Media of Communication: Written, Oral

11/03/2020 0 By indiafreenotes

Written Communication:

Written communication transmits messages, ideas and thoughts in writing with documentary proof in the form of notices, letters, circulars, hand-outs, manuals etc. In a large organisation, managers interact with various stakeholders, like consumers, suppliers, Government, labour unions, shareholders etc.

These stakeholders are separated by wide geographical distances and, therefore, managers cannot communicate with them orally. They adopt written means of communication for smooth conduct of the organisation.

It needs lot of deliberation, effort and thinking to put a message in writing. Similar to oral communication, written communication can be used in formal and informal channels. Fax, letters, reports, notices, etc. are the usual means for transmitting messages in writing.

Merits of written communication:

  1. Documentary evidence:

Written communication is a record on paper. It, therefore, has evidence for future reference. Reference to any point can be made at any point of time if matters are put in writing.

  1. Legal evidence:

If disputes arise that require judicial interpretations, written information helps in maintaining legal defence.

  1. Better understanding:

Messages in writing can be read as many times as the reader wants to understand the message.

  1. Well stated message:

The sender can think, analyse and take time to put the message in writing. The message is more balanced than oral communication.

  1. Wider access:

It can reach a much larger audience and geographical coverage than oral communication. In case of mass communication, letters and newspapers can be read by a large number of people.

  1. Responsibility:

Responsibility can be fixed in written communication as against oral communication. People can be held liable for mistakes, errors and omissions.

  1. Uniformity:

It maintains uniformity of policies and procedures. Oral communication is liable to different interpretations but written facts clearly specify what is expected of whom.

  1. Lasting impact:

What one reads is more lasting than what one hears. Reading messages has a lasting impact on readers.

  1. Noise free:

It is free from noise. One can write and read at convenience. Internal (fans, people talking to each other) and external (loudspeakers, telephone disconnection) disturbances do not affect the efficiency of written communication.

  1. Suitable for lengthy messages:

Lengthy and complex messages can be better encoded and decoded when put in writing.

Limitations of written communication:

  1. Writing skills:

Writing is an art. Everybody cannot put messages in writing. If the sender does not have writing skills, written communication will be of little value.

  1. Paperwork:

Putting messages in writing requires huge amount of paper work. In many departments, files get misplaced which delays the processing of information.

  1. Time:

It is a time-consuming means of communication. It is not suitable where immediate feedback is required.

  1. Different interpretations:

Choice of words should be carefully made when messages are put in writing. Receiver’s understanding of the words and language should be same as that of the sender.

  1. Costly:

It is a costly means of communication. Lot of time and money are spent on drafting and sending the message. In big organisations, separate mailing departments are maintained. Stationery and administrative costs are huge. The message should be so drafted that benefits outweigh the costs.

  1. Lack of personal touch:

It lacks personal touch between the sender and the receiver.

  1. Lack of secrecy:

Written messages cannot remain secret as they pass through a number of levels and departments.

  1. Non-verbal clues:

Sender cannot read facial expressions and gestures of the receiver. He cannot understand how well the receiver appreciates what he wants to convey.

  1. Lack of flexibility:

Written messages lack flexibility as they cannot be easily changed. Lot of time and money have to be spent on changing the message. The above discussion makes it clear that oral or written medium of communication depends upon the situation.

If information is formal that does not require personal link of sender with the receiver, it is lengthy and needs to be preserved for future reference, or is required for legal interpretations, written communication is more appropriate than oral.

If, on the other hand, information has to be given to a small number of people who are centrally located, it is confidential and does not need to be stored for future or legal reference, oral communication is more appropriate than written. Daily, routine and informal matters are generally communicated orally while important, formal and non-routine matters are communicated in writing.

Oral communication:

Oral communication means transmission of messages through spoken words. Most of the communication takes place orally. When people meet each other, they interact face-to- face and share their thoughts. The way we talk reflects our personality, educational background, emotional state and relationship with the listener.

Oral communication is used:

  1. By choice:

Managers transmit messages orally when they want speedy transmission of ideas.

  1. Nature of information:

Highly confidential information where evidence in writing is not to be retained is generally transmitted orally.

  1. Situation:

When receiver of information does not want to read long notices, managers transmit information orally. Oral communication can be formal and informal. Formal oral communication takes place through formal presentations, group discussions, meetings, interviews etc. Informal oral communication takes place through face-to-face conversation or telephone. Informal communication helps in maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships.

Merits of oral communication:

  1. Speed:

It is a fast medium of communication. It takes long to write, despatch and receive a letter while orally, messages can be transmitted and received simultaneously. Messages can be instantly encoded, transmitted and decoded.

  1. Feedback:

The sender can receive immediate feedback from the receiver. Doubts and clarifications can be sought at the point of discussion, thus, enhancing efficiency of the message. Message can be reframed for better understanding and action. While feedback is more apparent in two-way communication, in one-way communication, feedback can be provided through gestures.

  1. Synergy:

Two brains can think faster and better than one. ‘One plus one makes eleven.’ When people discuss matters orally, they arrive at better proposals and solutions than can be thought of by one man alone.

  1. Economical:

It is an economical means of communication. It saves time and money on stationery and administrative staff. People at distant places can be immediately connected and actions can be initiated without delay.

  1. Flexible:

If the message is not clear, sender can change his voice, words or tone to make it clear to the audience. Written words cannot be easily changed.

  1. Personal touch:

It adds personal touch to communication. When managers personally talk to subordinates, it carries more meaning than transmitting the same message in writing.

  1. Secrecy:

Secrecy can be maintained in oral communication. Confidential information is transmitted orally so that no evidence is maintained in writing.

  1. Non-verbal clues:

Actions speak louder than words. The speaker can make out through actions of the receiver whether or not he has understood the message.

  1. Inter-personal relations:

It is an effective medium of communication to develop healthy inter-personal relations amongst superiors and subordinates. Personal meetings and discussions create healthy climate in business organisations.

Limitations of oral communication:

  1. Lack of evidence:

Oral communication has no proof as nothing is evidenced in writing. Matters discussed cannot be used for future reference. Thus, where references are required for decision-making, this is not a suitable medium of communication.

  1. Limited time:

Though immediate feedback is a positive feature of oral communication, receiver has very little time to think. He may immediately say ‘yes’ to the proposal while actually it may not be possible for him to act upon it.

  1. Costly:

Sometimes, meetings run for hours and end up without conclusions. This results in waste of time, money and energy. People deviate from the agenda and discuss issues not relevant to the frame of decided subject matter. It wastes time and energy to come to the point and take relevant decisions.

  1. Lengthy messages:

When messages are lengthy, it is not a suitable medium of communication. Human memory cannot retain things for long. Both sender and receiver may not be able to recall the message, it is always better to write lengthy messages.

  1. Geographical locations:

It is not a suitable form of communication where sender and receiver are separated by geographical distances. Talking on phone is costly and noisy. Travelling long distances for personal meetings may be costlier.

  1. Attitudinal problems:

If sender and receiver have personal biases and prejudices against each other, oral communication becomes ineffective. They tend to find faults with others’ suggestions rather than arrive at consensus.

  1. Misunderstanding:

Fraction of inattentiveness can result in loss of important information. This results in misunderstanding and varying perception about the message conveyed.

  1. Noise:

Oral communication is prone to noise. Disturbance in telephone lines, mike connections, faxes, interference by the third person etc. reduces the effectiveness of oral communication.

  1. Assigning responsibility:

It is difficult to assign responsibility and hold people accountable for mistakes and inaccuracies in carrying out the messages as they are not recorded for reference.