Communication is an essential part of most people’s everyday life. In different settings, situations, and communities, communication tends to vary based on styles, manners, keys, and means. The purpose of this paper is to focus on a specific community and explore the kinds and forms of communication that are used there. I chose a business community for this project because I am a business major and this sphere interests me.
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To enter the community to be able to carry out the necessary observations and conduct interviews with some professional business people, I used a family connection. Specifically, my uncle works as a manager at an IT firm. He and his coworkers kindly allowed me to spend several days at their office to make observations and ask some questions. I believe that this case study could help provide people whose goal is to become managers or owners of a business with valuable insights into the inner dynamics of an office and the means and ways of communication that help it work properly.
The office of the business where I worked on my project includes several rooms. It has about twenty employees who represent four different departments and have diverse daily duties. Most commonly, people at the office just sit at their desks focused on their work. During break hours, some employees go to a lunchroom to have a chat and rest; others leave the office to have a meal at a nearby café or park. This is the time when face-to-face communication is the most active.
The conversations I observed during break hours were informal and light in terms of style and key; however, often employees engaged in discussions of their work. Based on observations, a conclusion can be made that, within one firm, workers tend to form small sub-communities as they connect based on the similarity of their specializations. Due to the latter factor, the sub-communities have their unique topics for discussion and even their professional jargon that other groups do not share. I observed several such interactions between members of different sub-communities that came from different departments.
Often, they had to explain certain work-related terms and phenomena to one another. Overall, the entire staff seemed to have common values and goals as they discussed ways to increase personal productivity and shared techniques helping to work better.
In terms of social roles within the community, there also seemed to be division based on the perceived importance of different specializations. Managers used a distant and collected manner of communication with the rest of the staff, as they have higher social status in the office. IT professionals of various kinds are the dominant sub-community that is also the largest. It has a couple of perceived leaders who have the most respect due to their level of experience and outspoken personalities. Accounting, sales, and advertisement specialists treat one another as equals and interact within the sub-community more than with other groups. Temporary employees and people who perform lower-skills jobs keep away and seem to have the lowest social status.
As for the technologies used for communication, the observed community relied mainly on electronic communication via a messenger. It was used for professional and personal conversations between workers. Managers used a messenger for quick news updates or notifications. For longer messages such as memos, schedules, and other non-urgent work-related content, they used email. The language of such memos and notifications was always polite and friendly, often informal. This was done to maintain close and trusting relations between managers and employees.
For this project, I interviewed my uncle, who served as one of the managers in the observed business community. Since the internal communication at the firm was easy to register throughout my observation sessions, I decided to focus on external communication during the interview. Specifically, I inquired my uncle about the communication with clients and other businesses that represents another significant portion of communication carried out in the selected community.
The first question was the following: “In which form does the communication with clients of this business occur?” The interviewee said that there are three major ways of communication – over the phone, via instant messaging, and in person. The community includes two-three customer support professionals whose role is to answer calls and sort them by topics. Some of the customers are directed to other departments, while some issues can be resolved by the support members.
Also, the company has an electronics channel of communication – a website, on which orders for products are placed. Most orders are completed using electronic messaging as the only means of reaching out to clients. The interviewee added that “regular clients with large projects are invited for a discussion in person to establish a closer communication channel and help create a team” that would be working directly with the client and their product.
The second question was “does the firm communicate with other businesses?” Answering this question, my interviewee said that communication with other businesses is quite rare. However, he pointed out that the community’s interaction with the head office “can be recognized as external communication”. Inquired about the manner of communication and social position of the head office, he noted that the representatives of the head office, the top managers, are a separate sub-community. They also use emails, memos, and phone calls to communicate messages. The language they use is always extremely formal.
Top managers are very distant and are perceived as standing higher in the social hierarchy. The final question was “do the two sub-communities (this firm and the head office) share the same values and goals?” The interviewee stated that “business values are the same for the two groups, they focus on sales and profit”. However, the firm also “is in charge of its people and internal dynamics that help build the team and maintain a balanced environment”. The firm is dedicated to the preservation of harmony within the sub-community and communicates this to employees by making their needs a priority instead of chasing high profits at the cost of someone’s work-life balance.
The first genre identified in the communication within the selected community is a memorandum or memo in short. A memo is recognized as a genre of technical writing that is commonly used within business communities. The purpose of this form of communication is to introduce news, announce changes, and present upcoming projects (“Technical Writing Genres”). In the present community, memos are also employed as concluding messages for large and lengthy tasks and as a sort of timeline markers that indicate various milestones within projects.
Email is another form of electronic communication commonly used within the community. In business, emails are often organized as templates where the senders change necessary parts and leave the overall structure untouched (“Genres of Business Writing”). However, in the selected community, managers preferred to maintain a friendly bond with workers, so their approach to emails was more creative. Namely, they avoided using too formal constructions and giving direct orders. Instead, they included explanations of all the news and specified why certain changes were necessary. Also, they encouraged questions so that the entire office could stay on the same page.
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As specified previously, in the observed community, oral communication was used by workers to interact with one another informally during the break and working hours. Also, oral communication was used by managers at presentations and discussions where an interactive form of communication was required. In presentations, oral messages are often combined with visual aids such as lists, notes, pictures, and graphs that help increase the effectiveness of communication (“Oral Communication”). In organizations, oral communication between managers and employees is a key factor that helps strengthen contact and improve mutual understanding.
This project was aimed at the collection of data to develop a better understanding of the role of different forms of communication play in business settings of an office. During the research, it was found that interpersonal communication helps workers share valuable professional information such as tips of higher productivity and useful instruments for work. Also, friendly and productive communication is vital as a way of maintaining a balanced environment in the workplace. Via frequent and honest communication, managers can prevent barriers to change and conflicts with the staff.
“Genres of Business Writing.” UOregon, n.d. Web.
“Oral Communication.” Inc, 2018. Web.
“Technical Writing Genres.” GSU, n.d. Web.