Communication Theory and Professional Practice – Subject of Business Communication
Prescribed text referred to in these notes is Mohan et al, 2008, Communicating as Professionals, Edition 2, Cengage Learning, Melbourne. These notes are for the use of Bachelor of Business students with purchased copies of the text, not to be copied or sold separately.
- What is your career objective and what skills will you need, and how will you carry out any future professional role?
- How should communication theory help professionals?
- Can you think of examples of professional communication?
Education or study is one example of a communication field or system including teachers, administration, marketing, agents and students, here in Melbourne, in your home country and different locations within. This also includes study materials, promotional brochures, application forms, websites, assignments, telephone calls, classes, online study, informal conversations, books, newspapers, email and more.
This is an example of who, what and where, but there is another element, how? How is communication conducted amongst all these elements to result in effective communication, but then what is effective communication?
Case Study 1.1 Mohan et al, ‘Communication ethics in the professions’. From the keywords in the title of the case study, i.e. ‘communication’, ‘ethics’ and ‘profession’ can you think what the case study will be about? The title probably suggests this case study will question the importance of ethical (behaviour) and communication by all professions and occupations. Why is ethical behaviour important in professional life and how does it affect communication?
Next from reading the heading of the article extract, ‘Self-interest detracts from lustre of the professions’ can you imagine more detail and content of the case study? Basic analysis of the heading would suggest it will look at how society respects professionals, but this trust is sometimes broken due unethical behaviour, in pursuit of personal advancement, whether that be a job promotion or profits. What is the solution?
According to Ferguson of Harvard University:
‘In my view, business education – and not only in business schools – needs urgently to be reformed so future bankers learn to strive for more than just the “maximisation of shareholder value” (code for driving up the share price by fair means or foul). I believe the next generation of financiers need something like a Hippocratic oath to guide their conduct, along the lines proposed by Harvard Business School students. It is no accident Warburg thought of himself as a “financial physician”. The world needs money doctors, not investment bankers focused myopically on “the numbers”. (Ferguson, 2010).
In 2010 BP oil company had an oil rig explosion and associated pollution disaster possibly one of the worst in the planet’s history. After the disaster what was being communicated by BP, media, environmentalists, society and politicians? Was it the same information and message? If differences why? What ethical issues were involved? Are these issues and the standards or ethics we judge them by absolutely clear?
What is communication theory?
Communication theory has been defined as:
- The transmission of messages, encoded by sender, sent through a medium and decoded by a receiver, e.g. a newspaper article or collection of channels in the media as in the previous examples.
- Social interaction through messages helping people to relate to each other through “taking turns” e.g. we tried to analyse and understand the communication in the previous examples by discussion or conversation.
- Reciprocal creation of meaning in a context through language and other “symbolic forms” e.g. graphic images of oil covered pelicans and other wildlife on the beaches in the Gulf of Mexico, oil gushing from the well, President Obama on the news and unemployed oil workers protesting through print, television, internet and other media created a context of meaning.
- Sharing of meaning through information, ideas and feelings both encoded and decoded by the group e.g. online social media and other interactive media exemplified by blogs, allows diverse sharing of views and opinions according to groups’ attitudes.
The latter definition includes information (perceived facts), ideas (concepts and opinions) and emotions (personal feelings) through which professional communication requires clear purpose. The elements required of a professional communicator include the need to be clear and responsible, organised message, optimal use of medium, allows for receiver and environment, and allows response to check understanding.
Understanding different types of communication, views, attitudes and opinions that society, groups, people, consumers, clients, cultures, voters and customers have, with different preferences and ways of communicating, is essential for effective communication. Accordingly, when we as a professional plan and prepare for communicating a message we must take all these elements or variables into account, if we want to achieve our purpose.
Ferguson, N. 2010, Banking Not the Devil’s Domain, The Australian, Nationwide News P/L, Sydney.
Mohan T., McGregor H., Saunders S. & Archee R., 2008, Communicating as Professionals, 2nd Edition, Cengage Learning Australia P/L, Melbourne.