Written Communication8th February 2020
Written communication has great significance in today’s business world. It is an innovative activity of the mind. Effective written communication is essential for preparing worthy promotional materials for business development. Speech came before writing. But writing is more unique and formal than speech. Effective writing involves careful choice of words, their organization in correct order in sentences formation as well as cohesive composition of sentences. Also, writing is more valid and reliable than speech. But while speech is spontaneous, writing causes delay and takes time as feedback is not immediate.
Written communication is usually considered binding on business organizations and is often used as evidence. Technological advancement has enlarged the gamut of written communication through email and other such facilities.
Merits of Written communication
(i) Precise and accurate
Written communication is generally prepared with great care and precision. The very prospect of writing makes a person conscious. You have to be very serious and organised while communicating in the written form, because written communication is open to verification.
(ii) Easily verified
Since written communication is on paper etc., it can be read and re-read. It also offers itself to verification. There is also, thus, less ‘chance of someone twisting the message to his or her own advantage.
(iii) Permanent record
Written communication constitutes a permanent record. It also acts like evidence. It proves very useful for future reference as it can be preserved for years. For example, old orders and decisions can serve as the basis for new ones.
(iv) Suitable for lengthy and complicated messages
Lengthy and complicated messages can be understood better when they are in the written form rather than in the oral. There is less chance of misinterpretation and misunderstanding. Also, the language used is less subject to change.
(v) Responsibility can be easily fixed
In written communication, responsibilities of sender and receiver can be fixed easily. People have the tendency of shifting responsibilities for mistakes, but this is difficult if the onus is obvious in black and white.
(vi) Has legal validity
Written communication is acceptable as a legal document. Written communication has been used as evidence since time immemorial.
Demerits of Written communication
(i) Slower method of communication
Written communication can be time-consuming since it may take even two or even three days to reach the receiver (by letters, for instance). By contrast, oral communication is immediate.
(ii) Further delay if clarifications are required
Written communication hampers quick clarifications. The receiver may write back for clarifications and wait for a reply, making the process tedious. Even if clarifications are not needed, there is still a delay between the time the sender writes a message and the receiver receives it.
(iii) Leads to too much of paperwork
Since written communication is basically done on paper, one may tend to use it as escape mechanism Paper-free offices remain a dream.
(iv) Always a possibility of ambiguity or lack of comprehensibility
It is quite possible that the receiver is not able to comprehend the exact meaning of a written message that he has received. The clarity of a written message also depends upon the skill, or the lack of it, in the sender. If the message has not been written properly, it will not be understood, either.
(v) Costly in terms of money and man-hours
Writing letters is a costly process not only because you need to spend money on postage, but also because several persons are involved in the process of sending out a letter from an organization. Their time costs organization money. While oral communication can be short and quick, written communication, because of its very nature, tends to be lengthy.
(vi) No flexibility
The written word is not subject to instant change after communication. Therefore, conveying an afterthought may prove very lengthy, and, at times, even impossible.
(vii) Literacy essential
It goes without saying that in written communication, the sender as well as the receiver should be literate. In fact, we may wrongly presume that they are so. In many Asian Countries, where literacy is low, a written message will be meaningless for large masses of illiterate persons.
Literacy also means literacy in the language of the message. The receiver should know the language in which a message has been written. It is no use receiving a message in English if you are not conversant with that language.
Notwithstanding its limitations, it can be safely concluded that written communication remains the spine of an organization. Almost all formal communication is in the written form.
Factors in written communication
(i) The writer
(ii) The content
(iii) The language used
(iv) The purpose of the communication
(v) The style adopted – formal or friendly
(vi) The receiver
Pre-requisites of written communication
(i) How much to put in writing
(ii) What to leave out
(iii) When to stop
(iv) When to convey
(v) By what means to convey