Oral communication implies communication through mouth. It includes individuals conversing with each other, be it direct conversation or telephonic conversation. Speeches, presentations, discussions are all forms of oral communication. Oral communication is generally recommended when the communication matter is of temporary kind or where a direct interaction is required. Face to face communication (meetings, lectures, conferences, interviews, etc.) is significant so as to build a rapport and trust.
Advantages of Oral Communication
There is high level of understanding and transparency in oral communication as it is interpersonal.
- There is no element of rigidity in oral communication. There is flexibility for allowing changes in the decisions previously taken.
- The feedback is spontaneous in case of oral communication. Thus, decisions can be made quickly without any delay.
- Oral communication is not only time saving, but it also saves upon money and efforts.
- Oral communication is best in case of problem resolution. The conflicts, disputes and many issues/differences can be put to an end by talking them over.
- Oral communication is an essential for teamwork and group energy.
- Oral communication promotes a receptive and encouraging morale among organizational employees.
- Oral communication can be best used to transfer private and confidential information/matter.
Disadvantages/Limitations of Oral Communication
- Relying only on oral communication may not be sufficient as business communication is formal and very organized.
- Oral communication is less authentic than written communication as they are informal and not as organized as written communication.
- Oral communication is time-saving as far as daily interactions are concerned, but in case of meetings, long speeches consume lot of time and are unproductive at times.
- Oral communications are not easy to maintain and thus they are unsteady.
- There may be misunderstandings as the information is not complete and may lack essentials.
- It requires attentiveness and great receptivity on part of the receivers/audience.
- Oral communication (such as speeches) is not frequently used as legal records except in investigation work.
Written communication has great significance in today’s business world. It is an innovative activity of the mind. Effective written communication is essential for preparing worthy promotional materials for business development. Speech came before writing. But writing is more unique and formal than speech. Effective writing involves careful choice of words, their organization in correct order in sentences formation as well as cohesive composition of sentences. Also, writing is more valid and reliable than speech. But while speech is spontaneous, writing causes delay and takes time as feedback is not immediate.
Advantages of Written Communication
- Written communication helps in laying down apparent principles, policies and rules for running of an organization.
- It is a permanent means of communication. Thus, it is useful where record maintenance is required.
- It assists in proper delegation of responsibilities. While in case of oral communication, it is impossible to fix and delegate responsibilities on the grounds of speech as it can be taken back by the speaker or he may refuse to acknowledge.
- Written communication is more precise and explicit.
- Effective written communication develops and enhances an organization’s image.
- It provides ready records and references.
- Legal defenses can depend upon written communication as it provides valid records.
Disadvantages of Written Communication
- Written communication does not save upon the costs. It costs huge in terms of stationery and the manpower employed in writing/typing and delivering letters.
- Also, if the receivers of the written message are separated by distance and if they need to clear their doubts, the response is not spontaneous.
- Written communication is time-consuming as the feedback is not immediate. The encoding and sending of message takes time.
- Effective written communication requires great skills and competencies in language and vocabulary use. Poor writing skills and quality have a negative impact on organization’s reputation.
- Too much paper work and e-mails burden is involved.
Scenario 1 – You are sitting in front of an interview panel with arms crossed. So far you have not been asked a single question, however, your crossed arms have spoken louder than the words.
Tip 1 – Never keep your arms crossed especially during formal one-on-one meetings. It suggests you are not open to feedback and could also suggest that you are trying to dominate the situation.
Scenario 2 – You are giving a presentation to a group of 20 people. You keep your gaze fixed at the centre of the class / room through the presentation – your gaze has spoken louder than your words.
Tip 2 – Your gaze at one person should not be more than 4 – 5 seconds while delivering a presentation / communicating with a large group unless you are addressing an individual.
Scenario 1 and 2 clearly demonstrate the importance of Non Verbal Communication.
It is communication of feelings, emotions, attitudes, and thoughts through body movements / gestures / eye contact, etc.
The components of Non Verbal Communication are:
- Kinesics: It is the study of facial expressions, postures & gestures. Did you know that while in Argentina to raise a fist in the air with knuckles pointing outwards expresses victory, in Lebanon, raising a closed fist is considered rude?
- Oculesics: It is the study of the role of eye contact in non verbal communication. Did you know that in the first 90 sec – 4 min you decide that you are interested in someone or not. Studies reveal that 50% of this first impression comes from non-verbal communication which includes oculesics. Only 7% of comes from words – that we actually say.
- Haptics: It is the study of touching. Did you know that acceptable level of touching vary from one culture to another? In Thailand, touching someone’s head may be considered as rude.
- Proxemics: It is the study of measurable distance between people as they interact. Did you know that the amount of personal space when having an informal conversation should vary between 18 inches – 4 feet while, the personal distance needed when speaking to a crowd of people should be around 10-12 feet?
- Chronemics: It is the study of use of time in non verbal communication. Have you ever observed that while AN employee will not worry about running a few minutes late to meet a colleague, a manager who has a meeting with the CEO, a late arrival will be considered as a nonverbal cue that he / she does not give adequate respect to his superior?
- Paralinguistics: It is the study of variations in pitch, speed, volume, and pauses to convey meaning. Interestingly, when the speaker is making a presentation and is looking for a response, he will pause. However, when no response is desired, he will talk faster with minimal pause.
- Physical Appearance: Your physical appearance always contributes towards how people perceive you. Neatly combed hair, ironed clothes and a lively smile will always carry more weight than words.
Remember, “what we say” is less important than “how we say it” as words are only 7% of our communication. Understand and enjoy non verbal communication as it helps forming better first impressions. Good luck!
Communication Flows in an Organization
In an organization, communication flows in 5 main directions
- Downward Flow of Communication: Communication that flows from a higher level in an organization to a lower level is a downward communication. In other words, communication from superiors to subordinates in a chain of command is a downward communication. This communication flow is used by the managers to transmit work-related information to the employees at lower levels. Employees require this information for performing their jobs and for meeting the expectations of their managers. Downward communication is used by the managers for the following purposes –
- Providing feedback on employees performance
- Giving job instructions
- Providing a complete understanding of the employees job as well as to communicate them how their job is related to other jobs in the organization.
- Communicating the organization’s mission and vision to the employees.
- Highlighting the areas of attention.
Organizational publications, circulars, letter to employees, group meetings etc are all examples of downward communication. In order to have effective and error-free downward communication, managers must:
- Specify communication objective
- Ensure that the message is accurate, specific and unambiguous.
- Utilize the best communication technique to convey the message to the receiver in right form
- Upward Flow of Communication: Communication that flows to a higher level in an organization is called upward communication. It provides feedback on how well the organization is functioning. The subordinates use upward communication to convey their problems and performances to their superiors.
The subordinates also use upward communication to tell how well they have understood the downward communication. It can also be used by the employees to share their views and ideas and to participate in the decision-making process.
Upward communication leads to a more committed and loyal workforce in an organization because the employees are given a chance to raise and speak dissatisfaction issues to the higher levels. The managers get to know about the employees feelings towards their jobs, peers, supervisor and organization in general. Managers can thus accordingly take actions for improving things.
Grievance Redressal System, Complaint and Suggestion Box, Job Satisfaction surveys etc all help in improving upward communication. Other examples of Upward Communication are -performance reports made by low level management for reviewing by higher level management, employee attitude surveys, letters from employees, employee-manager discussions etc.
- Lateral / Horizontal Communication: Communication that takes place at same levels of hierarchy in an organization is called lateral communication, i.e., communication between peers, between managers at same levels or between any horizontally equivalent organizational member. The advantages of horizontal communication are as follows:
- It is time saving.
- It facilitates co-ordination of the task.
- It facilitates co-operation among team members.
- It provides emotional and social assistance to the organizational members.
- It helps in solving various organizational problems.
- It is a means of information sharing
- It can also be used for resolving conflicts of a department with other department or conflicts within a department.
- Diagonal Communication: Communication that takes place between a manager and employees of other workgroups is called diagonal communication. It generally does not appear on organizational chart. For instance – To design a training module a training manager interacts with an Operations personnel to enquire about the way they perform their task.
- External Communication: Communication that takes place between a manager and external groups such as – suppliers, vendors, banks, financial institutes etc. For instance – To raise capital the Managing director would interact with the Bank Manager.