Effective communication is an integral part of an employee work life and the success of an organization. Understanding the dynamics of communication will help an institution workforce to engage productively and deliver the intended targets. I will outline the key concepts I have learned in six modules in the effective business communication course and the impact on my current and future communication skills. In this reflective essay, I will discuss what I learned in the communication process and ethical communication and how to reduce communication apprehension and to engage the audience while making a presentation. I will explain what I learned on how to evaluate my readers and know what to write in business writing as well as what is assertive communication and how to use it to solve interpersonal problems. Moreover, I will outline how organization structure influences communication and choice of medium in organizational communication and the difference between high and low context cultures and the barriers of cross-cultural communication and how the skills improve my reaction to different communication scenarios currently and in future.
I have learnt that practicing professional and ethical communication and understanding communication process at the workplace is the starting point of a successful career. I understood that professional communication is the ability to pass across a meaningful message to the recipient and initiate the right course of action as desired contrary to my previous thoughts that communication only gives directions at work. I lacked the skills to identify the audience different needs and design a message that matches communication purpose. I now know that effective communication must focus on the audience to inform, educate, persuade, motivate and to create a cohesive relationship through meaningful interaction. Additionally, I have embraced the idea that communication must be ethically conducted i.e. adhere to legal and social acceptable behavior that demands people to keep away from personal life affairs. My initial thoughts on ethical communication in organizations were solely on the respect for privacy. I failed to own up the results of my messages and faulted the listeners in case of a mistake. However, I have learnt that ethical communication must be honest, truthful and inclusive. Professional communicators must take responsibility for the outcomes of their messages. Moreover, I have learnt that listening is a crucial part of the communication process contrary to my thoughts that communication process involves only verbal and non-verbal communication. Verbal communication involves sharing of message through word of mouth while non-verbal includes written messages transmitted through letters, memos, emails or mobile instant messages but I have understood that one has to engage in active listening to have an interactive and meaningful communication.
According to Stevens (2005), oral and written communication skills are necessary requirements for employees to conduct their business and retain their employment. Employees must learn how to express themselves effectively and understand the choice of vocabulary during verbal and non-verbal communication. I have learnt that employees need to possess the ability to communicate clearly; orally and in writing to be successful in the current century. Employees must embrace the behavior of communicating effectively through tools such as Letters, Memos e-mails and power point presentations to have fulfilling working relationships at the workplace. In my current workplace I will use the two concepts of professional and ethical communication and communication process and the journal on what communication skills employers want to improve my ethical communication skills through taking responsibility for the outcomes of my messages. I will engage in the right choice of words and ensure the audience gets the intended meaning through careful selection of vocabulary and both in oral and written communication to adhere to most employers’ communications requirements. I will use the two concepts and the journal in future as manager to cultivate the culture of ethical communication in the organization; keeping off employees personal affairs and encouraging others to keep personal information confidential. Moreover, I will put extra efforts to use written communication and presentations to enhance my message delivery in the organization.
I have learnt that being able to reduce communication apprehension and engaging the audience effectively are key components to successful presentation to the audience. I have understood that communication apprehension is the anxiety that comes with the anticipation of communication between two people or to an audience but mostly associated to public speaking. My initial thoughts on communication apprehension were that it is a common thing to all speakers and we have to live with it as public speakers. I have learnt that communication apprehension can inhibit the speaker success in delivering the message and engaging the audience. I lacked the capacity to control the anxiety to address a huge crowd. However, I have learnt that communicators can reduce the anxiety through adequate prior preparation on the subject, evaluating the audience and rehearsing the message before an audience. Possessing knowledge on the topic accords the speaker the confidence to speak and, know what and how to address the audience through the prior analysis. Additionally, thinking positively about the situation reduces the psychological tension and enhances message delivery. Engaging in some relaxation exercises such deep nose breathing reduces anxiety and enhances composure and eventual success in the presentation. I have learnt that speakers can engage the audience contrary to my perception that presentations involve giving the speakers notes only. I lacked the skills to move along with my audience through proper interactions in my presentations. I have learnt that for effective audience engagement speakers can commence the presentation with an anecdote that the audience can relate with or give a personal story that is interesting and captures the audience attention. Moreover, the communicator should connect the current audience situation with the topic and shows how the recipient is directly involved as well as raise controversial discussion and questions relating to the topic that will prompt the audience to discuss. Furthermore, visual images make the presentation attractive and the presenter should bring in pictures and videos to capture the audience interest.
According to Dwyer (2016), oral message presenters must prepare for the presentation in advance through the planning of the message and presentation strategies. The speaker must conduct prior research on the topic through internet research, observations, and interviewing previous speakers. I have learnt that having the knowledge on what to talk about and to who allows effective delivery, reduce apprehension and engage the audience well. Moreover, I have learnt that managing presentation time and, evaluating what the audience already knows is a recipe for a good presentation. In my current job I will use the two concepts on reducing communication apprehension and engaging the audience during presentations and the book on communication for business and the professions to improve my presentation preparations and reduce my speaking anxiety through prior research on the topic and the audience analysis. I will be able to connect to the public by relating the subject to their situations while raising interesting questions to ensure they are participating in the presentation. Moreover, I will use the two concepts and the journal as a manager in future to examine who I am addressing; internal or external audience and be able to persuade them to adopt organizational changes and counter resistance to change on strategies that will be necessary for corporate growth.
I have learnt that knowing what to include in a document and the channel to use is key to enhance your employment opportunities and successful business communication. I have understood that employment seekers must have an understanding of the organization and leaders of the institution they seek to work in, in order to draft a good cover letter and curriculum vitae. My initial thoughts on writing an application letter were that I only needed to highlight my education qualifications and experiences in terms of years. I lacked the skills to address my achievements and ambitions in the cover letter. However, I have learnt that successful job applicants must be able to relate with employers’ skills requirements and show the employer they are the best candidates for the post through highlighting how their skills and qualifications will enable efficient task completion. In addition, I have understood job seeker must give a summary of their personality and ethics in the resume and ensure they communicate their availability for the job interview in their cover letter to boost their chances of employment. Additionally, the professional business writer must choose the right channel of their message to enhance effectiveness in communication. My initial perception was that the message was the important thing and, lacked the skills to evaluate the right channel for every message to different recipients. However, I have learnt that there exist different channels of business communication and, picking the right channel for your audience will enhance the communication. Business communicators can choose either to use letters, memos, emails or even notice board to communicate within and without the organizations. Considering the purpose of the communication will influence the channel that one uses.
According to Zhu & White (2009), business emails are crucial communication tools and the writer must understand the purpose of the email to decide on what to include in the message. Business communication via email will be effective when the sender makes it clear and brief. I have learnt that emails should stick to the standard structure of business communication; formal and addressing one subject. The composer must adhere to professionalism; making it short with the right tone and correct grammar. In my current job settings I will use the two concepts on understanding what to write and the channel to use and the journal on practitioner’s views on business emails to improve my abilities to write my Curriculum vitae and cover letter to seek for promotions in the organizations. I will be able to much the need requirement with my competencies and impress the employer. Moreover, I will use the two concepts and the journal in future as a HR manager to evaluate the applicant’s cover letters and resumes to pick the right candidate for the job. I will evaluate my audience information needs and my purpose of communication to come up with a compelling message through the right channel.
I have learnt that understanding assertive communication and how to use it to solve interpersonal problems is a crucial element of personal and working relationship that helps people correlate at the workplace and improve job performance. Assertive communication is the ability to express one’s feelings and to talk confidently about one’s perception and opinions while putting into considerations and respecting other people’s points of view. My initial perception on assertive communication is to stand your ground on what you think is right. I lacked the skills to engage in constructive argument and, most of my arguments with friends resulted to fights and hatred. However, I have learnt that assertive communication is being at the balance; not being passive or being aggressive. Assertiveness helps create a good relationship among people, instill self-esteem and confidence and engages in self-disclosure which is a fundamental element to bonding between workers and friends. Assertive communication solves interpersonal communication as it is honest and respectful when establishing the problem. I have understood that communicating one’s feelings directly without alteration is the first step of diagnosing a problem and initiating a healing process. I lacked the abilities to speak out my issues of concern to a friend without being defensive. Nevertheless, I have learnt that assertive communication will help brainstorm for solutions and agree on the right course of actions. Furthermore, Assertive communication demands that one listen to the other and respects their opinions even when they disagree with them. Hence, assertive communication solves interpersonal problems due to the respect, open-mindedness and honesty it advocates.
According to Madlock & Dillow (2012), aggressive communication at workplaces affects employee’s job performance and reduces commitment on assigned duties. Aggressive supervisors are not wary of employee’s emotional well-being which results in conflict at work and eventual staff turnover. I have understood that the inability to address the workers misconduct in a respectful and honest manner creates animosity among the involved parties and causes job dissatisfaction. On the contrary, embracing assertive communication will foster a cohesive environment where corrections do not translate to fights and, this will improve the performance of the firm. In my current job I will use the two concepts of what is assertive communication and how to use assertive communication in solving interpersonal problems and the journal on the consequences of verbal aggression in the workplace to improve my interpersonal communication skills such as turn taking and listen to other points of arguments when communication an issue. I will use the knowledge to show respect to other people’s thoughts and while confidently stating my opinions. I will use these concepts in future as a manager to engage the employees constructive with the right choice of words even when they are wrong and state the organization's position confidently and directly while taking care of the employee's emotional well-being and ensures it does not affect their performance.
I have learnt that Organizations structures influence the communication process and the choice of communication channel within an organization. Organizations structure is how the decision-making authority is planned and executed and dictates the mode of communication between the employees and the senior managers and communication between staffs. Contrary to my initial thoughts that communication takes place directly between two people who have an issue, I have learnt that organizations have set hierarchal structures for addressing issues in organizations. I failed to understand the protocols in the organization and, always wanted to approach top authority at times of problems even at school. I have learnt there are formal and informal communication structures. Bureaucratic Organizations structure is characterized by formality and centralization where decision-making is approved by senior management while simple organizations structures are more flexible and allow direct communication between employees and the managers enhancing quicker decision making. Moreover, I have learnt that the organization's structures affect the choice of medium of communication within and without the organization contrary to my previous perception that one chooses his/her favorite communication channel to address an issue in the organization. I lacked the abilities to reason out why organizations choose the different means of communication even within the institution. Formal organization structures uses medium such as letters, memos and emailed copied to others employees while informal structures are flexible and communication could be done verbally through department meetings or through notices on the organization's notice boards.
According to Zhang &Venkatesh (2013), workplace communication network impacts on the employee’s performance; through the interaction with managers and colleagues and desire to be involved in decision-making process. I have understood that the autonomy to interact freely allows the creation of a productive environment due to the supportive personal relationship. Employees should be allowed to choose the preferred channel of interaction between them and the managers to enhance job fulfillment. I have learnt formal organization strategies inhibit social interactions which are crucial elements in institution communication and network structure. In my current job, I will use the two concepts on how organization structure influence communication and the choice of communication medium and the journal on explaining employee performance using online and offline communication to my improve my adherence to the set organizational structure to connect with the senior management in the organization. I will be able to make the right choice of the medium based on the company's structure. I will use the two concepts and the journal to improve my managerial skills in future through coming up with a favorable organization structure to encourage extensive interaction between the management and the employees. I will invest in a simple organizational structure that boosts the employees’ commitment and responsibility for the well-being of the organization.
I have learnt that differentiating high-context and low-context cultures and, knowing the barriers of inter-cultural communication will enable one to be successful in a cultural diverse organization. My understanding of communication between people of different cultures is that it did not have any difference with communication between people of same culture and depends with peoples’ personalities. I lacked the skills to engage in sensitive inter-cultural communication through verbal and non-verbal messages. However, I have understood that the high-context cultures engage a lot in indirect messages and put emphasis on non-verbal communication and proceeds at a slower pace while the low-context cultures favor direct and explicit communication which affects how they interact. I have learnt that the members of low-context cultures do not focus on non-verbal cues and use words to express their exact feeling and opinions and appreciate a person who quickly and clearly expresses his mind. Additionally, I have learnt that different cultures conduct themselves differently; have different beliefs, values and norms and, affects the interaction between people of diverse cultural origin. My initial thoughts were that gestures can never be offending. I lacked the skills to study the uses of different non-verbal cues and be sensitive when using them. However, I have learnt that Non-verbal communication could convey an entirely different message to people of various cultures. One gesture could have a different meaning and at times offending to some cultures. Additionally, I have learnt that the perception of time, proximity, dressing code and the physical touching would convey a different meaning to different cultures.
According to Dwyer (2016), without the knowledge of different cultures, interaction and negotiation would be tough and frustrating for people of different cultural origin. Different cultures interpret words differently and decode non-verbal communication differently and, this would cause tension among the communicators and result to misunderstanding and conflicts. I have learnt that people interacting with members of other cultures should strive to understand the perception and the interpretation of other people actions to interact harmoniously. People should learn how to greet members of other cultures, how to introduce themselves and exchange of business cards as it varies from one culture to the other. In my current job settings I will use the two concepts on high and low-context cultures and cross-cultural communication barriers and the book on communication for business and profession to improve my relationship with people of different cultures. I will study their behaviors and strive to understand the different meaning conveyed by various gestures and body movement and the cultural context to avoid miscommunication. I will monitor my use of humor and physical distance during communication to ensure there is no conflict. I will use the two concepts and the journal in future to enhance my management of a diverse workforce in organizations and foster cultural tolerance among the employees. Additionally, I will be able to set up global business away from home and effectively manage it.
Consequently, learning effective business communication course has helped me understand the communication process, communicating to an audience, business writing and interpersonal, organizational and cross-cultural communication and improve my communication skills. I have learnt that the communication process uses both verbal and non-verbal channels and listening is a crucial part of the process and, the need to be honest and respect the privacy of others. During presentations, I will be able to reduce communication apprehension through adequate preparation and engage the audience through provoking questions and captivating images. In business communication, I will evaluate the reader’s interest and the knowledge while deciding on what to capture in the document to ensure it is brief, clear and precise. I will practice assertive communication to state my points and respect other so as to effectively solve interpersonal problems. I will adhere to organizational structure in my communication with the management and the staff; using the right channel. I will consider cultural origin in my use of gestures, time and space while communication with people of different cultures. Hence, the mastery of business communication will spell success in my current and future work life.
Dwyer, J. (2016). Communication for Business and the Professions: Strategie s and Skills. (6thed.). Pearson: Australia.
Madlock, P. E., &Dillow, M. R. (2012). The consequences of verbal aggression in the workplace: An application of the investment model. Communication Studies, 63(5), 593-607.
Stevens, B. (2005). What communication skills do employers want? silicon valley recruiters respond. Journal of Employment Counseling, 42(1), 2.
Zhang, X., &Venkatesh, V. (2013).Explaining Employee Job Performance: The Role of Online and Offline Workplace Communication Networks.Mis Quarterly, 37(3), 695-722.
Zhu, Y., & White, C. (2009). Practitioners' views about the use of business email within organizational settings: Implications for developing student generic competence. Business Communication Quarterly, 72(3), 289-303.