A lot has changed 20 or so years since I first began writing about business communication. We now know far more about human cognition and how it affects perception and communication than we did when my previous books were written. Also, information technology has changedand continues to changethe way we communicate in a wide variety of ways. The materials presented here will cover most of the subjects traditionally covered in business communication textbooks and will also incorporate important new material about how people process information and the effective use of electronic communication.
Although communication is widely recognized as an essential skill, becoming an effective communicator is not especially easy. One of the things that makes communication problematic is the universal tendency to behave as though everyone hasor should havethe same view of reality as we do. Even though we know from daily experience that this is not the case, in most of our interactions we presuppose that others derive the same meaning from experiences as we do.
We all are inclined to believe that our own views are correct and that the world is as we perceive it to be. For this reason, to be successful at managing information and relationships, we need to develop a better understanding of the ways in which we and others create and structure subjective experience. Because the quality of our relationships depends on our understanding of and ability to manage our own subjective experiences and those of others, Business Communication: Managing Information and Relationships begins by looking at the nature of subjective experience and its influence on the communication process.
In Business @ the Speed of Thought, Bill Gates says I have a simple but strong belief. The most meaningful way to differentiate your company from your competition, the best way to put distance between yourself and the crowd, is to do an outstanding job with information. How you gather, manage, and use information will determine whether you win or lose (p. 3). In the information age, the same is as true for individuals as it is for organizations. How you gather, manage, and use information will play a significant role in your successnot only professionally but also personally, because how you handle information, how well you communicate, influences all your relationships.
The paradox of the Information Age is knowing what information is essential for a given task and being able to obtain and understand it is both easier and more difficult. These materials are designed to help you think about information and communication in a new way so that you can obtain high quality information more quickly and understand how it can help you achieve your personal and professional objectives.
Effective communication requires an understanding of the way in which people perceive themselves and their environment and the ability to provide them with the information they need to achieve their goals. Much of this information is communicated nonverbally, so understanding the fundamentals of nonverbal communication is essential.
This section covers the fundamentals of English usage, a number of useful advanced language patterns, and the ways in which we use language to create and communicate meaning.
If you earn $50,000 a year and spend 30 minutes planning, composing, and revising a document, you've invested approximately $25 in the document before sending itand that does not include the cost of the equipment or space you used while writing. If you take an hour, which important documents could easily require, the cost doubles to $50. You will want each document you send to provide a good return on your investment.
Most new college graduates will change careers three to five times in their working life and change the organizations for which they work more often than that. You will need to keep your resume up to date, because each change will probably require a letter of application, resume, one or more interviews, and appropriate postinterview follow-up correspondence.
A number of different studies have shown that the higher you go up the corporate ladder, the more time you will spend communicating. For this reason, effective communication is one of the prerequisites for promotion and investing the time required to become an effective communicator will serve you well, both now and throughout your career.
Additionally, Western Michigan University supported my work on these materials through a Teaching and Learning with Technology Grant and a sabbatical leave for the Winter Semester 2000.