Thursday, October 15, 2009

What is communication ? (Lesson 1)

In order to learn Business Communication one must first understand Communication itself. Communication is defined as an exchange of information, knowledge, ideas etc between two individuals using a common set of symbols. Communication is also defined in other ways: Communicaton is the process of sending and receiving messages -- sometimes through spoken and written words and sometimes thrrough non-verbal means such as facial expression, gestures and voice qualities.
The communication model consists of 5 components:
The stimulus is an event that occurs to create the need for the individual to communicate. The filter is the unique perception of reality of the communicator -- his set of values, culture, emotions at that moment, personality, knowledge, socio-economic status and a host of other variables. The message is the information communicated - the content of it and the medium is the channel through which it is sent and received. The destination is the receiver/s of the message.
According to Marshall Macluhan -- "The medium is the message". He says that the medium you use to convey the message determines the form of the message and also becomes a part of it.
If you were to invite a business acquantaince to dinner, what medium would you choose -- the phone of course. You would call. When you do, the message is a voice message, it is a conversation. If you were to write an a email, it would be a written message, a permanent record. Hence it is medium which identifies the form of the message and becomes the message itself.
Communication can be oral or written. Written communication in a business context are typically email, website, memos, letters, instructions, reports and proposals. Communication can also be formal or informal. Informal communication in an office is often referred to as Grapevine. Communication can move vertically i.e up and down the organizational hierarchy or horizontally (among peers).
Overcoming information anxiety: Richard Wurman believes that the more choices one makes the more the anxiety of having made the wrong one. This he calls Information Anxiety. Consider this: the total amount of information produced worldwide each year is 1.5 exabytes (one exabyte is 1 followed by 18 zeroes). If all this info was stored on floppies it would stack 2 million miles high! Do you we need all this information? Definitely not! Nobody knows it all. The first step in overcoming information anxiety is to accept that there is much you wouldn't understand. Let your igonorance be an inspiration to learn, not something to conceal.
Wurman recommends practising standing in front of a mirror and saying " Could you repeat that" or " I am not sure I understand what you are talking about" instead of just nodding and pretending you understood what you have not.
By seperating what you need to know from what you merely think you should be knowing eases the anxiety. Minimise watching and reading what you don't need. Do what Wurman says : "Most information is useless; give yourself permission to dismiss it".
Happy communicating !!

Ask your doubts and enrich this article by adding comments to this post.........


  1. Dear sir,
    This article is good...but i am little confuse with this sentence "The medium is the message" and "If you were to invite a business acquantaince to dinner,... it is a conversation...medium which identifies the form of the message and becomes the message itself"
    e-mail is the medium...message is some thng else..thn how medium can be the message?

  2. thankz a lot sir....dis made clear about the concept...we had already understood the concept in brief with your explaination in the goi through dis it has cemented as pakka wit the concept...thank u sir....

  3. hi sir this kiran from bhims friend inform me about this website.the concept u given here is very useful and easy to understand.thanks a lot sir,,,,,,,,,,,,

  4. Hi Vasudha, to answer your question-- MacLuhan has said that with regard to Mass media like Newspapers, TV, Radio etc. Let me make it easier to understand with an example: Take a news item such as this- "Bomb blasts kill 120 in Mumbai". Now how would you get this message (news) on Radio and TV? When it is broadcast on the radio, you just hear it. When it is telecast on TV you see gut-wrenching images of security personnel carrying bodies of the dead covered with blood. That creates a different experience. If you hear it on the radio only you have to use your imagination to visualize these macabre scenes.This just not the same as seeing and hearing the cries of the wounded on TV. TV images are so graphic; they leave nothing to imagination. Because the medium changes, the original message changes. The same news on TV is so much richer in terms of the information it provides for you to process compared to radio. In fact the two messages-- the one from TV and the other from radio are not in any way the same at all, though the news item is one. Do you agree? Hence the medium identifies the message.

  5. Thanks Pavan and Kiran for commenting on my blog. I am glad you find the lessons helpful. Please let me know if I can clarify any doubts. I am a GenNext Communications teacher. I use online teaching. I am very thankful for your support. Please keep asking questions. That's the only way to learn better. I access this site from wherever I am. Even when I am not carrying my laptop with me I can access it on my cell and reply to your questions. So please keep participating in my Internet space.

  6. Hello sir,
    The blog is really helpful sir thanks a lot.Also sir most of the times i find it difficult to communicate in writing.Is it a major problem?(with most of the times we using ppts to communicate)also what are the steps that i can adopt so as to overcome the above problem

  7. Hi Prajwal. It is no so difficult to communicate in writing if you 'write as you speak'. Vocabulary in the language you choose to communicate in, is an issue. But word power has to be developed- it takes study and effort. Powerpoints are a recent development, but an extremely effective means of communicating because they are audio-visual in nature. In making ppts these are points to be noted:
    1. Brevity is the soul of wit- be brief.
    2. A picture speaks louder than thousands words- Use as many images and graphs as possible.
    3.Use the same template for all slides and little animation- too much animation is distracting.
    4. Reherse well in front of a mirror before going to make a presentation.
    5. Bulleted points not paragraphs- refer the points one by one and expand on them in your speech. Don't cram the entire sentence on the slide and read it out.

  8. Thank you sir,even i do hav problems in writing than communicating... the steps given to prajwal has also helped me in solving the issue...... this blog was very useful for me.....

  9. Dear Sir,
    I am Sandeep Sham Sundar from JC college your class is very interesting and also very useful and interactive it is very useful for management students like us. I like to know more about business letter writing and presenting about a matter effectively.
    Thank you

  10. im shivakumara.g....thankz a lot sir....dis made clear about the concept...we had already understood the concept in brief with your explaination in the goi through dis it has cemented as pakka wit the concept...thank u sir....

  11. Thanks all. Sandeep-- I shall be putting a sample appointment letter here soon. That should help you get an idea of what a business letter should or should not be.

  12. Sir,thanks a lot for the new updates