The “Ten Commandments” of Effective Business Communication

The “Ten Commandments” of Effective Business Communication
This concept of the “The Ten Commandments of Effective Communication” – propounded by the American Management Association, Inc., offers one of the best conceptualizations and formulations of the principles of effective communication. (Space constraints will not allow us to discuss these on this site  Some communication experts see the “Ten Commandments” in terms of “Communication Fundamentals”. These fall into two categories, i.e., those which highlight certain characteristics of communication, communicators and communicants and those which refer to the use in communication of gestures and postures, the latter, of the whole body and relevant parts of the body. Again, lack of space will not allow us to discuss these here. Let us merely write down the basic principles:-

Cognitive (or Language) Skills in business communication

1. Words do not have meanings in themselves.
2. Words mean different things to different people.
3. Perception of reality differs. 4. Emotion affects understanding
5. Facts should be distinguished from opinions
6. Build a feedback mechanism into every piece of communication.
7. Allow free access to persons who have the right information. 8. Face-to-face communication is best
Communication Fundamentals in Oral Verbal Interaction

1. Be aware of, and employ when appropriate, such non-verbal forms of communication as the following:
 (i) Tactile: Bodily touch is very varied, carries very varied meanings and occurs mainly in personal, intimate and emotional relationships. However, its official occurrence in handshakes, patting on the shoulder (as appropriate) can be used to advantage when the right opportunity offers itself.
 (ii) Proximity: Nearness conveys intimacy and promotes such other facilitators to effective communication as eye contact, smiling and laughing. Again, proximity is very much restricted to the personal and intimate domain of communication, but the executive should not miss those opportunities when leaving his executive desk to sit on a sofa facing his communicant will oil his negotiation to his advantage.
see also:business;General Kinds of Communication
(iii) Posture: There are many postures which one can assume while either giving or receiving communication: sitting (legs crossed or apart, slumped, etc.), standing (at attention, relaxed, arms folded or hanging down, etc.); kneeling, etc. All these, the particular form of each adopted, and accompanying postures of other parts of the body reflect how one perceives one’s status in relation to the partner in communication, what attitude one has towards the partner (disbelief, aggression, trust, cringing, sycophancy, etc.) and what one expects as an outcome from the communication. So, one needs to keep a watch on the posture which one adopts at a communication event.
 (iv) Physical Appearance: Physical appearance is portrayed by physique, clothes, face, hair, hands and (in men) beards and moustaches. Physical appearance reflects self-image, social status and emotional state. The need for overall tidiness within the norms of a culture should be appreciated.
 (v) Facial Expressions and Gestural Movements: The face and the hands are the organs employed most in making these movements. The face shows the emotional state of interactors (although they often try to hide that); provides a continuous feedback on whether the communicant understands, is puzzled, agrees or disagrees with what is being said, etc.; reinforces speech in verbal communication, and indicates attitudes to others. The hands, on the other hand, illustrate speech and augment it when verbal skills are inadequate; can (with gestures) replace speech, such as in deaf-and-dumb (Braille) language in which, sometimes, the gestures are given arbitrary meanings (just as words also carry arbitrary meanings in speech and writing) and often (with their movements) reflect emotional state (though unintentionally). The nervous interviewee is often betrayed by the movements which he/she makes with his/her hands.
see also:Extrinsic Skills:Ancillary Activities in Written Business Communication
 (vi) Direction of Gaze: The direction of gaze and expression in the eyes carry a great deal of meaning in inter-personal communication. A mutual gaze establishes an eye-contact and builds a form of affiliation. A mutual gaze at an object of mutual interest means attentiveness to the subject of discussion. Of course, a different meaning emerges from an eye contact when the facial expression is friendly, hostile or indifferent. Avoiding eye contact or being the first to withdraw from it may suggest fear, submission, a dependent relationship, respect, shyness, hostility or timidity. (vii) Be mindful of the non-verbal aspects of speech. These include the timing of speech, the emotional tone of speech, speech errors and accent.
(a) Emotion is a very delicate thing to handle in a speech. It is easily over-done or under-done. An audience can easily be embarrassed and put off by both exaggerated emotion and an unfeeling stance. (b) Accentuation is a very difficult matter for most second-language users of English. False and artificial accentuation (such as one often hears from inexperienced electronic media announcers) can often be more offensive than the natural (though faulty) accentuation to which one is accustomed from the majority of second-language speakers of the language. So, it is best to be natural even when accentuation is incorrect in some details.
(c) Speech errors (concerned largely with pronunciation) can be deflating for a speaker. However, while a natural pose will generally be quite acceptable, it is important to rehearse a speech in order to master the pronunciation of some very special words, such as foreign words (tête-à-tête; façade); names of towns (Copenhagen, Keynes, Tottenham) and others.

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