Oral Communication

Once viewed as two separate disciplines, business and communication, have now meshed together to produce a hybrid business environment in which the everyday functions of business are intimately tied to communication (Pincus, 1997). Communication in the business world is imperative for success. This holds true for interpersonal communication, communication between management and staff, and for practically every other contact a business has, both within its own establishment and the outside world.
Effective communication is critical for the success of any organization. Through the use of proper communication skills, individuals will be better able to function as a group, thus allowing organizations to share information, analyze situations and to set goals (Nelton, 1995). Communicating properly among peers improves an individual’s all around skills. The more successfully a business functions the better it enables employees to perform jobs better. Managers pass on information and train subordinates more effectively, and in general a business has a better chance of profiting. In today’s turbulent economic environment and rapid technological change, communication is critical in allowing a business to deal with the restructuring of national and international economies, in preventing market saturation, and in allowing a business to deal with their competitors more effectively (Nelton, 1995, PG). Cushman and King (1997) have proposed the “high speed management” to describe this new business environment. They emphasize the importance of communication in this theory and conclude that:
“In the final analysis it is the innovative, adaptable, flexible, efficient, and rapid use of information and communication which allows an organization to reorient rapidly and successfully in a volatile business environment.”
Another very important factor in the changing business environment is that of globalization (Nelton, 1995). It is very evident when we look at the current state of world affairs that our world is becoming a smaller place. We now have overnight delivery of packages, email communication and the ever so popular cellular communication. Globalization and increased international business can be directly attributed to mass media and mass transit. With new technologies such as videophone, Internet chat and Internet meeting rooms the thought of globalization becomes a reality for even the smallest of companies. The concept of globalization sometimes approaches this change as being one which either should or will result in a complete homogenization of culture and the formation of a unified global community. At the very least globalization will result in a number of distinct border cultures, which are hybrids of interacting cultures. What this means is that the savvy business person not only has to be prepared to communicate with those of his or her own culture but also with other cultures (Nelton, 1995).
Many obvious precipitators of this increased business contact between the world’s cultures can be attributed to this globalization phenomenon. One of the reasons is international agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement. The North American Free Trade Agreement was initiated between the United States, Canada, and Mexico on January 1, 1994. This agreement referred to as the “trade agreement” has had a huge impact on exchange of material and cultural goods between the United States and other nations in North America as well as on the degree of business communication which occurs between these countries. Increased business diversity is not only occurring because of factors such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, it is also occurring because of a greater number of cultures within business itself. Women in the workplace are also making the work force more diversified and increasing the need for more effective communication skills (Nelton, 1995).
It is an acknowledged fact that conversational styles and communication skills vary between cultures and genders (Nelton, 1995). It has been noted regarding the increased business contact between cultures as a result of globalization; increased diversity in the workplace itself, whether through the presence of an increased number of cultures or through the presence of a greater number of women; businesses must now devote greater amounts of effort toward communication in recognition of the different communication styles which exist (Nelton, 1995). Deborah Tannen, author of “Talking from Nine to Five” states:
“Each individual has a unique style, influenced by a personal history of many influences such as geographic region, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, occupation, religion, and age—as well as