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This is the study material for Certificate IV in Business Management. And is to be read with the study guide.



The communication process is often very complex, with success depending on such factors as the nature of the message, the audience’s interpretation of it, and the environment in which it is received. The receiver’s perception of the source and the medium used to transmit the message may also affect the ability to communicate, as do many other factors. Words, pictures, sounds, and colours may have different meanings to different audiences, and people’s perceptions and interpretations of them will vary.


Communication has been variously defined as ‘the passing of information’, ‘the exchange of ideas’, or the process of establishing a commonness or oneness of thoughts between a sender and a receiver (Belch and Belch, 1995, p. 154). These definitions suggest that for communication to occur, there must be some common thinking between two parties and information must be passed from one person to another.


As humans, we communicate through a pattern of speech-listening (oral communication), writing-reading (written communications), nonverbal signals and body language, signs, graphics and pictorials. Communication is channelled through written documents, telecommunications networks via satellite stations, submarine cables, optical fibres and microwave signals, or publishing and broadcasting media.


Communication is used to give and receive instructions, to share information and to report facts and activities. Information is communicated through written documents and spoken exchanges, and a combination of both.


The three main forms which communication takes in business situations are:


Verbal (Linguistic) – verbal communication is in the form of words. It can be in the form of spoken words between two or more people or written words in written communication. Some ways of communicating orally or in spoken words are briefings, telephone conversations, interviews and public speaking. Written communication expresses ideas, thoughts and feelings in writing, for example, in letters and memos sent by a suitable channel such as electronic mail, post or courier.


Nonverbal – nonverbal communication is that communication sent by any means other than words or graphics. Nonverbal components exist in oral, written and graphic communication or, independently of words, in face-to-face contact. Facial expressions, body movement, posture and dress are some of the nonverbal components of oral communication. Format and layout are some of the nonverbal components of written and graphic communication.

Graphic – graphic communication represents ideas, relationships or connections visually with shapes, diagrams and lines. Graphic communication can have both verbal and nonverbal components, for example, some of the ‘no smoking’ signs displayed in public places (Dwyer, 1993, p.7).



The communication process


The communication process takes place in various situations for different reasons with the potential for many interpretations. Over the years, a basic model of communications has evolved of the various elements of the communications process, as shown in Figure 1.1. Two elements represent the major participants in the communications process, the sender and the receiver. Another two are the major communications tools, message and channel.


Four others are the major communication functions and process: encoding, decoding, response, and feedback. The last element, noise, refers to any extraneous factors in the system that can interfere with the process and work against effective communication. Other models also include the context or setting as a variable in the process.





















Figure 1.1 A model of the communication process

Source: Belch and Belch, 1995, p. 154.


The seven main elements in the communication process are:


Sender/encoder – the sender or source, of a communication message is the person or organisation who has information to share with another person or group of people. Unique to each individual and integral to all the communication they engage in is a back ground of accumulated attitudes, experiences, skills, cultural conditioning and individual differences that influence how that individual communicates.


The process begins when the source encodes an idea or feeling and then selects the appropriate words, symbols, pictures, and the like to represent the message that will be delivered to the receiver(s).


Message – the message is the ideas or feeling transmitted from the sender to the receiver to achieve understanding. It makes a connection between the sender and the receiver.


Channel – a communication channel is the means or technique used to send a message, for example, a conversation, letter, telephone call, radio or television program. Choose a channel that suits your communication purpose, your needs as the sender and the needs of the receiver.


Receiver/decoder – the receiver is the person or persons with whom the sender shares thoughts or information. Decoding is the process of transforming the sender’s message back into thought. Once again, Belch and Belch (1995) state that this process is heavily influenced by the receiver’s frame of reference or field of experience, which refers to the experiences, perceptions, attitudes, and values he or she brings to the communications situation. For effective communication to occur, the message decoding process of the receiver must match the encoding of the sender. Simply put, this means the receiver understands and correctly interprets what the source is trying to communicate.


Context or setting – context is the situation or setting within which communication takes place or the circumstances that surround a particular piece of communication. The same message can have a completely different meaning depending on the situation since emotions and reactions to ideas and events vary in different situations. For example, communication at a conference, in the lunchroom, at a formal meeting or in the office takes place in different settings. It may use different language, relationships and authority to achieve the different communication purpose in each situation. When people communicate over a pleasant lunch, they are more likely to talk openly and arrive at an understanding than they would in the work environment with the interruptions of the telephone and other people.


Feedback/response – the receiver’s set of reactions after seeing, hearing, or reading the message is known as a response. Feedback is important because it is that part of the receiver’s response that is communicated back to the sender. Feedback, which may take a variety of forms, closes the loop in the communications flow and lets the sender monitor how the intended message is being decoded and received. Check with the receiver to establish that your understanding of their feedback is correct. On occasion you may be wrong. Ask the receiver to rephrase the feedback to check their understanding and to check your own interpretation.







Noise sources – these are extraneous factors that create unplanned distortion or interference in the communication process and can lead to misunderstanding. Send a message by electronic mail to a person who is afraid of technology and unable to access the computer screen and the likely result is that communication barriers appear through poor choice of channel. Write a memo or business letter to this person and the message is easily understood and accepted.


The scope for such distortion is wide, such as:


Differences in religious and political beliefs of sender/receiver.

Distraction of a television set.

Typographical error.

Unusual accent.

Wrong word.

Ambiguous sentence.

Deficient hearing.

Bad reading habits.

Weak vocabulary.



Barriers to Communication


When the message is distorted in some way and poor interpretation of the meaning occurs, direction is lost. In the workplace maintaining effective communication is essential in achieving improvements in quality, productivity, client service and staff morale. Although at times, the structure of an organisation can cause barriers to communication with the poor flow of information within the hierarchy.


Some of the factors that cause communication barriers are:


Inappropriate choice of words;

Inappropriate channel;

Inappropriate message;

Receiver inattention;

Lack of courtesy by the sender or the receiver;

Nonverbal communication that does not support the words;

Poor layout and presentation;

Poor timing;

Inadequate feedback;

Distracting influences like noise, smell or personal appearance;

Withholding some of the relevant information;

Too many links in the chain of communication, i.e. the message going through too many people;

Individual perceptions of the message by the sender or message receiver;

Stereotyping of or by the message sender or receiver;

Prejudices or biases held by the message sender or message receiver, and

Ignoring cultural differences.


Activity 1.1





In the boxes provided place the correct response with a

(M) or (R).




r We communicate only when we consciously and deliberately choose to communicate.


r We communicate many times when we are not consciously aware that we are communicating.


r Words mean the same thing to our listeners as they do to us.


r Words do not really have meanings: meanings are in large part determined by people’s experiences and perceptions.


r We communicate primarily with words.


r The majority of the messages we communicate are not based on words but rather on nonverbal codes and symbols.


r Nonverbal communication is the silent language.


r Nonverbal communication is received through all the five senses.


r Communication is a one-way activity.


r Communication is a two-way activity.


r The message we send is identical to the message received by the listener.


r The message as it is finally received by the listener is never exactly the same as the message we originally thought we sent.


r You can never give someone too much information.


r There are times when people can be given too much information and thus suffer from an information overload.










Communication takes place within a company for a number of direct and indirect reasons. Primarily, it is necessary for passing information between people working in the same company and between the company and other organisations. However, communication - written, oral or even nonverbal - is also used by management to direct and motivate employees and to evaluate their performance. Information flow is crucial to any organisation and the better the communication flow, the more successful the company or organisation.





Communication can be used by an organisation’s management as a means of control to get employees to conform to company objectives, directives or work procedures. For this purpose, management may use employee assessment schemes, manuals of work procedure or company plans that set targets for each section. The difficulty is for management to find a balance between control, motivation and efficiency.





An organisation’s management, including supervisors of small groups, can use communication as a tool to motivate employees. When an organisation is willing to acknowledge and provide feedback on the achievements of individuals and groups, job satisfaction and performance are improved. This can involve verbal praise, letters or memorandums that keep people in the organisation feeling that they are an important part of it and that what they are doing is appreciated.



Balancing needs and goals


Communication within the organisation has another important role. The interests and expectations of the organisation and the goals and needs of people working in the organisation need to be balanced. To achieve this balance, both the employer and employee need to understand one another. Good communication is, therefore, essential. When an organisation and its members seek to improve communication skills, the organisation’s capacity to achieve its goals is improved. It becomes a better organisation, more able to respond to change and meet challenges.












The possible differences between the needs of the organisation and the individual are shown in Figure 2.1.


Organisational goals

Individual or group goals

Ø Profit

Ø Good pay

Ø Return on investment

Ø Job security

Ø Employee efficiency

Ø Fringe benefits

Ø Production of quality goods and service

Ø Scope for initiative and achievement

Ø Low absenteeism and low turnover of employees

Ø Challenge

Ø Competitiveness

Ø Satisfaction


Figure 2.1 Differences in organisational and individual goals

Source: Dwyer, 1993, p.97.




Structures in organisations


Business organisations consist of people who work together to achieve common goals. At least that is the theory, but in practice, the organisation may be affected by the failure of everyone in it to agree with or work towards the common objectives. Organisations are the systems by which individuals co-operate so there can be the specialisation of functions and skills to provide goods or services to customers (Dwyer, 1993, p. 497).


The organisation’s framework is developed by the specialisation of functions and the different levels of communication within the hierarchy. An organisation’s structure should suit its purpose and assist in achieving its goals.


While all organisations have a formal and an informal structure, the formal structure is deliberately developed to provide official links between people in the organisation. The better the communication, the stronger and more effective the links.


The formal structure of an organisation can be characterised by three important features:






The level of these three features and the interactions that occur determine the nature of the organisation.





1. Complexity


The greater the number of job functions and titles in an organisation, the higher the level of complexity. The more levels within the organisation, the more complex it becomes because there are more levels between the least powerful members of staff and senior management. The two extreme structures are those that are tall and those that are flat. An organisation with a tall structure is one with many different levels of management as illustrated in Figure 2.2.


Tall Structure - large public sector corporations, and large companies. This structure has been established largely because this is how managers think they can retain control over the whole organisation. It also indicates that the organisation is trying to meet the demand of a very large market or public service and that managers believe there are financial and personnel advantages in centralised control.





Figure 2.2 An organisation

with a tall structure














Flat Structure - very few levels of management so that there may be only one or two decision makers to pass through in order to reach the Managing Director. The effectiveness of communication will depend on how well managed the organisation is and on the extent of horizontal links.











Figure 2.3 An organisation with a flat structure and horizontal links.


2. Formalisation


Formalisation refers to the standardisation of the job and the granted levels of employee independence and discretion in the job that enables a high degree of control over work. High formalisation means little control or independence, therefore, little power. Conversely, low formalisation in a job means that employees have a high degree of independence and discretion in the job.



3. Centralisation


The effectiveness of communication in an organisation will also depend on how centralised the decision making is and where the decisions are made. Usually ones with tall structures, are highly centralised and where many junior decision makers have to use memorandums, short reports or submissions to ask for a decision. Flat structures are decentralised and decisions are made at lower levels in the organisation.


Formal communication channels


There are four directions in which communication can flow in an organisation:


Downward - flow from the top down. Usually instructions or guidelines to managers and employees at lower levels.


Upward - from the lower levels up. There is a great need for information to be presented to higher levels of management. Often in the form of reports such as production reports, financial information and complaints as well as ideas.


Lateral or horizontal channels - communication flows across the same level. For example, the marketing, production and distribution divisions. Communication channels in organic organisations are predominantly horizontal and tend towards the use of informal networks.


Diagonal channels - flows up and down across the lines of authority. For example, a Head of a Division of a company may agree with a lower level supervisor of another division on something which will then be put to the appropriate Head of Division of that supervisor.


The informal organisational structure


People tend to do the jobs they prefer and to help the co-workers they like. Some people within the group will accept help but will not reciprocate, whereas others will not offer or receive help and prefer to work alone. In any organisation, people establish links or networks of communication with a group or between groups that are not formally recognised and these operate separately from the official lines of communication.




The five advantages of the informal organisational structure are:


Faster action - when an employee in one department needs help to complete a task or solve a problem, members in other sections can use their authority to assist, thus speeding up the communication process.


Higher productivity - if the goals of formal management match the needs of the informal organisation, employees will take the initiative or be more responsive to delegation. This can create trust between management and employees and lead to higher productivity.


More job satisfaction - related to the social environment and can create a climate that fosters morale, job satisfaction and, therefore, productivity.


Easier release of tension - allows employees to release tension and frustration with other members of their informal network without directing this at management and risking their jobs.


Easier feedback - if managers are sensitive to the ‘grapevine’, they can obtain information on how employees feel about the organisation, management and work.



Some disadvantages


Often the informal links or networks of communication within an organisation are not so clearly defined. The four main disadvantages are:




Resistance to change


Conformity to the informal group’s standards, and




There is no doubt skill in communicating can be increased through training and practice. Dwyer, (1993) states that organisations operating in a stable, highly structured environment make greater use of organisation charts, rules, policies and job descriptions. Such organisations are labelled ‘mechanistic’.


Whereas, organisations operating in a dynamic, highly flexible environment may have no organisation charts and few job descriptions or standing plans. These flexible organisations are labelled ‘organic’. They are able to adapt quickly to meet the demands of the changing business and workplace environment.



When the formal and informal networks combine, communication improves. Managers and employees do not always have the ability to communicate effectively, or the necessary organisational and interpersonal skills to do so. Promoting effective communication within an organisation requires employees who are willing and able to:


communicate openly;


take responsibility;

solve problems;

respect others;

facilitate interaction; and

encourage participation.


To communicate openly, share your intentions, feelings and needs relevant to your work. Provide feedback that is descriptive and specific. Listen actively, directly confront differences and circulate information (Dwyer, 1993, p. 512).




Activity 2.1

Assume that you are the sales manager of a company that manufactures and sells office furniture. Describe how you would need to vary your sales strategies depending on whether you are dealing with potential customers with ‘tall’ or ‘flat’ organisational structures.

Choose any working environment you have experienced as a full or part-time worker. Discuss the following aspects of that organisational environment.

The relative importance of formal versus informal communication.

The significance of the grapevine.

The channels used by your superiors to communicate with you.

The channels open to you to communicate with your superiors in the










Interpersonal communication


Interpersonal communication takes place whenever two or more people interact on a one-to-one basis or in small groups. When the consequences of your behaviour match your intentions, your interpersonal communication is effective. Others perceive your message as you intend it to be received. Successful interaction with others requires confidence and the skill to assert yourself. When confidence and skill are present, effective interpersonal relationships can develop that can satisfy different emotional needs, for example, recognition, esteem or a sense of belonging.


Dwyer, (1993) states that at work, those who seem very successful in interpersonal communication appear to relate easily and positively to those around them with good listening, speaking and nonverbal communication skills. They also have the ability to use assertion without alienating others. Overall, their perception of messages is accurate and their approach to people is motivated and confident.


In an effort to become a better communicator and to develop better interpersonal skills, models for evaluating success has much to offer and will give criteria against which to measure your own interpersonal effectiveness.




Example 1.




The Humanistic Model suggests that people who operate effectively in interpersonal relationships show five general qualities:


1. Openness


The inclination of a person to respond frankly and spontaneously to people and situations, and the ability to acknowledge personal feelings and thoughts as their own. Each person’s feelings some from the interaction between their attitudes, thoughts, prejudices and the real situation that is taking place. To demonstrate openness, you show others your genuine feelings and reactions to a situation.


2. Empathy


The ability to understand and feel as the other person feels. As you develop skill in understanding another person’s experience, opinions and values, you will be able to comprehend their motivations and attitudes and recognise that past experiences may affect the present situation.




3. Supportiveness


The ability to supply descriptive and spontaneous feedback to another person in a provisional or tentative manner. This feedback indicates that ‘For the time being I think I understand. Would you like to tell me more?’ As you describe rather than evaluate another person’s behaviour, that person receives feedback that can increase knowledge of the self.


Spontaneous reactions to the other person or situation, open-mindedness to the situation and the ability to describe the situation rather than pass judgement all help to develop a supportive atmosphere that lets them self-disclose and interact openly.



4. Positiveness


This is the ability to communicate in a confident way whilst also acknowledging the other person. As you demonstrate a positive attitude to yourself, others reflect this positive self-regard, particularly when it is also accompanied by a positive attitude toward the person to whom you are communicating. Each person needs to be acknowledged by others.



5. Equality


Equality refers to an interaction that recognises each person in the interaction as worthwhile and with something to contribute. In an interaction based on equality, each person sends and receives information in the communication process and gives acceptance and approval to the other person.


Occasionally, in an open atmosphere, people will express disagreement or challenge negative behaviour. Rather than doing this to win an argument or point, the disagreement is because of concern about the behaviour and its effect on the relationship.


This model emphasises the importance of openness, empathy, supportiveness, positiveness and equality as characteristics contributing to interpersonal effectiveness. A person with these qualities is able to develop and maintain satisfying interpersonal relationships (Dwyer, 1993, p.67).



Example 2.




This model emphasises the specific interpersonal skills that lead to satisfying interpersonal relationships. Five are presented in this model. They are:



1. Confidence


The ability to feel comfortable with the other person and the situation. Nonverbal communication conveys a great deal about ease or anxiety in a situation. Tone of voice, posture, use of space and dress all send the receiver a message about the sender’s level of confidence.


2. Immediacy


Refers to the sense of contact the other person receives from the person communicating. It refers to what is happening ‘here and now’. As you talk, use the other person’s name and respond with appropriate feedback and demonstrate liking, interest and attention to the other person. Nonverbal expressions, such as eye contact and an attentive and open posture, further complement this verbal communication.


3. Interaction management


The balance between the sender and listener as each acts on the other. In an effective interaction, each person is able to contribute to the communication flow in a meaningful and satisfying way. Both parties are satisfied. Successful interaction management is helped by self-monitoring which identifies those parts of your communication that are appropriate or inappropriate. It is worth considering, for example, how much you wish to self-disclose in different situations.


4. Expressiveness


Refers to involvement, both as a sender and receiver in the interpersonal interaction. Important aspects of expressiveness reflect your genuineness, openness to others and willingness to give appropriate and informative feedback in the interaction. You should communicate this involvement with vocal qualities such as voice tone, rate of speech, choice of words, facial expressions and body movement.


5. Other-orientation


Is the ability to attend to and focus on the other person in an interpersonal interaction. This means seeing the situation from the other person’s point of view and expressing empathy with verbal acknowledgement of the other person’s feelings. For example, ‘I can understand why you are disappointed’ or show interest with 'Really' or 'When did that happen?'




Nonverbal focusing with direct eye contact, leaning forward, nods and other gestures all show attention and interest in the other person. The most important skills in interpersonal communication are speaking , questioning, listening, the use of nonverbal communication and the ability to use feedback (Dwyer, 1993, p.68).



Techniques for effective communication


Effective communication leads to increased understanding and more satisfying relationships. It is based on a willingness to communicate, an empathy with the other person and the ability to use and adjust your communication to the other person’s situation in a way that also recognises your needs and rights.


As you communicate, choices are made between a range of relationship skills. Each of us is personally responsible for the choices we make. The more knowledge we develop in relationship skills, the greater our capacity to relate to others.



Activity 3.1


Adopt the following strategies in your everyday life and evaluate your performance in one month. Have your interpersonal skills improved? If not, what areas do you need to concentrate on? Think about it, they do work!


The following six interpersonal strategies will enable you to display openness, empathy, supportiveness, positiveness and equality:





An assertive person can stand up for their rights. Assertion comes from high self-esteem and an acceptance of yourself. An assertive person realises the type of behaviour suited to a particular situation and recognises their own behaviour is assertive, aggressive or non-assertive.


Skills in assertion

Disagreement - when the occasion demands, an assertive person can disagree, stand up for their own rights and present alternative points of view without being intimidated or putting the other person down.


Assertiveness - an assertive person is able to negotiate and compromise without feeling uncomfortable.


Aggressiveness - an aggressive person may try to win at all costs. Sometimes by dominating and, on occasion, humiliating others and/or ignoring the best solution simply because it is someone else’s viewpoint.


Submissiveness - a non-assertive person is unable to promote a point of view, even to the point of ignoring their own rights as an individual.


Openness and expressiveness - assertiveness expresses responsibility for your own thoughts and feelings and gives open and honest feedback in the interaction. A useful technique to develop assertion and show openness with others is an ‘I’ message.



2. Paraphrasing


Paraphrasing, or giving an understanding and reflecting response, is suited to three interpersonal situations:


when you are uncertain about the meaning of the sender’s feelings.

when you want the sender to hear and understand what they have just said, and

when you let the speaker know you want to understand their message.


Paraphrasing the other person’s message gives an understanding response that shows your desire to understand rather than evaluate them. Thus, it is important to communicate a desire to understand rather than evaluate and restate in your own words to paraphrase more effectively.


3. Feedback


Feedback lets the sender understand how the message is being received and helps the receiver confirm whether their perception of the message is correct or incorrect. Effective feedback creates trust and openness, and in an organisation, appropriate, constructive feedback creates an open and encouraging organisational climate.


Feedback lets the sender understand how the message is being received and helps the receiver confirm whether their perception of the message is correct or incorrect. In the communication process, feedback can be the:



continuing or

completing link.


By practicing and using feedback skills well, you come closer to understanding the verbal, nonverbal and undercurrent messages sent by others. Indicate through spoken communication that you are receptive and willing to listen to the other person. Check your understanding of the other person’s message with a mirror question, for example, ‘So what you’re saying is …’ before you give your response.





Different types of feedback used within organisations and businesses are:

negative feedback

positive feedback from superiors

positive feedback from co-workers, and


Dwyer, (1993) states that negative feedback is not necessarily detrimental to the receiver; the result depends on how the feedback is provided. Positive feedback from superiors and peers encourages the repetition of that behaviour and acknowledges the role and contribution the individual makes to the organisation. People also self-evaluate their own work and interactions with other people. Self-evaluation lets the person compare the results or behaviour with their perception of the results.


4. Feedforward


Feedforward is information sent before the main message. An appropriate constructive feedforward lets you say something about the message yet to be sent. Dwyer, (1993, p.78) states that feedforward has four functions in the communication process:


opens the channels of communication and focuses attention on the coming message;

previews the message to be sent by giving and receiving advance information;

disclaims or denies a connection with the statement to follow, and

places the receiver of the message in a specific role to encourage them to respond in a certain way.


5. Networking


Networking is the exchange of ideas and information with other people and is important as it builds your contacts and develops your interpersonal skills. Your network contains satisfying personal relationships, casual acquaintances and your co-workers in the workplace environment.


As you develop your network, your contacts and confidence increase and the positive and open contact you receive from others provides you with support and a sense of belonging. The willingness to contact and interact with others as an equal demonstrates this confidence.








6. Self-disclosure


Self-disclosure occurs when a person is willing to be open with another person and can lead to increased self-awareness and self-understanding. The Johari Window illustrates four different aspects of self by showing the areas known and unknown to yourself, and known and unknown to others. As we disclose more about ourselves and receive feedback from others, the blind area and hidden area in the Johari Window become smaller, while the known or public area becomes larger.


Self-disclosure does not mean you have to reveal intimate details about your past. It means letting the other person know your feelings and reactions to the current situation. Ideas and feelings are shared. As you self-disclose, you also provide feedback to others on how their behaviour is affecting you.





A factor which has a significant effect on interpersonal behaviour is self-concept: the mental image or idea that each person has of themselves that stems from past experience and interactions with others. It is how we see ourselves which will influence the way we relate to others, our capacity or readiness for self-disclosure and our ability to give and receive feedback in interpersonal relationships.



The Johari Window concept


Dwyer, (1993) suggests an approach to understanding our self-concept is offered in the Johari Window, named after the theory’s originators, Joseph Luft and Harry Ingram. This theory explains the parts that make up each person’s self-concept in two broad divisions. These are:


the areas of yourself known to you

the areas of yourself unknown to you.


The Johari Window is used to divide these two broad divisions further into four main areas:


public area

hidden area

blind area

unknown area.








The Public area covers those things known about yourself and known to others. Free and open communication takes place in this area. Self-image or self-concept is created from the information in the public area and hidden area, the two areas known to you.


The Hidden area covers the things you are aware of but hide from others. This enables a front or cover for hurts, disappointments, weaknesses or other things to be built as a protection or barrier rather than to self-disclose to others. Although self-disclosure leads to an increase in what others know about you, it also can reduce the size of the hidden area.


The Blind area covers those things unknown to yourself but known to others. You are unaware of some of your reactions or feelings, whereas others perceive and know how you react. This window suggests that each person has a blind area, that is, no knowledge of some characteristics, even though others may perceive and identify these from the public area.


The Unknown area covers those other aspects of yourself about which you and others are unaware. Self-disclosure leads to an increase in what others know about you and reduces the size of the hidden area.


Figure 3.1 The Johari Window

(Dwyer, 1993, p.84)




















The challenge is to extend and develop your interpersonal skills further.

The rewards are the opportunity to communicate, to set goals and plan in a way that meets and extends your own abilities while maintaining a balance in your interpersonal relationships with family, friends and co-workers.









Listening skills

By listening well, you are able to avoid directing and leading, blaming, judging or evaluating the other person. Skill in listening lets you enjoy the company of others or to interact in a group environment.


A variety of listening skills can be learnt and developed with practice. Listening is so important that it is worth a section based on its own merits and an undertaking of practicing the different skills in each type of listening.


There are four main types of listening:


Attending listening


Encouraging listening


Reflecting listening


Active listening



1. Attending listening


A method of attending listening, is when you focus on the speaker by giving your physical attention to the other person. You use your whole body and the environment you create to provide feedback that assures the speaker of your total attention.


This is achieved by the following considerations:


Environment - create an environment without distraction or interruptions, e.g. ensuring there are no telephone calls during the conversation.


Eye contact – show attention to the speaker and be supportive.


Orientation – use your posture to attend to the other person, such as, lean slightly forward toward the speaker in a relaxed way.


Personal space – position yourself at a comfortable distance from the speaker. This can vary from elbow length to arm’s length.


An open position - maintain an open position with arms and legs uncrossed. At times, if you copy the body language of the other person inconspicuously, they will feel as if you are similar to their self and therefore feel more comfortable in your company.


Body movement – also reflects interest or lack of interest. People who tend to move about a lot indicate boredom and distraction.


Interest – show an interest in the speaker.



2. Encouraging listening

Encouraging listening indicates that the listener is willing to listen and invites the speaker to disclose their thoughts and feelings. This form of listening encourages the speaker to further discuss the point.


Use the following strategies to provide the feedback that will encourage the speaker to continue.


Conversation openers – if the speaker seems upset or annoyed, you might say something like ‘You seem to be upset about the discussion with that last client. Would you care to talk about it?’


Invitation to disclose – invite the speaker to continue but without pressuring them to disclose their feelings or to state their thoughts.


Minimal and brief responses – some of these responses are ‘mm’, 'hmmm', 'yes', ‘I see’, coupled with an attentive posture.


Minimal questions – try not to burden the speaker with too many questions.


Pause – a pause or silence allows the speaker time to consider, reflect and decide whether to continue the conversation.



3. Reflecting listening


Reflecting listening restates or mirrors to the speaker both the feeling and the content in the message. This indicates that you accept the speaker and understand the message. There are several techniques you can use to provide feedback in reflective listening. These are:


Paraphrase – restates the essential part of the message concisely in your own words.


Clarify – slightly different from paraphrasing. Here you add how you have interpreted the message or how you explain the situation to bring accuracy to an area of confusion.


Reflect feeling – listen with empathy and try to see the situation from the speaker’s point of view.


Reflect meaning – similar to restating, although, you repeat, in fewer words or in your own words, the essential ideas of the speaker.


Summarise – what you think was said. Use summarising to restate, in a condensed way, the most important points in a long conversation or summarise at the end of a discussion to conclude and give direction for the next discussion. Extremely useful in conflict situations or in problem solving.



4. Actively listening

Active listening is a way for the listener to relate back to the speaker exactly the total message received, that is, both the content and the feeling. Active listening focuses attention and provides feedback to match the perceived message and the intended message, and is suited to problem solving and counselling. However, only use it if you genuinely want to listen.


Actively participating in the conversation with the other person is a conscious attempt to empathise with the other person in terms of the content and feelings and to let the other person express and recognise those feelings. For example, a response, ‘You seem to be feeling down about this …’ lets the other person either agree or disagree to the reflecting response.


Listening is not a passive activity; it is an active, participative, creative process that demands intelligence and sensitivity. It is listening with openness, hearing what the other wants to say before passing judgement on their statement. It is a skill that requires concentration and practice.

Efficient listening will result in improved learning and remembering, better interpretation of instructions and feedback on job performance, which in turn will enhance your career success. It will also enrich your personal relationships through a better awareness of what is going on both career-wise and socially.


Bendeich (1997) suggests that several basic skills can be applied to listening which will develop your competence and make your listening more effective. They are:


Being motivated to listen by identifying:


å Why you need to listen;

å The purpose of what is being said;

å What the act of listening will do for you; and

å What the speaker is saying that you can use.


Being consciously ready to listen.


Sharing in the communication process by giving the speaker your undivided attention and showing response to what is said.




Actively listening, concentrating intently on the speaker’s words, relating to what is said, grasping from the speaker’s viewpoint what they are actually communicating.


Determining the motive for what is being said, realising that sometimes it could be driven by bias for or prejudice against a particular course of action, a product or a person.


Listening critically, identifying main points, analysing them against factual evidence provided by the speaker and any prior knowledge you may have, and accepting or rejecting them on this evidence.


Connecting new information to prior knowledge where possible, signalling to the speaker that the message is being received.


Tuning out from or eliminating any distractions around you.


Listening for total meaning, understanding both the content of the message and the attitude or feelings underpinning the message, responding to the speaker’s point of view, creating a positive climate for communication.


Sensing the implications of the message by observing the speaker’s nonverbal signals, analysing facial expressions, posture and physical gestures as a reinforcement of the spoken words.


Hearing the undertones in the message, the implications of what is being said, through vocal tone and pitch.


Watching for signals that highlight specific points.


Reinforcing in your mind what has been said, during breaks in the speech.


Refraining from mentally debating what is being said or from passing judgement.


Making notes of key points to reinforce what has been said.


Keeping an open mind, not being prejudiced or biased, and being open to new ideas.


Being empathetic, putting yourself in the speaker’s place, trying to understand what is said through the speaker’s eyes, with their values and attitudes.


Focusing upon what is being said rather than how it is being said, ignoring lack of voice inflection, incorrect pronunciation, irritating gestures or mannerisms.


Giving the speaker adequate time to convey the message before interrupting with questions or an opposite point of view.





Showing sensitivity by indicating an acceptance of the speaker’s point of view, even though you may not agree with it, and


Repeating what you have heard to reinforce your comprehension so you can ensure effective retention for future recall.





Activity 4.1


Over a 24-hour period list as many instances that you can think of where you might be required to listen to someone or something and why you listened to them.


Observe people involved in oral communication and list the behavioural cues and verbal nudges the listener gives to the speaker to indicate that they are receiving their message.


Discuss the following topics with a friend, family member or colleague. Preferably another student. A person who would like to improve their listening skills.


Ways in which you feel you will benefit personally from more effective listening


Incidents where you have tried to send a message but, through ineffective listening, your message has not been received or has been misinterpreted


How listening can be affected by a speaker’s vocal tone and pitch


The different ways a listener can give feedback to a speaker, signalling that the message is being received as sent, and


How you intend to improve your listening skills.








Writing is a basic management skill. Being able to write well makes you more useful to your organisation and improves your chances of promotion. Writing badly can be costly. It can lead to wrong decisions, to confusion and irreparable damage being done to your reputation. A clear, concise, logical and unified message written in plain English helps the reader to understand and, thus, enables them to make decisions and take actions on the basis of the information and so exercise their democratic rights as citizens.


Characteristics of good business writing


Emphasis in this area is on editing so that your writing style is suitable for middle management administrative writing. Good business writing is usually not so individualistic, such as writing poems, good business writing has the same characteristics. It is:


Readable - as easy as possible to understand


Appropriate - suitable for your purpose, message and receiver, and


Mechanically sound - uses correct spelling, grammar, punctuation and business formats.


Readability - means that it is understandable because of its clear style of writing. Writers sometimes try to impress readers. They purposefully choose long words and write lengthy, complicated sentences in order to show off their command of the language. In this way, they often sacrifice understanding for the impression they hope to make. When readers become aware of this they stop concentrating on the meaning of the writer’s message and may decide to read no further.


Many factors affect readability, such as:


Word choice











The following six rules should help you to make better word choices.


Avoid unfamiliar words.


To help make your writing clear, use words that are familiar to your reader. Some examples are shown in Figure 5.1.



Don’t Say


Prior to


Subsequent to





Find out





Encounter difficulty in

Find it hard to

Pursuant to your request

As you asked






Figure 5.1 Unfamiliar words

Source: Galvin, Prescott and Huseman, 1992, p. 86.



Avoid technical jargon.


Technical terms have a precise meaning, specific to a particular subject or organisation. They are useful when you write to an informed reader who understands the precise meaning of the term. Only use these when your reader is informed and understands the technical meaning. Avoid them when you are dealing with an uninformed reader who may simply ‘turn off’ or become ‘worried’ by the information. A computer salesperson who writes to a computer-illiterate person: ‘It’s a PS/2 Model 8 with dual FDD and an 80 meg ESDI HD’ will surely fail to communicate.


Technical terms used in an unsuitable context can exclude the reader from understanding and sharing important ideas. When you use technical terms, use them to help your reader understand rather than to show how clever or superior you are as a writer.


Avoid useless repetition.


Sometimes we repeat ideas for effect – to impress them on the reader’s mind. Television advertisements contain many repetitions of a product’s name so that we will not forget it. When you write, you can deliberately repeat ideas to create a rhetorical effect.




But do not make the careless mistake of uselessly repeating the same idea as in these sentences:


å The two cares were exactly identical. (exactly)


å His pay raise was small in size. (in size)


å If you can not use the new facsimile, return it back to me. (back)


Repeat ideas for effect, not because you forgot to proof-read. The words in parentheses can be omitted from each sentence with no loss of understanding.


Avoid wordy expressions.


Wordy expressions are simply dead weight in a sentence. Many sentences beginning with ‘There are’, ‘It is’, or ‘There is’ are wordy sentences. Figure 5.2 illustrates how you can say the same thing without phrases that make your sentences begin slowly.


Don’t Say


There are three fine restaurants in Oxford Street.

Three fine restaurants are in Oxford Street.

It is important that all employees read the company handbook.

All employees should read the company handbook.

There is little time left for us to make a decision.

We have little time left to make the decision.


Figure 5.2 Wordy expressions and slow starting sentences



Wordy phrases are dead weight, no matter where they appear in your sentences.

Consider the following examples:


Wordy Concise

A long period of time A long time (or two weeks)

At the present time Now (or the date of writing)

Consensus of opinion Consensus

Due to the fact that Because

During the month of November During November

For the purpose of For

In many cases Often

In some cases Sometimes

In the near future Soon

The majority of Most

On the occasion of On

I personally I

In the event that If

With reference to About





Avoid trite phrases.


Trite words and phrases are worn out, commonplace expressions. Because they are overused, trite phrases have lost their meaning. They too are dead weight in your sentences, and can reduce your credibility as a writer. Although some trite phrases can be simply deleted from a sentence, others have fresher replacements.


Here are some examples:


Trite Replacement

Advise Tell

Enclosed please find Enclosed is

Numerous and sundry Many

Permit me to say

It has come to my attention I have learned

Under separate cover Separately

Please be advised

Up to this writing Until now

In accordance with your request As you requested

Kindly Please



Avoid words that are too general.


Galvin, et al, (1992) states that words that are too general leave readers unsure of what is being said. By using words that are as specific as possible we can help readers create the images that we want in their minds.


For example, if we say ‘A vehicle was parked at the kerb’, the reader is not sure just what kind of vehicle we mean – truck, bus, car or other vehicle. To create a more vivid image for the reader, we should move from the general to the specific. Thus to say ‘A Pajero was parked at the kerb’ conveys a much clearer picture.



Here are some examples of vague, general expressions and more effective specific language:




The majority of stockholders voted for the new plan.

Sixty-four per cent of our stockholders voted for the new plan.

You will receive your refund cheque soon.

You will receive your full refund of $132.19 by 15 July 1999.








Sentence and paragraph construction


The length of your sentences affects your readability. If sentences are long people tend to forget the beginnings before they get to the ends. Apart from sentence length, writing is usually clear and easy to read if both sentences and paragraphs are:


Unified - paragraph unity: one central idea per paragraph and the topic sentence presents the main idea of your paragraph.


Coherent - coherent sentences and paragraphs are understandable because they ‘stick together’. Four devices for improving paragraph coherence are:


Parallel structure – it is particularly important to use parallel structures where you are enumerating a series of endings to a sentence root, such as in questionnaire items. Compare these two versions:


Poor Parallel


Nutranut is my favourite shampoo because it is:


a. clear instructions a. easy to use

b. the brand has a good reputation b. reputable

c. it doesn’t cost much c. inexpensive


Notice how each ‘parallel’ option correctly completes the ‘root’ sentence.

Linking words – linking words such as also and in addition are used to join sentences, but also as transition words linking paragraphs. Linking words are extremely important because they articulate the logical relationships between bits of information and ideas. Compare the differences in clarity and coherence in the following sentences about the risks of transporting nuclear materials.


Nuclear powerstations themselves are solidly built. The containers used for the transport of nuclear materials are not.


Although the powerstations themselves are solidly built, the containers used for transport of nuclear materials are not.


Another use for linking words is to express explicitly the writer’s attitude. Thus the sentence above can be modified to:


Although the powerstations themselves are solidly built, unfortunately the containers used for transport of nuclear material are not.


Enumerating – a third device for enhancing paragraph coherence is by giving a specific numeric or chronological label to each of our ides, such as:


You will want to own a Dynamic clothes dryer for several reasons. Firstly, it costs only 9 cents for the average load. Secondly, it has a one-year guarantee on all parts. And thirdly, the Dynamic comes in three brilliant colours – harvest gold, fresh green and sunflower yellow.



Signposting – assigns brief headings to our major ideas, such as:


You will want to own a Dynamic clothes dryer for several reasons:


Cost – only 9 cents for the average load.

Guarantee – one year on all parts.

Colours – three brilliant colours: harvest gold, fresh green and sunflower yellow.



OUTLINING - is a convenient way to group ideas together, and organise paragraphs and groups of paragraphs into a logical arrangement. This ensures that your ideas are well organised from the start. Use the AIDA technique in the case of sending a persuasive message.



2. Appropriateness - the best business writing gets results because the writer has accurately assessed a unique situation and written appropriately. It is generally appropriate to write in a style that is:


active - emphasises actions by using the ‘active voice’. Where the subject performs the action expressed by the verb. Active voice communicates directly and lets the reader know who is doing the action. The subject is placed before the action to give a stronger link between them and to show who or what is doing the action. The sentence ‘Jane hailed the taxi’ is active voice. Jane is the person doing the action of ‘hailing the taxi’.


This technique creates a stronger feeling that something is happening because the subject and the action are held together in the structure of the sentence. The sentence ‘The taxi was hailed by Jane’ is passive voice because the subject of the sentence ‘taxi’ is the passive receiver of the action ‘was hailed’. Overuse of passive voice can create sluggishness. Compare the following sentences in both active and passive voice.


Active voice

Passive voice

The business reached the highest sales figures for the year this month.

Record sales figures for he year were reached by the business this month.

Liam completed the assignment.

The assignment was completed by Liam.

The third year Management students prepared the project.

The project was prepared by the third year Management students.

Barbara completed the work.

The work was completed by Barbara.


Figure 5.3 Active and passive voice.

Source: Dwyer, 1993, p.205.






positive - stresses what is possible, avoid using negative words.


Compare these messages:


Negative: You failed to enclose a cheque with your order, therefore, it is impossible to send you the merchandise.

Positive: As soon as your cheque arrives, we will send your order via parcel post.


When writing in business, you want to create as positive a climate as possible. Thus, avoid using ‘negative’ words such as delay, cannot, impossible, inconvenience, and trouble as long as this does not make your writing obscure or sound evasive and insincere.


tactful - is considerate of the receiver’s feelings, do not insult the reader’s intelligence and demean the reader personally. In business you should try to write to your reader’s level, neither above nor below.


You can demean readers in several ways by:


a. Unwitting put-downs,

b. Categorising them,

c. Using an accusatory or judgmental tone, and

d. Using sexist language.


personal - treats receivers as individual people rather than numbers or objects - YOU and We & I. Your writing should focus on your reader’s needs, not on yourself. Consider the following:


We and I You

We have mailed a cheque. You will receive your cheque in the mail.


Our savings accounts pay You will earn 6 per cent interest from

6 per cent interest. Your savings account.


I want to express my Thank you for your help with …

appreciation …



Use non-discriminatory language

Linguistic discrimination in communication is a style of writing or speaking which gives preference to the masculine form (sexist) or belittles people with other cultural backgrounds (racist). It is a style which needs to be eliminated from workplace communication (Bendeich, 1997, p. 88).






Despite an increased participation by women in government, public life and the workforce, linguistic discrimination (sexist language) still exists. Gender-specific language fails to reflect the role that women play and the status that they hold in society.


The choice of language often carries hidden meanings and can be offensive and demeaning to those who are discriminated against. Sexist language is one way in which one gender is given more prominence and importance in a written document. Some strategies suggested by Dwyer, (1993) for removing sexism in language are:


å Avoid the use of male-dominated terms to describe occupations or roles that are shared by both men and women, for example, ‘chairman’.


å Eliminate the unnecessary mention of a person’s gender for example, ‘lady doctor’

or ‘female engineer’.


å When using a pronoun to refer to an individual whose gender is not specified, avoid simply using the male pronoun ‘he’. Either restructure the sentence to avoid the pronoun or to make the sentence plural, or simply use the plural pronoun ‘they’ even when a single person is referred to. The Macquarie Student Writers Guide suggests this approach.


Non-discriminatory, inclusive language includes all readers. Readers are invited to take action on the basis of the information provided. Even if your organisation is currently female-dominated, as in nursing, or male-dominated, as in engineering, changing attitudes and trends in education mean that women and men are working in all industries. Resentment and communication barriers can occur when language is addressed exclusively to one sex. It is discriminatory.




Each student must submit his assignment by August.

Each student must submit the assignment by August.

When a person is employed he must contact personnel.

When people are employed they must contact personnel.

My girl will answer the telephone.

My assistant will answer the telephone.

You and your wife are invited to the Christmas Party.

You and your partner are invited to the Christmas Party.











Staff, workforce or labour

Worker, employee


People, the human race or humankind


Figure 5.4 Discriminatory language

Source: Dwyer, 1993, 9. 206.






3. Mechanically sound written material is free of:


spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors, and

format problems.


Correct grammar enhances understanding and credibility. Format refers to the physical arrangement of the written material.


The mechanics of writing are the technical aspects of what we write. They are the finishing touches we put to our documents which help to communicate our message as clearly, quickly, effortlessly and pleasantly as possible. Two of the main reference sources for ensuring our communications are mechanically sound are the good old dictionary and a thesaurus.


You can add polish and professionalism to written workplace documents by knowing how to express numbers, when to capitalise, and when abbreviations are acceptable and when they are not. Improve your skills and learn how to extend your vocabulary so that you can choose just the right word to convey exactly what you want to say and be sure that it has been spelt correctly.





Activity 5.1


Write a set of instructions for each of the following:


a. how to start a car

b. how to evacuate your building in an emergency

c. how to use the yellow pages

d. how to use a library catalogue

how to make up a bibliography.


Show your instructions to another student or friend. Seek feedback to see if they understand your instructions. Is there relevant information missing? Check your work against the writing characteristics described in this session.
















Bendeich, (1997) mentions that business letters are formal written communications through which an exchange of information takes place between business organisations and their clients, customers, suppliers, service providers and statutory authorities.


This exchange may take place by the traditional transmission through Australia Post, via a document exchange network established for professions who have regular interchanges of communication with one another, or transmitted electronically by fax or through a computer network.


Letters are often the only contact a business has with its clients so their presentation and style should represent the organisation'’ professionalism, client-focus and standards of excellence.


Along with the strategies for better productivity like Best Practice, Total Quality Management, Benchmarking and Work Teams, a client-focuses approach to communication has seen a move away form bureaucratic or archaic language to plain English.


The traditional typed letter has almost disappeared into oblivion. With the advent of word processing, document creators are aware of he importance of appearance and individuality in the preparation of business letters.


The modern business letter has a specific purpose, incites the receiver to read it and encourages action on it. It is clear, concise and courteous, attractive and attention-getting in appearance, accurate in detail, consistent in style, with information well spaced and appropriately presented.



6.1 Good news and neutral letters

Despite the ever-growing use of telephones, facsimile machines and other electronic media, letters will continue to play a crucial role in the conduct of business. Letters provide the most personal contact that much of the public has with business organisations and governmental agencies.


As such, modern managers are expected to be able to write cohesive letters, and they should be able to write them quickly. It is not easy to write effective letters quickly, but it can be simplified through a systematic approach.


In many letters you will be transmitting either good news or routine, neutral information to the reader. In this type of letter you are either complying with or requesting routine information, so the reader is unlikely to be displeased with your message. Therefore, you should get straight to the main point and then provide the secondary details.




This way of ordering ideas is variously called ‘descending order of importance’, ‘direct’ or ‘deductive’ arrangement. You will notice we use this order throughout our coverage of good news and neutral letters.


The good news and neutral letters approach is most appropriate for the following types of letters:


placing orders;

acknowledging orders;

requesting credit;

extending credit;

making routine claims;

approving adjustments on claims;

requesting routine information;

granting routine requests; and

pre-written messages.



Standard components of a business letter

Although letters may differ in appearance, they are similar in the basic parts they include. The reader has certain information needs that the following components are intended to satisfy:


Return address of the sender – most business organisations are written on stationery that has the company letterhead, including address, at the top. When writing a letter on plain paper most people use a semi-block layout (see figure 6.1.1) so the return address of the sender is placed in the upper right-hand corner of the letter.


Since this return address is the first information on the page, it establishes the top and right-hand side margins. The sender’s address must include street, a number and name, or a post office box number, the town or city, and the state and postcode.


The date when the letter was written – all letters and reports should be dated, since the date will tell the reader something about the context in which the letter was written. The date will also simplify the filing of a letter, as the arrangement of correspondence within a given file folder is usually chronological.


The standard form for dates is, using open punctuation: 24 February 1998. Numerals such as 4/8/94 can be misleading as this could be the eighth or the fourth month. Spell the month out in words.


Inside address of the receiver – the inside address is the reader’s address. It is placed between the date and the salutation, two lines below the date. This includes the name, title and address of the person to whom the letter is being sent.



Salutation – this is the writer’s greeting to the reader. It is placed two lines below the inside address or the attention line. The most frequently used salutations in business letters are ‘Dear Mr …, Mrs …, Ms …, Miss …’. When writing to a company ‘Dear Sirs’ is often used, as is a salutation of Dear Sir/Madam’.


However, all these forms of salutation are cold and impersonal. It is important to try and find out your receiver’s name and use it. If you have the time, you may choose to ring the organisation and ask the name of the person to whom you are writing.


Body of the letter – each part of the body has a particular purpose.


The beginning has two purposes; to open courteously and, when appropriate, to link the letter to previous transactions. The middle or body of the letter presents details and information and contains content appropriate to the purpose of the letter. The message puts the reader in a position to take action on the basis of the document. The ending has two purposes: to indicate the future action and to close courteously. The closing paragraph states the actions to be taken by the reader.


Close – the complimentary close should match the form of address used in the salutation. For a business letter that opens with ‘Dear Sir’ or Dear Madam’, close with ‘Yours faithfully’ followed by your signature name and job title or designation. When you write to a person you have met, a specific person in the organisation or a person who has corresponded with you before, use their name in the salutation or opening and ‘Yours sincerely’ in the complimentary close.


Signature block – the writer’s signature and name follows the complimentary close. It may be appropriate to place the position or job title of the writer under the signature and typewritten name.


Additional parts – an attention line can be used when you want your correspondence to go directly to a particular person. This is placed between the inside address of the receiver and the salutation. A subject line can also be placed between the salutation and the first paragraph of a letter as an appropriate heading. In addition, reference initials, enclosures and identification of carbon copies may be included.














































Figure 6.1.1 Full-block style



Thus, using an acceptable letter format is an important part of creating an effective company image. Companies differ somewhat in the formats they use. In general, writers use single spaces within the parts of a letter and double spaces between the parts. Some organisations provide employees with a manual or style sheet prescribing a certain style.


The two main styles of letter placement are:


1. Full-block- every line begins at the left margin.


2. Modified-block –the date begins at the centre of the page or is centred horizontally. The closing and the signature block are normally aligned with the date.




The following guidelines provided by Galvin, et al, (1992, pp. 116-123) will offer you a basis for establishing your own techniques. Remember, good news and neutral letters should be direct, specific and complete.



Placing Orders


When you order something the process is simplified if you have a company order form. When you do not have one you should follow the good news and neutral letter plan.






Only write a letter if you do not have a company order form.


Start with your main point. ‘Please send’ or ‘Please ship’ are appropriate openings and are likely to result in a fast response.


Provide all the details necessary for the seller to fill the order now. If details such as catalogue number, size, colour and price are omitted, further correspondence will be necessary and a delay will result.


Indicate the payment plan you will follow.


Include shipping instructions if you have a preference.


Close with your expectations of an appropriate delivery date.



Figure 6.1.2 Order letter guide





Routine Claims


When making a routine claim you should write n the assumption that a reasonable person would say ‘yes’ to your request so you should use a direct sequence of ideas. Tell the reader immediately the actions you are seeking and the reasons for the request. If your request is unusual, however, sometimes it may be more appropriate to write a persuasive letter.






Example 6.1 An effective claim letter


Will you please send another Australian Flora and Fauna Dictionary to replace the one I am returning in the attached package?


This book arrived with many of the illustrations blurred, especially those between pages 200 and 300. Enclosed is the invoice which accompanied the book.


If an unsoiled copy is unavailable, I shall appreciate a full refund.








When making a claim, write promptly.


Request a specific action in the first sentence.


Provide all necessary details (e.g. date and place of purchase) and copies of relevant document (e.g. receipts, invoices, delivery dockets, and letters).


Explain why each action would be desirable.


Show confidence in the reader’s judgement and your appreciation for the action you are seeking.


Avoid sarcasm, name-calling and threats.



Figure 6.1.3 Routine claim guide





Approving adjustments on claims


Timing is important with adjustment letters. An adjustment that you can approve is an excellent opportunity to improve public relations as long as you respond quickly. A prompt letter will make you look good, whereas a slow response could be taken to indicate that you are not customer-oriented and only interested in profits.







Example 6.2 A good adjustment letter:


You will receive a brand new Deluxe Glide steam iron later this week. It will give you many years of excellent service.


Thank you for calling attention to your problem and returning the other iron to us. Our technicians are analysing its performance in order to learn how to improve our inspection procedures.


You should receive our summer sale catalogue nest week. It is full of high quality products which we are pleased to stand behind.



Sometimes a customer seeks to register a complaint or make a suggestion rather than request a specific adjustment. In such cases the writer should apologise, show that appropriate action would be taken and seek further business.








Reply promptly.


Indicate immediately that the adjustment is being granted.


Grant the adjustment wholeheartedly.


Play down the negative aspects by avoiding negative words.


Briefly explain the reason for the problem or imply it when describing the measures you are taking to prevent it recurring.


If the reader must take some action, indicate specifically.


Look toward future business.



Figure 6.1.4 Adjustment approval guide








Granting routine requests


Directness is a desirable characteristic in any good news or neutral letter. When you can say ‘Yes’ to a request made by another, you should do so enthusiastically. Since it is the answer that the reader is hoping for, you should say it immediately. Set his or her mind at rest as quickly as possible.


Example 6.3


I will be happy to give your year 6 class a tour of our plant on the afternoon of 5 May 1998.


Your students will be especially interested in the assembly line, but they are also welcome to inspect our research labs. We are the leaders in our field in some applications of robotics.


The enclosed brochures will acquaint your students with our full line of products. If you will have them read and discuss the brochures prior to your visit, it may make the tour more interesting.


I look forward to meeting you and your class in the foyer of Building B at 1pm next Wednesday.






Say ‘YES’ in the first sentence.


Do so wholeheartedly, showing interest in the request.


Explain any actions to be taken or procedures that should be followed.


Point toward the future.




Figure 6.1.5 Request response guide

Activity 6.1

Write appropriate letters to:

A local air conditioning company installed an air conditioning system in your offices last May. The system is not working satisfactorily and obviously needs some adjustments. As the hot weather is approaching, an inspection of the system is required urgently.

Telstra/Optus requesting that the telephone service to your company’s North Sydney offices be discontinued from the last Friday this month.


6.2 Letters of refusal

Successful business organisations are besieged with numerous written requests, ranging from the acceptable to the extremely unreasonable. Whatever the merit of a request, you must respond to it with restraint and with an interest in keeping the goodwill of the person making the request.


Therefore, every letter of refusal has an important public relations function:




While good news is transmitted most effectively in a direct manner, bad news should be presented indirectly. Denying a writer’s request is not easy. A direct turndown early in a letter often results in the reader not reading any further and thus remaining unaware of the logical reasons for the refusal.


If possible, the writer of the letter of refusal should point out how the reader may benefit from the refusal or suggest alternatives. A key to writing successful letters of refusal is to know the facts of the situation. A writer can develop a line of reasoning that the receiver is likely to understand and accept. The most common types of refusal letters are adjustment and credit refusals.




Adjustment refusals


You are denying a request considered to be reasonable by the customer. This is a delicate process, for the writer is implying that the request, viewed by the customer as reasonable, actually is not.


As with all letters of refusal two main purposes exist:


to state the refusal, and


to maintain a positive relationship with the reader.


By maintaining a positive relationship with customers, the adjustment-refusal writer will usually be able to retain their business. A poorly written adjustment refusal can irritate and frustrate the reader.










Dwyer, (1993) states that a genuine adjustment is a justified request to change, replace or make an adjustment to a transaction that has already taken place. Examples may include requests to replace damaged goods or missing parts, to replace an incomplete order or to correct an error on an account. An adjustment refusal is given when the organisation believes that the request for an adjustment is unjustified, that the problem was no caused by the organisation or that a problem does not exist.






Make your opening comment neutral and relate it to the subject of the letter.


Keep the opening brief.


Imply neither ‘Yes’ nor ‘No’ in the opening.


Convey a positive rather than an apologetic tone in presenting the reasons for your decision.


If possible, show how the reader may actual benefit from the decision because of the reason you state.


Present the reasons so that the reader anticipates a refusal.


Make your refusal clear, but do not over-emphasise it.


Avoid mentioning the refusal in the ending. End the letter on a positive note if possible.


Figure 6.2.1 Adjustment refusal guide

Source: Galvin, 1992, p. 134.



When dealing with someone who has already received a written refusal and explanation, yet persists in requesting an adjustment, a writer may find the direct approach suitable for a second letter. When the reader ignores the first ‘indirect’ letter in which an adjustment is refused and simply repeats the request, the writer is justified in becoming more to the point.








Credit refusals


Denying a person credit while keeping that person’s business is a challenge to the writer of credit refusals. Many people today regard credit as a right that cannot be denied them. These attitudes complicate the task facing the writer.


When denying credit, strive to sell the reader on becoming a cash customer. Other common reasons may be that the applicant has too small or too unsteady an income or, perhaps, no credit experience upon which to base a decision or, the applicant has spent too little time at one address. The most usual request for credit and, therefore, the most usual credit refusal is for a loan or for a credit card. Rather than view this type of letter as a denial of credit, the writer might use it to convince the applicant to become a cash customer or to pay COD (cash on delivery).



Example 6.2.1


Thank you for your recent application for a charge account at Astor Brothers.


Much information is considered before opening a new charge account, and your application was considered carefully. It appears that once you are employed on a full-time basis it may be possible for you to receive an Astor Brothers credit card.


Until then please allow us to serve you on a cash basis. With our Autumn fashions about to arrive, you may also enjoy our convenient lay-by plan.




Credit Refusal Guide


Begin with a neutral idea with which the reader will agree.


Explain the reason(s) for the decision.


State the refusal briefly using positive language.


If possible, offer an alternative such as paying cash or using COD purchasing.


Close with a look toward the future and without an apologetic tone.



Figure 6.2.2 Credit refusal guide

Source: Galvin, 1992, p. 136.




Steps in transmitting bad news


Following these steps will help ensure an effective letter.


Start with a neutral comment, that indicates some form of agreement - let the reader know the subject of the letter, but do not imply either a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.


Present an explanation in a positive manner - the reasons for the refusal should precede the actual refusal. By getting the recipients to read the reasons, you increase the likelihood of them being understood and accepted.


Clearly state the refusal - many refusals can be easily inferred by the reader. The clearer the relationship between the reasons and a refusal, the less necessary it is to state the refusal explicitly.


End on a positive note - at the close of the letter the reader should be left aware of the writer’s concern rather than of the refusal. Do not bring the refusal up again. Do not apologise for the refusal.





Activity 6.2


6.2.1. Write a letter of refusal to:


A job applicant whose application has been unsuccessful.


A customer whose request for a free sample of your new product is being refused.


A prospective club member whose membership application is to be refused because registration is currently closed due to full membership.


















6.2.2 To correct and rewrite a claim letter.




Rewrite the following claim letter to Specific Electronics Australia.

Use your own address.


Dear sir or madam


I am absolutely beside myself this morning - and it’s all your fault. If I have asked you once, I have asked you a thousand times to come and pick up that lousy VCR that I had the poor judgement to consider buying from you people over a month ago - and I’m still waiting, but I’m not going to wait much longer.


If you think I’m going to pay you over $300 for that piece of junk, you’ve got another thing coming. And stop keep sending me all those boring bills. And the second thing you can do is get over here and pick it up before I throw it out with the rest of the garbage.


I don’t understand how an outfit like yours has stayed in business this long. In any case, I’m sure you can’t last much longer - and I want to get my business with you straightened out before you do go under. Let’s see some action - OK?


Very sincerely yours




























A business correspondent should be able to persuade others through letters. The most common types of persuasive correspondence, that can readily illustrate the key aspects of persuasive letter writing are sales and collection letters.


Sales letters


Sales letters use the same technique and order of information as other persuasive letters. The practice you get in selling ideas and courses of action in sales letters should help you to become more effective in other areas of persuasion. They aim to motivate the reader to act by gaining attention and interest which leads to desire and action.


To achieve this, you need to know what you want to sell, the nature of the target group who will buy the service or product, and your competitors. The AIDA formula is again useful in ordering the information in a sales letter – see Figure 6.3.1.


Sales letters generally fall into two categories, solicited and unsolicited; as do letters of application when selling yourself for future employment.



This type of sales letter is easier to write because the receiver had previously expressed interest in the product, sought further information, or made a specific enquiry.



Most people are not really interested in reading an unsolicited sales letter. That makes writing this type challenging because you have to stimulate a relatively uninterested reader.





It is important to become completely familiar with a product, idea or service before trying to write a sales letter. You must know:


exactly what it can do and how it works;

the materials from which it is made;

the expertise involved in its development;

the outstanding features of the product;

the ways in which it differs from its competitors;

its price;

the extent of the maintenance required, and the expertise required to use it, and

the warranty or guarantee, if any, that accompanies the product.



Become familiar with the intended customers.


You need to appeal to the interests of the reader for the resulting letter to be effective. Often a sales letter is mailed to thousands of prospective buyers. For such letters it is worthwhile to devote much effort to finding out the nature of the intended readers, such as:


Income level



Marital status

Education level

Geographic location


For example, if you are trying to attract customers for a lawn-care service, the letter will be geared to home owners who live in the suburbs.


You must work out exactly how the physical characteristics and capabilities of the product will benefit the reader. The physical characteristics of a certain brand of running shoes are a combination of lightweight rubber, canvas and colour. The benefits to the owner of such shoes, however, might be these kinds of factors:


Save the owner money because they will last longer than other running shoes.


Make the runner faster because the shoes are very lightweight.


Improve the runner’s appearance because the shoes are so stylish and available in many different colours.


Provide more comfort because of the many different sizes available.


Provide more safety through the unique double-deep tread design.


It is the benefits, or ‘psychological’ features, that convince the reader to buy. Your letter has to make your customer perceive the BENEFITS of your product.
















Steps for effective sales letters


Whether you are selling an idea, a product or a course of action, using the AIDA formula has proven to be effective:


Attract the reader’s ATTENTION.

Catch the readers attention in the subject line or introductory paragraph.

Stimulate the reader’s INTEREST.

Use the introductory paragraph to focus on the reader’s self interest, the benefit to them.

Develop a DESIRE within the reader.

In the middle paragraphs, emphasise the central selling point, create a desire and give the price.

Encourage the reader to take a specific ACTION.



Close with the actions to be taken by the reader.


Figure 6.3.1 Writing strategy for a sales letter.




1. Attention


Unless the first sentence of a sales letter attracts the reader’s attention, the reader will probably discard the letter. One way to accomplish this is to identify one of the most significant features of the product you are trying to sell. If possible, suggest how the reader stands to benefit from using the product.


Some of the more common methods used are:


Make a thought provoking statement: ‘The best thing about our new line of purses is something you can’t see.’


Present a startling fact: ‘95 out of 100 families would be bankrupt if they missed just three pay days.’


Offer a bargain: ‘Imagine, two pairs of shoes for the price of one.’


Describe something that is currently happening: ‘Today more than 500 families enjoyed the Press Journal with breakfast.’


Present a direct challenge: ‘Try to tear the enclosed piece of rubberised plastic and you’ll understand why our seatcovers won’t wear out.’


An opening is more likely to attract attention if it is written in an original manner. The reader is also more likely to continue reading if the opening paragraph is short - a maximum length of eight lines is recommended.




Attention-Getting Guide


Present what the reader will view as the major benefit of the product that you seek to sell.


Relate the product to the reader rather than to the writer (use a ‘YOU’ orientation).


Write an original opening statement. Make the first paragraph interesting enough to appeal to the reader and so short that the reader will have to read subsequent paragraphs to get the important details.



Figure 6.3.2 Attention-getting guide




2. Interest


There should be a natural link between the attention seeking step and the interest step. The main purpose of the interest section is to make the reader want the product. You are striving for an ‘I think I would like to have that’ reaction. Also during this stage you should start to emphasise the reward(s) to be derived from the product rather than the actual product. Instead of selling the reader a lawnmower, stress the good feelings associated with having an attractive lawn. In this way the reader goes beyond the product to the pleasure experienced from its use. In the interest step, therefore, you are both describing the product and suggesting value to the reader.


The writer should also emphasise a central selling point throughout the letter. For example, the writer of a sales letter for a correspondence course tried to stimulate interest in this way:


Attention: You do not need a university degree to get a good job.


Interest: You have probably read newspaper articles about how job opportunities are declining today. At the same time, however, there are occupations in which opportunities are expanding. The electronics field is one in which there is a shortage of technicians. Not only is there a shortage now, but the Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that in the next 10 years the demand for electronic technicians will increase by 42 per cent. That means that for every 10 electronic technicians now working, four more will be needed.


In this example, Galvin, et al (1992) states that the writer used the availability of jobs as a central selling point. If you have successfully stimulated the reader’s interest, that interest may now be changing to a desire for the product.



3. Desire


The desire section should make the reader feel a need for the product. The writer should move the reader from the ‘like to have that’ category to the ‘really want that’ position. Emotional appeals will apply to the feelings of the receiver; while logical appeals will apply to the receiver’s thinking abilities. By relying on an appropriate appeal, the writer helps readers justify the desire for the product.


4. Action


The action close should indicate the specific action the reader should take. If you want the reader to complete the enclosed form and mail it in, say so as specifically as possible. Nutting and White (1991) suggest using the last two or three sentences in the letter to help readers see exactly what you are asking of them. The best endings use direct, active language, and the theme should be one of action or activity.


Styles will vary according to how strongly you wish to stress the desired outcome. You may:


Make a direct request for reader action;


List a series of actions needed - list all steps, explaining how they are to be carried out and in what order;


Suggest special advantages for the reader if and when the action takes place;


State a condition, related to the action- propose a bargain, using the ‘If you do X, we will do Y’;


Describe action you will take if reader agrees;


Summarise action already detailed, and


Propose action sometime in the future.


















Sales Letter Guide


Begin with a brief statement with a question likely to attract Attention.


Be sure that the opening statement is clearly related to the product being offered.


Gain the reader’s Interest by emphasising a central selling point likely to appeal to the reader.


In the Desire section you should try to develop a need within the reader by providing additional evidence of the value of the product. Also remind the reader of the central selling point.


Minimise resistance to the price by de-emphasising it. Mention some of the strong points of the product while referring to price.


Indicate briefly and specifically what the reader should do, and restate the reasons the reader should take the desired Action.



Figure 6.3.3 Sales letter guide




Collection letters


An effective collection letter will collect an overdue payment and still maintain the customer’s goodwill. This is one of the most difficult letters to write. Building up a business through advertising and public relations is costly and all that hard work should not be jeopardised through offensive letters of demand.


The underlying reason for collection problems is that companies do extend credit. If a business offers no credit it has no collection problems, although, this inevitably leads to a decline in profits and sales. Some collection problems are due to a misunderstanding of the terms of the credit agreement. Although, by taking greater care in explaining the operation of a charge account, companies can prevent some future collection problems.

Dwyer (1993) suggests the types of appeals suited to collection letters are appeals to fair play, co-operation, reputation, pride and self-interest. Each of these demonstrates that the desired action is reasonable and in the best interests of the reader. Positive appeals focus on co-operation, fair play and pride, whereas negative appeals focus on self-interest, for example, losing a credit rating. The positive appeal is the one that is most likely to get the desired response and lead to effective relationships between the organisation and the reader.





Give consideration to the:


Client’s previous payment record

Current financial position you are in and whether you have cash flow problems

Length of association you have had with the client, being more patient with long-term associates, and

The extent and age of the debt.


A number of letters may be written to collect money from those who are slow to pay. Some organisations break the collection process into four stages:


Reminder stage

Strong reminder stage

Enquiry stage

Urgency stage.



Sometimes, if the client has been an old-established and regular paying customer, the client may receive a letter which reads this way:


Dear Mr Johnson


It has come to our attention that your account has been outstanding for ... months.


As you have been a valued customer over ... years, perhaps your omission to pay is due to some oversight.


However, it is possible that you may be experiencing some financial difficulties, in which case we may be able to assist you.


Because our firm values your custom and the good relationships it has enjoyed with you over the years, please ring me on extension 246 and we can make arrangements to discuss the matter further with you.


Yours sincerely,




First notice


Perhaps you have overlooked this month’s account. The amount is $97. If you have paid it, please ignore this notice.


J Scott & Sons



Second notice




We have lapses of memory. We would appreciate your adjusting your account for $97 by the next closing date.


J Scott & Sons




Third notice


Maybe you are having some financial problems. We would appreciate some discussion with you about your outstanding account enclosed. If we do not hear from you, please finalise the account by ...


J Scott & Sons




Final notice



As no attempt has been made to finalise your account, the matter will be handed to our solicitors on ...They will commence proceedings for the debt.


J Scott & Sons



After final notice



We are requested to collect your debt for $97. To avoid court and collection costs the full amount is required by the plaintiff by return. If no action is taken by you, it will be assumed you have no intention to pay.


Randolph Grey


Or, on a less familiar note:


I have noticed your account is now three months overdue.

If you are experiencing some financial difficulties, would you please ring me on extension 246 and arrangements can be made to discuss the matter further with you.


Yours sincerely


If no reply is received, the ‘After Final Notice’ is sent.





Activity 6.3


Write a letter suitable for distribution in suburban letterboxes. You are the proprietor of Speedy Cycle Centre and you are now marketing a new lightweight bicycle which is ideal for city riding. Point out the advantages to be gained in bicycling for either business or pleasure, and stress the qualities of the machine. Recent tests made by cycle experts have shown the model to be maneuverable and speedy, but steady. It is economical and spares are readily available.













The Memorandum (Memo)


A memorandum is a written message for use within an organisation. In some organisations memos are handwritten or typed and circulated by an internal mail system. In others they are keyed into a computer and distributed electronically. Either way, memos have a vital role in a business’ internal communication system. They can help to keep the various parts of organisations in touch with each other. The memo is the most widely used form of written communication within organisations.


Every organisation has to try to find an appropriate balance between written and oral communications. If too little is written down an organisation can lose its sense of identity and purpose. On the other hand, putting too much in writing is equally counterproductive.


Effective written communication is vital for both your organisation and you. Without accurate and well written communication there is no way that management can accomplish the coordination necessary for smooth operation.


By providing this written information you can establish a reputation for efficiency and effectiveness with people in upper management. In this way well written memoranda and reports may very well build your reputation and pave the way to promotion.


Memoranda have advantages over spoken messages when:


A record is required - filed either manually or electronically. If things go wrong, you will be able to prove it was not your fault.


Complex information is to be transmitted - when a spoken message contains a lot of highly specific detail or is in some other way complex, it can be easily misunderstood or misremembered or partially forgotten.


Many workers are to be reached simultaneously - if you must transmit the same information to a number of co-workers, contacting each one individually is time consuming. A memo can reach a large number of individuals easily.














Preparation of memoranda format


The memorandum format as already stated is intended to ensure consistency in internal communication. In order to guarantee consistency most organisations provide employees with pre-printed forms that contain a basic memo format which reads as follows:









Note: This appears normally at top left side of page.



By providing such formats, a company can ensure that certain types of information will always appear in the same places on all memos. It is easier to find and read a particular memo in a file if all the memos are uniform in the placement of this information.


Memos vary considerably in length. Some are brief, perhaps no more than a few sentences, while others may be three or four pages long. Because the memo is seen as less formal than the letter and is designated for internal use only, some writers do not take much care when preparing memos. Memos often generate further communication and this is easier if point form has been used.


Memos are used for many routine purposes:


requesting information - memos requesting information are a part of an organisation’s life. The reader may be able to write a paragraph in reply on the original memorandum and return it to the sender immediately.


Organise memos so they can:


State the key idea - the purpose

Present the details

Tell the reader what you would like done and provide additional specific information such as deadlines, future contacts and benefits.


giving instructions - try to cover the subject so that the reader will not have any unanswered questions.







serving as ‘cover’ for all messages (called memos of transmittal) - used to introduce the reader to a longer, accompanying message. Serves to introduce something. A memo of transmittal is often used to remind the receiver of any agreed changes to the original brief and sometimes it can forewarn the receiver of unexpected matters. It often arranges for further communication.


making announcements - personal transfers, meetings or policy changes. They are often posted prominently on company bulletin boards.




Example 6.4.1

Instruction memo

Source: Dwyer, 1993, p. 321.






To: All Staff

From: Elaine Thomas

Administrative Officer

Date: 12 May 1993

Subject: Operating instructions for New Copying Machines



A new photocopier has been installed in the general office.

All staff are welcome to use it.


To ensure the copier’s survival, it is important to

keep the following procedures in mind:


Use the machine for no longer than 30 minutes at a time.

After use, allow the machine to cool for at least five minutes.

Make sure the switch is turned off after use.


Please speak to me if you have any questions about the machine.




Activity 6.4.1


REVIEW Questions


a. What is a memorandum?

b. What are the advantages of the memo?

c. Give two examples of routine memos.







Memorandum Guide

Use your organisation’s memo format correctly.


State your purpose clearly. A memo should not leave the reader wondering why it was written. Present only relevant information. Unless information is related to the purpose of the memo, it should not be included.


Organise your thoughts. Work from the most important to the least important idea. Present them in point form so that readers can easily follow the message.


If the memo is longer than a page, divide it into sections to aid the reader in retaining the main points.


Tell readers exactly what you want them to do next. If this is in your last point they may well do it before they put your memo down.



Figure 6.4.1 Memorandum guide



Activity 6.4.2


To compose various memoranda.




Compose memoranda on all of the following topics.


A. You have worked a considerable amount of overtime at Bourdon, Swanson & Associates without extra pay or using flexi-time. Christmas is coming and you would like to take several days off consecutively in lieu of pay.


B. You would like to know the dates of your annual vacation, as you are planning an overseas trip.


C. You have spent some of your own money on stationery requisites and morning tea foodstuffs for several visitors to the office. The amount is about $30 altogether, and you would like to be repaid as you are planning to go away for Christmas.









The written application is the only source of information a potential employer has to decide if you should be invited to an interview. Applicants are short-listed and called for an interview because of the quality of their written application. Therefore, it is important to make it interesting, informative and persuasive. A job application has two parts:


The resume, and

The covering letter or letter of application.


The covering letter is the letter of transmittal for your resume. It aims to introduce your qualifications for the job to the employer and to persuade the employer to invite you to an interview.


A resume is the summary of your personal data including education, skills, qualifications, work experience, references, hobbies and interests. It is also referred to as a Curriculum Vitae or CV.


A ‘report’ as an attachment to a letter


Nutting and White (1991) state that it is a mistake to include more than one or two paragraphs of detailed information in the body of a business letter, yet often when you write a letter there is much more information you need to share with the reader. The best example of this is a ‘report’ about yourself, (your personal resume). A resume should never be included with a letter.


Other types of information that should be presented in similar attachments include facts and figures on a firm’s financial position, a statement presenting a series of problems, or complex technical data. Each is in effect a report in that it contains collected and collated information arranged according to type, so it makes sense to present it in a way that will make it clear and easy to follow.


Marketing Yourself

Whether you are looking for a first job, a promotion or a change in career, the marketing approach is a sound basis for getting a job and the preparation for an effective resume. As with any marketing, you need to consider several things, such as:


Your personal attitude – believe in yourself and your ability to do the job better than any other person.


What you are offering – what are your best features?


Market research – which of your abilities are those that employers are looking for at the moment?




Promotion and advertising – how can you tell the world about you, your abilities, your special talents?


Price – know what rate of pay you really are worth, and


Presentation – how you dress and stand and talk at an interview is obviously part of your presentation; so is the way you write your application and set out your resume.



Letters of Application


If your letter of application is well written and mentions abilities that the employer is looking for, he or she will then turn to your personal details (resume), which should be attached but separate from the letter. If the details in the resume confirm the positive first impression, your application will go into a pile of ten to twelve (the ‘short list’) from which people to be interviewed will be selected. It is also advisable to use the AIDA formula mentioned in Module 5 when compiling your letters, as this type is best suited for writing persuasive messages.


There are two types of letters that are written in applying for jobs:


Solicited – a solicited letter is one in which a response is made to a job advertisement – usually appearing in a newspaper – where an invitation is issued for an application for a position to be made in writing.


Whether your letter is handwritten or is prepared on a wordprocessor, certain writing techniques should be observed:


Use short sentences and short paragraphs.

Try not to extend the letter over one page in length, particularly when it is accompanied by your resume. This length, however, can extend depending on the level of the position.

Mention that your resume is attached.

Mention your availability for interviews and your place of contact.

Mention when you would be able to commence work.

Remember, every letter must be original. Do not photocopy your original and send it to numerous firms. You may, however, photocopy your resume.

Remember, your resume will vary according to the advertisement.

If you are unemployed, do not highlight this fact. Stick to your good points and omit the length of the time of your unemployment. However, if you are doing extra study, mention this fact.

If the position calls for a person with ‘initiative and drive’ you must be prepared to outline some of your personal talents or achievements. It is this feature of the letter that gives individuality.




Remember what the employer is looking for: quality, originality, personality, and skills. Finally, ensure you proof-read your letter correctly and check that you have used correct grammar and spelling. Always ask someone else to check the letter for you.


Unsolicited – an unsolicited letter is one which is initiated by you, and not specifically in reply to any job advertisement. For it to gain attention and perhaps favourable consideration, care must be paid to each detail. Keep it short, sharp, informative and exciting.


This letter will be more effective if it is addressed specifically to a Personnel Officer or Human Resource Manager and will have more impact if addressed to them personally. Obtain their name through a telephone call to the company.


Make the letter effective by:


Stating why you are writing and the type of job you are looking for.

Indicating why you have selected their company.

Expressing your interest in their line of work.

Mentioning a mutual contact if appropriate and applicable.

Indicating why it would be beneficial for them to employ you.

Listing what skills, qualities and attitudes you can bring to the company.

Marketing yourself as a person who cannot be done without.

Individualising your letter by avoiding standard dialogue.

Using words and phrases which illustrate your personality and individuality.

Adapting your letter to the type of company you are applying to.

Requesting an interview, or for consideration should a vacancy occur, and

Enclosing a resume and, if appropriate, some samples of your work.



The letter could be hand delivered and presented personally, giving the company representative a chance to see you in person and make an instant appraisal of you. If the letter is posted, follow up in a couple of days with a telephone call to ensure that the letter has been received and to reinforce your presence on the company.
















Example 7.1


Phone: 047 126108

264 Coral Point Road

Landsdown NSW 2276


Today’s date


Mrs P Davidson

Human Resources Manager

Jade’s Clothing Company

New England Highway

Rutherford NSW 2320


Dear Mrs Lawrence


I am currently undertaking a graphic arts course at the Hunter Institute of Technology and am excelling in the area of graphic design.


I understand that your company now has its own document design department. I would be extremely interested in working for your company if a position becomes available.


I pride myself on my innovativeness and initiative and set very high standards of excellence in any work I undertake. I have established definite short and long term career goals and my determinedness to achieve them should be an asset to any company which employs me.


I am attaching a resume which briefly profiles me and my career so far. I have my own transport and am available for an interview at any time. I will telephone you in a few days to discuss whether there is any likelihood of employment with your company.


Yours faithfully



Ms Rebecca Ryan







Activity 7.1


Select several job advertisements from your local newspaper and write suitable solicited letters. This will assist you with your submission for Assignment 1.


Create a model unsolicited letter you can adapt to suit a range of local companies.












PLANNING your application letter

Have a clear purpose – explain why your name should be on the interview list rather than why you ought to be given a job.

Create interest in your application

Make your letter stand out from the crowd

Explain why you want the job




First impressions are important so try to write an opening that sounds different from competitors with their familiar openings: ‘I am writing to apply for’, ‘I wish to apply for’, ‘In reply to your advertisement for’.


Identify a common interest by talking about yourself and the reader together. Express a mutual interest or describe a common goal that unites you.


Give one good reason why… If you like the type of work, explain that this particular position has a special appeal for you.


Identify the actual advertisement – name the source and give the date it appeared.




Summarise your skills, experience and abilities. It is better to be brief than to say too much; up to three-quarters of a page.


Explain what you can do rather than who you are – illustrate your understanding of the advertisements needs and show how you could be the very person to meet them.


Summarise studies, training and qualifications. Employers are attracted by the winner image. If you are a high achiever, if you enjoy hard work or like taking responsibility, say so.


Mention referees – name people who can be contacted, and who are prepared to verify what you say.


Avoid oversell – be careful! It is easy to sound ‘pushy’ or overconfident if you say ‘I am sure that after reading my letter you will agree that I am the right person’.











Close on a positive note that confirms your confidence in yourself.

You could do this by:


Asking straight out when interviews will be held e.g. ‘Please would you contact me and advise when you will be conducting interviews? My phone number is 9223 0985.


Saying how you can be contacted if you prefer a less direct close e.g. ‘If you require further details, please contact me either at 23 Birrell Street, Bondi Junction or by telephone on 9324 5007. Could you also let me know when you will be holding interviews?’


Asking for more information e.g. ‘My home phone number is 9453 4563. Could you please advise me when I can call and see someone personally to find out more about the position?’


Always indicate your availability. As well as a postal address, always give a telephone number. After the closing ‘action’ paragraph, say ‘Yours faithfully’ or ‘Yours sincerely’ (either is now considered correct). Often ‘Yours faithfully’ is used when writing to a named position, such as, Marketing Manager or Personnel Officer, and ‘Yours sincerely’ when addressing a named person, such as, Mr Edward Johnstone. In the salutation you are then able to continue with – Dear Edward. Always sign a letter, and type or print your name clearly underneath.



7.1 Preparing a professional resume


With access to computers, successful resumes are now more than a simple typed document. They incorporate effective design skills, are able to be updated when circumstances change and are able to be adapted to suit the specific job being applied for.


If your resume is to receive favourable consideration it must first attract the attention of the person who will read through the applications. Write it in clear and concise language, use a lot of white space and make it fast and easy to read. Try to create your own little bit of individuality so that it will not look like every other CV submitted for consideration.


An effective resume or CV should:


Be brief and concise

Avoid rambling narratives, waffle and repetition

List all your qualifications, skills and experience

Be tailored to the needs of each specific job applied for

Address both essential and desirable selection criteria stated in the job advertisement

Include details essential to any specific job, and

Impact the reader through its design, layout, concise expression, accuracy, neatness and quality.


The most common types of resumes are:


The basic or general resume – designed for general jobs in your trade or profession. It is also suited for those who have just left school or have little work experience. This type includes all the parts of a resume with appropriate headings. Figure 7.1.1 illustrates the layout and function of each part of a basic resume.







Open with a sentence or paragraph stating your reasons for wanting the job. Write the objective with a clear and confident style that shows you are positive about the job and have something to offer the potential employer.


Take the time to list each of the certificates obtained, the subjects studied with those certificates, the year each was completed and the name of the institution.


Never assume that the interviewer is familiar with the courses. Present these to support your application for the job. List your most recent qualifications first and work backwards to your first qualification.


Mentions all work experience. Include part-time work or holiday work done as a student if you have had no other full-time experience. Highlight your particular strengths.


Identify any special achievements from school or other organisations that demonstrate your ability, for example, School Captain, Prefect or Peer Support leader. Particular communication skills should be presented as these are an essential part of most jobs.


Show the most recent activities first and present others in reverse chronological order. The employer is interested in your interests and your special skills.


Provide a balance of activities, that demonstrate you are capable of working well alone and also in a team environment.


Referees: Nominate people who have known you and your work recently and who will be able to speak positively about your skills and abilities.


Figure 7.1.1 Layout and function of

each part of a basic resume (Dwyer, 1993, p. 453).



The functional resume – focuses on skills demonstrated in previous employment. Suits a person with a wide range of skills and experience as it emphasises employment experience and the range of job functions completed. So present your work experience first and put the information in reverse chronological order. This order directs the main focus on your present level of skill. Second, develop subheadings for your employment experience that highlight the areas or functions where you have demonstrated expertise, such as, supervisory experience, marketing responsibility, training and development responsibility. Use the advertisement as a guide for choosing the functions you will highlight.


The specific resume – designed for a specific position, addressing the essential and desirable requirements indicated in a particular job advertisement. Figure 7.1.2 shows the sequence of information in a specific resume.






Employment objective:



You may present these in reverse chronological order beginning with the most recent or you may choose to present the qualifications most relevant to the position such as degree, diploma or trade certificate. Include other qualifications in order of importance to the position.


Emphasise your particular skills and the significance of these to the position. Relate any employer reference to these skills as this supports your claims to special expertise. Mention any other skills.


Work experience:



Position held

Duties and Responsibilities





A brief description of the job.

A brief outline of these and the person to whom you were responsible.

Indicate special capacities and abilities. Emphasise any authority held.


If you use the headings suggested above, it is easy to list your experience from your most recent to your earliest position and to describe your responsibilities and achievements in each position. Highlight your particular strengths with action words such as achieved, adapted, initiated, installed, prepared, reported or researched.


These action words add strength to your writing and indicate that you had the responsibility and were able to follow projects through to completion.


List some interests or hobbies that indicate your ability to mix with other people. Others may show that you are capable of working alone. You need to decide if these will help in your application for the position. This section should be informative, simple and clear.


Try to provide the name and contact number of two referees. Seek the approval of these people before you give their names as referees. You may choose to include photocopies of written references suited to the position. Keep the originals for the interview.


Figure 7.1.2

Layout and function of each

part of a specific resume (Dwyer, 1993, p.456).



Resume guidelines


Personal details – be brief. Give only those details the employer needs. State the date of your birth rather than your age. Do not include your marital status or family details, and give only highlights of your education and your highest qualifications.


Current employment – describe your present job first. Name the position and the firm. Say how long you have been in the job, the type of work you are doing and the location.


Previous full-time employment – give the actual title of each position held, the full name of each firm or employer, and the location. List your duties and/or responsibilities to give a better picture of your work experience. State the year and month each position started and ended. (The earlier the position, the lower it will be on the list and the less detail is needed).


Special activities associated with work – list special duties you have performed or any special project team or committee you have worked on. If you have been responsible for controlling, leading or supervising other staff, emphasise this even if it was only on a temporary basis.


Part-time experience – mention jobs held while at school or before obtaining your first full-time job.


Membership of professional or statutory bodies e.g. member of the Australian Institute of Management (AIM), trade associations.


Schooling – give only the briefest outline of your primary and early secondary subjects. But do list the names of schools or colleges, the years spent at each and the levels of education achieved.


Studies since leaving school – people who undertake regular part-time study when they are working are seen as being energetic and ready to take responsibility.


Other activities – list awards, scholarships or other outstanding achievements.


Sporting or recreational activities – mention prizes, trophies or competitions that you have won.


Travel – highlight work, study or business experience overseas or interstate.


Family background, health, travel restrictions, other constraints – if you have good health, say so. If the employer has read as far as this, he or she is probably interested in your family background and marital status and any conditions that may prevent you from doing some types of work or from travelling.


Other information – such as hobbies and interests and other personal development programs, such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award.


Your photograph – many successful applicants say that including a photograph helps to get interviews, as long as the picture is of high quality, clear, and shows you to good advantage.


Referees – give names, titles, positions (business), addresses and phone numbers. No more than two – unless explicitly specified.



How easy to read is your resume? – CHECKLIST

Can it be scanned rapidly?

Is it credible?

Is it well organised?

Personal history listing – must be complete and it must cover every year from the time you finished high school: gaps suggest the possibility of activities you do not want to talk about.

Details of specific subjects studied – in some cases it is worth adding a summary as an appendix to the resume for subject names that need more explanation (Nutting & White, 1991, pp. 241-249).





























Activities 7.1


Sort through all your records and locate the educational awards you have received.


Trace your employment profile from your first job to your current employment.


Assemble any references and testimonials you have or arrange for current references to be provided from appropriate people.


Start a portfolio for storing newspaper clippings, articles from staff newsletters or any documentation which might add credence to your capabilities and assist you in the future in gaining any job you may want.


Write, design and typeset your personal resume, preferably on computer so that you may update it when circumstances change, or adapt it to suit a specific job application. Check the different types of resume formats found on the wizard template on your computer.


Compile a portfolio containing awards, references, testimonials and, if applicable, samples of work you have done relevant to your trade or profession which you could take to an interview as evidence supporting your suitability for a job.


Compare your documentation with that of others in your group and ask business acquaintances to evaluate your presentation and give you feedback on its suitability.


Arrange to have a professional studio photograph taken which you could incorporate into your resume. This is optional as it is recommended purely as personal choice.






















Dwyer (1993) suggests that an awareness of the need for motivation and an ability to organise your own activities is important. Appropriate motivation, suitably structured research and study periods, effective management of time, and ideally, the creation of a comfortable study environment will improve the result of your research and learning efforts.


Thinking is viewed as an abstract activity, with the process unable to be seen. It gives the ability to recall, comprehend and apply information, and then to use the three higher level thinking processes:


Analysis or breaking the concept into each of its parts


Syntheses or combining each of the parts into a connected whole, and


Evaluation or weighing up the ideas.


To be able to move through each of these levels of thinking activities, you must be able to listen, record, research, read and write in a purposeful way to achieve your goals.


Sources of information

Researchers talk in general terms about primary and secondary sources of information. Primary sources of information are the people or organisations that take the action or cause the events that become part of society’s store of information. Secondary sources of information are published and stored after the event has taken place. In other words, primary information is not yet available and needs to be obtained and collected and secondary information already exists and is available.



Many primary sources of information are available. Some of these are as follows:


Observation – observing demonstrations or established practices.

Experiment – first-hand accounts of the results of tests or experimentation.

Interviews – questioning or interviewing colleagues or clients in person or by telephone.

Questionnaires and surveys – sampling a specific sector of the subject or market being researched.

Human resources – personal contacts and networking.

Files and records – recent developments, trends and future predictions can be found in the company’s records.

Professional associations – interview your own business and professional contacts.





Secondary sources of information


Libraries collect and store information on many different areas of interest. Their special area of expertise in collecting and storing information in a form that can easily be found, make them an invaluable source of secondary information. Additional library services available to library members, and the public include:


Library catalogues

On-line computer information systems

Compact disk read-only memory (CD-ROM)

Periodical and journals

Audiovisual and other services – videos, films or listening to tapes, use of photocopiers, a loan service, teletext and videotext.

Archives – storage of historic and public information.



Mass media


The media also produces information in newspapers, magazines, television, radio and film. Although, read the media critically and separate and identify the facts from opinions.


Careful, focused research will make more efficient use of your time by enabling you to locate relevant research material appropriate to your project. When gathering information from the range of sources indicated, make sure you record in your notes full details of the source of your information.


You will need these details when you present your essay, project or report. You should always reference source material and acknowledge the author or speaker.





When you write reports, assignments and business documents with information you have obtained from either primary or secondary sources, you must acknowledge your source by using notations. They can be inserted in three different places in the document:


As citations – within the text

As footnotes – at the bottom of the page

As endnotes – placed at the end of the document and before the list of references or bibliography.









Bibliographies or list of references


A list of references gives details only of those works cited in your report or essay. A bibliography gives details of works cited in the text as well as other relevant material you read when writing the report. These may include:


Primary sources such as interviews or responses to surveys

Secondary sources such as books, journals, newspapers and government publications.


Arrange your list of references or bibliography in alphabetical order by authors’ surnames rather than by title. Reference accurately and consistently. There are two main methods of presenting a list of references or a bibliography:


The author-date (or Harvard) system, and

The note (or traditional) system




Check the method of notation and documentation preferred by your instructor, employer or organisation. For this subject, students are required to utilise the following method:


The Author-Date System (HARVARD method)




Author’s surname and initials or first name

Year of publication

Title of book in italics or underlined

Name of publisher

Place of publication


Example: Eunson, B., 1988, Behaving: Managing Yourself and Others, McGraw-Hill, Sydney.





Author’s surname followed by initials or first name

Year of publication

Title of article in single quotation marks

Title of journal in italics or underlined

Volume number and issue number, if applicable

Page number/s


Example: Adams, Phillip, 1987, "Black and white and read no more?", Weekend Australian Magazine, 7-8 Feb., p.2.



Activity 8.1



Research you have already been involved in.

Situations which might arise where you may have to carry out research, and from what source you would obtain information to:

a. Prove a point, prove a claim or prove authenticity.

b. Compare a product or service against a similar product or service.

c. Evaluate the better of several possible options.

What you understand by the term sampling in relation to research.

What benefits could be derived from attending a trade fair when in the market for a new piece of machinery.







An effective set of notes is an important learning tool. A good set of notes summarises what has been written or said. It is also a memory aid. As you revise and edit the notes, ask yourself what did the speaker or author want the audience to know, understand, be aware of, or be able to do.


Once you decide the answer, highlight the main points and inter-relationships. Then ask yourself what should I be able to do or reproduce as a result of the talk, writing or research, and what immediate steps do I need to complete to be able to do the task?


A well-planned lecture, talk or audiovisual, and a well-planned piece of written material will be clear, concise and logically ordered. Either will enable you to create a set of useful notes.


Useful notes have a structure that identifies the introduction, an outline of the main points in the body of the lecture or written material presented in an orderly sequence of numbered headings made up of key words and phrases, followed by subheadings that indicate the supporting details.



Steps in note-taking (oral sources) and note-making (written sources)


Prepare the notes on lined punched paper


Write on one side of the paper only


Reference your notes with a date, title, author or speaker


Space the notes well with wide margins


Highlight key words


Highlight the main points and the inter-relationships between ideas. Ask yourself what is the main point, when does the next important point appear and what supports the ideas


File your notes in a binder or file for later revision.


Features of an effective set of notes

Your notes need to be purposeful and formatted in a consistent manner. Notes filed for future reference must use simple techniques like a clear tittle that identifies the topic, a reference to identify and acknowledge the source. These elementary techniques make it easy to retrieve and use the information:


Categorise the information – sections and subsections with headings, highlights on the most important issues and a clear introduction and conclusion.


Order the information – always have a title. Identify the speaker or author’s main points, refer to the source quickly and link each major section of the notes to the one before.


Paraphrase the information – the body of your notes will contain key words, ideas, concepts and the facts and evidence that support the author or speaker’s meaning.


Retrieve the information – a set of notes is more than just a summary of the speaker or author’s ideas. They are an aid to memory, provide fresh ideas and reference material.















Reference the notes with the date title and speaker.

Reference the notes with date, title, author, chapter, page numbers and library number.

Complete some preparation before the session.

Preview to create a general outline.

Sit close enough to see and hear.

Write down six to eight sub-headings that you want to research in the reading material.

Record the key words in the introduction.

Identify the most important points and place them under subheadings.

Listen to identify key words and phrases.

Write the ideas in your own words. This helps you to remember and use them.

Identify and highlight the main points.

Keep a problem book, journal or diary in which you write down the things to follow up as soon as possible.

Use abbreviations.

Revise, alter and add to your notes. At this stage you are analysing to extract general principles and to evaluate the context.

Organise new aspects into headings and sub-headings.


Copy any diagrams.


Listen to identify the signals to new ideas such as ‘following on from’, ‘in conclusion’.


Jot down in the margin any points that need clarification.


Put a question mark in the margin near any queries.


Record any references given by the speaker.


Record the speaker’s conclusions.


Revise, alter or add to your notes within 24 hours.


Figure 8.1 Creating a set of notes

Source: Dwyer, 1993, pp. 170-173.







Short reports communicate different types of information to a variety of people within and outside an organisation. Their main purpose is to provide objective information that justifies ideas or proposals, to give information on the progress of a project, or to present information periodically. Short reports collect and move information through the organisation.


A Report:

is a document containing comprehensive information on a specific subject.

provides management with information and sometimes expert opinion to check on progress, plan for the future and make decisions.


As a writer of short reports, your purpose may be to inform, to persuade or to encourage some action. The contents may vary from simple to complex. Organise and design the short report in a way that guides the reader to the main points and to an understanding of the content.


Effective planning ensures efficiency in report writing. Your document is easier to read because it provides:


a clear indication of your purpose

accurate and objective information

suitable headings

a suitable order of information which highlights the main points and leads logically to your conclusions.



The six STEPS in planning a short report provide a logical outline which should allow you to work swiftly to produce a complete but concise report.


1. Identify your purpose.

Take time to clarify your task precisely.


2. Consider your reader.

Their needs, knowledge level and familiarity with jargon should be identified at the beginning as these will affect both the content and language of your report.


3. Identify your information needs.

Create ideas by brainstorming, consulting co-workers or considering previously successful examples.


4. Gather information purposefully.

Research information from both primary and secondary sources.



5. Sort your information.

Organise information that is important into sections under suitable headings.


6. Arrange sections in a suitable sequence.



Order of information


Three different ways of ordering information in a short report are:


Problem-solving order of information for a reader unfamiliar with the content - INDIRECT. Reader is unsympathetic to or unfamiliar with the situation, content or problem.


Problem-solving order of information for a reader familiar with the content - DIRECT. Suited to a memorandum report which will be sent to a reader familiar with the situation or problem. Leads the reader from the solutions to the problem.


Decision-making or routine order of information - presented within the context of an overview. Each main idea is presented with the related secondary ideas.


This gives accurate information on which to base decisions or to communicate information to others in the organisation.


Three typical short report formats:


Formal short report

Minimum acceptable format includes five components:

1. a title page

2. an introduction

3. sections with headings in the body

4. conclusions

5. recommendations (when required)


Letter report

Minimum acceptable standard includes a subject line plus the seven basic parts of a business letter:


1. the writer’s address

2. the date

3. inside or reader’s address

4. salutation

5. body

6. complimentary close

7. signature block.





Memorandum report

Minimum acceptable standard includes five components:


1. reader’s name

2. writer’s name

3. date

4. subject line or title

5. body.




Three specific types of short report


Format the short report to suit your writing purpose and different situations. There are three widely used short reports that use the memorandum format but may, of course, be written using the letter report format or short formal report format:


justification reports - present an idea or proposal and then use evidence to justify the proposal; or request. Seeks approval for change and the resources to initiate the changes proposed by the writer, it is usually sent upward in the organisation. Always use facts as the basis for the justification report and emphasise these to support the request for approval or change.


progress reports - are part of the organisation’s management information system. They send objective factual information to management on the specific progress achieved and the intended timetable for future work and completion. Aim to maintain balance by reporting on successes and evaluating any problems encountered or anticipated problems. They are usually written on request or need rather than at regular intervals.


periodic reports - is the most common report prepared in business. Its purpose is to keep management informed by providing, at regular intervals, perhaps daily or monthly, objective information on some aspect of the organisation’s operation over a specified period. For example, monthly staff absenteeism, audit reports, weekly sales figures, and outstanding accounts.



Activity 9.1


When compiling your next short report, fill out the following checklist to ensure its success.


Is your report a systematic and logical statement of facts?


Does it supply information to someone who may need it as a basis for making a decision?


Does it recommend a suitable and appropriate course of action?






Writing Short Reports


Have I:

Very Well Successfully Unsuccessfully


prepared a purpose ¸ ¸ ¸



followed the six-step ¸ ¸ ¸

approach when planning

the report


organised information ¸ ¸ ¸

in an order suitable for

the type of report


used a format suitable ¸ ¸ ¸

for the type of report


produced a high-quality ¸ ¸ ¸

short report?





Business reports


Learning to write effective reports can pay enormous dividends because reports are used to share important ideas at the middle and higher levels of management.


The following summary provides useful guidelines to adopt when attempting to write effective business reports:


easy-to-read reports are the ones most often read. The first barrier facing the report writer is reader resistance. Keep your report short and make each page attractive to the eye.


Writing and setting out a report is a straight forward task and surprisingly easy to master.


Reports are made up of more than words. They can include graphs, pictures and symbols.


There are four main divisions in a report. Names vary, but the most common include:


Introduction, which establishes the reader-writer relationship, outlines the purpose and scope of the report and stated the aim in one short sentence;


Findings, which presents objective information – gives the facts as a basis for discussion;


Analysis, which tells readers what action is proposed and why, and builds support for the recommendations, and


Recommendations which makes up the action ending, listing steps needed to get results.


In addition to these four sections, other items in even a short report include a synopsis and (often) an appendix. A contents table shows that the report has been organised logically, with a clear division of ideas into sections. This increases reader confidence.


When setting out the report page, number all major headings. Metric or decimal style numbering has many advantages over letter-number systems.


State important data in kilometres, kilograms or similar measures that have the same meaning for every reader.


Give a source reference for important findings. If experts supplied factual information for the report, identify them by name.


Sign every report personally. An unsigned report suggests that the writer is lacking in confidence and commitment.


If you cannot condense a long report to the required number of pages, an alternative is to write a special version known as an executive summary.


Keep personal views out of the report. Words such as ‘I’ or ‘me’ reduce the impersonal quality that conveys a s4nse of objectivity.


Source: Nutting and White, (1991, pp. 199-200).














Steps in writing a short/long report


Once you have completed planning your work you are ready for the actual writing. The task will not be too difficult if you do it in three steps:


Draft the main text - that is, the introduction, body, conclusions and recommendations.


Edit the main text.


Package the final product.


In following these steps, you will first use your outline as a guide to writing the actual text of your assignment or report. Once this is completed, you will edit the text. Finally, you will move to the packaging step, where you will add other parts to the front and back of the text material to suit your particular situation.



Three steps in writing


1. Drafting the text


Begin by writing the body, not the introduction or conclusion. As you write the body, you will often discover that your conclusions change. Once your conclusions have changed you will have to change the introduction, for it must point readers in exactly the right direction from the start. That is why it is often sensible to write the introduction last.


Try to write your first draft quickly. Just get stuck into it. Don’t worry too much about correctness or economy of style at this stage. Don’t even worry if ideas are in the right order. You can correct errors later and rearrange sentences and paragraphs to conform with your outline. The most important thing to achieve during your first draft is a quick and complete flow of ideas into words.


2. Editing


If you adopt this approach it becomes very important that you edit your work carefully and write a careful second draft. You should apply the characteristics of effective written communication.




Consider the education level of the receiver.


Avoid unfamiliar words, and use technical jargon only if you are sure the reader will understand you.


Avoid trite (old-fashion) expressions, wordy phrases, unnecessary repetition and abstract words.


Be sure that each sentence and paragraph contains only one central idea.


Use signposts, linking words and enumerators to help the text flow clearly. Proper headings will help coherence.




Use the active voice as much as possible.


Be tactful.


Use a positive tone when appropriate.


Mechanically sound:


Check and re-check for spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors.


The coherence and clarity of your writing can be dramatically improved if you use headings, tables and figures.



Packaging the final product


Are all the necessary parts included?


Are the parts in proper order?


Are all pages numbered properly? and,


The layout and appearance up to company standards.


Parts of a long report can include:


A cover page;

Title page;

Transmittal document;

Table of contents;

Abstract or Synopsis or Executive Summary;

Endnotes or Notes or Footnotes;



Appendix, and






Activity 10.1



Write a short (four to six pages) business report on a topic of your own choice.

Include the following:


Cover page;

Synopsis page (100-120 words only);

Contents page (including page numbers);

Introduction with standard format – half to three-quarters of a page;

Findings set out in business style with numbered headings and including objective information on the topic;

An analysis which discusses the findings, makes proposals or predictions, and explains and supports the recommendations that will follow;

Recommendations – each item numbered, with no discussion or reasons;

At least one diagram, photograph or other form of non-verbal, graphic or visual data, and

An appendix (optional), and

EDIT your work prior to final presentation, i.e. staple your pages together.









The art of preparation begins with you. It is normal to be nervous in front of an audience, but you can turn anxiety to anticipation if you plan properly. If you haven’t prepared yourself, if you haven’t set goals that mean something to you personally – your presentation stands only a slim chance of success.


You have to prepare yourself. You have to see yourself as "someone worth listening to." You can’t approach the presentation with hesitation and doubt. You have to believe in yourself and your abilities, because if you don’t, no audience will either.


Within business organisations, there are a number of occasions, which call for a speech or presentation. Some examples of the talk or speech you may be asked to make are:



Speeches of welcome


Training presentations

Brief oral reports, or

Long formal presentations.


Usually such business presentations or speeches aim to:


Persuade, or

Entertain the audience.



A number of different approaches to speaking in public are available, such as:


Prepared speeches – plan well ahead. Useful aids include overhead transparencies and palm or cue cards.


Impromptu speeches – think quickly to order your information. A useful formula used by many speakers is the PREP formula:

P stands for main point

R stands for the reason

E stands for the example

P stands for restating the main point


Manuscript speeches – are researched and structured and is usually read.


Memorised speeches – is suited to short talks and is learnt and recalled.




Oral briefings- is a short, accurate summary of the details of a plan or operation.


In planning and delivering this type of speech:


Prepare the briefing to achieve its specific purpose;

Present background information;

Discuss the different available options or alternatives;

Analyse the advantages and disadvantages of a particular course of action;

Encourage participation, questions and suggestions, and

Show interest in the responses.


Team briefings – the members of the team consider as a group the purpose of the team presentation and the nature of the audience. The team aims for a unified and logical message rather than a series of presentations from individual speakers. Hence, it is important to decide which member of the team will:


Present the introduction and beginning of the body;

Develop the body and provide the supporting details, and

Reinforce the ideas in the body and present the conclusion.



Preparing the presentation


In this stage your aim is to order the information logically and to use clear, concise language. While your primary aim is to prepare a presentation suited to the needs of your audience, you will also prepare the material in a way that suits your own needs as a speaker.


There are four steps to complete in this stage:


1. Write the presentation – an oral presentation has three main parts to consider:


An introduction – usually brief and prepares your audience for what you are going to say and should create interest. Strategies you can use include, pose a question, use humour relevant to the topic, give a short anecdote, present an interesting fact.


A body – develops the main theme and is the central part of the presentation. Inform, persuade or entertain the audience. Emphasise the main points and expand on these with supporting material, such as, personal experiences, examples, illustrations, facts, statistics.


A conclusion – is a short overview of the main points. To let the audience know you are about to finish, use signalling words such as, in conclusion, to summarise, in closing. To make an impression use, a relevant anecdote, a quotation, an example, or a recommendation.



2. Rewrite for the ear – writing for the ear you prepare the speech as a spoken rather than a written channel of communication.


Read your speech aloud and listen for:


A simple structure that is easy to follow;

Active voice with simple tense;

Words that are easy to hear and understand;

Concise words with a clear meaning;

Words that sound right together;

Breathing spaces that add impact to the message, and

Words that help to move the listener through the introduction, body and conclusion.


3. Practise and revise the content – prepare some questions and be ready to answer questions. Before you begin the speech, indicate when you will handle questions. This may be throughout the talk, at breaks between the main ideas, or at the end of the presentation.


4. Organise the visual aids – the decisions on the kind of visual aids are influenced by the size of the audience, the layout of the room and the content and purpose of the presentation.



Planning the presentation


The preparation stage of your presentation has six steps:


1. Define the purpose

2. Analyse the audience

Consider the context and setting

Identify the main ideas

Research and find supporting material for the message

6. Plan and organise material.


















Delivering the presentation


Dwyer (1993) states that when you speak in public, you send one continuous message to the audience. As there is no opportunity for the two-way communication offered in conversations and group discussions, it is harder for you to establish and maintain a relationship with the audience and to engage their attention.


To be effective a presenter must combine the content, explanation, supporting information, visual aids, choice of words, vocal qualities and body movement or nonverbal communication in away that catches the audience's attention. You can establish and maintain a relationship with the audience throughout the delivery.


Visual aids in presentations


Visual material is an important signal to people, therefore use it to improve any presentation. The term ‘multi-sense’ recognises that people receive messages in a number of different ways. This means that a delivery with a variety of communication channels will have a stronger effect than a delivery depending only on voice and body movement.


Each visual aid should be simple with only one idea presented because too much detail can distract from the main point. Visual and audiovisual aids include:


Chalkboards and whiteboards;

Overhead projectors;

Flip charts;

Slides or carousel projectors;

Television and video;


Objects and physical examples;

Electronic technology, and

Computer software.


Prepare the visual aids to add to the message rather than to distract the audience. Visual aids keep the listener and presenter active as well as heightening the learning and understanding process through variety.


An effective visual aid:


Gains attention;

Increases interest;

Supports your point;

Emphasises relationships;

Clarifies the content;

Helps the listeners’ memory;

Helps the presenter to arrange the content in an orderly manner, and

Removes the focus from the presenter.


Nonverbal communication


To speak well you need to carefully plan and prepare your work, choosing an approach that suits your natural communication style and matching your verbal and nonverbal behaviour to the presentation.


Aim to establish and maintain a confident well-paced delivery that looks natural and comfortable. The first few times you give a business presentation or speech, you may feel nervous or suffer stage fright.


Anxiety is a normal response to any situation that involves risk. Nervousness can be positive if it provides the extra emotional or physical energy necessary to successfully deliver the presentation. Careful preparation and a practiced delivery reduce anxiety.


A range of nonverbal behaviours modify or change the spoken words in your presentation by repeating, contradicting, substituting, complementing and accenting the words. Some behaviours that affect the presentation are:



Facial expressions

Appearance and dress

Gestures or movements of the hands, arms, shoulders and head

Voice quality


Articulation, and

Variation in the rate of speech.


Check the equipment to make sure the overhead projector, video cassette recorder, electrical outlets, seating arrangements, pens, paper and anything else you might need are available and in working order (Dwyer, 1993, p. 656).







Time management is a self-management tool

and is a valuable but limited resource.

It enables you to use time well so that you complete the tasks

and achieve the goals that you decide are important.

Time is finite and irreplaceable and cannot be stored.

It is always there; you cannot stop it!




In developing effective time management, it is useful to be aware of the different sorts of time, the different levels of priorities and the different strategies available for scheduling time and priorities, such as:


Discretionary time – the time available to you to think, plan and create ideas. Discretionary time is under your control and is only available for about 25% of the time, therefore, use it to complete your key tasks.


Response time – is when you are available to others for problems, enquiries or complaints and is that part of your time driven by others.


Organisational time


In the workplace environment, organisational time is that time taken up with doing what the organisation expects you to do. When you allocate time to the tasks and responsibilities on your job description, you are on the way to meeting the organisation’s expectations of you.


Dwyer (1993) states once you identify the nature of tasks, aim to complete them in a way that matches the organisation’s needs and objectives, and your needs and objectives. The tasks are completed within the organisation’s time. There are three kinds of organisational time within any organisation:


Boss-imposed time – is hard to minimise or disregard. The boss makes the rules and accepts responsibility for the actions of others in their team, therefore, they need to know what is happening.


System-imposed time – is time spent on tasks such as administrative paper work, meetings and requests from others in the organisation. It involves working and interaction with others who are not your boss, for example, your peers or staff from other units.


Self-imposed time – is that part of time over which you have control. A person who is unable to delegate because they do not know how or because they are afraid co-workers will be unable to do the task will use this time to carry out tasks that others might do.



Identifying time wasters


Time wasters are common to most of the population but the causes and solutions lie with each individual. The most effective way to solve the causes of time wasting is to create solutions that suit you. Identifying the cause and finding a solution is easier when you are able to recognise the three main categories of time waters:


Human nature – these are personal in nature, for example, disorganisation, an inability to say ‘no’ to requests, a tendency to procrastinate, and an inclination to socialise at the expense of work.


Environmental factors – time is wasted in ways such as telephone interruptions, drop-in visitors, unnecessary mail and paperwork, inefficient meetings and poor workplace procedures.


Poor management skills - an inability to set priorities and goals and delegate; a tendency to leave work unfinished and a failure to communicate clearly all waste time.



Strategies for dealing with time wasters


Time wasters reduce your efficiency and effectiveness and prevent you from reaching your goals. Strategies for removing the more common time wasters experienced at work are:


Create blocks of discretionary time;

Work from a clear desk;

Control the telephone;

Prepare for meetings;

Reduce disruptions, interruptions and crises;

Delegate effectively, and

Avoid procrastination.














Time management skills


Time management improves the way you use time. A number of strategies can be used to manage your time. Developing practical strategies to set priorities requires skills in:


Making lists;

Sorting tasks into categories;

Ordering by degree of importance;

Critically evaluating ways of doing things;

Questioning the reasons for doing things;

Preparing diaries;

Using a journal;

Creating action plans;

Using response time well, and

Using discretionary time to think and plan.


Dwyer (1993) suggests that you choose from among these strategies to help you get more done and to complete important activities before you do the less important activities. The benefit to you is increased satisfaction and achievement.



Setting priorities


Decide what must be done by setting work priorities and rank these activities as primary, secondary and urgent.


Primary activities – are those that produce the most in results and should be done. They have high priority and are the most important elements in your time management and personal planning.


Secondary activities – are the less important items that could be done and receive lower priority than those that should be done. Some of these activities may even be put aside until later.


Urgent activities - are not part of your time management plan. They are the interruptions that must be done and cannot be avoided. When you bunch urgent tasks together and do them in one time slot, you save time.












Setting goals


Goals are set to achieve the intended outcome. When you are involved in the planning process you can see the reason for the plan, its goals and sub-goals, and can recognise your contribution to it. Personal or team goals give a focus, purpose and direction to activities at work. In setting goals, whether personal and team, it is useful to keep in mind the SMART formula.


SMART states that effective goals have five characteristics:


Specific – goals created in specific, concrete terms. It is possible to see what is to be done, when it is to be done, how and where it is to be done.


Measurable – measurable goals are those that can be checked and measured and set the performance standards.


Achievable – goals that can be attained. They can be accomplished effectively with the allocated time and are neither too hard nor too easy. They are challenging and reasonable in that you can implement and complete them to the desired standard.


Relevant – when achieved, they offer you the satisfaction and pleasure of knowing that the work is purposeful, relevant and necessary to the successful completion of the task.


Time related – time referencing the goals lets you check progress against the time deadlines. If the steps to accomplish the completed task fall behind schedule it may be necessary to plan again.




Benefits gained from time management


When you use your time effectively, you know what you want to accomplish. By eliminating time wasters, you have more time to do the important tasks well. This helps you to meet new challenges in a way that is less rushed and helps you stay effective and productive. The best time managers select from a range of time management tools that are portable, adaptable and comfortable to use. Effective time managers organise, plan and communicate well.


Time management is a tool that lets you engage in a process of:


Improving the quality and quantity of your work

Making better decisions

Being as organised as you want to be, and

Increasing your performance and job satisfaction.


Time is a resource just as money or office space is a resource. Find out how you use it. A log of activities timetable or daily plan or diary help you manage your time. As you plan and manage your time, these tools give you the facts and information on how you use your time (Dwyer, 1993, p. 128).



Prepare timetables


Planners like those suggested in Figure 12.1 help you to see where you are heading. Nutting and White, (1991) suggests not to buy expensive wall charts; a small one that you draw up yourself and which fits in a folder is better. Use a similar type of planner to work out daily schedules or to keep track of any tasks where you need to follow a routine pattern.


Stay flexible in your approach to time. Do not overorganise; leave some spare slots for unforeseen interruptions. Remember that most human beings underestimate the time it will take to perform any task. Allow for this, and your plan will be more effective.

















Economics assignment due in 5.00pm


Maths test 11.00am

Oral presentation in class

Start work on report plan

Visit State library


















Study for letter writing test

Letter test 2pm

Borrow books from library – Business communication

No classes study at home

Complete headings for report



Figure 12.1 Weekly study planner



Activity 12.1


Draw up a study timetable for this subject, using the model presented in the above figure or one of your own design. It is also a good idea to provide yourself with an incentive when you reach your deadlines. Always have a day off and reward yourself with some small pleasure, e.g. going to the movies, a walk with friends, going dancing or a box of chocolates. Whatever you like!



Activity 12.2 Time Management - Checklist


Aim to be successful in all your time management endeavours. With practice you will improve your performance.


How well do you manage your time?


Tick the appropriate boxes with your response.

I am able to:


Very Successfully Unsuccessfully




Achieve my goals


Share time between

work, leisure and

other activities


Control the telephone


Work from a tidy desk

or work space


Prepare for meetings


Handle disruptions and



Delegate to others


Have some uninterrupted

time every day


Say ‘no’


Combine tasks


Use a diary


Set priorities


Use a daily work plan


Audit my own

use of time


Activity 12.3


Follow the Ten-Step plan once again to improve your skills and you should have little difficulty in reaching assignment deadlines.




Ten-step plan to effective time management



List your goals for the day in the morning or on the afternoon of the pervious day.


List the activities you will need to complete to achieve each of these goals.


Classify the list of activities into primary activities, secondary activities, those that can be delegated and things to do later. Focus on the primary, that is, most important activities.


Rank the primary activities from high to low priority; list the activities necessary to achieve these; rank the list of activities by order of importance and allocate time to each of these.


Create a set of priorities for the less important tasks, that is, your secondary set of priorities and list the activities necessary to achieve these tasks in order of importance.


Analyse the importance and urgency of the second set of priorities to identify what you must do, should do and will do later.


Allocate time on the basis of this analysis and delegate to others, tasks that do not need your attention. Check priorities and time allocations against your deadlines.


Place your time management plan on a desk or wall planner and display in a prominent position. This is your time log.


Tick or mark off on your time log each completed step. This acknowledges and recognises your success in achieving your time management goals.


Present your completed project on or before time.




Source: Dwyer, 1993, pp. 121-135.