The Importance of Verbal Communication to Organizations
Verbal communication establishes communication lines within (internal) and outside (external) the organization.
An organization is made up of various systems composed of work force members, which cannot function without communicating with one another. For one, verbal communication enables leaders and management to communicate the mission, vision, goals, and objectives of the organization to various departments e.g. information technology, human resources, logistics, etc. at different levels. Moreover, managers utilize verbal communication to steer the organization in the right direction through oral guidance: giving orders to employees, making requests, discussing the agenda and concerns of the organization during meetings, giving praises and acknowledgements to employees, etc. The role of verbal communication within the organization also contributes to strengthening its foundations because communication nurtures relationships, camaraderie, and collaboration among individuals in the work place. Essentially, people in the organization get to know each other through verbal communication. The more they communicate, the more they understand each other and become comfortable in working with one another. Thus, verbal communication develops healthy relationships in the organization while at the same time serving as a tool of preventing or mending conflicts between its members. The important role of verbal communication within the organization is best observed in handling conflicts between individuals. Conflict resolution is handled through open face-to-face communication mediated by a representative from human resource department. Through verbal communication misunderstandings are resolved between the members of the organization.
Verbal communication is also important in dealing with people outside the organization, which is best observed in organization’s public relations (PR) practices. The organization’s reputation and accountability could both be established through external verbal communication. For instance, how the organization handles press releases and conferences will reflect on its image and reputation. Another good example of how important verbal communication is in the organization is how customer service representatives communicate with consumers. Consumer loyalty depends on the ability of representatives to deal with consumer concerns through oral communication.
Verbal communication facilitates the obtainment, sharing, transfer, and development of information and knowledge that the organization can use to its advantage.
Verbal communication facilitates knowledge sharing and development in the organization. It is true that information and knowledge could be shared and established through non-verbal means, however, the organization can also develop ideas that will be advantageous to the organization if information is shared verbally. Brainstorming, for instance, yields the best results if people in the organization talk about concerns and issues. Through brainstorming, people will be able to throw ideas around, critique each other’s ideas, and eventually arrive at resolutions that would solve the organization’s problems or concerns.
Practical Uses of Written Communication in Organizations
Aside from verbal communication, organizations could also rely on written communication, which could be advantageous in various circumstances. Written communication is useful because it saves time. For instance, leaving a note in someone’s office could save time because instead of waiting for the person to arrive and communicate with them verbally, people could leave those notes and go back to doing their other tasks. Written communication means like letters, memoranda, etc. are also practical when one needs to communicate information to many people. Instead of talking to people individually or interrupting their tasks by holding a group meeting, letters could be sent to everyone individually, which also saves time and effort. When an individual in the organization needs to communicate long information, like a report, especially one that contains specific information like assets, liabilities, and revenue, written communication is a more advisable medium. Long pieces of information should be communicated using written reports to ensure that every valuable piece is included in the report. Moreover, it would serve as a reference for those who need the information instead of putting complicated information to memory. Overall, verbal communication is practical because it saves time, it could be used to communicate to a large audience, and it is effective in communicating large pieces of information, facts and figures that could be used as references by members of the organization (financial reports, annual reports, etc.)
Examples of Three Levels of Verbal Communication
The first level of verbal communication is task ordering. Task ordering in verbal communication involves cognitive meaning. Task ordering could be observed when managers give directives to employees. Managers create plans of action depending on the goals and objectives of the organization, and consequently, give orders or directives to employees so they can ensure that these goals and objectives are achieved. Through verbal communication the manager is able to organize the plan of action and the level of involvement of employees. Employees, on the other hand, must comprehend those orders or directives to know their roles and responsibilities.
The second level of verbal communication is affective in nature and can be observed when dealing with conflicts in the organization. Dealing with conflicts between members of the organization requires open and honest communication. However, those involved in the conflict must exhibit a high level of sensitivity (characteristic of affective verbal communication) when communicating, so that they are both aware of the need to show respect towards one another despite their misunderstanding.
The third level of verbal communication is concerned with narrative, which combines myth and reality. The narrative level of verbal communication could be observed when a leader of the organization makes a speech in an effort to inspire and motivate his employees, which could be done by communicating facts and personal thoughts and experiences. The leader, for instance, could talk about the organization’s goals and objectives and the important role of employees in the organization. He can also tell stories that are rife with meaningful symbolism to inspire and motivate the organization’s workforce. Inspirational stories could be in the form of anecdotes that illustrate good traits and characteristics that made them successful.
An Example of the Difference between Denotative and Connotative Meaning
The denotative meaning of the word is its literal meaning, while the connotative meaning represents how people perceive meaning based on their reality. For instance, in the organizational setting the word “success” can have both representative denotative and connotative meanings, depending on views and perceptions of people in the organization. The denotative meaning of “success” is the point of achieving something e.g. accomplishing a goal, completing a plan, or gaining something to one’s advantage. However, “success” can also have connotative meaning depending on the members of the organizations. To business leaders “success” may mean gaining revenue and accomplishing goals and objectives. To managers “success” may mean handling their responsibilities well in their own departments or units. To employees “success” may mean both contributing to the growth of the organization but also finding an occupation that contributes to their personal and professional growth. Some employees could equate success to gaining income by having a job in an organization, while others measure success by both tangible and intangible benefits. For example, they do not only earn money but are also able to help people because they work for a good organization. The word “success” in these situations means many things, aside from its denotative meaning of “achieving” and “gaining,” because each individual has their own view or perception of what success is. Moreover, people could see that business owners are successful if they belong to top earners in their industry. However, others would say that rich business owners are not successful if they use unethical practices for their own gain. The difference between denotative and connotative meaning underlines different views, perspectives, ideas, and experiences of individuals. Therefore, while there are literal meanings to words and concepts, people have their own subjective ideas about these words because of how they view reality based on their own ideas and experiences.
Key Points of Semantics
The key points of semantics include the following ideas:
Meaning (as previously discussed in the denotative and connotative examples) relies on views, perceptions, and ideas of people. Each individual applies or attaches meaning to words, concepts, and actions depending on how they see reality based on their experiences.
Words, concepts, or ideas that people communicate through language represent meaning, which rely on people’s intentions. Words could have literal meanings, although sometimes the use of language is also attached to people’s intentions, intended meanings when people communicate ideas to other people.
Verbal communication plays an important role in our observations and inferences. What we see around us – our observations – and what we think we see around us – our inferences – depend on verbal communication. We observe, hear, see, and feel through our senses, but verbal communication also contributes to our observations and inferences. When we see a painting, for instance, we make our own observations and inferences about it. However, when a curator talks about the painting, we gain a fuller understanding of what it means. Moreover, verbal communication is essential when we need to communicate our observations and inferences.
Organizational Uses of Verbal Communication
Verbal communication plays an important role in the organization. Organizations have their own culture, goals, objectives, and motivations. Therefore, they also attach their own meaning and intentions to words or concepts that they use in the work place. Ideal culture and behavior in an organization, for instance, is attached to what the organization represents – organizational mission, vision, and philosophy – and what leaders believe – moral values and ethical practices. The organization incorporates its goals and objectives, mission, vision, and philosophy, values and ethics to overall practices by teaching them to its members. Language plays an important role in the process because what and how leaders communicate with members of the organization determines the culture and behavior established in the workplace. Members of the organization could learn about its history when they listen to stories about the organization’s success and failures, and thus, they understand what kind of organization they are working for. Employees learn what direction the organization seeks to take if they listen to its history. Verbal communication could also be used to motivate and inspire employees in the organization. For one, acknowledging employees could be done verbally by giving praises and critiques. Saying “thank you,” “please,” and “well done” means something to employees and because they are being acknowledged, they are determined to work harder to contribute to the organization’s success. As previously discussed, verbal communication could also be used to resolve conflicts. Overall, verbal communication is useful in the organization because it helps transmit values to employees, motivate and inspire them, establish what direction the organization’s wishes to take, and contributes to conflict management.
Humor: Help or Hindrance in Organizations?
Humor is both helpful and bothersome to an organization. Humor could be helpful because it helps in easing tense atmospheres in the workplace. Employees, for instance, feel calm if they are in a relaxed atmosphere. In this case, humor contributes in easing stress or pressure. It can also contribute to establishing harmonious relationships with members of the organization and in deflating conflict.
However, humor could be a hindrance if it becomes insulting or offensive. Jokes about race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, sexual and personal relationships, health issues (having communicable disease, etc.), and similar issues are considered offensive, especially in the workplace. While people could pass these lines as jokes with their close friends and family, it is a hindrance in the workplace because it can lead to conflicts. When delivered as jokes sensitive issues like the ones mentioned, could be damaging to the image and reputation of members of the organization. Overall, humor could be advantageous and disadvantageous. The detrimental impact of humor in the workplace, however, can be prevented by setting rules and guidelines about what employees should or should not joke about.