Chapter 16: REPORT WRITING

  • A report — is an important form of business communication.
  • Is an account of something that happened in the past
  • Re = back; portare = to carry.
  • A report = a formal communication written for a specific purpose, conveying authentic info in a completely impartial/objective manner.
  • A good report is — (a) well analysed & argued. (b) written in appropriate & correct English.
  • 3 stages — planning, organizing & writing.

SALIENT FEATURES

  • A formal piece of writing
  • A factual account
  • Written for a specific purpose
  • Written in an organized manner
  • Written for a specific audience
  • Written in an objective manner
  • Includes only relevant information

SIGNIFICANCE

  • Helps professionals plan, execute, manage & evaluate business activities effectively.
  • Facilitates the flow of information to ensure smooth execution of tasks.
  • Serves as a record of facts & as a repository of information.
  • Enables the authorities to take timely decisions.
  • Helpful in creating awareness among shareholders & other investors about the market position of the company.

ORAL VERSUS WRITTEN REPORTS

ORAL                                                             WRITTEN   

Presented face to face                                    Not necessarily

Easy for the speaker                                        Easy for the reader

Ephemeral                                                       Permanent record

Immediate clarification is possible                 Not possible

Less accurate & reliable                                 More accurate & reliable

Informal                                                         Formal 

INFORMAL & FORMAL REPORTS

  • Informal Report
  • Informal style but the content & organization of facts the same as a formal report.
  • Fulfills an immediate requirement so shorter than a formal report.
  • Eg: the report about the current status of production / people in a particular dept given to the managing director.
  • Two commonly used informal reports > letter reports & memo reports.

INFORMAL REPORT

Letter report

  • Is a short report using the business letter format.
  • The business letter format is very important for formal communication.

Tips for writing letter reports.

  • Should be typed and not handwritten.
  • Use full block format of business letters in which all lines start from the left.
  • Use the company’s letterhead or formal 8 ½ inch by 11 inch/A 4 size stationery.
  • Set your objectives, analyse the facts critically.

LETTER REPORT

  • Use one or two illustrations to support the analysis.
  • Use ‘I’ & ‘you’ to maintain informality.
  • Avoid a bookish / prosaic style.
  • Include appropriate salutations & a complimentary close.
  • Ensure that there are no typographical or grammatical errors in the report.
  • Maintain proper margin & line spacing.

LAYOUT OF A LETTER REPORT

[Refer to page 248-9 for a sample letter report.]

MEMO REPORT

Memo > also called an inter-office memorandum.

  • Is a prescribed form used to send important info within an organization.
  • Conveys info about routine business matters like sending info from one dept. to another, announcing a change in policy matters etc.

Memo report > a report that provides facts of routine nature or deals with a minor problem using the format of the inter-face memorandum.

E.g.: engineers write memos to their supervisors.

  • Memo report should give an account of what has been done
  • Should describe the important findings and also their significance.
  • Is circulated within the organization only.
  • So more informal in style than a letter report.
  • Length > not more than three typed pages.
  • Main body m comprises relevant headings like findings, recommendations etc.

FORMAT OF A MEMO REPORT

[Refer to page 247 for a sample memo report.]

LETTER REPORT vs MEMO REPORT

Letter report                                                              Memo report

4-5 pages                                                                     2-3 pages

Uses letter layout                                                        Uses inter-office memorandum format

Less informal                                                              More informal

Used both for internal & external communication      Only for internal communication

FORMAL REPORT

  • Seriousness of purpose & content
  • Elaborate data which cannot be informally presented
  • Three broad categories > I. Routine; II. Informational; III. Interpretative.

I. Routine reports / periodic reports.

  • Submitted at prescribed intervals/weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually.
  • Present the collected data & facts in their original form.
  • Sometimes include brief recommendations.
  • Routine reports > five types

1. Progress report> informs the reader about the status/progress of a particular project.

  • Gives an account of the various stages of the project in chronological order & the details of the work completed & the amount of work yet to be completed.
  • The work completed must be evaluated to determine the progress of the project.
  • Mention can also be made of special problems likely to arise during the course of the work.

2. Laboratory report > written by scientists & students of engineering, science, psychology & those who work regularly in laboratories.

  • The proforma > the name of the experiment, the apparatus used, the procedure followed & the findings & conclusions.
  • Record their experiments & provide a step-by-step account of the processes to be followed.
  • Mechanical devices like computers & laboratory equipment are mentioned before the process is explained.
  • Findings are put in a logical order; also a brief summary of the findings.

3. Inspection report > complied only after a thorough investigation of objects/products.

  • Helps in checking the quality of products in a systematic manner.
  • Ensures the right standard & smooth functioning of the equipment.
  • Written in a prescribed pro forma with columns to indicate the options regarding the quality & operation of each part of a particular product.
  • Purpose > to check the mishandling & poor production of equipment.
  • Usually submitted to the executive heads of the maintenance/production/sales departments.

4. Inventory report > computer-generated.

  • User has to put in the relevant data about the stock.
  • Includes statistical details = the no, amount & type of material required.
  • Written by the person in charge of the stocks in a prescribed form & duly signed by him.
  • Submitted at regular intervals > weekly/monthly/ annually.

5. Annual confidential report > submitted annually by the controlling officers about their subordinates.

  • Evaluates their work performance & behaviour.
  • Determines a professional’s appraisal.
  • Important decisions – promotion, demotion, transfer, termination — based on this report.

II.  Informational report

  • Conveys all the details related to the subject.
  • Data is collected, arranged in a proper order & presented as it is without analysing it.
  • Recommendations are not provided.
  • Each part prepares the reader for what is to come.
  • Discussion of one point must be complete before taking up another point.
  • Info report develops an understanding of the aims, objectives, policies, regulations, problems, procedures & outlook of a company.

III. Interpretative/analytical/investigative report

  • Analyses & interprets the data obtained.
  • Arrives at some conclusions & recommendations.
  • Helps the reader analyse, interpret & evaluate facts.
  • Very useful & essential in the professional world because they help in making a decision, solving a problem, expanding the business etc.
  • Is more expansive, elaborate.
  • Varies widely in scope & subject matter.
  • But always associated with some business activity. Like accounting, advertising etc.
  • Is an integral part of the business world

USE OF GRAPHIC AIDS

Graphic Aids/Illustrations

  • Make the report more interesting & readable.
  • Give emphasis to the key points.
  • Supplement the text.
  • Help in communicating the content of the report.

When & why they are used

  • When a mass of statistics has to be presented.
  • When complex ideas have to be explained.
  • Help to clarify & reinforce the info.
  • Lend a professional flair to the presentation.
  • Help in presenting large details with accuracy & in less space.
  • Make the description clear, vivid & eye-catching.

How to use them

  • Illustrations should be neat, accurate, self-contained & big enough to be clearly visible.
  • Contents should be closely related to the text.
  • Placed as close to the first reference as possible.
  • Numbered & captioned > Tables– Roman numerals at the top.
  • Figures – Arabic numerals at the bottom.
  • The term figure can be used for graphic aids other than tables.
  • Refer to pages 253 &254 for examples

TYPES OF GRAPHIC AIDS

  1. Independent table
    • Includes rows & columns.
    • Gives the complete statistical info.
    • Help us understand the trend/pattern without going through the preceding/following text. (ref table 16.3 page 255).
  2. Dependent table
    • Closely associated with the preceding/following text.
    • Cannot be interpreted independent of the text.
  3. Phrase table
    • Consists of rows & columns.
    • Uses words & phrases to provide info & not figures (refer table 16.4 page 255)
  4. Photographs, maps, charts & graphs
    • Graphs = the illustrations that help us to present the data in a colourful & catchy manner.
    • Help us understand the trends & patterns the report highlights.

PLANNING & PREPARING A REPORT

  • Different stages
  • Defining your objective, scope & purpose.
  • Data collection
    • Formal writing requires solid proof; it cannot depend on assumptions & imagination.
    • So data collection is very important
  • Sources for data collection > text books, office records, files, journals, handbooks, manuals, magazines, encyclopaedias, newspapers, government publications, internet, computer databases.
  • Methods of data collection
  • Personal observation > when writing a report on an experiment you conducted in a laboratory or on an event you witnessed.

                        Advantages                             Disadvantages

                        First-hand info                         time-consuming

                        Very reliable                            not necessarily convincing for others

  • Telephonic interview > when seeking info of a routine nature & only brief answers are needed from a small number of people.

Advantages

  • Quickest of survey techniques
  • Low refusal rate
  • Memory factor eliminated
  • Low cost occasionally
  • High returns
  • Approach & questions standardized
  • Mostly reliable in matters of costly & time-consuming routine research

Disadvantages

  • No detailed data available
  • Observation eliminated
  • Limited info
  • Little time for orientation & reaction
  • Respondents’ antagonistic
  • Not essentially representative
  • Low credibility
  • Personal Interview> must be shrewd, observant & sensitive to the reaction of the person being interviewed.
  • Quick to readjust your approach & attitude.
  • Secure a person’s attention, excite his interest & establish a rapport with him/her.
  • First, decide on the questions to be asked.
  • Break the discussion into significant components for easy handling.
  • Frame the questions accordingly.
  • This set of questions > an interview sheet.

Advantages

  • Flexible
  • Direct info
  • Orientation possible
  • Non-verbal interpretation possible
  • Least obscure
  • First-hand impressions
  • Questions can be repeated / rephrased
  • Useful in market survey

Disadvantages

  • Limited coverage
  • Costly & time-consuming
  • Prone to discussion
  • Subjective info
  • Given to chance & failure
  • May influence responses
  • Likelihood of respondents not responding to personal / embarrassing questions

TIPS FOR CONDUCTING PERSONAL INTERVIEWS

  • Get a prior appointment from the person whom you plan to interview.
  • Inform him/her about its purpose.
  • Prepare an interview sheet with at least 10 possible questions.
  • Be clear about your purpose of collecting data.
  • Reach the venue on time well dressed.
  • Carry a pen and a notepad to take down the answers.
  • Seek permission beforehand to record the interview.
  • Greet the interviewee warmly, brief him/her about the interview & then begin the interview.
  • Show your interest & zeal by listening actively.
  • Don’t get annoyed when you get confused, but seek clarification in a strategic manner.
  • Bring the interviewee back to the topic if he digresses.
  • Don’t ask embarrassing/personal questions.
  • Don’t get involved in heated / unnecessary arguments.
  • Always assume a subordinate position as you are seeking a favour from the interviewee.
  • Don’t interrupt the respondent unnecessarily.
  • Thank the interviewee for sparing his time.
  • Keep the line of communication open as you may need more info later.

Mail questionnaire> the ideal method when a wide geographical area has to be covered & a large no of people has to be contacted.

Advantages

  • Cheapest method
  • Covers a wide area
  • Is specific, accurate & can be processed
  • Covers a large no of respondents
  • Is utmost scientific & reliable
  • Reduces hesitation

Disadvantages

  • No clarification possible
  • Not necessarily correct
  • Illiterates cannot answer
  • Unmilling individuals will not answer
  • Is time-consuming
  • Not face-to-face
  • High refusal rate

TIPS FOR PREPARING A QUESTIONNAIRE

1. Basic requirements > good mailing list, good covering letter & interested respondents.

2. Tips for framing a questionnaire

  1. Set objectives for every question that you ask.
  2. Be pointed, short & clear.
  3. Figure out possible answers.
  4. Phrase the questions clearly.
  5. Avoid leading & delicate questions.
  6. Avoid long & complicated questions.
  7. Arrange the questions logically.
  8. Don’t ask questions that require lengthy ans.
  9. Leave enough blank space for the ans.
  10. Don’t repeat the questions.

3. Additional tips

  1. Enclose the covering letter with a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
  2. Assume confidentiality.
  3. Ensure action & be courteous.

4. Writing and Revising

  1. Prepare a rough draft with everything relevant.
  2. 1st review > concentrate on blocks of ideas.
  3. 2nd review > concentrate on finer details, syntax & diction.
  4. Write the final report in a specific form using a style sheet / manual.

5. Preparing an outline

  • Outline = an arrangement of words / phrases / sentences which indicate the nature & sequence of topics & subtopics to be discussed in the report.
  • Outline gives a framework & indicates the pattern of the report.

STRUCTURE OF FORMAL REPORTS   

  • Front matter. Main body & Back matter.

1. Front Matter

a. Cover = a binding / hard cover

  • Contains important info like the title of the report, report no, if any, name of the report writer & organization & date.
  • Use white/neutral (soft) colour.
  • Keep proper space b/w the different items of info
  • Use either all capital letters or the first letter of each key word must be in capitals.
  • For sample cover ref to page 262.

b. Title page = is the first right hand page of the report.

  • Contains additional info along with what is given in he cover of the report.
  • Tells the reader about the subtitle of the report, the name & designation of the authority for whom the report is written & approvals, if any.
  • This page should not be crowded with unnecessary info.
  • For sample title page refer to page 262

c. Frontispiece = the window displays of the whole report.

  • Comprises artistic drawings, pictures, photographs or maps.
  • Sole purpose > to arouse the curiosity of the reader about the contents of the report.
  • Not normally used in technical reports.

d. Copyright notice = indicates who has the legal rights of the document > the author or the publisher.

  • Is always placed on the inside of the title page.
  • For sample refer to page 263

e. Forwarding letter > forwards a report to the primary recipient of the report.

  • Two types > covering = a record of transmission of the report; not bound with the report; does not contain any important info.
  • Introductory – refers to specific parts of the report; contains plenty of info; so is usually bound into the report, immediately after the title page.

f. Preface – introduces the report to the readers.

g. Acknowledgements = the names of those people & sources that helped the report writer.

  • Inserted before the abstract of the report.
  • Drafting an acknowledgement > categorize the persons whom you want to acknowledge; express your gratitude using different expressions; mention why you are indebted to the person.
  • For a sample refer to page 263. 

h. Table of contents / ToC – is an essential element in a long formal report.

  • It includes the chapter headings & subheadings & their respective page numbers; so easy to locate specific info.
  • It serves as a guide to the report.
  • The decimal numbering system (DNS) is used to prepare the ToC.
  • Sample ToC in page 264. 

i. List of illustrations with page nos when more than 12 illustrations are used in a report.

j. Abstract = a brief write-up on what the report is about & its accomplishments in 250 words.

  • It contains relevant info like the main purpose, main design point, methodology & some eye-catching results to show the significance of the report.
  • Sample abstract in page 265.

k. Executive summary – presents the entire report in a nutshell.

  • Tells the reader what to expect in the report & what the report explores.
  • It is like a window to a building.
  • It enables the reader to know the significance & relevance of the study.
  • It helps the authorities to take decisions to solve the problem discussed in the study.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ABSTRACT & EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  • Abstract > very brief, not more than 300 words.
  • Relevant only when the report is meant for people from the same field of knowledge.
  • Presents only the essence of the report.
  • Cannot help in taking decisions.
  • Does not include illustrations.
  • Executive summary > more elaborate.
  • Meant for readers other than subject experts.
  • Presents the entire report in a nutshell.
  • Can help in taking quick decisions, if needed.
  • May include one or two illustrations.

2. Main Body

a. Introduction = an effective curtain-raiser to the content, significance etc. of the report.

  • It gives the reader a clear picture of the problem and catches his/her attention.
  • It provides the following elements of info.
  • Background info
  • Includes the historical/technical background that gave rise to the problem.
  • Throws light on the exact state of affairs & the factors responsible for the situation.
  • Problem statement = specifying what exactly is the problem you are trying to solve.
  • Reference to authorization – includes the person requesting the report & the reference to the letter/memo/meeting/telephonic conversation held on a specific date by which the person was asked to submit the report.
  • Purpose & scope.
  • Significance.
  • Methodology = stating the method/ the sources used to collect the facts & analyse them.
  • Procedure.
  • Basic principles/theories involved
  • Summary of findings.
  • General plan of work.

                 Sample introduction in page 267.

b. Discussion

  • Text is divided into several sections/chapters.
  • Matter is organized into topics & sub-topics.
  • Substantial matter is included under each topic/ sub-topic.
  • Detailed analysis/interpretation is provided.
  • Recommendations are not inserted.
  • Illustrations are included to make the analysis clear.

c. Conclusion – draws inferences in a crisp & tidy manner.

  • Briefly recapitulates the problem studied, the approach adopted & the results arrived at.
  • Can be written either in points or developed in separate paragraphs.

d. Recommendations – state the actions required to be taken based on the findings & conclusions.

Suggest solutions/ideas/recommendations.

3. Back Matter

  1. Appendices
    •  Additional charts & graphs can be added.
    • Contains material closely related to the topic but not absolutely essential.
    • Provides a proper cross-reference in the text.
    • Experimental results, detailed calculations, statistical data, sample questionnaire, sample pro forma etc. can be included in the appendix.
  2. Bibliography = an alphabetically list of all the sources such as newspapers, books, magazines, journals, websites, movies etc. made use of to write the report.
  3. List of references — includes the bibliographical details of all the books & sources from which ideas/facts/data have been borrowed.
  4. Footnotes = the small references mentioned at the bottom of the page & a star/asterisk mark is used to draw the reader’s attention.
  5. Glossary = a list of technical terms & words that appear in the text of the report.
    • They are arranged in the alphabetical order.
    • Their meaning & explanation are also provided.
  6. Index = the list of various topics, sub-topics & other aspects discussed in the main text.
    • Serves as a quick guide for the reader to locate any specific idea/concept given somewhere in the main text.

Documentation > an indispensable part of any professional writing such as proposals, reports & research papers.

  • Includes how books, anthologies, journals, etc. are to be cited.

FOUR MAJOR DOCUMENTATION STYLES

  1. MLA (Modern Language Association) style
  2. APA (American Psychological Association) style
  3. Chicago style
  4. IEEE STYLE

NEWSPAPER REPORTS

Tips for writing a newspaper report

  • Easy to read; an attractive presentation style.
  • Provides the answers to the questions WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY & HOW?
  • Headline should catch the reader’s attention.
  • 1st para — gives the main point of the story & answers the question who.
  • Succeeding paras — answer the questions what, when, where, why & how.
  • Paragraphs should be short & punchy, giving info clearly and concisely.
  • References to what people said can be included, either in direct/indirect speech.
  • Past tense must be used as the report in about an event that has already taken place.
  • For sample reports refer to page 277.

SAMPLE REPORTS

a report from The Hindu by their special correspondent.

                          CBI starts inquiry

                           into match-fixing

                      By our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, AUGUST 21.

Example 1

a report on a boat tragedy

                            THE HINDU

                   TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2018

KOCHI: At least 25 persons feared dead as crowded boat capsizes in the Periyar, search for other passengers on. At least 25 people drowned and another 15 were missing when an overloaded boat capsized in the Periyar on Monday evening.

The dead included men, women and children who were on their way back from the Ashtami Rohini celebrations at the Sri Krishna temple.

The boat designed to carry 25 people was carrying at least 45 people when it overturned at 5.30pm.

E-MAIL WRITING

  • E mail/electronic mail/paperless communication
  • Came into existence in the late 20th century
  • A method of exchanging digital messages across the internet/other computer networks
  • One of the quickest ways to communicate in writing

Format of an E-mail

  • Header – shows the sender’s mail ID, the receiver’s mail ID, the date, time & the subject
  • Body – is the message, formal/informal; also contains the complimentary close

E mail writing — reasons for popularity

Guiding steps to writing an E mail

  • Have a neutral e-mail address that reflects your identity
  • Keep the header short & sweet
  • Avoid an abrupt beginning
  • Use effective subject lines
  • Start courteously with a proper salutation
  • Add a warm up sentence
  • Avoid use of capital letters all through the text
  • Avoid acronyms
  • End carefully with a complimentary close
  • Sign off with your full name
  • Proofread your e-mail for errors in language — vocabulary, grammar & punctuation

E- mail writing — common etiquette

  • Reply immediately
  • Avoid circulating e mails to everyone
  • Send the copy of a mail only to those who have something to do with it
  • Avoid attaching unnecessary files
  • Answer all queries as exhaustively as possible
  • It strengthens our professional image & adds to the goodwill of the organization we work for
  • Avoid sexist language like ‘man is mortal’
  • Use e mail jargon sparingly
  • Keep your mailbox uncluttered
  • Delete junk mail regularly from the inbox
  • Read & edit your mails

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Chapter 15 BUSINNESS LETTERS & RESUME

Definition: “A business letter is a formal written document through which companies try to correspond with the customers/suppliers/bankers/shareholders and others.”

It is also called Snail-mail.

IMPORTANCE

  • Help organizations in strengthening their rapport with customers/ et al
  • Can be filed for future reference
  • Help in conveying confidential/complex info
  • Help companies to reach organizations/ clients in distant places
  • Help companies to know the problems in their products & eventually lead to the smooth functioning of the organization

ELEMENTS OF A BUSINESS LETTER

  • Letterhead/Sender’s address
  • Date = the date on which the letter is written
  • Inside address = the address to which the letter is sent
  • Salutation = greeting, always formal
  • The body = the text; never handwritten
  • The complimentary close = the short, polite closing which ends with a comma
  • Name and signature 
  • Enclosures

FULL BLOCK LAYOUT

  • the most popular layout
  • All elements are aligned in the left margin.
  1. Sender’s Address – Give your complete address here. Include your e-mail ID and contact number also.
  2. Date line — 15 June 2018.
  3. Inside Address — title and full name of the recipient; position/job title of the recipient; name of the company/organization; address.
  4. Salutation — Dear Sir/Mr Ghosh/Dr Ajay
  5. Subject — title of the subject of the letter
  6. Body Paragraph 1
  7. Body Paragraph 2
  8. Body Paragraph 3 (not to exceed 3 paras)
  9. Complimentary close — Regards/Warm regards/With warm regards/Yours faithfully, sincerely 
  10. Signature of the sender
  11. Name & Designation of the sender
  12. Enclosures — copy of resume; copy of certificate; copy of experience certificate. 

FORMAT OF A BUSINESS LETTER

1. Sender’s Address

Rajkumar Patil

Raj Bhavan

TC 56/855

Civil Lines

Chennai

1.1 Letterhead with the name, address and context details of the company

Sunshine Enterprises

18, New Kotak Road,

Chennai – 180 002

Telephone: 044 5433081         Fax: 0191-554043                  E-Mail: sushent@gmail.com

2. Date line

15 June 2014 / 15 June, 2014 / June 15, 2014

3. Reference line

Your ref: RK / 15

Our ref: SS / 20

4. Addressee’s Address/Inside Address

Mr R K Menon

RK Enterprises

Chembukauv

Thrissur

5. Salutation / Official greeting

Name/Position of the addressee                   Salutation

Rajesh Menon                                                 Dear Mr Menon

Raji Menon                                                     Dear Ms Menon/Dear Ms Raji Menon

Sales Manager(gender not known)                 Dear Sir/Madam

Professor Rajesh Menon                                 Dear Prof Menon

6. Subject line

            Sub: Purchase of Computer Accessories.

            Sub: Request for leave.

7. Body of the letter

8. Complimentary Close

            Yours faithfully/sincerely

9. Name and Signature

FORMAT OF A PERSONAL LETTER

LETTERS TO NEWSPAPERS

  • Should always be addressed to ‘’The Editor,’’ and they end with ‘’Yours faithfully.’’
  • The form of salutation — Sir/Dear Sir.
  • If the writer gives his address for publication it is often placed below the letter and to the left of the signature.
  • If the writer does not wish his name to be published, he can sign his letter in this way: ‘Interested,’; Anxious,’ ‘One who knows.’ But he must give his name and address in a covering letter to the Editor.

TYPES OF BUSINESS LETTERS

  • Business letters are written for various purposes — informing, congratulating, ordering, requesting, enquiring, complaining, making an adjustment, applying for a job & selling a product.
  • Acknowledgement Letter
    • written to acknowledge someone for his/her help/support when you were in trouble or you needed that person’s help to complete a task
    • expresses your gratitude
  • Letter of Recommendation
    • Written to recommend a person for a job or admission to a higher degree/specialized kind of study programme
    • Simply states the positive aspects of the applicant’s personality, required skills & how he/she would be an asset to the organization
  • Appreciation Letter
    • Written to appreciate someone’s work in the organization or thanking another organization for doing business with them
    • Written by a superior to his/her junior
    • Helps in strengthening the bond b/w two individuals/organizations
  • Adjustment Letter
    • A letter that deals with a complaint & claim letter
    • Acknowledge the complaint immediately
    • Handle the complaint with sympathy
    • Gracefully admit your fault, express regret & promise to rectify the error
    • If the complaint is baseless/the claimant seeks an unreasonable adjustment, politely point out where the fault lies & suggest alternatives
    • Don’t blame others to save your skin
    • Thank the customer for bringing the matter to your notice
  • Inquiry Letter
    • Written to enquire about a product/service
    • Is concise, complete & brief
    • State clearly & precisely what info you need – a catalogue/price lists/general info etc
    • Ask about the time period likely to be taken to facilitate the order
    • Seek clarification regarding the discount offer/mode of payment/credit facility
    • Should be brief & to the point
  • Sales Letter
    • Written to advertise & to promote a product
    • The most interesting in its approach & appeal

OBJECTIVES

  • Catch the reader’s attention by beginning with a captivating quotation/an anecdote
  • Create a desire in the reader to buy the product by highlighting its outstanding features
  • Carry conviction = convince the reader of the authenticity of your claim
  • Induce action = persuade the reader to take action> ask for a demonstration/send an order

RESUME

  • A resume is attached to letters of application for a job
  • A resume is a structured summary of a person’s educational qualification, work experience & employment
  • It is a document to market yourself
  • So in order to attract the employer’s attention it is essential to prepare a carefully worded & neatly arranged resume, highlighting your strengths & favourable aspects

TYPES OF RESUME

  1. Chronological Resume — all the details of your work history are listed in chronological order
    • A reverse chronological order is in vogue now
  2. Functional/Skills Resume – focuses on your skills, abilities & experience & emphasizes individual areas of accomplishment
    • Used when there are gaps in your employment history as you keep changing your career
  3. Hybrid Resume – a combination of both the chronological & the functional resume
    • Skills & experience history are listed first & then work/employment history

Based on the kind of channel used 2 types

  1. Paper-copy/Traditional print resumes = hard copy resume that small companies want
  2. Electronic/resumes that can be scanned

FEATURES OF A SELLING RESUME

  • A catchy appearance & contents
  • Well-organized, properly written, & has an apt layout
  • Error-free
  • Highlights your abilities, skills & experience

CONTENTS OF A RESUME

  • Personal info/Identification
  • Name, address, phone, Email ID
  • Career objective based on your skills & professional aspirations
  • Education
  • Work experience – always give in reverse chronological order
  • Activities/achievements/special interests
  • Awards & honours –academic/non-academic professional
  • References – from the university/earlier organization/from renowned persons
  • A good resume is always accompanied by a well-drafted cover letter = the letter that accompanies the Curriculum Vitae (CV) or resume

Chapter 14: ESSAY WRITING

  • Essay < the French word ‘essai’ = an effort / a verbal sketch
  • Essay = a written composition in which the writer
  • Shares his/her knowledge of a certain topic
  • His/her perspective on the issue discussed
  • Offers criticism & comments on the situation

Types of Essays

1. Argumentative/ Point-of-view Essay

  • Is written to contend an established view
  • The author is keen to challenge the established notion
  • Only reason-based argument
  • Not those governed by our subjective opinions / emotions

2. Analytical Essay

  • Reviews a book/movie/topic/situation/a given text
  • Brings to the fore its subtle nuances
  • The data & material collected play an important role
  • They form the basis of an analysis

3. Descriptive Essay

  • Is written to give the reader the specific & concrete details of an object/ a situation
  • The author harps on his/her own senses to help the reader visualize, feel or enjoy what he describes
  • Sometimes becomes overtly subjective
  • His intention > to make the reader comprehend a situation through his/her observation
  • Descriptive essay — often a reflection of the author’s personality

4. Expository essay

  • Explains a topic without giving the author’s views
  • Conveys info about a topic/situation/fact/state
  • Tone — detached, objective & matter of fact
  • Imparts to the reader the info & knowledge that the author possesses

5. Reflective / Philosophical Essay

  • Discusses a profound & deep issue
  • The author discusses universal human issues like life, death, truth, faith, love etc.
  • The author rises above the immediate & mundane
  • Universalizes the personal
  • A comprehensive & unemotional perspective

FEATURES OF A WELL WRITTEN ESSAY

  • Is the result of careful planning & selection of material
  • Rejects what is redundant
  • Is comprehensive in its approach & vision
  • Highlights all the aspects related to the issue under discussion
  • Is written in an objective & detached manner
  • Is well balanced & not lop-sided; strikes a balance in its different parts & gives due importance to each of its various parts
  • Coherence – does not focus on individual aspects of the problem; creates the impact of one organic whole
  • Reflects consistency & logical sequence of ideas in a composed & controlled manner
  • No ornate & bombastic words/exaggerations but emphatic & powerful words
  • Is direct, simple, vigorous & lucid without ambiguities, equivocations & verbal juggleries
  • Has a carefully chosen title

STAGES IN ESSAY WRITING

  1. Collecting the relevant material
  2. Defining the scope
    • An essay is always specific & to the point; so the scope of the presentation of the idea has to be defined & the title carefully chosen
  3. Making an outline/ skeletal form
    • The main & sub-points of the essay
    • Keeps us focused & systematic in taking up the various issues involved in the essay
    • Helps us express ourselves in a coherent way
    • Helps us to avoid writing something redundant & missing out an important aspect of the issue
  4. Making the first draft
    • Jot down the sequence in which the different ideas will be dealt with & prepare a rough sketch
  5. Revising & editing
    • Pay careful attention to maintaining the logical development of the idea Reshape the matter & rephrase the material
    • Make the style compact & direct without ambiguity

COMPONENTS OF AN ESSAY — 3 PARTS

  1. Introduction
    • Keep the introduction brief & effective
    • Avoid starting abruptly or too philosophically
    • Define/explain the title in a precise, specific way
    • Use quotations, statements/sayings to introduce the reader to the main idea
    • Don’t take sides on an issue or sound prejudiced
    • Avoid jargons, cliches, & bombastic beginnings
  2. Development of an idea/ the main body
    • Evaluate all the possible aspects of a problem / topic / issue
    • Give due importance to each aspect
    • Relate all the ideas to one another
    • Connect this part to the hopes raised /promises made in the introduction
    • Maintain equality in the length & size of different paragraphs
    • Analyse the different aspects of the problem exhaustively & leave nothing to chance
    • Use supporting material to develop ideas
    • Use brief/extended examples, facts, comparison, contrasts, expert testimony to make the text look comprehensive & authentic
    • The main body should automatically lead to the conclusion
  3. Conclusion
    • Reinforces the idea already illustrated & established in the main body
    • Avoid developing new ideas in the conclusion
    • Avoid feeble endings
    • Pack it with force & vigour
    • Should naturally emerge out of the discussion
    • Should be crisp & in cohesion with the other parts of the essay

Chapter 13 PARAGRAPH WRITING

  • A paragraph is a group of sentences
  • A well-structured paragraph has a beginning, a middle & an end

STRUCTURE – 3 Parts

1. Topic sentence/Introducer

  • The first sentence that introduces the main idea
  • Usually appears in the beginning of a paragraph
  • Gives the core idea & emphasizes it
  • Guides the readers to know what it is all about

Two major functions: Structural & Interpretive

  1. Structural topic sentences
  2. Describe the shape of the argument
  3. Help to follow the argument
  4. Guide the readers to anticipate & move with the rest of the paragraph
  5. Interpretive topic sentences
  6. Offer a conclusion/reaction/feeling
  7. Acquaint the readers with the author’s perspective
  8. So more valuable than structural topic sentence
  9. Structural topic sentence does not tell us a lot about the topic
  10. Interpretive topic sentence allows the writer to freely express his/her interpretation of the data & also tries to convince the reader
  11. Both are known as introducers
  12. Introducer > lays the foundation for the rest of the argument to follow
  13. Raises hopes and makes promises

2. Supporting details/Developers

  • Constitute the main body of the passage
  • Fulfil the promise made by the introducers
  • Substantiate, augment & authenticate the claims made by the introducers

3. The concluding sentences / Terminators

  • Wind up the discussion
  • Leave on the reader the final impression about the crux of the entire paragraph 

CONSTRUCTION OF A PARAGRAPH — TECHNIQUES 

  1. Narrative Description
  2. Suits the paragraphs that have an intense emotion to express
  3. Sustains our interest by telling a story in an engaging manner
  4. Comparisons & Contrasts
  5. Two similar things are compared/two dissimilar things are contrasted
  6. Make the argument forceful & emphatic
  7. Prove our perspectives in an objective manner
  8. Sustained Analogy
  9. Analogy = comparison of things that are generally not from the same class
  10. Extensive use of such comparisons = sustained analogy
  11. Is figurative & literary in its impact & appeal
  12. Cause and Effect
  13. An important device that helps to establish a relationship b/w certain events & the reasons behind them
  14. Convinces readers in a scientific & logical manner
  15. Quotations & Paraphrasing
  16. Quoting authorities substantiates a point of view
  17. Peer testimony = when the words of common people are quoted
  18. Enumeration
  19. Listing a series of ideas to substantiate the topic sentence

FEATURES OF A PARAGRAPH

  1. Unity
  2. The togetherness of ideas
  3. A paragraph should have one central idea – outlined through the topic sentence — & the subordinating ideas that help the main idea
  4. Coherence
  5. All the ideas fit together well
  6. E.g.: arguing for an idea & arguing against it at the same time result in incoherence
  7. Expansion & Emphasis
  8. Properly expanding & emphasizing the idea introduced in a sentence
  9. Taking the generated idea to its logical conclusion

Chapter 12: NOTE MAKING

Note Taking = when you listen to a speaker or watch documentaries & jot down notes

IMPORTANCE OF NOTE TAKING

  • Helps us to focus & concentrate on what is said
  • Helps us to prepare for tests & exams
  • Are the key points to understand a subject
  • Helps us to understand the complex concepts or elements of the subject

FEATURES OF GOOD NOTES

  • Brief, concise & written in the 3rd person
  • Contain only the relevant details/facts of the subject
  • Avoid illustrations/descriptions except in science & technology-oriented subjects
  • Info presented in phrases/words/brief sentences; follows a specific gr pattern
  • Info presented in a logical sequence
  • Usually divided into > main points, sub-points, sub-sub-points and so on

NOTE TAKING IN CLASS > Three Stages

  1. Get ready to take notes (before a class)
  2. Review the notes from the previous class
  3. Complete the assigned readings
  4. Take notes (during a class)
  5. Focus your attention on what the teacher is saying & write quickly
  6. Rewrite the notes (after a class)
  7. Complete your notes by replacing short forms/abbreviations into words
  8. Check with other students to ensure that you have not missed any important info

 NOTE MAKING = when you read & prepare notes

IMPORTANCE OF NOTE MAKING

  • Helps us to observe & record the crucial & finer aspects of a text / a phenomenon
  • Helps us to appraise the text / a situation from close quarters
  • Helps us to figure out the complexity of an idea/a thought / situation
  • Helps us to recall & recapture the intensity of an observed phenomenon & express it in our own words

METHODS OF PREPARING NOTES > 5

  1. The Cornell Method = a systematic format for condensing notes
  2. Leave a two & a half inch margin on the left & a six inch area on the right to make notes
  3. Leave sufficient space b/w each new point
  4. Write the notes in the main space (6 inch area)
  5. Use the left-hand space to label each significant bit of info & detail with a cue / key word

Advantages

  • Is organized & systematic; so helps in recording & reviewing notes
  • Is an easy format for pulling out major concepts & ideas
  • Is a simple & efficient method
  • Saves time & effort
  • Is like a ‘do-it-right-in-the-first-place’ system
  • See fig. 12.1 on page 186
  • The Outlining Method
  • Indented outlining > the best method for informative kind of lectures & texts.
  • The most general info begins on the left
  • Each specific group of facts indented with spaces to the right.
  • For headings Roman numerals, letters of the alphabet, & Arabic numerals are commonly used at different levels.
  • For a sample refer to page 187

Advantages

  • a well-organized system if used rightly.
  • helps in recording the content & also observing the relationship among various pts.
  • helps to keep the review process easy.

Disadvantages

  • this method requires more thought into the subject matter for accurate organization.
  • lends limited review as it is very brief.
  • cannot be used if the lecture is rushed through
  • The Mapping Method
  • Is a graphic repsn of the whole talk/lecture.
  • Used when the lecture content is heavy & well-organized.
  • Have to use our cognitive & analytical skills & critical thinking to create a map of the info.

Advantages

  • Helps us to track the talk/lecture visually.
  • Easy to review the entire info in no time.
  • Different colours can be used for highlighting.
  • The Taxonomizing Method
  • Helps in charting/recording the info in a systematic manner.
  • The page is divided into quadrangles & labelled with appropriate headings such as history, causes, effects & measures.
  • The info can be recorded into the suitable category.

Advantages 

  • Facilitates in taking down notes as quickly as possible.
  • Reduces the amount of unnecessary writing.
  • Provides an easy review mechanism for memorizing the facts & studying the comparisons & relationships.
  • The Sentence Method
  • Used by students who do not know the technical way of taking down notes.
  • Every new thought/fact/topic is written on a separate line.

Advantages

  • We get more/all the info.
  • Notes prepared by using this method give a sufficient idea of the content of the actual text

Disadvantages

  • The major/minor points cannot be determined from the numbered sequence.
  • Difficult to edit without rewriting by clustering related points.

Chapter 11 WRITING AS A SKILL

  • Writing is a skill like swimming or driving. 
  • Constant practice and interest in these skills can make a person good at it.
  • Writing is different from these skills.
  • It is the physical manifestation of language and is an intellectual skill.
  • All languages serve as tools to express our thoughts, feelings, ideas and beliefs.
  • So more effort and dedication are needed to master the art of writing.
  • Writing requires patience and perseverance.

FUNCTIONAL USE OF WRITING

  • Writings > four major categories
  • PERSONAL WRITING > what we write to our friends, family, et al.
  • Expresses our thoughts & emotions.
  • Suffused with emotions.
  • Subjective ideas.
  • Personal choice of words & expressions.
  • It is warm & subjective.
  • CREATIVE WRITING > expresses deep thoughts and imaginative perceptions.
  • Emotions & thoughts play a pivotal role.
  • Is imaginative & poetic.
  • Intense in its appeal & impact.
  • Literary style = enriched by figures of speech.
  • So it is delightful as well as instructive.
  • At times the style is complex and abstract.
  • BUSINESS WRITING > a clear, precise and direct form of expression.
  • Emerges from the requisites in a person’s professional life.
  • The focus is on facts and data.
  • So comprises factual descriptions & analyses.
  • More specific in purpose, objective in tone & formal in expression.
  • Direct and concrete words.
  • Unambiguous sentences which are to the point
  • ACADEMIC WRITING > scholarly & research based.
  • Elaborate prose style.
  • Lengthy paragraphs based on wider thoughts and studies.
  • Makes use of multiple cross-references and citations.
  • Conveys the idea through domain based terminology.

CONDENSATION & ITS FORMS

  • In certain situations — discussions, writing assignments & project reports — we have to be brief, clear and precise.
  • Five forms of condensation
  •  PRECIS — the most common form to be read and written both by a student & a professional.
  • Is a short and concise account of some text.
  • Purpose – briefly restate the central idea and the important points (none of the details) of the original text.
  • Must observe — the principles of clarity, coherence, completeness, conciseness, & exactness

PRECIS – WORKING PRINCIPLES

  • Be brief and precise > a precis must be concise, precise and focused.
  • Normal length — 1/3 of the original text.
  • Be complete > a precis must be as complete and comprehensive as the original text but in a few words.
  • All the important points must be incorporated.
  • Be choosy > only the indispensable part of the original text must be chosen for the precis.
  • Discard examples, illustrations, quotations, and similar superfluous material included in the original text.
  • Be original > express the author’s view in your own words without distorting/modifying it.
  • Neither add your ideas nor omit any important idea of the author.
  • Be coherent > a good precis must give the author’s ideas in a compact, complete and coherent way.
  • Be clear > clarity of expression should not be lost in the zeal to condense the text

SEVEN-STEP LADDER

  • Be original > express the author’s view in your own words without distorting/modifying it. Neither add your ideas nor omit any important idea of the author.
  • Be coherent > a good precis must give the author’s ideas in a compact, complete and coherent way.
  • Be clear > clarity of expression should not be lost in the zeal to condense the text
  • Review & compare > compare your version with the original; count the no of words.
  • Edit & revise > incorporate all the alterations, modifications you made in the first draft & shape the final version of the precis.

A SAMPLE PRECIS

Passage

How you can best improve your English depends on where you live and particularly on whether or not you live in an English speaking community. If you hear English spoken every day and mix freely with English speaking people, that is on the whole an advantage. On the other hand, it is often confusing to have the whole language, poured over you at once. Ideally, a step-by-step course should accompany or lead up to this experience. It will also help a great deal if you can easily get the sort of English books in which you are interested.

To read a lot is essential. It is stupid not to venture outside the examination ‘set-books’ or the text books you have chosen for intensive study. Read as many books in English as you can, not as a duty but for pleasure. Do not choose the most difficult books you find, with the idea of listing and learning as many new words as possible; choose what is likely to interest you and be sure in advance that it is not too hard. You should not have to be constantly looking up new words in the dictionary, for that deadens interest and checks real learning. Look up a word here and there, but as a general policy, try to push ahead, guessing what would mean from the context.

It is extensive and not intensive reading that normally helps you to get interested in extra-reading and thereby improve your English. You should enjoy the feeling which extensive reading gives of having some command of the language. As you read, you will become more and more familiar with words and sentence patterns you already know, understanding them better and better as you meet them in more and more contexts, some of which may differ only slightly from others.

POINTS

  • People living in an English speaking community learn English faster.
  • They are in touch with people who speak English fluently and every day.
  • Reading English books is essential for learning English.
  • We should read books meant for concentrated study & also those that give us pleasure.
  • Read books that you like and are simple.
  • Reading must be for enjoyment & not for increasing your vocabulary.
  • Reading familiarizes us with the structure & vocabulary of the language.

Title — Learning English

Living in an English speaking community helps to improve one’s English. However, a gradual introduction to the various aspects of the language is a better way of learning. This is possible through books prepared for this purpose, which require concentrated reading. Reading books is essential for learning English. One should read not only text books but also books for pleasure. These should be in simple language and of one’s own choice. This reading would be for enjoyment, and not merely for increasing one’s stock of words. This kind of reading would familiarize the reader with the usages and grammatical aspects of the language.

  • SUMMARY – often included in formal reports
  • Gives in brief the findings of a study, a journalistic article or a geographical survey.
  • Avoids examples & illustrations.
  • Emphasizes the main arguments & conclusions of the original work.
  • Follows the sequence of the ideas as expressed in the original & detailed work.
  • ABSTRACT — often preferred to a summary in specialized forms of communication.
  • Often published along with a research article in journals & magazines.
  • Highlights the purpose, scope & significance of a work.
  • SYNOPSIS — a condensed & shortened version of an article/research paper/a chapter of a book/a report/a book itself.
  • Highlights in brief all the essential features of the original document.
  • Is required when researchers have to submit research proposals/dissertations/theses to universities.
  • The researcher has to highlight the purpose, scope & significance of the research in it.
  • It includes a reference to the methods adopted for data collection.
  • It also provides the general plan of the entire work & tries to establish its importance in the relevant field.
  • PARAPHRASING — reproducing the author’s ideas in your own words.
  • The author’s words can be used.
  • Paraphrasing of write-ups conveys in simple terms an idea which appears to be too ambiguous/philosophical/poetic to follow.
  • A paraphrased text of a classic brings the text written in different languages & times to readers who can follow only a simpler version of it.

BASICS OF COMMUNICATION (4/4)

MODULE: 4

Barriers of Communication

Communication plays a major role in developing a relationship. It can also affect the relationship among the members of a family or management in any institute. Communication influences the effectiveness of instruction, performance evaluation, and the tackling of problems related to discipline. Communication should be always straightforward. There are certain barriers that make it complex, difficult and frustrating. Some barriers of communication are:

  1. Physiological barrier — Physiological barriers to communication are related to the limitations of the human body and the human mind (memory, attention and perception) resulting from individuals’ personal discomfort, due to ill health, poor eye sight or hearing difficulties.
  2. Poor listening skills — Listening to another person id a difficult task. A typical speaker utters about 125 words per minute; a typical listener can receive 400-600 words in a minute. Thus about three fourth of listening time is free time which often side tracks the listener.
  3. Information overload — We are surrounded by a wealth of information. It is essential to stem the flow of information or else it is likely to be misinterpreted or forgotten or overlooked. Consequently, communication may get distorted.
  4. Inattention — At times we do not listen but only hear. For example, if you talk to a person who is absorbed in his work, he will not pay any attention to you; he will only hear you and may not get what you are talking about.
  5. Psychological barrier — Psychological factors such as distrust, unhappy emotions and misconception can jeopardize the process of communication. If a person has personal problems such as worries and stress about a chronic illness, it may impinge on his/her communication with others.
  6. Emotions — The emotional state of a person at a particular point of time affects his/her communication with others as it has an impact on the body language (non-verbal communication). Our emotional state causes physiological changes in our body that may affect the pronunciation, pressure of the speech and tone of the voice of the sender as well as the perception, thinking process and interpretation of information of the receiver during verbal communication.
  7. Poor retention — Human memory cannot function beyond the limit. We cannot always retain all the facts/ information about what is told to us, especially if we are not interested or not attentive.
  8. Physical and environmental distraction — Physical things like the telephone, excessively hot or cold work places, bright lights, glare on computer screens, and loud noises can stand in the way of effective communication.
  9. Social Barriers — Include the social psychological phenomenon of conformity in which the norms, values and behaviour of an individual follow those of the wider group. Social factors such as age, gender, socio economic status and marital status also act as barriers to communication in certain situation.
  10. Cultural barriers — Cultural barriers to communication often arise when individuals in one social group develop different norms, values or behaviour to individuals associated with another group. Cultural difference leads to difference in interests, knowledge, values and tradition. So, these cultural factors are barriers to communication.
  11. Semantic barriers — Language, slang, jargon etc. are some of the semantic barriers.
  12. Linguistic barriers — The use of difficult or inappropriate words in communication can prevent people from understanding the message. Linguistic differences between people can also hinder communication.
  13. Technological failure — Messages not delivered due to technological failure – if the receiver is not in mobile network area and the sender has not activated delivery report in message setting.
  14. Unclear messages — In terms of meaning, grammar and words may act as a barrier to communication.

BASICS OF COMMUNICATION (3/4)

MODULE: 3

Levels of Communication

            Human communication takes place at various levels: (a) extra personal, (b) intrapersonal, (c) interpersonal, and (d) organizational.

  1. Extra personal communication refers to the communication between human beings and non-human entities. For example, when our pet dog wags its tail when it sees us, it is extra personal communication.
  2. Intrapersonal communication does not come under the purview of communication studies but under that of psychology as it does not involve two or more people. It is a conversation that one has in his mind with himself. Without such internal dialogues an individual cannot proceed to the interpersonal and organizational levels. In fact, while a person communicates with another person or persons, internal dialogue — planning, weighing and processing information — continues concurrently.
  3. Interpersonal communication is sharing of information between individuals or a group of individuals. It is direct, written or oral communication between one person and another, one group and another, one person and one group or one group and one person. Interpersonal communication can be:
  4. Dyadic communication — It involves two people and is the most common type of communication; e.g. conversation between two friends, between mother and child, between teacher and student etc.
  5. Small group communication refers to the interaction among three or more people connected through a common purpose, mutual influence and shares identity.  It involves a situation when each member actively communicates with the other group members. It is an important communication unit in civic or personal or academic or professional context. Small groups often possess the following characteristics; (a) group members can form coalitions to defend positions and other members of the group (b) small groups do not pose the threat of de-individuation (c) opinions of all group members are heard; e.g. groups of friends, small circles of colleagues.
  6. Public communication — Individuals interact in the public sphere to deliver a message to a specific audience. It occurs when a group becomes too large for all members to contribute. Public communication is characterized by unequal amount of speaking by one or two individuals and limited verbal feedback from listeners; e.g. classroom lectures, political speeches, church sermons etc.
  7. Mass communication conveys messages to an entire populace. Mass media informs, educates, and entertains. It can be categorised under three heads – a) Print Media (for e.g. books, newspapers, magazines); b) Electronic Media (for e.g. audio – radio, audio-visual – films, TV, Internet; c) Speeches given by a prophet or political reader. Mass communication differs from other forms of communication in the following ways: (1) messages are aimed at and carefully tailored to specific demographic audiences; (2) there is no direct contact between sender and receiver; (3) the sender has total control over the message sent; (4) the sender has no way of clarifying miscommunications immediately; (5) mass communication is generally sponsored by large organizations. 

Interpersonal communication can be formal or informal. For example, a student’s interaction with his classmate is different from his interaction with his teacher.

  • Organizational communication – communication in an organization takes place at different hierarchical levels. It is essential for the sustenance of an organization. Organizational communication can be further divided into: (a) internal-operational which refers to communication that takes place within an organization; (b) external-operational which refers to the work related communication that an organization makes with people outside the organization; (c) personal communication that occurs without any business purpose.

Channels of Communication

            A communication channel is a medium through which a message is transmitted to its intended audience; that is, a channel is a physical transmission medium such as a wire or a logical connection over a multiple medium such as a radio channel. It is used to convey an information signal from one or several senders (transmitters) to one or several receivers. A channel has a certain capacity for transmitting information. It is often measured by band width in H2 or data rate in bits per second. Examples of communications based on different channels are given below:

            Print Media                             Electronic Media

            Bulletins                                  E- mail messages

            Brochures                                Video messages

            Letters                                     Instant messages

Reports                                    Television broadcasts

            Newspapers                             Radio broadcasts

Press Releases                         Tele-conferences

            Articles                                    Telephone conversations

            Books                                      Wi-fi or internet networks

            Handbooks                              Blogs, web-sites

            Advertisements in papers        Social networking sites (FB, Twitter)

            Magazines

            Company Manuals

Types of Communication

Communication is essential for the internal functioning of any organization. The interaction between the different individuals working in an organization or company takes place through formal, informal and unofficial channels.

Formal Communication – flows through official channels and refers to the formal methods of communication that are followed in a management. It goes through a hierarchy and is associated with the particular positions of the communicator and the recipient in the organization. Internal-operational and external-operational communication can be considered formal. Policy or procedural changes, orders, instructions, confidential reports, promotion letters etc. come under formal communication. Written communications like company manuals, handbooks, magazines, bulletins and reports that are designed to meet the specific needs of the organization are also formal communications.

            Formal communication has certaindistinct features. It is used in a professional setting and has official recognition. It is always planned, dictated and guided. It is mostly in written form using long sentences and full words without any contractions and abbreviations. It is also complex and thorough.

Informal Communication – occurs within informal groups, friends and family. It lacks official recognition and is mostly a word-of-mouth communication. Informal communication includes tea time gossip, casual gatherings, lunch time meetings etc. It is based on the informal relationships that are built up in an organization and may be conveyed by a nod, a glance, a gesture, a smile and even silence.

            Formal communication is generally more articulate (clearly expressed), direct and has got official backing. On the other hand, informal communication is more indirect, less explicit and is spontaneous and flexible. It serves the social needs of the individuals in the organization and acts as a safety valve for pent-up emotions. Nevertheless, it can also contain distorted information and may even degenerate into negative outlets of expression like rumour.

            In an organization, information flows through formal and informal channels of communication.

Unofficial Communication

Grapevine — It is an informal, unofficial and personal communication channel that takes place within an organisation. It cuts across formal channels of communication. The origin and direction of the flow of the informally conveyed message cannot be traced. Like the grapevine it is impossible to find the origin of information and spreads where it can. It has certain features. It is oral, mostly undocumented and open to change. It spreads very fast. Moreover, there is inaccurate deletion of crucial details and exaggeration of the most dramatic details. It does not have any definite pattern/direction; it can be horizontal, vertical or diagonal. There are four types of grapevine:

Single strand chain – involves the passing of information through a line of persons

E.g.: A>B>C>D>E>F

Gossip chain – one person seeks and conveys the information to everyone

E.g.: C<B<A>D>E

Probability chain – a random process

One person transmits the information to others in accordance with the laws of probability

Cluster chain – a person conveys the information to selected persons he/she trusts. They pass it on to other selected persons. It is the dominant grapevine in an organization.

Grapevine has some advantages. It carries information rapidly and obtains feedback quickly. It also serves as an emotional support. At the same time there are disadvantages too. Much of the information is not verified, not trustworthy, and hampers the goodwill of the organization. It also leads to hostility.

Formal Channels of Communication

            Formal communication channels are the official pathways to send information inside and outside the organization. E-mails, newsletters, memos, circulars, notices etc. are formal channels of communication. On the basis of the direction of the flow, formal communication can be classified into four types:

  1. Downward communication – refers to communication from the higher level in the hierarchy to the lower levels. Its main function is to provide direction and control. A communication from the general manager of a company to the branch managers and that from the Principal of a college to the heads of departments are examples of downward communication. Annual confidential reports, official instructions, notices, memos, telephone conversations, voice mails, e-mails, face-to-face conversations are forms of downward communication. Downward communication is essential for the functioning of an organization as it transfers information, instruction, advice and ideas to subordinate staff.
  2. Upward communication – refers to communication from subordinates to superiors. Upward communication fosters friendly relations and provides feedback on several areas of organizational functioning. A business report from the branch manager of a company to the Managing Director and a report from the head of a department to the Principal, business proposals and grievance committees are examples of upward communication. Upward communication promotes better working relationships within an organization by giving the subordinate staff opportunities to share their views and ideas with their superiors.
  3. Lateral / Horizontal communication – takes place among peer groups (people of equal position and grade ; e.g. the HOD of English and the HOD of Politics ) or hierarchically equivalent people / people working on the same level of hierarchy. Horizontal communication develops team work and promotes group co- ordination within an organization / institution. It is necessary to facilitate co-ordination, save time and bridge the communication gap among various departments. Horizontal communication is carried out through informal discussions, telephone calls, tele-conferencing, video conferencing, routine meetings etc.
  4. Diagonal / Cross-wise communication – flows in all directions and cuts across functions and levels in an organization / institution; example a sales manager who communicates directly with the Vice-President who is in a different division as well as at a higher level in the organization or an Assistant Professor who communicates directly with the Vice Chancellor of the University. Diagonal communication is the product of modern changes in information technology and management. It is basically a response to market needs that demand speed and efficiency. The increased use of e-mail encourages diagonal communication.
Downward Upward Horizontal Diagonal
Communication
from the
decision makers to workers.
Communication from employees to management Communication among workers at the same level Communication flows in all
directions
Seniors to
subordinate
employees
subordinate
employees to
seniors
Seniors to
seniors
Employees to
employees
No protocol

Communication Network – is a pattern or flow of messages that traces the communication from start to finish. Networks of communication are ways to organize communications, each with different advantages.

Types of Communication Networks

There are five common networks that come into play in formal communication in an organization.

(a) Chain network – represents a vertical communication channel in which communication can flow only upward or downward. The chain network has a leader A who decides which messages should be passed on and how. This network is used to convey messages that are legally correct.

(b)   Y-network – is a multi- level hierarchy where two subordinates report to one senior with two levels of authority above him.

c)   Wheel network – where several subordinates report to a superior. Though the subordinates are of equal rank, all of them report to one superior, without any interaction among themselves.

(d) Circle network — allows employees to interact with adjacent members and no further.

(e)   All- channel network – is least structured; it enables employees to communicate freely with the others. There are no restrictions on who should communicate with whom. No employee assumes a leading role formally or informally. Hence, everybody’s views are equally and openly shared.

Verbal / Non-verbal Communication

Communication can mainly be categorized into verbal communication and non-verbal communication.

Verbal Communication – refers to the use of language to communicate. There are two main types of verbal communication possible. They are intrapersonal communication and interpersonal communication.

Non-verbal Communication – is the process of sending and receiving wordless messages. Non-verbal communication supplements verbal communication. Its purpose is to express the feelings behind a message. Our daily interaction is 35% verbal and 65% non- verbal communication. The several categories of non-verbal communication are:

  1. Body Language — all the expressions that we share by means of our body movements. Kinesics is the study of how we use body movement and facial expressions. The elements of body language are: (a) Personal Appearance — A person’s personal appearance is important. He/she should wear a dress neatly washed and ironed. (b) Posture — the way we sit, stand and carry ourselves. E.g.: drooping shoulders indicate depression, raised chin and stiff shoulders indicate defiance, sitting on the edge of the chair in an interview is a sign of tension; (c) Gestures — the physical movement of arms, legs, hands torso & head.  Gesturing is a natural part of speech and thinking and is culture specific. It offloads some of the mental effort of verbal communication. For example, the palms spread outwards indicate perplexity. Interlocking and rubbing palms together indicate tension. A locked arm posture indicates defiance. Waving hands means saying hello/goodbye. Thumbs up indicate agreement or appreciation; (d) Facial expressions. The face is the index of the mind. Facial expressions and movement that show joy, disapproval, anger etc. ; e.g. frown — disapproval;  clenched teeth and moving jaw – suppression of anger;  raised eyebrow – surprise / sarcasm;  lopsided smile – disbelief / sarcasm; narrowing one’s eyebrows —  lack of trust in others; (e) Eye contact. Eyes are the windows to the soul. They truthfully convey our emotions & feelings. Looking into a person’s eyes is the best way to understand his/her attitude or reaction. Eyes play a significant role in human communication. Avoiding eye contact indicates evasion, fear, doubt.       
  2. Proxemics – Space matters a lot to us. We are reluctant to board a crowded train/bus. All of us want our own territory and space to feel relaxed and enjoy a comfort that is lost if we are surrounded by people/things. While communicating we must respect the territories of others. All of us have a psychologically defined territory. Not many are welcomed beyond a point. These psychological territories are divided into four zones. Intimate zone – no stranger is welcome here. It is shared by lovers, spouses, children, parents, & very close relatives & friends. Anyone who tries to enter is an intruder. Personal zone – shared by close friends, colleagues and associates. Social zone – the most official/formal interactions take place here; also interaction with occasional visitors like gardeners, plumbers, electricians etc. Public zone – public speaking & presentations come in this zone. 
  3. Haptics – refers to touch. Touch is the most common type of non-verbal communication. We use touch to share feelings and reveal relationships; e.g. handshakes, hugs, holding hands. The meaning conveyed by touch is dependent on the situation, the relationship between the communicators and the manner of touch. It is culture-centric. 
  4. Chronemics – refers to the perception of time in communication. It includes punctuality, willingness to wait. Time can be used differently by individuals and in cultures.
  5. Chromatic – the use of colour to communicate. E.g.: white > peace; purple > royalty; red > danger. 
  6. Para language / Vocalics — the term used to describe the different aspects of our voice. It includes pitch, volume, tone, rate, pause, articulation, pronunciation. This type of non-verbal communication is vocal and enhances verbal communication by giving it a special nuance.  Pitch is the rise & fall in the human voice and it plays a crucial role in communication. It expresses all the emotions that are to be conveyed. Volume refers to the loudness/softness of the voice. It is not just what you say but how you say it. E.g.: whispering = you want to hide something; speaking aloud = you want to be heard by all. While addressing an audience if you are not loud enough it suggests lack of confidence. Speaking loud over the phone = lack of good manners. The linguist George L. Trager developed a classification system which consists of voice set, voice quality and vocalization. Voice set refers to the context in which the speaker is speaking. This can include gender, mood, age, culture etc. Voice quality includes volume, pitch, tempo, rhythm, resonance, nasality, accent etc. Vocalization consists of characterizers, qualifiers and segregates. Characterizers are emotions expressed while speaking such as laughing, yawning, crying etc. Qualifiers refer to the style of delivering a message; e.g. shouting, whispering. Vocal segregates such as ‘uh-huh’ tell the speaker that the listener is actually listening. Tone reveals the attitude of the speaker —   friendly, critical, sarcastic etc. Rate refers to the no of words you speak per minute. The normal rate is 120-150 words per minute. Pause is a short silence flanked by words and lets the listener reflect on the message and digest it. Pause indicates the speaker’s uncertainty, tension, hesitation etc. Articulation is the clarity of your voice. A clearly articulated message is a sign of competence. The speaker should speak in such a way that all the words are understood by the listener. Pronunciation has an important role. We have to use the accepted form of pronunciation. In the case of English, it is RP.
  7. Silence – People communicate through silence too. It is an often neglected but powerful tool. Silence can effectively communicate responses like sorrow, anger, disapproval etc. It allows us to think, breathe, listen & hold the attention of the listener and heightens the expectation of others. It allows others to process what you have said and consider their response. Silence can be a cold sort of punishment; e.g.: the silent treatment when you go home late. In an interview silence can encourage the other person to ‘open up’. It can also be use intentionally to create anxiety & discomfort in the other person.

Differences between verbal and non-verbal communication

  • When we communicate verbally we use a single channel (words). But in non-verbal communication we use multiple channels such as gestures, facial expressions, pitch of the voice and body language. As verbal language is arbitrary and ambiguous, it is not very easy to decode. When verbal communication is accompanied by non-verbal communication decoding becomes easy.
  • Verbal communication is linear that is, messages have a beginning and an end. But non-verbal communication is continuous that is, we can get non-verbal cues even after the verbal message has ended.
  • Verbal communication is conscious that is, we think and formulate the words in our mind before we communicate. Non-verbal communication is unconscious and spontaneous. Our emotions and responses are naturally displayed in our facial expressions and body language.
  • Verbal communication is language specific that is, the receiver can understand the sender’s message only if he knows the linguistic codes the sender uses. For example, an English language communication won’t be understood by a person who knows only the linguistic codes of Malayalam. Non-verbal communication is of a universal nature as smiles, frowns, body language etc. mean the same thing the world over.

Sign language

A sign language is a language which uses manual communication and body language to convey meaning instead of sound patterns. It involves simultaneously combining hand shapes, and movement of the hands, arms or body and facial expressions to express a speaker’s thoughts. Sign language is used not only by the deaf, but also by people who can hear but cannot speak. Sign languages are independent of oral languages and follow their own paths of development. For example, British Sign Language and American Sign Language are quite different and mutually intelligible even though the people of Britain and America who can hear and speak share the same oral language, English. The grammars of sign languages do not resemble that of spoken languages used in the same geographical area. Sign languages exploit tactile features and also the features of the visual medium. Oral language is by and large linear; only one sound can be made or received at a time. Sign language, on the other hand, is visual and so can use simultaneous expression.

Functions of non-verbal communication     

Non-verbal communication is used to duplicate verbal communication; e.g. head nod duplicating yes / no; expanding arms indicating something large. It replaces verbal communication; e.g. answering yes/no question with just a head nod/head shake. It complements verbal communication; e.g. if a friend informs you that he/she has come first in a competition, you not only verbally congratulate him/her but also shake his/her hand or pat him/her on the back. Non-verbal communication accents or strengthens verbal communication; e.g. we can raise the volume of our voice on certain words to accent communication – I am VERY angry with you and expresses emotions; e.g. smile – joy, tears – sorrow, frown – anger/irritation. It regulates verbal communication; e.g. if we want to talk to a person, we might make eye contact, move closer, face the person directly etc. During communication we can use vocal segregates like ‘um’, ‘uh-huh’ to keep the communication flowing from the sender. It contradicts verbal communication; e.g. to your question ‘how are you’, your friend might say ‘I am fine’ but from the facial expression you know that all is not well. Non-verbal communication indicates relational standing; e.g. romantic partners stand close to one another and touch frequently but mere acquaintances maintain a certain distance. It demonstrates and maintains cultural norms; e.g. shaking hands, hugging, greeting with hands folded reveal the respective cultures of nations.

Circumstantial Speech – is a communication disorder in which the focus of a conversation drifts. In circumstantiality, unnecessary details and irrelevant remarks cause a delay in getting to the point. But in circumstantial speech, the speaker eventually does come back to the point as opposed to tangential speech in which the speaker never returns to the point after the drift. A person afflicted by circumstantiality has slowed thinking and it is often difficult to elicit information from such persons because of circumstantiality.

Sender-centric communication – is communication which prioritizes the sender. The sender has an idea and wants to communicate it to one or more persons. The aim of the sender is to convince or persuade the listeners to accept his views. There is neither room norm scope for response from the listeners. The rhetoric model of communication popularized by Aristotle is a perfect example of sender-centric communication. Any ‘telling’ can be considered as sender-centric communication; e.g. church sermons, religious discourses and political speeches.

Receiver-centric communication – is participatory communication. Though theoretically or conceptually, all communication is receiver-centric as it presupposes a receiver, not all communication allows for the active participation of the receiver. Every interactive communication can be said to be receiver-centric; e.g. chats, discussions, debates etc. In the modern definition receiver-centric communication allows enough space for the receiver to choose what he wants to hear/see/read. For example, www offers plenty of information sites to a person who browses the internet; but the one who browses chooses what he wants to read. The remote control is one device that has given great impetus to receiver-centric communication.

Organizational communication

An organization is defined as a social unit of people systematically structured and managed to pursue collective goals on a continuing basis. In an organization there is a management structure that determines relationships between functions and positions, responsibilities and authority. Every organization has a hierarchy but communication flows in various directions (upward communication, downward communication, horizontal) within the organization. Such communication follows logic and empirical evidence and is different from day to day communication. Organizational communication is the process whereby verbal, non-verbal and mediated messages are used to communicate matters of interest for the benefit of the organization. Organizational communication is usually arranged in networks such as chain, wheel, circular etc. It is important because it motivates the members by informing and clarifying them about the task to be done and about improving their performance. It helps in decision making by setting all the relevant information to the decision makers. It alters individuals’ attitudes to make them perform for the organization and for the betterment of the self. It assists in the ‘controlling process’ thus helping the organization functionally.

Socio-cultural aspects of communication We cannot ascertain a speaker’s intent unless we are aware of the sociocultural aspects that shape the content, form and language of a message. Thus, status, role, social identities and social relationships become communicative symbols signalled in the act of speaking. In order to interpret a message in a particular context, one must have knowledge of the social values associated with the speaker, his culture, community, ethnicity etc. For example, some communities place great value on verbal abilities, others on silence. In a community which values silence, a talkative person is viewed as abnormal and his messages are not taken seriously. Similarly, in a community which values verbal ability, mono-syllabic communication may be interpreted as arrogance, indifference etc. Several factors contribute to the meaning of a piece of communication; — (1) who the senders and receivers are (2) what is the channel used (written, printed, body language, para language) (3) what is the situation in which communication takes place (4) what the form of the message is – a word, a sentence, a letter, a poem, a sermon or sales talk. (4) what the belief system of the community is where communication happens.

BASICS OF COMMUNICATION (2/4)

MODULE: 2

MODELS OF COMMUNICATION

Aristotle’s Model

            Over 2300 years ago, Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher, laid the groundwork for modern public communication. He proposed a speaker-centred model of communication called the rhetoric model. It is applicable to the art of public speaking. In this model, the speaker is the centre of the communication process. The message of the speaker is aimed at a large audience. The role of the audience is passive, to be influenced and persuaded to the speaker’s way of thinking. There are five primary elements in this model Speaker > Speech (Message) > Listener (Audience) > Occasion > Effect.

According to Aristotle, good rhetoric is not only persuasive but also ethical. In his view, a public presentation is a balance of three things: — ethos (the ethical), pathos (the emotional) and logos (the logical). The ethos is the speaker and his character as revealed through the communication. The pathos is the audience and the emotions felt by them during the rhetoric. The logos is the actual words used by the speaker. Aristotle’s pathos was a novel idea in his time though it is not so today. Aristotle is the earliest rhetorician to identify the audience and their perception as an important part of public speaking. He believed that a speech was effective only if it stirred the emotions of the audience.

  • Ethos – is the Greek word for ‘character.’ It refers to the trustworthiness or credibility of the speaker or writer. Ethos is often conveyed through the tone and style of the message and through the way the speaker or writer refers to differing views. The speaker’s / writer’s reputation, his / her expertise in the field, and his / her previous record or integrity also affect ethos. The impact of ethos is called the argument’s ‘ethical appeal.’ We tend to be persuaded by people whom we respect and who, we think, have warmth, consideration for others, a good mind and solid learning.
  • Pathos – is the Greek word for ‘suffering’ or ‘experience.’ It is associated with emotional appeal or the appeal to the sympathy and imagination of the audience. Pathos makes an audience respond emotionally and also identify with the speaker’s point of view. The most common way of conveying pathos is through narrative or story which can turn the abstractions of logic into something palpable. The values and beliefs of the writer are implicit in the story and conveyed imaginatively to the reader. Pathos thus refers to the emotional and imaginative impact of the message on the audience.
  • Logos — is the Greek for ‘word.’ It refers to the internal consistency of the message – the clarity of the claim, the logic of its reasons and the effectiveness of its supporting evidence. The impact of logos on an audience is often called the argument’s logical appeal.      

The Shannon-Weaver Model of Communication           

Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver were engineers working for Bell Telephone Company in the United States. They designed the most influential of all early communication models. Their goal was to formulate a theory to find the most efficient way of transmitting electrical signals from one location to another and ensure the maximum efficiency of telephone cables and radio waves. Shannon and Weaver’s work developed during World War II; their main goal was to work out a way in which the channels of communication could be used most effectively. Their work was an invaluable help to communication engineers in dealing with the capacity of various communication channels in ‘bits per second.’ It contributed to computer science. It made ‘information’ ‘measureable’ and gave rise to the mathematical study of ‘information theory.’

The Shannon-Weaver model of communication is called ‘’the mother of all models.’’ It embodies the concepts of information source, message, transmitter, signals, channel, noise, receiver, information destination, encoding and decoding. It is referred to as transmission model of communication. Many everyday forms of communication appear to be less immediate methods of communication than face-to-face interaction; example using the radio, newspapers or the telephone. In these cases, technology is introduced. For instance, when the telephone is used, we speak; the phone turns the sound waves into electrical impulses and they are turned back into sound waves by the phone at the other end of the line.

            The Shannon-Weaver model suggests that all communication includes seven elements — (a) a source: — all human communication has some source (information source), a person or group of persons with a given purpose and a reason for communication. The terms transmitter and communicator also refer to source; (b) an encoder: — when we communicate with people, we have a particular purpose in mind – we want to show that we are friendly, or we want to give them some information or we want to get them to do something or to persuade them to our point of view. We express our purpose in the form of a message which is formulated in some kind of a code by the communication encoder. For instance, when a person talks on the telephone (the transmitter) he/she is the source of the message. The telephone is the encoder which turns his/her sounds into electrical impulses. In person-to-person communication, the encoding process is done by the source-vocal mechanism – the lip and tongue movements, the vocal cords, the lungs face muscles etc.; (c) a message: — whatever is communicated is the message; it is what communication is all about. The Shannon-Weaver model separates the message from the other components of the communication process. It portrays the message as a relatively uncomplicated matter. Meanings are not Shannon’s concern. Meanings are assumed to be within the signs used in the message and the receiver can take them out again. Aspects like the social context in which the message is transmitted, the assumptions made by source and receiver and their past experiences are simply disregarded; (d) channel: — is the medium through which the message is transmitted from one person to another. The channel connects the source with the receiver; (e) a decoder: — retranslates the message sent; (f) a receiver: — the person at the other end of the communication channel, who has the equipment (e.g. a telephone) to receive the message; (g) noise: — the factor that interferes with the transmission of the message.

            Shannon was primarily concerned with physical noise, that is any interference with the message traversing the channel or random error in the transmission of information; e.g. a motorbike roaring down the road when we are talking; mist on the inside of the windscreen of a car; smudges on a printed page or a person standing in front of the TV when we are watching it.  Then the signal received will be different from that sent due to noise. 

            The advantages of Shannon-Weaver model are its simplicity and generality. These advantages made the model attractive to several academic disciplines such as education, psychology, engineering and mathematics. It also drew serious academic attention to human communication and ‘information theory’ leading to further research.

            All the same this transmission model of communication has its weaknesses too. It is not analogous to much of human communication. Only a fraction of the information conveyed in interpersonal encounters can be taken as corresponding to the teletype action of transmitted signals. The model is formal and does not account for content. Shannon and Weaver were concerned only with technical problems relating to the selection and arrangement of information. For them only form matters and not content; hence their model does not apply to semantic dimensions of language. This model has no mechanism to distinguish important ideas from pure nonsense. For example, to Shannon all the following come under information – E=m2; birds fly; I think, therefore I am; don’t make noise; colourless green ideas speak furiously. The Shannon-Weaver model is static and linear. The source is looked upon as the active decision-maker who determines the meaning of the message; the receiver has only the passive secondary role of absorbing information. Communication is not seen as a simultaneous process of sending and receiving. The transmission model is an instrumental model that treats communication as a means to a predetermined end. It assumes that all communication is intentional; in reality people unintentionally communicate a great deal about their attitudes through body language. It does not give importance to context – situational, social, political, cultural, historical and institutional. Meaning cannot be independent of such contexts. The model also ignores the fact that communication is a shared social system and so it treats the participants as isolated individuals.   

Theodore Newcomb’s Model

            Theodore Newcomb formulated a triangular model of communication based on Fritz Heider’s balance theory. Newcomb’s article, ‘’An Approach to the Study of Communicative Act’’ published in the Psychological Review in1953, is the original source of co-orientation theory. In it he stated that communication, in its essence, establishes a common orientation of two or more individuals with respect to each other and simultaneously links them to a shared object of concern.

            Newcomb developed the co orientation model as a helpful tool in relational analysis of dyadic pairs. This simple model consists of two communicators, A and B and their orientation towards some ‘’object of communication,’’ X, which is part of their social environment. The object of communication could be an actual physical object ( a house or a painting ), an event (a birthday or a wedding ), an activity (playing cricket, watching television ) or a belief. Each communicator, A and B, has a simultaneous co-orientation towards his/ her communication partner (usually the level of attraction and feelings towards the partner) and towards the object of communication (the degree of positive or negative attitude about X).

            Newcomb’s ABX model gives due priority to the communicator, the recipient as well as the communication. ABX is a system in which internal relations are interdependent: if A changes, B and X will change as well; or if A changes his / her relationship with X, B will have to change his / her relationship either with X or with A. For example, if A and B are friends and X is something or someone known to both to them, A and B will be under pressure to communicate until they arrive at broadly similar attitudes to X. This model can be said to suggest the interaction between sender and receiver for any common goal or cause.

            Newcomb envisaged four basic components in his model: (1) A’s attitude towards X; (2) A’s attraction to B; (3) B’s attitude towards X and (4) B’s attraction to A. According to this model, both A and B have a natural tendency to strike a balance in their co-orientation towards X. X can be taken as the topic of smoking; if A has a negative attitude towards smoking (X), and a very positive attraction towards B, and B has a positive attitude A and towards smoking (X), then A will experience an imbalance. This will result in the inclination towards a revision of attitudes in order to effect a balance by either A decreasing his liking for B, or A changing his attitude towards X, or A changing B’s attitude to X to align with A’s. A’s actions are dependent on A’s own orientations as well as A’s perceptions of B’s orientation sand vice versa. A and B are able to understand each other’s thoughts and feelings. This model makes it clear that an index of a dyadic relationship comprises two things; (a) each person’s attitude towards the object of communication and attraction to the communication partner and (b) what each person perceives his/ her partner’s orientation to be.

            Newcomb’s ABX model is based on the psychological view of communication. He saw communication as a way in which people orient to their environment and to each other, on the basis of the concept of balance between one’s attitudes and beliefs and those that are important to another individual. If the balance is disturbed, communication is used to restore it. Newcomb’s model was the first model to introduce the role of communication in society or a social relationship to maintain equilibrium within the social system.  

BASICS OF COMMUNICATION (1/4)

MODULE: 01

What is communication? Communication is a much-hyped word in today’s world. It is derived from the Latin noun ‘communis’ and the Latin verb ‘communicare’ which mean ‘tomake common’ or ‘to share’ respectively. It is the mechanism which sustains human relations. Communication is the transfer of ideas, emotions, plans, messages, information, knowledge and skills from one person to another or within a group of people by using symbols, words, pictures, figures, graphs or illustrations. Meetings, lectures and conferences are referred to as ‘communication events.’ Newspapers, radio, television, and the computer are ‘communication media,’ while journalists, newsreaders, even camera crew are ‘communication professionals.’ Dreaming, talking, arguing in a discussion, speaking in public, reading a newspaper, watching the television are all different kinds of communication that take place in our everyday life.

The Communication Process          

Communication is a cyclic process that starts when the sender feels that there is a need to communicate with the receiver for a particular purpose. The sender creates a message either in the verbal or non-verbal form. The message is sent to the receiver with the help of channels of communication. The receiver accepts the message and gives the sender a feedback. The sender gets the feedback and determines whether the receiver has received the same message and got the meaning that he had intended to communicate. If the sender feels that the receiver has not received the same message and meaning, he/she again initiates the cycle of communication. The receiver need not be present or be aware of the sender’s intention to communicate at the time of communication. Thus communication can occur across vast distances in time and space. The communicating people should share an area of communicative commonality if the message is to be understood. The communicative process is complete once the receiver has understood the message of the sender.

Sender > Message > Channel Medium (face-to-face, mobile, letter) > Receiver > Feedback

               How are you? I am fine, all is well 

Elements of Communication

There are seven elements of communication

  1. Sender / Communicator / Encoder — is the person who initiates then process of communication and creates the message to be sent. Whenever the sender feels that there is a need to communicate some information to the other person (receiver), he/she starts the process of communication. The sender must be aware of the purpose of communication and the receiver’s ability to understand the message in terms of language, interest etc. The sender can be a politician giving a speech or a parent talking to his child.
  2. Message — is what communication actually produces for transmission. It is created by the sender to convey information, facts or opinion to the receiver; the message is designed to meet the needs of the receiver. For example, if the message is between two friends, the message will take a different form than if a person is communicating with a superior. The message should be clear and simple so that the receiver can understand it in the same way as the sender desires. While drafting it, the sender should take care of the words, the language and the meaning if the message is to be communicated in verbal / written form. He / she should take care of body language and facial expression if the message is to be communicated in non-verbal form.
  3. Encoding — is how the message is transmitted to another person. The message is converted into a suitable form for transmission. The medium of transmission will determine the form of the communication. For example, the form of the message in spoken communication is different from that in written communication.
  4. Channels of communication — can be written, spoken, mass media like radio, television, newspapers, books, mobile phone, e-mail, voice mail, internet, blogs etc. The channel is the medium through which the message is communicated to the receiver. The channel plays a vital role in the process of communication. The channel must be able to transmit the message from person to another without changing the content of the message.
  5. Receiver — is the person who receives the message. The receiver may be a single person or a group of persons. The receiver understands the meaning of the message and sends the feedback to the sender. The receiver should have the same language ability, cultural background and level of comprehension as the sender. Otherwise, it may lead to a wrong interpretation of the message by the receiver.
  6. Decoding — occurs when the receiver attempts to ascertain the meaning of the sender’s message.
  7. Feedback — is the final step in the process of communication and is also the most crucial element of communication. The receiver drafts a suitable reply and sends it to the sender. The feedback is important for the sender in order to confirm whether the receiver has received the message and interpreted its meaning in the desired way. The process of communication cannot be complete without the feedback.

Communication Noise

The occasional obstacle in the communication process is called noise. Noise is an unplanned interference that hinders the transmission of the message. There are different types of noise:

  1. Environmental Noise — is noise that physically disrupts communication. For example, the noise from a construction site next to a classroom makes it difficult for the students to hear what the teacher says; or standing close to loudspeakers at a party prevents people from interacting with each other.
  2. Physiological / Impairment Noise — refers to maladies such as deafness or blindness that prevent effective communication and stand in the way of understanding the meaning of the message.
  3. Syntactical Noise — refers to the grammatical mistakes in a sentence that hinder proper communication. For example, sentences like ‘the girl don’t know English,’ ‘he was returned back from the US last month.’
  4. Semantic Noise — refers to different interpretations of the meaning of words. For example, the word ‘bark’ can be interpreted either as a short loud sound made by dogs or as having the wrong idea about something (barking up the wrong tree)
  5. Psychological Noise — refers to attitudes / state of mind / disorders that make communication difficult. For example, anger or grief and disorders like Autism can severely hamper effective communication.
  6. Organizational Noise — is the unclear, poorly drafted communication that does not help the receiver to comprehend the message; example, vague and badly stated directions. 

Importance of Communication

Communication is important both for an individual and for society. A person’s need for communication is as strong and as basic as the biological needs like eating and sleeping. Communication facilitates the process of sharing information and knowledge. It is the foundation of all human relationships. It helps people to express their thoughts and feelings and to understand those of others. Communication is essential to the existence of society and is also a tool for sharing our experiences through ‘symbol mediated interaction.’ Without communication humanity will be drowned in the abyss of ignorance and loneliness. Isolation is the severest punishment for a human being. Communication is the basic need of grown-ups, children and elderly people and is a fundamental right. Communication thus involves active interaction with our environment physically, socially and biologically.

The Seven C’s of Effective Communication

Communication is an inextricable part of our daily routine. We sit in class and listen to teachers. We read books and magazines. We talk to friends, watch television and communicate over the telephone / mobile phone and also over the internet. The major part of our time is spent in some kind of communication. There are seven C’s of effective communication which are applicable to written as well as oral communication.

  1. Completeness: The communication must be complete. It must convey all the facts required by the receiver / audience. The sender of the message must take into consideration the receiver’s mind set and convey the message accordingly. A complete communication has several distinct features. It develops and enhances understanding. It ensures that no crucial information is missing. A complete communication always gives additional information wherever necessary. It leaves no doubts in the mind of the receiver. It helps in better decision-making by the receivers / readers / audience as they get all the desired and essential information. A complete communication persuades the audience too.
  2. Conciseness — means communicating what the sender wants to convey in a few words without forgoing the other C’s of communication. Conciseness is essential for effective communication. A concise communication is time-saving; it avoids unnecessary and excessive words and highlights the main message that is it gives a short and essential message to the receiver / reader / audience. It is more appealing and comprehensible.
  3. Consideration — implies stepping into the shoes of others that is taking into consideration the receiver’s viewpoints, background, mind-set, level of education etc. Considerate communication ensures that the self-respect of the receiver is maintained and that his emotions are unharmed. It empathizes with the receiver, shows interest in him and thus stimulates a positive reaction from him. It is optimistic and lays stress on positive words such as jovial, thanks, warm, healthy etc.
  4. Clarity — implies emphasizing a specific message at a time rather than trying to achieve too much at once. A clear message can be easily understood because it uses exact, appropriate and concrete words.  Clarity of thought and ideas helps in better understanding the message.
  5. Concreteness — means being particular and clear which boosts confidence. A concrete message is supported by specific facts and figures; it uses words that are lucid and so it is not misinterpreted.
  6. Courtesy — implies that the message should reveal that the sender is well mannered and that he respects the receiver. The sender of the message must be sincerely polite, judicious, reflective and enthusiastic. A courteous message values the views as well as the feelings of the receiver. It is positive, unbiased and focuses on the receiver.
  7. Correctness — means that there should not be any grammatical errors in the communication. A correct message is exact, precise and well-timed. It makes use of appropriate and correct language and also checks the precision and accuracy of the facts and figures used in the message. A correct message boosts the receiver’s morale.

These seven C’s are the essence of effective communication and an awareness of them will no doubt make a person an effective communicator.

Oral Communication

Oral communication refers to spoken verbal communication. It has two forms — (a) face-to-face communication in which the participants are in the same physical context and which makes use of visual aids and non-verbal elements to convey a message. It includes direct conversation, speeches, presentations, discussions and interviews. Since it is a face-to-face communication between the sender and the receiver, body language and choice of tone play a significant role; (b) using mechanical devices like signals, buzzer and telephone. Oral communication has several advantages. It saves time, has a great impact on the audience, offers ample scope for clarification and garners immediate feedback. It is an ideal tool of persuasion and is an effective means of conveying our emotions and feelings. At the same time there are certain disadvantages too. Since it is not documented oral communication has no legal validity. It is unsuitable for lengthy messages. Oral messages cannot be retained for long. Words once uttered cannot be taken back and may lead to misunderstandings.

Written Communication

Written communication is one of the oldest forms of communication. In this type of communication, the sender uses the written mode to transmit his messages which include graphs, charts, bulletins, reports and e-mails. Written communication progressed through three stages called ‘Information Communication Revolution.’ The first stage is the pictograph stage in which written communication first emerged through the use of pictographs. The pictographs were engraved on stones; hence written communication was immobile. During the second stage, writing began to appear on papyrus, paper, clay, wax etc. Common alphabets were introduced and they led to the uniformity of language across large distances. Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 15th century which was a leap in technology. The third stage / post-Gutenberg stage is characterized by the transfer of information through controlled waves and electronic signals. Written communication has several advantages. It creates a permanent record and is a permanent means of communication. It helps us to store information for future reference. All recipients receive the same information. It permits revision and has legal validity. It helps an organization to lay down its policies and rules and is instrumental in its development and smooth functioning. It assists in the proper delegation of responsibilities and provides ready records and references. There are some disadvantages too. The stationery and the man-power needed to write/type/deliver involve huge sums of money. Writing is time consuming and there is no immediate response. Moreover, poor writing skills have a negative impact. Unfortunately writing has become a lost art.