Business Communications

What is Communication | Nonverbal Communications | Sources of Communication | Telephone Techniques | Communications in the Workplace | Review

This video traces business communications from chalk to typewriters to pc's ... all the way to social media & Twitter.

What is communication? If I asked you to write your own definition of communication...what would you write?

Here is how Daniel Webster, an American Journalist, defined communication...

“If all my possessions were taken from me with one exception, I would hope to keep my power of communication --- for by it I would regain all the rest.”

What is Communication?

As you can tell, people communicate in multiple ways. Each method of communicating sends a message and sometimes what we are receiving from a sender is a conflicting message.

Nonverbal Communications

Nonverbal Receivers

People who are better readers of nonverbal messages tend to do the following things:

Nonverbal Clues

When our words send one message and our nonverbal cues send another message, people almost always believe our nonverbal cues. Here are some typical nonverbal cues that we encounter every day:

Sources of Communication

Do you know where most of our communication comes from? You probably thought words. Think about how much people talk every day and the amount of words that are shared with others. However, you would be wrong. Our communication comes from the following sources:

Were you surprised? Think about the last time you were in a traditional classroom. Could the teacher control the classroom without saying a word? I can quiet a classroom without saying a word. I can ask a student to wait, take off a hat, sit down, put their cellphone away or even approach the desk without saying a word. All of these things are accomplished by a look or a gesture.

Oral Communication

girl on phone

Did you know that Americans speak approximately 125 words per minute and women speak quicker than men? People can hear four times faster than others can talk, which gives a skilled listener time to interrupt and organize the information. It also allows listeners to become distracted.

People who are successful communicators take full responsibility for success in the communication process. These people take responsibility for being certain that you understand what they are saying. Successful communicators recognize that barriers to good communications exist so they speak in simple, grammatical, and understandable terms. Successful communicators give examples, ask for feedback, put what they said previously in different words, and make it easy for you to gain the true intent of their communications. However, this in no way frees the listener from responsibility from the process. Without proper listening, communication does not occur.

Oral communication in the form of a formal presentation is often accompanied by some type of visual aid such as a PowerPoint presentation. The presentation should help the audience follow your presentation and contain speaking points. The PowerPoint should not be the presentation. In other words, do not put your entire presentation (word for word) on PowerPoint slides which you read to your audience. Here are some guidelines for preparing good visual aids.

presentation guidelines
Click on the picture to view the presentation

Active Listening

man and woman communicatingRead the active listening presentation. Is listening and hearing the same thing? No. Think about the last time someone said to you, "What did they just say?" You know that you heard some speaking before the question was asked but because you were not paying attention, you do not know what you heard. Being an active listener is just as important as being an effective communicator. Remember, communication only happens when both the communicator and the listener are engaged.

screen shot from Active Listening Presentation
Click the picture to read the active listening presentation

Assignment: Active Listening Discussion Board

Now that you have reviewed Active Listening, reflect for a few moments on your own listening skills. Are you an active listener?

Directions: Now that you have reviewed active listening, reflect for a few moments on your own listening skills. Are you an active listener? In your own initial post, write a minimum of 5 well-thought out sentences stating in what areas of active listening you are strong and the areas in which you are weak. Discuss how you will improve on the areas in which you are weak.

Assignment: Active Listening Project

Directions: You have been selected to make a presentation on active listening. Not only must you describe what active listening is, you must also discuss what barriers there are that cause people to not be active listeners and how people may overcome those barriers. The project may be in the form of a paper, video, podcast, or presentation. Specific formatting instructions for the form of project you select are found on the actual assignment in itsLearning.

Telephone Techniques

Did you know…That right now millions of people are using their cellphones (I almost said telephone but that is so old school). The cellphone is used in approximately 95% of all business transactions. It is estimated that 100 billion business calls are made each day..

Who invented the telephone? Answer: Alexander Graham Bell. I wonder what Bell would think of the cellphone today compared to his invention.

Proper Cellphone Etiquette

You probably looked at the title and thought..."There's etiquette to the cellphone? First we have netiquette and now we have what? celliquette?. No, it is just etiquette in the use of a cellphone. And yes, there really is a proper way to use the cellphone. In business, there most certainly is a polite way to communicate using a cellphone.

The cellphone has become an essential tool of the business environment and more important than ever in today’s business world. Much of our business communications takes place on a cell:

In this area, proper phone technique can make or break deals or relationships. The following are some guidelines to help you use the phone as a power tool.

Basic Good Manners: Telephone Tips When Placing Calls

Basic Good Manners: Telephone Etiquette when Answering the Phone

When you are the person making the call, be sure to use proper phone etiquette from the start. Be polite to the “gatekeepers” i.e. secretaries, receptionists, etc. that answer the phone for your business contact. Gatekeepers can be very influential and powerful. Gatekeepers have the power to put you through (or not) at 4:55 p.m. on Friday, when their boss is getting ready to leave the office. Gatekeepers may sit outside of the office, but they too have influence and power so a greeting such as “Good morning, this is Penny Smith. I’m returning a call from John Jones, is he available?" is a bit of etiquette well spent in the long run.

It would also be wise to learn the names of the top assistants, and use their names to make them feel noticed and important. Some business relationships, especially in fields like sales and marketing, start or stall right at the front desk.

When you have reached the party, if your call has been expected, remind them of the prior conversation and appointment. People get busy and can seem surprised until you remind them of where they should remember you from. If your call is not expected, unless it will be a short call, ask the party if they have the time for you. Calling unannounced is much like “dropping in” and you shouldn’t overstay unless invited. If the other person does not have time, briefly state the purpose of your call and ask for an appointment to follow up at a later time.

It is also a good idea to keep a phone diary or call log. When you work in an office, keep a pencil and pad near the phone and jot notes during phone conversations. This will help you “actively listen” and have a reference for later. Employ active listening noises such as “yes” or “I see” or “great”. This lets the other person know that you care about what they have to say. Recap at the end of the call, using your notes and repeat any resolutions or commitments on either side to be sure you are both “on the same page”.

Ending a Call

End the call on a positive note by thanking the other person for their time and express an interest in speaking with them again (if that is true). If not, just let them know you appreciated them speaking with you and end the call. A gracious good bye leaves the door open for further communication and in this day of mergers and acquisitions you never know with whom you will be doing business with in the future, so burning any bridges, or telephone lines, would be unwise. Remember, in this global marketplace, some of the most powerful business relationships have been between people who have never seen each other.

What does telephone usage have to do with our work ethic skills?

A lot, if you consider that too often we tend to forget that the person on the other end of the line is a human being. When we cannot see the person, it is easier to be rude to him or her. Anger, irritation, and frustration can be suggested by our tone of voice. Ignoring our calls and our messages suggests that we are unconcerned about our clients and customers. When we transfer callers without trying to address their concerns, we are showing a disinterested, apathetic attitude. These are just a few of the negative ways that our lack of telephone etiquette can impact our work ethics. Man using cellphone

When we speak on the phone at work, we should always have a smile in our voice. It might sound silly, but this is easy to achieve if we actually do smile when we answer the phone. Our voices should be clear and distinct. We should show that we have a service attitude by offering to give assistance however and whenever we can. We should not transfer calls blindly without making sure that the receiving party can take care of the caller’s problem.

We must also be discreet when using the phone. Think through any requests for information and give out only information that is really needed by the caller. For instance, If someone calls asking for your supervisor, you would not say, “Mr. Jones is playing golf this afternoon.” That would be giving unnecessary information. You would say, “Mr. Jones will be in the office tomorrow morning. May I help you or have him return your call?”

We should avoid slang in telephone conversations. Instead of saying “yeah,” say “certainly.” Instead of saying “bye-bye,” say “goodbye.” Doesn’t it sound better to say “I beg your pardon. Would you please repeat that?” than to say “Huh?”

When taking telephone messages for others, don't be in such a hurry that you do not get all necessary information. Incomplete messages are frustrating. In fact, it is a good idea to repeat the message to the caller so that you can be certain that it is accurate. If you have to put callers on hold to gather information to handle their call, always ask their permission to do so. Or you might offer to call them back if you think they will have to wait some time before you can get back with them. As a rule, nothing irritates a caller more than to be left on hold. When you return to the phone, apologize for having the caller wait for you.

Sometimes the caller is unhappy or angry about a situation. When this is the case, be very careful. A good tactic is to let the caller vent. When he or she is finished, you will hear a noticeable sigh at which point you can express your understanding of and concern for the situation. If you let the caller vent, he or she will then be ready to listen to you and to be reasonable as you try to get to the root of the problem. However, when the venting is nasty and involves foul language, it is permissible to warn the caller that if he/she does not refrain from using such language, you will hang up. If the ugliness does not cease, you do not have to listen. Try not to take it personally. The caller's frustration is typically directed at the situation and you just happen to be the person who is listening.

In summary, when taking calls at work, you should remember to treat the callers as you would want to be treated yourself. Also, treat them as if they were standing in front of you. Remember this: To any caller on the other end of that telephone line, you are your company. The responsibility of being your company's sole ambassador during that phone conversation should help you remember to use correct telephone techniques and etiquette.

Assignment: Telephone Responses Worksheet

Directions: Read the telephone responses on the worksheet in itsLearning. Write a better manner of responding.

For example, instead of saying "Mr. Evans is playing golf this afternoon." You should respond with, "I'm sorry. Mr. Evans is unavailable this afternoon. May I take a message and have Mr. Evans return your call at a convenient time?" While it may be true that Mr. Evans is playing golf, telling the caller that makes it sound like Mr. Evans is slacking on the job while in fact he may have comp time for the afternoon or is meeting with clients on the golf course. You should always offer to take a mesage and to have the call returned at a later time. Be sure to ask the caller for a return phone number and a convenient time to receive the returned call.

Communications in the Workplace

What is Customer Service? Customer service is a company's ability to supply wants and needs to customers. Good customer service is the ability of an organization to constantly and consistently exceed the customer's expectations. Why is customer service important? Customer service gives positive impressions to present and future clientele. It keeps customers wanting to come back again and it makes customers feel like they are the number one priority.

Steps to creating good customer service:

Customer Complaints

A customer complaint is communication that alleges deficiencies during or after purchase. Appropriate response to customer complaints is essential in a business. A customer with a complaint that is resolved is more likely to return than a dissatisfied customer who doesn't voice any complaints.

The average customer with an unresolved complaint will tell 9 to 10 other people.

For every complaint received, the average company has 26 unhappy customers that don't complain.

Here are some steps to handle a customer complaint:

Types of Customers

The Aggressive Customer readily complains, often loudly and at length. Your response to the aggressive customer is to listen completely. Do not be aggressive in return. This customer does not respond well to excuses or reasons why the product or service was unsatisfactory. Always follow company policy with the aggressive customer.

The high-roller customer expects the absolute best and is willing to pay for it. She is likely to complain in a reasonable manner. You should always listen respectfully and actively ask questions to fully determine the cause of the complaint while following company policy.

Assignment: Honesty in the Workplace Discussion Board

Directions: Think about the employer's perspective on cellphone and email usage in the workplace. How have email and cell phone communication impacted employees? What are some examples of dishonest workplace practices you have heard about or witnessed? What could employers do to increase honesty and reduce theft in the workplace? Be prepared to discuss your answers. Participate in the Honesty in the Workplace Discussion Board after watching the embedded video


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If you are having problems viewing this page, opening videos, or accessing the URLs, the direct links are posted below. All assignments are submitted in itsLearning. If you have having problems, contact Mrs. Rush through the itsLearning email client.

Evolution of Business Communication video:

Design Guideline presentation:

Active Listening presentation:

Effective Communicaton in the Workplace video:




Man Using Cellphone image:

Cartoon Businessman And Businesswoman Working Together image:

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