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Business Communication in the Digital Age

Communication Skills in a Competitive, Networked World

  • Mobility and access 24/7
  • Skills always on display
  • A learned ability, not inborn


What Are Communication Skills?


Traditional abilities



Nonverbal skills




New requirements

Media savvy, credibility

Analytical thinking


Positions requiring people skills more likely to resist automation


The Digital Revolution and You

  • Your reputation and personal credibility are vital assets.
  • Even technical fields require communication skills.
  • Professional workplace writing is in your future.


Employers Want Soft Skills

  • Critical thinking and analytical reasoning
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Ability to work in teams
  • Positive social media presence
  • Professionalism and work ethic


Your Education May Determine Your Income

Advantages of a college degree

Higher lifetime earnings

Less unemployment

Wider variety of career options

Access to highest-paying, fastest-growing careers


The Challenges of the Information Age Workplace

Rapidly changing communication technologies

Heightened global competition

Flattened management hierarchies

Self-directed work groups and virtual teams

Anytime, anywhere availability and nonterritorial offices

Renewed emphasis on ethics


Learning Outcome 2

Confront barriers to effective listening, and start building your listening skills.


Listening: A Career-Critical Skill

Many of us are poor listeners.

We listen at only 25 to 50 percent efficiency.

Poor listening skills affect professional relationships.

Costly errors may result from poor listening habits.


Barriers to Effective Listening

  • Physical barriers
  • Psychological barriers
  • Nonverbal distractions
  • Grandstanding
  • Language problems
  • Thought speed
  • Faking attention


Ten Keys to Building Powerful Listening Skills

  1. Stop talking.
  2. Control your surroundings.
  3. Be receptive and keep an open mind.
  4. Listen for main points.
  5. Capitalize on lag time.
  6. Listen between the lines.
  7. Judge ideas, not appearances.
  8. Avoid interrupting.
  9. Take selective notes to ensure retention.
  10. Provide feedback and confirmation.


Learning Outcome 3

Explain the features of nonverbal communication, and recognize the importance of improving your nonverbal communication skills.


Nonverbal Cues Carry Powerful Meanings

Nonverbal communication includes all unwritten and unspoken messages, both intentional and unintentional.

Nonverbal cues can speak louder than words.


Nonverbal Behaviors Send Silent Messages

  • Eye contact
  • Facial expression
  • Posture and gestures
  • Time, space, and territory
  • Eye appeal of business documents
  • Personal appearance


Mastering Nonverbal Skills

  • Establish and maintain eye contact.
  • Use posture to show interest.
  • Reduce or eliminate physical barriers.
  • Improve your decoding skills.
  • Probe for more information.


Building Strong Nonverbal Skills

  • Interpret nonverbal meanings in context.
  • Associate with people from diverse cultures.
  • Appreciate the power of appearance.
  • Observe yourself on video.
  • Enlist friends and family.


Learning Outcome 4

Name five common dimensions of culture, and understand how culture influences communication and the use of social media and communication technology.


What Is Culture?

The complex system of values, traits, morals, and customs shared by a society

A powerful operating force that molds the way we think, behave, and communicate


Characteristics of High-Context and Low-Context Cultures


High and Low Context

Low-context cultures

  • Tend to be logical, linear, and action oriented.
  • Favor explicit messages that they consider to be objective, professional, and efficient.


High-context cultures

  • Tend to be relational, collectivist, intuitive, and contemplative.
  • Leave much unsaid and transmit communication cues by posture, voice inflection, gestures, and facial expression.


Individualism and Collectivism

Low-context cultures

  • Tend to prefer initiative, self-assertion, and personal achievement.
  • Believe in individual action and personal responsibility.
  • Desire a large degree of freedom in their personal lives.


High-context cultures

  • Tend to prefer group values, duties, and decisions.
  • Emphasize membership in organizations, groups, and teams.
  • Encourage acceptance of group values, duties, and decisions.


Time Orientation

               Low-context cultures

  • Time is precious.
  • Time correlates with productivity, efficiency, and money.
  • Keeping someone waiting is considered rude.


High-context cultures

  • Time is seen as unlimited and never-ending.
  • Time is an opportunity to develop interpersonal relationships.


Power Distance

Hofstede’s Power Distance Index compares societies based on how far the less powerful members of organizations and institutions accept an unequal distribution of power.


Power Distance

High-power distance countries

  • Subordinates expect formal hierarchies and embrace relatively authoritarian, paternalistic power relationships.


Low-power distance countries

  • Subordinates consider themselves as equals of their supervisors.
  • Relationships between individuals of varying power tend to be more democratic, egalitarian,
    and informal.


Communication Style

High-context cultures

  • Rely on nonverbal cues and the total picture to communicate
  • Meanings are embedded at many sociocultural levels.


Low-context cultures

  • Emphasize words, directness, and openness
  • People tend to be informal, impatient, and literal.


How Technology and Social Media Affect Intercultural Communication

  • Social media may potentially bridge cultural differences as well as reinforce them.
  • The online environment may deepen feelings of isolation.


How Technology and Social Media Affect Intercultural Communication

  • Global businesses adopt technology to a varying degree, revealing each culture’s values and norms.
  • In real life as online, we gravitate toward people who seem like us.



Social Networking: Erasing or Deepening Cultural Differences?

Regional and cultural differences persist.

Media designers adapt to cultural preferences.

However, aside from language, regional differences on Facebook and Twitter seem minor.


Learning Outcome 5

Discuss strategies that help communicators overcome negative cultural attitudes and prevent miscommunication in today’s diverse, mobile, social-media driven workplace.


Improving Intercultural Effectiveness

  • Understanding generalizations and stereotyping
  • Curbing ethnocentrism
  • Building cultural self-awareness
  • Remaining open-minded
  • Practicing empathy


How We Form Judgments

An oversimplified perception of a behavior or characteristic applied uncritically to groups


Enhancing Intercultural Oral Communication

  • Use simple English.
  • Encourage accurate feedback.
  • Speak slowly and enunciate clearly.
  • Check for comprehension.


Enhancing Intercultural Oral Communication

  • Follow up in writing.
  • Listen without interrupting.
  • Observe eye messages.
  • Smile when appropriate.
  • Accept blame.


Improving Intercultural Written Communication

  • Consider local styles and conventions.
  • Hire a translator.
  • Observe titles and rank.
  • Use short sentences and short paragraphs.
  • Avoid ambiguous wording.
  • Cite numbers carefully.


Globalization and Workplace Diversity

North-American corporations operate globally.

The domestic workforce is becoming more diverse.


Defining Diversity

  • Race
  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • National Origin
  • Physical Ability
  • Sexual Orientation


Growing Workforce Diversity

Benefits to consumers, work teams, and businesses

  • A diverse staff is better able to respond to increasingly diverse customer base locally and globally.
  • Team members with various experiences are more likely to create products that consumers demand.
  • Consumers want to deal with companies respecting their values.


Tips for Communicating With Diverse Audiences on the Job

  • Seek training.
  • Understand the value of differences.
  • Learn about your cultural self.
  • Make fewer assumptions.
  • Build on similarities.







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