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Master of Business Administration - MBA Semester 1

MB 0039 – Business Communication (4 credits)


(Book ID: B1622 )

Q1. Nonverbal communication is ambiguous. Explain the statement with example. Also
discuss in brief the types of non-verbal communication.
Ans. Broadly, communication may be divided into two types, they are:

Verbal communication
Non-verbal communication

Let us briefly discuss these two types of communication.

Verbal communication – This type of communication occurs with the help of words. It provides
the opportunity for personal contact and two-way flow of information. A large part of our
communication, whether at work or outside, is verbal in nature. Verbal communication may be
divided into two types. They are:

Oral communication – This type of communication may be defined as a process in which a


speaker interacts verbally with one or more listeners, in order to influence the latter’s behaviour in
some way or the other. Oral communication in a business context can take the form of meetings,
presentations, one-to-one meetings, performance reviews, etc.

Example – In a business context, a manager doing the performance appraisal with an employee
or a sales manager making the sales plan presentation to the sales team. In the first example, the
manager may point out areas for improvement and in the second case, the sales manager may
explain how to achieve new sales targets.

Written communication – This type of communication is the correspondence made in writing. It


can be handwritten, printed or typed. For example, a manager writing a letter of apology in response
to a customer’s complaint regarding poor service. Written communication at the workplace can take
several forms such as letters, memos, circulars, notices, reports and email. We will examine some of
these in more detail in Unit 9 and Unit 10.

Non-verbal communication – This type of communication may be defined as communication


without words. It refers to any way of conveying meanings without the use of verbal language. The
game of ’dumb charades’ is a perfect example. Non-verbal communication is generally
unintentional, unlike verbal communication. All of us tend to communicate silently and
unknowingly send signals and messages by what we do, apart from what we say. Gestures, facial
expressions, posture and the way we dress, are all part of non-verbal communication.

Q2. What are the strategies for effective listening? Discuss each of them in short.
Ans. Listening is hard work and is more than just sitting passively and absorbing a speaker’s words.
According to Lundsteen, “Listening is a highly complex process by which spoken language is
converted to meaning in the mind”.

Listening has been identified by Stephen Covey as one of the ‘seven habits of highly effective
people’, in his book with the same title. This definition implies that listening is a skill which can be
cultivated and developed, just like speaking, reading or writing. Listening involves the following
four steps:
Hearing – In this step, you need to pay attention to ensure that you hear the message clearly.

Interpreting – In this step, you try to analyse the speaker’s words based on your experience,
attitude, knowledge and background. You also give meaning to the words based on the gestures and
expressions of the speaker.

Evaluating – In this step, you evaluate the information received and make decisions accordingly.

Responding – In this step, you let the speaker know whether you have understood the message and
respond to it.

Q3. How does general writing differ from business writing in terms of language style and
tone?
Ans. Tone is equally important in conveying written messages, particularly business related
messages.
In written communication, tone refers to the way a statement sounds, which in turn, depends on the
choice of words. A sentence or statement may be grammatically perfect, but may convey a negative
message, if the choice of words is wrong. For example, “You failed to meet the sales target”. This
statement has a negative tone, since it emphasises what could not be achieved. The same idea could
be expressed in a more positive tone, by emphasising what could have been done instead.

For example, “With a little extra effort, you could have achieved the target”.

This example shows that even a negative idea can be expressed in positive language through the use
of appropriate words.
The tone of business communication should also be confident. You should avoid language that
makes you sound unsure of yourself.

For example, “I hope you will agree that my qualifications match your job profile”.
Beginning the sentence with ‘I hope’ creates the impression that you lack confidence in yourself. It
might be better to say “On reviewing my bio-data, you will find that my qualifications match your
job needs in the following respects…”
While it is important to be self assured, avoid sounding over confident and pompous.
For example, “I am sure you will agree that our Company has the best reputation for quality and
service”.
Instead, you can write the same as “We shall try to live up to our reputation for quality and service.”
Another aspect of tone is to sound courteous and sincere. This builds goodwill and good relations
and increases the likelihood of a message achieving its objectives. Avoid statements such as the
following:
You sent your complaint to the wrong department. You should have sent it to the shipping
department.
This sounds very discourteous and rude when responding to a customer complaint. Instead, it might
be better to say “We have sent your complaint to the concerned department, which will be
contacting you shortly.”

One way of ensuring this is to avoid ‘sexist language’ by using neutral job titles, or titles that do not
imply that a job is held only by a man.
For example,
‘Chairperson’, instead of ‘Chairman.’
‘Salesperson’, instead of ‘Salesman.’
If the reader’s gender is not known, use a non-sexist salutation such as ‘Dear Customer, Investor, or
Advertiser’, instead of ‘Dear Sir or Madam.’
Personal titles and salutations such as ‘Dr.’, ‘Professor’, etc., should be used wherever appropriate.

Q4. One has to decide whether it is necessary to have a meeting and then start planning for it.
What types of meeting you can call for your business related activities?
Ans. According to Deborah Tannen, “A meeting is any focused conversation that has a specific
agenda, especially but not only if it has been set up in advance.”1 This definition implies that
meetings are not aimless discussions, but they require careful planning and revolve around a
specific topic that is decided in advance.

At the outset, let us discuss the different categories of business meetings:

1. Task oriented meetings


As the name suggests, this type of meeting is a special meeting that is called to discuss and make
arrangements for a specific event.
For example, the company is opening a new branch or new factory, which will be inaugurated by a
minister on a specific date. All the key people involved may be asked to attend the meeting, to
discuss the arrangements that are being made for the inauguration. Specific tasks are assigned to
each of the participants of the meeting.

2. Progress meetings
These are periodic meetings that are called to review the progress being made on a particular front.
For example, weekly meetings may be held to review sales progress or if a new project has been
initiated, periodic meetings may be held to review the progress of different stages of the project.

3. Information sharing meetings

In some organisations these types of meetings may be called regularly for the main purpose of
exchanging information on a topic of relevance to the organisation. Such meetings may take place
among co-workers or may also involve top management. For example: The Managing Director of a
company may call his senior managers to share information about the company’s joint ventures,
overseas collaborations or plans for acquisition.

4. Problem solving or decision making meetings


This type of meeting is the most challenging, as it involves taking some kind of action, making
major decisions or changing the existing policies and procedures. Therefore, all interests and
departments of the organisation are represented at such meetings. They also tend to be time
consuming.
For example, the marketing strategy of the company may need to be revised, as sales are on the
decline or a new product is to be launched and a meeting may be called to discuss the launch
strategy.

Q5. What is memo? When you write a memo, what language and writing style will you follow?
Explain.
Ans. Memo is one of the most important forms of written communication in an organisation.
Memos can be used for formal and informal communication. The word ’memo’ is a short form for
‘memorandum’, which is derived from the Latin word ‘memorandus’ which means “a thing which
must be remembered”. It is also referred to as an “inter office memorandum”, since it is used
primarily as a tool for communicating within the organisation.
As a memo is a short, informal report, the following points have to be remembered regarding the
language and style that is used:

Be concise – It is important to be brief and focus on the point, so that the memo does not exceed
two pages in length. Make the sentences and paragraphs short, limit each paragraph to five lines or
less and use bullet points wherever possible. If you are giving reasons, number them or put them in
separate paragraphs with double line spacing. Otherwise use single line spacing between lines.

Use active not passive voice – As mentioned earlier, use of personal pronouns and active voice is
permitted in a memo, unlike a formal report where the passive voice must be used for the sake of
objectivity. In other words, it is appropriate to say for example that “Based on ‘my’ experience, ‘I’
feel that the budget is not adequate.”

Use simple language – In earlier units, the importance of using simple English was emphasised. It is
a good practice to use short and simple words. At the same time avoid trying to impress the reader
by using unnecessary jargon.

Avoid giving too many reasons – Although, it is important to provide a justification when you make
a request or try to persuade someone to do something, do not overdo it. In general, a reader can only
absorb a maximum of six or seven reasons at once. Therefore, do not overstate your reasons.

Close with a call for action – Do not leave the reader hanging. If you wish to persuade the reader to
accept your request or recommendation, you must say it clearly using action words and indicating a
time frame or limit. For example, “I would like to discuss this in person with you and get your
approval before the end of this week.”

Q6. Write Short notes on:


A) Business letters
B) Group Discussions.

Ans. A) 
Heading – The heading of a business letter usually contains the name and postal address of the
business, E-mail address, Web-site address, Telephone Number, FAX, etc. As shown in figure 11.1,
the Heading appears on top of the page.

Date – This must be located in the upper left hand corner.

Reference number – This indicates the letter number, from which department of the company the
letter is being sent and the year. This helps in future reference and it is given on the left hand corner
after the heading. Usually it is specific to the sender or organisation sending the letter. For example,
as shown in figure 11.1 we can write reference number as AB/FADept./2003/27.
’To’ address – This includes the name and full address of the person or the firm to whom the letter has to
be sent. This is written on the left hand side of the sheet below the reference number.

Subject line – It is a statement in brief that indicates the matter to which the letter relates. It attracts
the attention of the receiver immediately and helps him to know quickly what the letter is about. For
example, the letter shown in figure 11.1 is a reply to letter and hence the reference number and date
of the letter for which the reply is being sent is mentioned as the subject line. Subject line can come
before attention and after ‘To’ address or after salutation and before the body of the letter.
Attention line – Attention line usually is written above the salutation, but sometimes, it may be
included below the salutation, in order to ensure prompt action. For example, “Attention: AB
Kumar.

Salutation – When addressing a firm, “Messrs” should be used before the name of the firm. Since
business letters are formal, the appropriate salutation when addressing an individual is “Dear
Mr/Ms, followed by the.

GROUP DISCUSSION:- “A GD is a methodology used by an organisation to gauge whether the candidate


has certain personality traits and/or skills that it desires in its members. In this methodology, the
group of candidates is given a topic or a situation, given a few minutes to think about the same, and
then asked to discuss it among themselves for 15-20 minutes.1”In a GD, the members are expected
to arrive at a common consensus. During the discussion, it is important that the intention of the
members is to facilitate the exchange of views. All the members of the group are required to
participate and to listen to the views of the other members. As a speaker, you should modify what
you say, based on the points that the other members of the group make, while the discussion is in
progress

A GD is coordinated by a person known as the ’moderator’. Sometimes, there may be more than
one moderator. The moderator is a neutral person, either from the organisation conducting the GD,
or a professional. The moderator is normally an experienced person who has the ability to judge the
performance of every member of the group, even if it is a large one.

Today, it is very essential for job applicants to have group communication skills. When you enter
the real world, you do not work in isolation. Decision making takes place after discussing relevant
issues with others – be it superiors, peers or subordinates. Very often, you will need to interact with
more than one person at the same time, which is very similar to a GD type of situation.