi

Acknowledgments xii

Dedications xiii

Preface xiv

Chapter 1: Effective Business Communication

1.1 Why Is It Important to Communicate Well? 3

1.2 What Is Communication? 7

1.3 Communication in Context 16

1.4 Your Responsibilities as a Communicator 20

1.5 Additional Resources 25

Chapter 2: Delivering Your Message

2.1 What Is Language? 28

2.2 Messages 32

2.3 Principles of Verbal Communication 35

2.4 Language Can be an Obstacle to Communication 41

2.5 Emphasis Strategies 46

2.6 Improving Verbal Communication 53

2.7 Additional Resources 57

Chapter 3: Understanding Your Audience

3.1 Self-Understanding Is Fundamental to Communication 63

3.2 Perception 70

3.3 Differences in Perception 80

3.4 Getting to Know Your Audience 82

3.5 Listening and Reading for Understanding 88

3.6 Additional Resources 91

Chapter 4: Effective Business Writing

4.1 Oral versus Written Communication 94

4.2 How Is Writing Learned? 97

 

 

4.3 Good Writing 102

4.4 Style in Written Communication 107

4.5 Principles of Written Communication 111

4.6 Overcoming Barriers to Effective Written Communication 116

4.7 Additional Resources 120

Chapter 5: Writing Preparation

5.1 Think, Then Write: Writing Preparation 123

5.2 A Planning Checklist for Business Messages 128

5.3 Research and Investigation: Getting Started 137

5.4 Ethics, Plagiarism, and Reliable Sources 142

5.5 Completing Your Research and Investigation 149

5.6 Reading and Analyzing 153

5.7 Additional Resources 156

Chapter 6: Writing

6.1 Organization 161

6.2 Writing Style 175

6.3 Making an Argument 184

6.4 Paraphrase and Summary versus Plagiarism 192

6.5 Additional Resources 195

Chapter 7: Revising and Presenting Your Writing

7.1 General Revision Points to Consider 198

7.2 Specific Revision Points to Consider 201

7.3 Style Revisions 211

7.4 Evaluating the Work of Others 217

7.5 Proofreading and Design Evaluation 221

7.6 Additional Resources 225

Chapter 8: Feedback in the Writing Process

8.1 Diverse Forms of Feedback 228

8.2 Qualitative and Quantitative Research 239

8.3 Feedback as an Opportunity 244

8.4 Additional Resources 248

Chapter 9: Business Writing in Action

9.1 Text, E-mail, and Netiquette 250

 

 

9.2 Memorandums and Letters 256

9.3 Business Proposal 265

9.4 Report 270

9.5 Résumé 277

9.6 Sales Message 286

9.7 Additional Resources 290

Chapter 10: Developing Business Presentations

10.1 Before You Choose a Topic 294

10.2 Choosing a Topic 299

10.3 Finding Resources 305

10.4 Myths and Realities of Public Speaking 314

10.5 Overcoming Obstacles in Your Presentation 317

10.6 Additional Resources 323

Chapter 11: Nonverbal Delivery

11.1 Principles of Nonverbal Communication 326

11.2 Types of Nonverbal Communication 333

11.3 Movement in Your Speech 341

11.4 Visual Aids 345

11.5 Nonverbal Strategies for Success with Your Audience 357

11.6 Additional Resources 359

Chapter 12: Organization and Outlines

12.1 Rhetorical Situation 362

12.2 Strategies for Success 366

12.3 Building a Sample Speech 373

12.4 Sample Speech Outlines 376

12.5 Organizing Principles for Your Speech 378

12.6 Transitions 383

12.7 Additional Resources 386

Chapter 13: Presentations to Inform

13.1 Functions of the Presentation to Inform 388

13.2 Types of Presentations to Inform 393

13.3 Adapting Your Presentation to Teach 397

13.4 Diverse Types of Intelligence and Learning Styles 407

13.5 Preparing Your Speech to Inform 409

 

 

13.6 Creating an Informative Presentation 415

13.7 Additional Resources 419

Chapter 14: Presentations to Persuade

14.1 What Is Persuasion? 423

14.2 Principles of Persuasion 426

14.3 Functions of the Presentation to Persuade 429

14.4 Meeting the Listener’s Basic Needs 433

14.5 Making an Argument 439

14.6 Speaking Ethically and Avoiding Fallacies 447

14.7 Sample Persuasive Speech 451

14.8 Elevator Speech 455

14.9 Additional Resources 457

Chapter 15: Business Presentations in Action

15.1 Sound Bites and Quotables 459

15.2 Telephone/VoIP Communication 461

15.3 Meetings 465

15.4 Celebrations: Toasts and Roasts 468

15.5 Media Interviews 471

15.6 Introducing a Speaker 474

15.7 Presenting or Accepting an Award 476

15.8 Serving as Master of Ceremonies 479

15.9 Viral Messages 481

15.10 Additional Resources 484

Chapter 16: Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Business Communication

16.1 Intrapersonal Communication 487

16.2 Self-Concept and Dimensions of Self 489

16.3 Interpersonal Needs 493

16.4 Social Penetration Theory 497

16.5 Rituals of Conversation and Interviews 503

16.6 Conflict in the Work Environment 511

16.7 Additional Resources 518

Chapter 17: Negative News and Crisis Communication

17.1 Delivering a Negative News Message 520

17.2 Eliciting Negative News 530

 

 

17.3 Crisis Communication Plan 536

17.4 Press Conferences 539

17.5 Additional Resources 544

Chapter 18: Intercultural and International Business Communication

18.1 Intercultural Communication 548

18.2 How to Understand Intercultural Communication 551

18.3 Common Cultural Characteristics 554

18.4 Divergent Cultural Characteristics 558

18.5 International Communication and the Global Marketplace 564

18.6 Styles of Management 569

18.7 The International Assignment 572

18.8 Additional Resources 578

Chapter 19: Group Communication, Teamwork, and Leadership

19.1 What Is a Group? 581

19.2 Group Life Cycles and Member Roles 586

19.3 Group Problem Solving 594

19.4 Business and Professional Meetings 600

19.5 Teamwork and Leadership 608

19.6 Additional Resources 613

Please share your supplementary material! 614

 

 

Publisher Information

Business Communication for Success

is adapted from a work produced and

distributed under a Creative Commons

license (CC BY-NC-SA) in 2010 by a

publisher who has requested that they

and the original author not receive

attribution. This adapted edition is

produced by the University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing through the eLearning Support Initiative.

This adaptation has reformatted the original text, and replaced some images and figures to make the resulting

whole more shareable. This adaptation has not significantly altered or updated the original 2010 text. This work

is made available under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

 

 

About the Author

Business Communication for Success is adapted from a work produced by a publisher who has requested that they

and the original author not receive attribution. This adapted edition is produced by the University of Minnesota

Libraries Publishing through the eLearning Support Initiative. Though the publisher has requested that they and

the original author not receive attribution, this adapted edition reproduces all original text and sections of the

book, except for publisher and author name attribution.

Unnamed Author is the Shadle-Edgecombe Endowed Faculty Chair at Arizona Western College. He serves

as the professor of speech communication with an emphasis in business communication for a combined campus

partnership with the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University–Yuma.

Unnamed Author is the author of The Basics of Speech Communication and The Basics of Interpersonal

Communication, both currently published by Allyn & Bacon.

Beyond his classroom experience, Unnamed Author regularly serves as a communications advisor to the

industry. He has extensive experience and publications in the areas of health communication, safe and healthy

work environments, and organizational and crisis communication. He has served as an evaluator for the United

States National Institutes of Health’s Small Business and Innovative Research (SBIR) program since 1995. He

served as an evaluator of educational programs for the Ministerio de Hacienda de Chile. His development of

the Tenio Natural Reserve in Southern Chile has brought together people from around the world to preserve and

restore indigenous flora and fauna. Their collective effort will serve for generations to come.

Unnamed Author studied at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and at Washington State University’s

Edward R. Murrow School of Communication. He and his family divide their time between the United States and

Puerto Montt, Chile.

 

 

Acknowledgments

I would like to say thank you to Jeff Shelstad for answering my e-mail. To say his model just makes sense is an

understatement. I am honored to be a part of it all.

Jenn Yee has been an excellent project manager. When I needed feedback she made sure it was available, and

when I needed space to create, she helped facilitate it. Writing can be a solitary activity but she made the journey

positive and productive.

Elsa Peterson, you are wonderful. Your sharp eye for detail, consistent dedication to the text, and quick

turnarounds on requests were invaluable to this project. I have never worked with a better developmental editor.

Dan Obuchowski also offered valuable insight into the construction industry and practices that lends real-world

credibility to this text.

To my reviewers in the field, I appreciate all the specific feedback that contributed to clear improvements in the

text.

• Brenda Jolivette Jones, San Jacinto College – Central Campus (brenda.jolivette@sjcd.edu)

• Christina McCale, Regis University (cmccale@regis.edu)

• Billie Miller, Ph.D., Cosumnes River College (millerb@crc.losrios.edu)

• Joyce Ezrow, Anne Arundel Community College (jezrow@aacc.edu)

• Sally Lederer, U of M Carlson School of Management (sally@melsa.org)

• Greg Larson, Salt Lake Community College (Greg.Larson@slcc.edu)

• Gayla Jurevich, Fresno City College (gayla.jurevich@fresnocitycollege.edu)

• Laura Newton, Florida State University (lpnewton@fsu.edu)

• Judy Grace, Arizona State University (judy.grace@asu.edu)

• Rita Rud, Purdue University (ritarud@purdue.edu)

• Edna Boroski, Trident Technical College (edna.boroski@tridenttech.edu)

Your words of encouragement and constructive criticism have made this effort worthwhile.

Finally, to Lisa, my life partner, you are amazing. You were a draft recruit on this project and quickly learned

the formatting requirements in short order. You are a valuable part of this team. Your relentless editing serves as a

clear example of Strunk’s axiom: “Omit needless words.” This text is the better for it. Writing with you, like life,

gets better with each year.

Unnamed Author

Puerto Montt, Chile

 

 

Dedications

For Lisa and our children, Mackenzie, John, and Katherine

 

 

Preface

Business Communication for Success (BCS) provides a comprehensive, integrated approach to the study and

application of written and oral business communication to serve both student and professor.

This series features chapters with the following elements:

• Learning Objectives

• Introductory Exercises

• Clear expectations, relevant background, and important theories

• Practical, real-world examples

• Key Takeaways or quick internal summaries

• Key terms that are easily identified

• In-chapter assignments

• Postchapter assessments linked to objectives and skills acquisition

Each chapter is self-contained, allowing for mix-and-match flexibility and custom or course-specific design. Each

chapter focuses on clear objectives and skill demonstrations that can be easily linked to your syllabus and state

or federal requirements. Supported by internal and external assessments, each chapter features time-saving and

learning-enhancement support for instructors and students.

BCS is designed to help students identify important information, reinforce for retention, and demonstrate

mastery with a clear outcome product.

The text has three content categories:

1. Foundations

2. Process and products

3. Contexts

The first three chapters form the core foundation for the study of oral and written business communication. The

next sequence of chapters focus on the process of writing, then oral performance with an emphasis on results.

The final sequence focuses on contexts where business communication occurs, from interpersonal to intercultural,

from groups to leadership.

In each of the process and product chapter sequences, the chapters follow a natural flow, from prewriting

to revision, from preparation for a presentation to performance. Each sequence comes together in a concluding

chapter that focuses on action—where we apply the skills and techniques of written or oral communication in

business, from writing a letter to presenting a sales speech. These performances not only serve to reinforce real-

world applications but also may serve as course assessments. All chapters are compartmentalized into sections so

you can choose what you want to use and eliminate the rest, and here the beauty of it rings true—you can adapt

and integrate content from other texts or your own work to truly make it fit your course and student needs.

 

 

Chapter 1: Effective Business Communication

Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.

–Rollo May

I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you

heard is not what I meant.

–Robert J. McCloskey, former State Department spokesman

Introductory Exercises

1. Write five words that express what you want to do and where you want to be a year from now. Take those five words and write a paragraph that clearly articulates your responses to both “what” and “where.”

2. Think of five words that express what you want to do and where you want to be five years from now. Share your five words with your classmates and listen to their responses. What patterns do you observe in the responses? Write a paragraph that addresses at least one observation.

Communication is an activity, skill, and art that incorporates lessons learned across a wide spectrum of human

knowledge. Perhaps the most time-honored form of communication is storytelling. We’ve told each other stories

for ages to help make sense of our world, anticipate the future, and certainly to entertain ourselves. The art of

storytelling draws on your understanding of yourself, your message, and how you communicate it to an audience

that is simultaneously communicating back to you. Your anticipation, reaction, and adaptation to the process will

determine how successfully you are able to communicate. You were not born knowing how to write or even how

to talk—but in the process of growing up, you have undoubtedly learned how to tell, and how not tell, a story out

loud and in writing.

You didn’t learn to text in a day and didn’t learn all the codes—from LOL (laugh out loud) to BRB (be right

back)—right away. In the same way, learning to communicate well requires you to read and study how others

have expressed themselves, then adapt what you have learned to your present task—whether it is texting a brief

message to a friend, presenting your qualifications in a job interview, or writing a business report. You come to

this text with skills and an understanding that will provide a valuable foundation as we explore the communication

process.

Effective communication takes preparation, practice, and persistence. There are many ways to learn

communication skills; the school of experience, or “hard knocks,” is one of them. But in the business environment,

a “knock” (or lesson learned) may come at the expense of your credibility through a blown presentation to a client.

The classroom environment, with a compilation of information and resources such as a text, can offer you a trial

run where you get to try out new ideas and skills before you have to use them to communicate effectively to make

a sale or form a new partnership. Listening to yourself, or perhaps the comments of others, may help you reflect

on new ways to present, or perceive, thoughts, ideas and concepts. The net result is your growth; ultimately your

ability to communicate in business will improve, opening more doors than you might anticipate.

As you learn the material in this text, each part will contribute to the whole. The degree to which you attend to

 

 

each part will ultimately help give you the skills, confidence, and preparation to use communication in furthering

your career.

2 Business Communication for Success

 

 

1.1 Why Is It Important to Communicate Well?

Learning Objectives

1. Recognize the importance of communication in gaining a better understanding of yourself and others.

2. Explain how communication skills help you solve problems, learn new things, and build your career.

Communication is key to your success—in relationships, in the workplace, as a citizen of your country, and across

your lifetime. Your ability to communicate comes from experience, and experience can be an effective teacher,

but this text and the related business communication course will offer you a wealth of experiences gathered from

professional speakers across their lifetimes. You can learn from the lessons they’ve learned and be a more effective

communicator right out of the gate.

Business communication can be thought of as a problem solving activity in which individuals may address the

following questions:

• What is the situation?

• What are some possible communication strategies?

• What is the best course of action?

• What is the best way to design the chosen message?

• What is the best way to deliver the message?

In this book, we will examine this problem solving process and help you learn to apply it in the kinds of situations

you are likely to encounter over the course of your career.

Communication Influences Your Thinking about Yourself and

Others

We all share a fundamental drive to communicate. Communication can be defined as the process of understanding

and sharing meaning (Pearson & Nelson, 2000). You share meaning in what you say and how you say it, both

in oral and written forms. If you could not communicate, what would life be like? A series of never-ending

frustrations? Not being able to ask for what you need or even to understand the needs of others?

Being unable to communicate might even mean losing a part of yourself, for you communicate your self-

concept—your sense of self and awareness of who you are—in many ways. Do you like to write? Do you find

it easy to make a phone call to a stranger or to speak to a room full of people? Perhaps someone told you that

you don’t speak clearly or your grammar needs improvement. Does that make you more or less likely to want to

 

 

communicate? For some, it may be a positive challenge, while for others it may be discouraging. But in all cases,

your ability to communicate is central to your self-concept.

Take a look at your clothes. What are the brands you are wearing? What do you think they say about you?

Do you feel that certain styles of shoes, jewelry, tattoos, music, or even automobiles express who you are? Part

of your self-concept may be that you express yourself through texting, or through writing longer documents like

essays and research papers, or through the way you speak.

On the other side of the coin, your communications skills help you to understand others—not just their words,

but also their tone of voice, their nonverbal gestures, or the format of their written documents provide you with

clues about who they are and what their values and priorities may be. Active listening and reading are also part of

being a successful communicator.

Communication Influences How You Learn

When you were an infant, you learned to talk over a period of many months. When you got older, you didn’t learn

to ride a bike, drive a car, or even text a message on your cell phone in one brief moment. You need to begin the

process of improving your speaking and writing with the frame of mind that it will require effort, persistence, and

self-correction.

You learn to speak in public by first having conversations, then by answering questions and expressing your

opinions in class, and finally by preparing and delivering a “stand-up” speech. Similarly, you learn to write by

first learning to read, then by writing and learning to think critically. Your speaking and writing are reflections of

your thoughts, experience, and education. Part of that combination is your level of experience listening to other

speakers, reading documents and styles of writing, and studying formats similar to what you aim to produce.

As you study business communication, you may receive suggestions for improvement and clarification from

speakers and writers more experienced than yourself. Take their suggestions as challenges to improve; don’t give

up when your first speech or first draft does not communicate the message you intend. Stick with it until you get it

right. Your success in communicating is a skill that applies to almost every field of work, and it makes a difference

in your relationships with others.

Remember, luck is simply a combination of preparation and timing. You want to be prepared to communicate

well when given the opportunity. Each time you do a good job, your success will bring more success.

Communication Represents You and Your Employer

You want to make a good first impression on your friends and family, instructors, and employer. They all want

you to convey a positive image, as it reflects on them. In your career, you will represent your business or company

in spoken and written form. Your professionalism and attention to detail will reflect positively on you and set you

up for success.

In both oral and written situations, you will benefit from having the ability to communicate clearly. These are

skills you will use for the rest of your life. Positive improvements in these skills will have a positive impact on

your relationships, your prospects for employment, and your ability to make a difference in the world.

4 Business Communication for Success

 

 

Communication Skills Are Desired by Business and Industry

Oral and written communication proficiencies are consistently ranked in the top ten desirable skills by employer

surveys year after year. In fact, high-powered business executives sometimes hire consultants to coach them in

sharpening their communication skills. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the

following are the top five personal qualities or skills potential employers seek:

1. Communication skills (verbal and written)

2. Strong work ethic

3. Teamwork skills (works well with others, group communication)

4. Initiative

5. Analytical skills

Knowing this, you can see that one way for you to be successful and increase your promotion potential is to

increase your abilities to speak and write effectively.

Figure 1.1

Effective communication skills are assets that will get you there.

Maryland GovPics – Baltimore Jewish Council Meeting – CC BY 2.0.

In September 2004, the National Commission on Writing for America’s Families, Schools, and Colleges

published a study on 120 human resource directors titled Writing: A Ticket to Work…Or a Ticket Out, A Survey

of Business Leaders. The study found that “writing is both a ‘marker’ of high-skill, high-wage, professional work

and a ‘gatekeeper’ with clear equity implications,” said Bob Kerrey, president of New School University in New

York and chair of the commission. “People unable to express themselves clearly in writing limit their opportunities

for professional, salaried employment.” (The College Board, 2004)

1.1 Why Is It Important to Communicate Well? 5

 

 

On the other end of the spectrum, it is estimated that over forty million Americans are illiterate, or unable to

functionally read or write. If you are reading this book, you may not be part of an at-risk group in need of basic

skill development, but you still may need additional training and practice as you raise your skill level.

An individual with excellent communication skills is an asset to every organization. No matter what career you

plan to pursue, learning to express yourself professionally in speech and in writing will help you get there.

Key Takeaway

Communication forms a part of your self-concept, and it helps you understand yourself and others, solve problems and learn new things, and build your career.

Exercises

1. Imagine that you have been hired to make “cold calls” to ask people whether they are familiar with a new restaurant that has just opened in your neighborhood. Write a script for the phone call. Ask a classmate to copresent as you deliver the script orally in class, as if you were making a phone call to the classmate. Discuss your experience with the rest of the class.

2. Imagine you have been assigned the task of creating a job description. Identify a job, locate at least two sample job descriptions, and create one. Please present the job description to the class and note to what degree communication skills play a role in the tasks or duties you have included.

References

The College Board. (2004, September). Writing skills necessary for employment, says big business: Writing can

be a ticket to professional jobs, says blue-ribbon group. Retrieved from http://www.writingcommission.org/pr/

writing_for_employ.html.

National Association of Colleges and Employers. (2009). Frequently asked questions. Retrieved from

http://www.naceweb.org/Press/Frequently_Asked_Questions.aspx?referal=.

National Commission on Writing for America’s Families, Schools, and Colleges. (2004, September). Writing:

A Ticket to Work…Or a Ticket Out, A Survey of Business Leaders. Retrieved from

http://www.writingcommission.org/pr/writing_for_employ.html.

Pearson, J., & Nelson, P. (2000). An introduction to human communication: understanding and sharing (p. 6).

Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.

6 Business Communication for Success

 

 

1.2 What Is Communication?

Learning Objectives

1. Define communication and describe communication as a process.

2. Identify and describe the eight essential components of communication.

3. Identify and describe two models of communication.

Many theories have been proposed to describe, predict, and understand the behaviors and phenomena of which

communication consists. When it comes to communicating in business, we are often less interested in theory than

in making sure our communications generate the desired results. But in order to achieve results, it can be valuable

to understand what communication is and how it works.

Defining Communication

The root of the word “communication” in Latin is communicare, which means to share, or to make common

(Weekley, 1967). Communication is defined as the process of understanding and sharing meaning (Pearson &

Nelson, 2000).

At the center of our study of communication is the relationship that involves interaction between participants.

This definition serves us well with its emphasis on the process, which we’ll examine in depth across this text, of

coming to understand and share another’s point of view effectively.

The first key word in this definition is process. A process is a dynamic activity that is hard to describe because

it changes (Pearson & Nelson, 2000). Imagine you are alone in your kitchen thinking. Someone you know (say,

your mother) enters the kitchen and you talk briefly. What has changed? Now, imagine that your mother is joined

by someone else, someone you haven’t met before—and this stranger listens intently as you speak, almost as if

you were giving a speech. What has changed? Your perspective might change, and you might watch your words

more closely. The feedback or response from your mother and the stranger (who are, in essence, your audience)

may cause you to reevaluate what you are saying. When we interact, all these factors—and many more—influence

the process of communication.

The second key word is understanding: “To understand is to perceive, to interpret, and to relate our perception

and interpretation to what we already know.” (McLean, 2003) If a friend tells you a story about falling off a bike,

what image comes to mind? Now your friend points out the window and you see a motorcycle lying on the ground.

Understanding the words and the concepts or objects they refer to is an important part of the communication

process.

Next comes the word sharing. Sharing means doing something together with one or more people. You may

share a joint activity, as when you share in compiling a report; or you may benefit jointly from a resource, as when

you and several coworkers share a pizza. In communication, sharing occurs when you convey thoughts, feelings,

 

 

ideas, or insights to others. You can also share with yourself (a process called intrapersonal communication) when

you bring ideas to consciousness, ponder how you feel about something, or figure out the solution to a problem

and have a classic “Aha!” moment when something becomes clear.

Finally, meaning is what we share through communication. The word “bike” represents both a bicycle and

a short name for a motorcycle. By looking at the context the word is used in and by asking questions, we can

discover the shared meaning of the word and understand the message.

Eight Essential Components of Communication

In order to better understand the communication process, we can break it down into a series of eight essential

components:

1. Source

2. Message

3. Channel

4. Receiver

5. Feedback

6. Environment

7. Context

8. Interference

Each of these eight components serves an integral function in the overall process. Let’s explore them one by one.

Source

The source imagines, creates, and sends the message. In a public speaking situation, the source is the person

giving the speech. He or she conveys the message by sharing new information with the audience. The speaker also

conveys a message through his or her tone of voice, body language, and choice of clothing. The speaker begins

by first determining the message—what to say and how to say it. The second step involves encoding the message

by choosing just the right order or the perfect words to convey the intended meaning. The third step is to present

or send the information to the receiver or audience. Finally, by watching for the audience’s reaction, the source

perceives how well they received the message and responds with clarification or supporting information.

Message

“The message is the stimulus or meaning produced by the source for the receiver or audience.” (McLean, 2005)

When you plan to give a speech or write a report, your message may seem to be only the words you choose

8 Business Communication for Success

 

 

that will convey your meaning. But that is just the beginning. The words are brought together with grammar and

organization. You may choose to save your most important point for last. The message also consists of the way

you say it—in a speech, with your tone of voice, your body language, and your appearance—and in a report, with

your writing style, punctuation, and the headings and formatting you choose. In addition, part of the message may

be the environment or context you present it in and the noise that might make your message hard to hear or see.

Imagine, for example, that you are addressing a large audience of sales reps and are aware there is a World

Series game tonight. Your audience might have a hard time settling down, but you may choose to open with, “I

understand there is an important game tonight.” In this way, by expressing verbally something that most people in

your audience are aware of and interested in, you might grasp and focus their attention.

Channel

“The channel is the way in which a message or messages travel between source and receiver.” (McLean, 2005)

For example, think of your television. How many channels do you have on your television? Each channel takes

up some space, even in a digital world, in the cable or in the signal that brings the message of each channel to

your home. Television combines an audio signal you hear with a visual signal you see. Together they convey the

message to the receiver or audience. Turn off the volume on your television. Can you still understand what is

happening? Many times you can, because the body language conveys part of the message of the show. Now turn

up the volume but turn around so that you cannot see the television. You can still hear the dialogue and follow the

story line.

Similarly, when you speak or write, you are using a channel to convey your message. Spoken channels include

face-to-face conversations, speeches, telephone conversations and voice mail messages, radio, public address

systems, and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP). Written channels include letters, memorandums, purchase

orders, invoices, newspaper and magazine articles, blogs, e-mail, text messages, tweets, and so forth.

Receiver

“The receiver receives the message from the source, analyzing and interpreting the message in ways both intended

and unintended by the source.” (McLean, 2005) To better understand this component, think of a receiver on a

football team. The quarterback throws the football (message) to a receiver, who must see and interpret where to

catch the ball. The quarterback may intend for the receiver to “catch” his message in one way, but the receiver

may see things differently and miss the football (the intended meaning) altogether.

As a receiver you listen, see, touch, smell, and/or taste to receive a message. Your audience “sizes you up,”

much as you might check them out long before you take the stage or open your mouth. The nonverbal responses

of your listeners can serve as clues on how to adjust your opening. By imagining yourself in their place, you

anticipate what you would look for if you were them. Just as a quarterback plans where the receiver will be in

order to place the ball correctly, you too can recognize the interaction between source and receiver in a business

communication context. All of this happens at the same time, illustrating why and how communication is always

changing.

1.2 What Is Communication? 9

 

 

Feedback

When you respond to the source, intentionally or unintentionally, you are giving feedback. Feedback is composed

of messages the receiver sends back to the source. Verbal or nonverbal, all these feedback signals allow the source

to see how well, how accurately (or how poorly and inaccurately) the message was received. Feedback also

provides an opportunity for the receiver or audience to ask for clarification, to agree or disagree, or to indicate

that the source could make the message more interesting. As the amount of feedback increases, the accuracy of

communication also increases (Leavitt & Mueller, 1951).

For example, suppose you are a sales manager participating in a conference call with four sales reps. As the

source, you want to tell the reps to take advantage of the fact that it is World Series season to close sales on

baseball-related sports gear. You state your message, but you hear no replies from your listeners. You might

assume that this means they understood and agreed with you, but later in the month you might be disappointed

to find that very few sales were made. If you followed up your message with a request for feedback (“Does this

make sense? Do any of you have any questions?”) you might have an opportunity to clarify your message, and to

find out whether any of the sales reps believed your suggestion would not work with their customers.

Environment

“The environment is the atmosphere, physical and psychological, where you send and receive messages.”

(McLean, 2005) The environment can include the tables, chairs, lighting, and sound equipment that are in the

room. The room itself is an example of the environment. The environment can also include factors like formal

dress, that may indicate whether a discussion is open and caring or more professional and formal. People may be

more likely to have an intimate conversation when they are physically close to each other, and less likely when

they can only see each other from across the room. In that case, they may text each other, itself an intimate form of

communication. The choice to text is influenced by the environment. As a speaker, your environment will impact

and play a role in your speech. It’s always a good idea to go check out where you’ll be speaking before the day of

the actual presentation.

Context

“The context of the communication interaction involves the setting, scene, and expectations of the individuals

involved.” (McLean, 2005) A professional communication context may involve business suits (environmental

cues) that directly or indirectly influence expectations of language and behavior among the participants.

A presentation or discussion does not take place as an isolated event. When you came to class, you came from

somewhere. So did the person seated next to you, as did the instructor. The degree to which the environment is

formal or informal depends on the contextual expectations for communication held by the participants. The person

sitting next to you may be used to informal communication with instructors, but this particular instructor may

be used to verbal and nonverbal displays of respect in the academic environment. You may be used to formal

interactions with instructors as well, and find your classmate’s question of “Hey Teacher, do we have homework

10 Business Communication for Success

 

 

today?” as rude and inconsiderate when they see it as normal. The nonverbal response from the instructor will

certainly give you a clue about how they perceive the interaction, both the word choices and how they were said.

Context is all about what people expect from each other, and we often create those expectations out of

environmental cues. Traditional gatherings like weddings or quinceañeras are often formal events. There is a time

for quiet social greetings, a time for silence as the bride walks down the aisle, or the father may have the first

dance with his daughter as she is transformed from a girl to womanhood in the eyes of her community. In either

celebration there may come a time for rambunctious celebration and dancing. You may be called upon to give a

toast, and the wedding or quinceañera context will influence your presentation, timing, and effectiveness.

Figure 1.2

Context is all about what people expect from each other.

Toshihiro Gamo – Marriage Matrix – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

In a business meeting, who speaks first? That probably has some relation to the position and role each person

has outside the meeting. Context plays a very important role in communication, particularly across cultures.

Interference

Interference, also called noise, can come from any source. “Interference is anything that blocks or changes the

1.2 What Is Communication? 11

 

 

source’s intended meaning of the message.”(McLean, 2005) For example, if you drove a car to work or school,

chances are you were surrounded by noise. Car horns, billboards, or perhaps the radio in your car interrupted your

thoughts, or your conversation with a passenger.

Psychological noise is what happens when your thoughts occupy your attention while you are hearing, or

reading, a message. Imagine that it is 4:45 p.m. and your boss, who is at a meeting in another city, e-mails you

asking for last month’s sales figures, an analysis of current sales projections, and the sales figures from the same

month for the past five years. You may open the e-mail, start to read, and think, “Great—no problem—I have

those figures and that analysis right here in my computer.” You fire off a reply with last month’s sales figures

and the current projections attached. Then, at five o’clock, you turn off your computer and go home. The next

morning, your boss calls on the phone to tell you he was inconvenienced because you neglected to include the

sales figures from the previous years. What was the problem? Interference: by thinking about how you wanted to

respond to your boss’s message, you prevented yourself from reading attentively enough to understand the whole

message.

Interference can come from other sources, too. Perhaps you are hungry, and your attention to your current

situation interferes with your ability to listen. Maybe the office is hot and stuffy. If you were a member of an

audience listening to an executive speech, how could this impact your ability to listen and participate?

Noise interferes with normal encoding and decoding of the message carried by the channel between source and

receiver. Not all noise is bad, but noise interferes with the communication process. For example, your cell phone

ringtone may be a welcome noise to you, but it may interrupt the communication process in class and bother your

classmates.

Two Models of Communication

Researchers have observed that when communication takes place, the source and the receiver may send messages

at the same time, often overlapping. You, as the speaker, will often play both roles, as source and receiver. You’ll

focus on the communication and the reception of your messages to the audience. The audience will respond in

the form of feedback that will give you important clues. While there are many models of communication, here we

will focus on two that offer perspectives and lessons for business communicators.

Rather than looking at the source sending a message and someone receiving it as two distinct acts, researchers

often view communication as a transactional process (Figure 1.3 “Transactional Model of Communication”),

with actions often happening at the same time. The distinction between source and receiver is blurred in

conversational turn-taking, for example, where both participants play both roles simultaneously.

Figure 1.3 Transactional Model of Communication

12 Business Communication for Success

 

 

Researchers have also examined the idea that we all construct our own interpretations of the message. As the

State Department quote at the beginning of this chapter indicates, what I said and what you heard may be different.

In the constructivist model (Figure 1.4 “Constructivist Model of Communication”), we focus on the negotiated

meaning, or common ground, when trying to describe communication (Pearce & Cronen, 1980),

Imagine that you are visiting Atlanta, Georgia, and go to a restaurant for dinner. When asked if you want a

“Coke,” you may reply, “sure.” The waiter may then ask you again, “what kind?” and you may reply, “Coke is

fine.” The waiter then may ask a third time, “what kind of soft drink would you like?” The misunderstanding in

this example is that in Atlanta, the home of the Coca-Cola Company, most soft drinks are generically referred to

as “Coke.” When you order a soft drink, you need to specify what type, even if you wish to order a beverage that

is not a cola or not even made by the Coca-Cola Company. To someone from other regions of the United States,

the words “pop,” “soda pop,” or “soda” may be the familiar way to refer to a soft drink; not necessarily the brand

“Coke.” In this example, both you and the waiter understand the word “Coke,” but you each understand it to mean

something different. In order to communicate, you must each realize what the term means to the other person, and

establish common ground, in order to fully understand the request and provide an answer.

Figure 1.4 Constructivist Model of Communication

1.2 What Is Communication? 13

 

 

Because we carry the multiple meanings of words, gestures, and ideas within us, we can use a dictionary to

guide us, but we will still need to negotiate meaning.

Key Takeaway

The communication process involves understanding, sharing, and meaning, and it consists of eight essential elements: source, message, channel, receiver, feedback, environment, context, and interference. Among the models of communication are the transactional process, in which actions happen simultaneously, and the constructivist model, which focuses on shared meaning.

Exercises

1. Draw what you think communication looks like. Share your drawing with your classmates.

2. List three environmental cues and indicate how they influence your expectations for communication. Please

14 Business Communication for Success

 

 

share your results with your classmates.

3. How does context influence your communication? Consider the language and culture people grew up with, and the role these play in communication styles.

4. If you could design the perfect date, what activities, places, and/or environmental cues would you include to set the mood? Please share your results with your classmates.

5. Observe two people talking. Describe their communication. See if you can find all eight components and provide an example for each one.

6. What assumptions are present in transactional model of communication? Find an example of a model of communication in your workplace or classroom, and provide an example for all eight components.

References

Cronen, V., & Pearce, W. B. (1982). The coordinated management of meaning: A theory of communication. In F.

E. Dance (Ed.), Human communication theory (pp. 61–89). New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Leavitt, H., & Mueller, R. (1951). Some effects of feedback on communication. Human Relations, 4, 401–410.

McLean, S. (2003). The basics of speech communication. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

McLean, S. (2005). The basics of interpersonal communication (p. 10). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Pearce, W. B., & Cronen, V. (1980). Communication, action, and meaning: The creating of social realities.

New York, NY: Praeger.

Pearson, J., & Nelson, P. (2000). An introduction to human communication: Understanding and sharing (p. 6).

Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.

Weekley, E. (1967). An etymological dictionary of modern English (Vol. 1, p. 338). New York, NY: Dover

Publications.

1.2 What Is Communication? 15

 

 

1.3 Communication in Context

Learning Objective

1. Identify and describe five types of communication contexts.

Now that we have examined the eight components of communication, let’s examine this in context. Is a quiet

dinner conversation with someone you care about the same experience as a discussion in class or giving a speech?

Is sending a text message to a friend the same experience as writing a professional project proposal or a purchase

order? Each context has an influence on the communication process. Contexts can overlap, creating an even more

dynamic process. You have been communicating in many of these contexts across your lifetime, and you’ll be

able to apply what you’ve learned through experience in each context to business communication.

Intrapersonal Communication

Have you ever listened to a speech or lecture and gotten caught up in your thoughts so that, while the speaker

continued, you were no longer listening? During a phone conversation, have you ever been thinking about what

you are going to say, or what question you might ask, instead of listening to the other person? Finally, have you

ever told yourself how you did after you wrote a document or gave a presentation? As you “talk with yourself”

you are engaged in intrapersonal communication.

Intrapersonal communication involves one person; it is often called “self-talk.” (Wood, 1997) Donna

Vocate’s book on intrapersonal communication explains how, as we use language to reflect on our own

experiences, we talk ourselves through situations. For example, the voice within you that tells you, “Keep on

Going! I can DO IT!” when you are putting your all into completing a five-mile race; or that says, “This report

I’ve written is pretty good.” Your intrapersonal communication can be positive or negative, and directly influences

how you perceive and react to situations and communication with others.

What you perceive in communication with others is also influenced by your culture, native language, and your

world view. As the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas said, “Every process of reaching understanding takes

place against the background of a culturally ingrained preunderstanding.” (Habermas, 1984)

For example, you may have certain expectations of time and punctuality. You weren’t born with them, so where

did you learn them? From those around you as you grew up. What was normal for them became normal for you,

but not everyone’s idea of normal is the same.

When your supervisor invites you to a meeting and says it will start at 7 p.m., does that mean 7:00 sharp, 7-ish,

or even 7:30? In the business context, when a meeting is supposed to start at 9 a.m., is it promptly a 9 a.m.?

Variations in time expectations depend on regional and national culture as well as individual corporate cultures.

In some companies, everyone may be expected to arrive ten to fifteen minutes before the announced start time

to take their seats and be ready to commence business at 9:00 sharp. In other companies, “meeting and greeting”

 

 

from about 9 to 9:05 or even 9:10 is the norm. When you are unfamiliar with the expectations for a business event,

it is always wise to err on the side of being punctual, regardless of what your internal assumptions about time and

punctuality may be.

Interpersonal Communication

The second major context within the field of communication is interpersonal communication. Interpersonal

communication normally involves two people, and can range from intimate and very personal to formal and

impersonal. You may carry on a conversation with a loved one, sharing a serious concern. Later, at work, you

may have a brief conversation about plans for the weekend with the security guard on your way home. What’s

the difference? Both scenarios involve interpersonal communication, but are different in levels of intimacy. The

first example implies a trusting relationship established over time between two caring individuals. The second

example level implies some previous familiarity, and is really more about acknowledging each other than any

actual exchange of information, much like saying hello or goodbye.

Group Communication

Have you ever noticed how a small group of people in class sit near each other? Perhaps they are members of the

same sports program, or just friends, but no doubt they often engage in group communication.

“Group communication is a dynamic process where a small number of people engage in a conversation.”

(McLean, 2005) Group communication is generally defined as involving three to eight people. The larger the

group, the more likely it is to break down into smaller groups.

To take a page from marketing, does your audience have segments or any points of convergence/divergence?

We could consider factors like age, education, sex, and location to learn more about groups and their general

preferences as well as dislikes. You may find several groups within the larger audience, such as specific areas of

education, and use this knowledge to increase your effectiveness as a business communicator.

Public Communication

In public communication, one person speaks to a group of people; the same is true of public written

communication, where one person writes a message to be read by a small or large group. The speaker or writer

may ask questions, and engage the audience in a discussion (in writing, examples are an e-mail discussion or a

point-counter-point series of letters to the editor), but the dynamics of the conversation are distinct from group

communication, where different rules apply. In a public speaking situation, the group normally defers to the

speaker. For example, the boss speaks to everyone, and the sales team quietly listens without interruption.

This generalization is changing as norms and expectations change, and many cultures have a tradition of

“call outs” or interjections that are not to be interpreted as interruptions or competition for the floor, but instead

as affirmations. The boss may say, as part of a charged-up motivational speech, “Do you hear me?” and the

sales team is expected to call back “Yes Sir!” The boss, as a public speaker, recognizes that intrapersonal

1.3 Communication in Context 17

 

 

communication (thoughts of the individual members) or interpersonal communication (communication between

team members) may interfere with this classic public speaking dynamic of all to one, or the audience devoting

all its attention to the speaker, and incorporate attention getting and engagement strategies to keep the sales team

focused on the message.

Mass Communication

How do you tell everyone on campus where and when all the classes are held? Would a speech from the front

steps work? Perhaps it might meet the need if your school is a very small one. A written schedule that lists all

classes would be a better alternative. How do you let everyone know there is a sale on in your store, or that your

new product will meet their needs, or that your position on a political issue is the same as your constituents?

You send a message to as many people as you can through mass communication. Does everyone receive mass

communication the same way the might receive a personal phone call? Not likely. Some people who receive mass

mailings assume that they are “junk mail” (i.e., that they do not meet the recipients’ needs) and throw them away

unopened. People may tune out a television advertisement with a click of the mute button, delete tweets or ignore

friend requests on Facebook by the hundreds, or send all unsolicited e-mail straight to the spam folder unread.

Mass media is a powerful force in modern society and our daily lives, and is adapting rapidly to new

technologies. Mass communication involves sending a single message to a group. It allows us to communicate

our message to a large number of people, but we are limited in our ability to tailor our message to specific

audiences, groups, or individuals. As a business communicator, you can use multimedia as a visual aid or

reference common programs, films, or other images that your audience finds familiar yet engaging. You can tweet

a picture that is worth far more than 140 characters, and you are just as likely to elicit a significant response.

By choosing messages or references that many audience members will recognize or can identify with, you can

develop common ground and increase the appeal of your message.

Key Takeaway

Communication contexts include intrapersonal, interpersonal, group, public, and mass communication. Each context has its advantages and disadvantages, and its appropriate and inappropriate uses.

Exercises

1. Please recall a time when you gave a speech in front of a group. How did you feel? What was your experience? What did you learn from your experience?

2. If you were asked to get the attention of your peers, what image or word would you choose and why?

3. If you were asked to get the attention of someone like yourself, what image or word would you choose and why?

4. Make a list of mass communication messages you observe for a one hour period of time. Share your list with classmates.

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References

Habermas, J. (1984). The theory of communicative action (Vol. 1, p. 100). Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

McLean, S. (2005). The basics of interpersonal communication (p. 14). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Vocate, D. (Ed.). (1994). Intrapersonal communication: Different voices, different minds. Hillsdale, NJ:

Lawrence Erlbaum.

Wood, J. (1997). Communication in our lives (p. 22). Boston, MA: Wadsworth.

1.3 Communication in Context 19

 

 

1.4 Your Responsibilities as a Communicator

Learning Objective

1. Discuss and provide several examples of each of the two main responsibilities of a business communicator.

Whenever you speak or write in a business environment, you have certain responsibilities to your audience, your

employer, and your profession. Your audience comes to you with an inherent set of expectations that you will

fulfill these responsibilities. The specific expectations may change given the context or environment, but two

central ideas will remain: be prepared, and be ethical.

Communicator Is Prepared

As the business communicator’s first responsibility, preparation includes several facets which we will examine:

organization, clarity, and being concise and punctual.

Being prepared means that you have selected a topic appropriate to your audience, gathered enough information

to cover the topic well, put your information into a logical sequence, and considered how best to present it. If your

communication is a written one, you have written an outline and at least one rough draft, read it over to improve

your writing and correct errors, and sought feedback where appropriate. If your communication is oral, you have

practiced several times before your actual performance.

The Prepared Communicator Is Organized

Part of being prepared is being organized. Aristotle called this logos, or logic, and it involves the steps or points

that lead your communication to a conclusion. Once you’ve invested time in researching your topic, you will

want to narrow your focus to a few key points and consider how you’ll present them. On any given topic there

is a wealth of information; your job is to narrow that content down to a manageable level, serving the role of

gatekeeper by selecting some information and “de-selecting,” or choosing to not include other points or ideas.

You also need to consider how to link your main points together for your audience. Use transitions to provide

signposts or cues for your audience to follow along. “Now that we’ve examined X, let’s consider Y” is a

transitional statement that provides a cue that you are moving from topic to topic. Your listeners or readers will

appreciate your being well organized so that they can follow your message from point to point.

 

 

The Prepared Communicator Is Clear

You have probably had the unhappy experience of reading or listening to a communication that was vague and

wandering. Part of being prepared is being clear. If your message is unclear, the audience will lose interest and

tune you out, bringing an end to effective communication.

Interestingly, clarity begins with intrapersonal communication: you need to have a clear idea in your mind of

what you want to say before you can say it clearly to someone else. At the interpersonal level, clarity involves

considering your audience, as you will want to choose words and phrases they understand and avoid jargon or

slang that may be unfamiliar to them.

Clarity also involves presentation. A brilliant message scrawled in illegible handwriting, or in pale gray type on

gray paper, will not be clear. When it comes to oral communication, if you mumble your words, speak too quickly

or use a monotonous tone of voice, or stumble over certain words or phrases, the clarity of your presentation will

suffer.

Technology also plays a part; if you are using a microphone or conducting a teleconference, clarity will depend

on this equipment functioning properly—which brings us back to the importance of preparation. In this case, in

addition to preparing your speech, you need to prepare by testing the equipment ahead of time.

The Prepared Communicator Is Concise and Punctual

Concise means brief and to the point. In most business communications you are expected to “get down to

business” right away. Being prepared includes being able to state your points clearly and support them with clear

evidence in a relatively straightforward, linear way.

It may be tempting to show how much you know by incorporating additional information into your document

or speech, but in so doing you run the risk of boring, confusing, or overloading your audience. Talking in circles

or indulging in tangents, where you get off topic or go too deep, can hinder an audience’s ability to grasp your

message. Be to the point and concise in your choice of words, organization, and even visual aids.

Being concise also involves being sensitive to time constraints. How many times have you listened to a speaker

say “in conclusion” only to continue speaking for what seems like forever? How many meetings and conference

calls have you attended that got started late or ran beyond the planned ending time? The solution, of course, is

to be prepared to be punctual. If you are asked to give a five-minute presentation at a meeting, your coworkers

will not appreciate your taking fifteen minutes, any more than your supervisor would appreciate your submitting

a fifteen-page report when you were asked to write five pages. For oral presentations, time yourself when you

rehearse and make sure you can deliver your message within the allotted number of minutes.

Figure 1.5

1.4 Your Responsibilities as a Communicator 21

 

 

Good business communication does not waste words or time.

Angelina Earley – Times! Of! The World! – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

There is one possible exception to this principle. Many non-Western cultures prefer a less direct approach,

where business communication often begins with social or general comments that a U.S. audience might consider

unnecessary. Some cultures also have a less strict interpretation of time schedules and punctuality. While it is

important to recognize that different cultures have different expectations, the general rule holds true that good

business communication does not waste words or time.

Communicator Is Ethical

The business communicator’s second fundamental responsibility is to be ethical. Ethics refers to a set of

principles or rules for correct conduct. It echoes what Aristotle called ethos, the communicator’s good character

and reputation for doing what is right. Communicating ethically involves being egalitarian, respectful, and

trustworthy—overall, practicing the “golden rule” of treating your audience the way you would want to be treated.

Communication can move communities, influence cultures, and change history. It can motivate people to take

stand, consider an argument, or purchase a product. The degree to which you consider both the common good and

fundamental principles you hold to be true when crafting your message directly relates to how your message will

affect others.

The Ethical Communicator Is Egalitarian

The word “egalitarian” comes from the root “equal.” To be egalitarian is to believe in basic equality: that all

people should share equally in the benefits and burdens of a society. It means that everyone is entitled to the same

respect, expectations, access to information, and rewards of participation in a group.

22 Business Communication for Success

 

 

To communicate in an egalitarian manner, speak and write in a way that is comprehensible and relevant to all

your listeners or readers, not just those who are “like you” in terms of age, gender, race or ethnicity, or other

characteristics.

In business, you will often communicate to people with certain professional qualifications. For example, you

may draft a memo addressed to all the nurses in a certain hospital, or give a speech to all the adjusters in a certain

branch of an insurance company. Being egalitarian does not mean you have to avoid professional terminology

that is understood by nurses or insurance adjusters. But it does mean that your hospital letter should be worded

for all the hospital’s nurses—not just female nurses, not just nurses working directly with patients, not just nurses

under age fifty-five. An egalitarian communicator seeks to unify the audience by using ideas and language that

are appropriate for all the message’s readers or listeners.

The Ethical Communicator Is Respectful

People are influenced by emotions as well as logic. Aristotle named pathos, or passion, enthusiasm and energy, as

the third of his three important parts of communicating after logos and ethos.

Most of us have probably seen an audience manipulated by a “cult of personality,” believing whatever the

speaker said simply because of how dramatically he or she delivered a speech; by being manipulative, the speaker

fails to respect the audience. We may have also seen people hurt by sarcasm, insults, and other disrespectful forms

of communication.

This does not mean that passion and enthusiasm are out of place in business communication. Indeed, they are

very important. You can hardly expect your audience to care about your message if you don’t show that you care

about it yourself. If your topic is worth writing or speaking about, make an effort to show your audience why it

is worthwhile by speaking enthusiastically or using a dynamic writing style. Doing so, in fact, shows respect for

their time and their intelligence.

However, the ethical communicator will be passionate and enthusiastic without being disrespectful. Losing

one’s temper and being abusive are generally regarded as showing a lack of professionalism (and could even

involve legal consequences for you or your employer). When you disagree strongly with a coworker, feel deeply

annoyed with a difficult customer, or find serious fault with a competitor’s product, it is important to express

such sentiments respectfully. For example, instead of telling a customer, “I’ve had it with your complaints!” a

respectful business communicator might say, “I’m having trouble seeing how I can fix this situation. Would you

explain to me what you want to see happen?”

The Ethical Communicator Is Trustworthy

Trust is a key component in communication, and this is especially true in business. As a consumer, would you

choose to buy merchandise from a company you did not trust? If you were an employer, would you hire someone

you did not trust?