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Business Communication Today , 12/E Thill & Bovee Solutions manual and test bank

Business Communication Today , 12/E Thill & Bovee Solutions manual and test bank

Chapter 2: Mastering Team Skills and Interpersonal Communication


Communicating Effectively in Teams
Advantages and Disadvantages of Teams
Characteristics of Effective Teams
Group Dynamics
Assuming Team Roles
Allowing for Team Evolution
Resolving Conflict
Overcoming Resistance
Collaborating on Communication Efforts
Guidelines for Collaborative Writing
Technologies for Collaborative Writing
Social Networks and Virtual Communities
Giving—and Responding to—Constructive Feedback
Making Your Meetings More Productive
Preparing for Meetings
Conducting and Contributing to Efficient Meetings
Using Meeting Technologies
Improving Your Listening Skills
Recognizing Various Types of Listening
Understanding the Listening Process
Overcoming Barriers to Effective Listening
Improving Your Nonverbal Communication Skills
Recognizing Nonverbal Communication
Using Nonverbal Communication Effectively
Developing Your Business Etiquette
Business Etiquette in the Workplace
Business Etiquette in Social Settings
Business Etiquette Online


Section 1: Communicating Effectively in Teams

Learning Objective 1: List the advantages and disadvantages of working in teams, describe the characteristics of effective teams, and highlight four key issues of group dynamics.

Collaboration—working together to meet complex challenges—has become a core job responsibility for roughly half the U.S. workforce.

A team is a unit of two or more people who share a mission and the responsibility for working to achieve a common goal.

Problem-solving teams and task forces assemble to resolve specific issues and then disband when their goals have been accomplished.

Such teams are often cross-functional, pulling together people from a variety of departments who have different areas of expertise and responsibility.

Diversity of opinions and experiences can lead to better decisions, but competing interests can create tension.

Committees are formal teams that can become a permanent part of the organizational structure.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Teams

Teams are often part of participative management, the effort to involve employees in the company’s decision making.

A successful team can provide advantages, such as

· Increased information and knowledge

· Increased diversity of views

· Increased acceptance of a solution

· Higher performance levels

Teams can also have disadvantages, such as

· Groupthink—occurs when peer pressures cause individual team members to withhold contrary or unpopular opinions

· Hidden agendas—private, counterproductive motives that undermine someone else on the team

· Cost—aligning schedules, arranging meetings, and coordinating individual parts of a project can eat up a lot of time and money

Characteristics of Effective Teams

The most effective teams

· Have a clear objective and a shared sense of purpose

· Communicate openly and honestly

· Reach decisions by consensus

· Think creatively

· Know how to resolve conflict

Ineffective teams

· Get bogged down in conflict

· Waste time and resources pursuing unclear goals

Two of the most common reasons cited for unsuccessful teamwork are a lack of trust and poor communication.

Group Dynamics

Group dynamics are the interactions and processes that take place among members in a team.

Productive teams tend to develop positive norms, informal standards of conduct that members share and that guide member behavior.

Group dynamics are influenced by

· The roles assumed by team members

· The current phase of team development

· The team’s success in resolving conflict

· The team’s success in overcoming resistance

Team members can play various roles:

· Self-oriented roles are played by those motivated mainly to fulfill personal needs, these individuals tend to be less productive than other members

· Team-maintenance roles are played by those who help everyone work well together

· Task-facilitating roles are played by those who help the team reach its goals

As teams grow and evolve, they generally pass through a variety of stages, such as these five:

· Orientation

· Conflict

· Brainstorming

· Emergence

· Reinforcement

Another common model, proposed by Bruce Tuckman:

· Forming

· Storming

· Norming

· Performing

· Adjourning

Conflict in team activities can result from

· Competition for resources

· Disagreement over goals or responsibilities

· Poor communication

· Power struggles

· Fundamental differences in values, attitudes, and personalities

Conflict is not necessarily bad.

Conflict can be constructive if it

· Forces important issues into the open

· Increases the involvement of team members

· Generates creative ideas for the solution to a problem

Conflict can be destructive if it

· Diverts energy from more important issues

· Destroys morale of teams or individual team members

· Polarizes or divides the team

Destructive conflict can lead to win-lose or lose-lose outcomes, in which one or both sides lose, to the detriment of the entire team.

If you approach conflict with the idea that both sides can satisfy their goals to at least some extent (a win-win strategy), you can minimize losses for everyone.

For the win-win strategy to work, everybody must believe that

· It’s possible to find a solution that both parties can accept

· Cooperation is better for the organization than competition

· The other party can be trusted

· Greater power or status doesn’t entitle one party to impose a solution

Conflict can be resolved through

· Proactive management: deal with minor conflict before it becomes major conflict

· Communication: get those involved with the conflict actively involved in resolution

· Openness: Get feelings out into the open before dealing with main issues

· Research: Get the facts before attempting a resolution

· Flexibility: Don’t let anyone lock into a position before considering all possible solutions

· Fair play: Insist on a fair outcome that doesn’t hide behind rules

· Alliance: Unite the team against an “outside force” instead of each other

When attempting to overcome irrational resistance, try to

· Express understanding

· Bring resistance out into the open

· Evaluate others’ objections fairly

· Hold your arguments until the other person is ready for them

Section 2: Collaborating on Communication Efforts

Learning Objective 2: Offer guidelines for collaborative communication, identify major collaboration technologies, and explain how to give constructive feedback.

When teams collaborate, the collective energy and expertise of the various members can lead to results that transcend what each individual could do otherwise.

However, collaborating on team messages requires special effort.

Guidelines for Collaborative Writing

In any collaborative effort, team members coming from different backgrounds may have different work habits or priorities, for example

· A technical expert to focus on accuracy and scientific standards

· An editor to be more concerned about organization and coherence

· A manager to focus on schedules, cost, and corporate goals

Remember that the ways in which team members differ in writing styles and personality traits can complicate the creative nature of communication

To collaborate successfully, follow these guidelines:

· Select collaborators carefully

· Agree on project goals before you start

· Give your team time to bond before diving in

· Clarify individual responsibilities

· Establish clear processes

· Avoid composing as a group

· Make sure tools and techniques are ready and compatible across the team

· Check to see how things are going along the way

Technologies for Collaborative Writing

Among the simpler collaboration tools are group review and editing features in

· Word processing software

· Adobe Acrobat (PDF files)

· Web-based document systems such as Google Docs

More complex solutions include content management systems that organize and control the content for many websites (particularly larger corporate sites).

A wiki is a website that allows anyone with access to add new material and edit existing material.

Key benefits of wikis include

· Simple operation

· Freedom to post new or revised material without prior approval

This approach is quite different from a content management system, in which both the organization of the website and the work flow are tightly controlled.

Chapter 8 addresses wikis in more detail.

Groupware is an umbrella term for systems that let people simultaneously

· Communicate

· Share files

· Present materials

· Work on documents

Cloud computing expands the ways in which geographically dispersed teams can collaborate.

Shared workspaces are “virtual offices” that

· Give everyone on a team access to the same set of resources and information

· Are accessible through a web browser

· Control which team members can read, edit, and save specific files

· Can allow only one person at a time to work on a given file or document to avoid getting edits out of sync

· May include presence awareness

The terms intranet (restricted internal website) and extranet (restricted, but with outside access) are still used in some companies.

Social Networks and Virtual Communities

Social networking technologies are redefining teamwork and team communication by helping erase the constraints of geographic and organization boundaries.

In addition to enabling and enhancing teamwork, social networks have numerous other business applications and benefits (covered in Chapter 7).

Two fundamental elements of any social networking technology:

· Profiles—the information stored about each member of the network

· Connections—mechanisms for finding and communicating with other members

Most significant social network for business professionals is LinkedIn.

Virtual communities or communities of practice link employees with similar professional interests throughout the company and sometimes with customers and suppliers as well.

Social networking can also help a company maintain a sense of community even as it grows beyond the size that normally permits a lot of daily interaction.

Giving—and Responding to—Constructive Feedback

Constructive feedback, sometimes called constructive criticism, focuses on the process and outcomes of communication, not on the people involved.

Destructive feedback delivers criticism with no guidance to stimulate improvement.

When you give feedback, try to

· Avoid personal attacks

· Give the person clear guidelines for improvement

When you receive constructive feedback, try to

· Resist the urge to defend your work or deny the validity of the feedback

· Disconnect emotionally from the work and see it simply as something that can be made better

· Step back and consider the feedback before diving in to make corrections

· Don’t assume that all constructive feedback is necessarily correct

Section 3: Making Your Meetings More Productive

Learning Objective 3: List the key steps needed to ensure productive team meetings.

Well-run meetings can help you

· Solve problems

· Develop ideas

· Identify opportunities

Meetings are unproductive when they

· Wander off the subject

· Lack an agenda

· Run too long

Preparing for Meetings

To increase the productivity of meetings, prepare carefully:

· Identify your purpose—whether you need an informational or a decision-making meeting.

· Select participants whose presence is essential.

· Choose the venue and time and prepare the facility.

· Set the agenda.

· An effective agenda answers three questions:

· What do we need to do in this meeting to accomplish our goals?

· What issues will be of greatest importance to all participants?

· What information must be available in order to discuss these issues?

Conducting and Contributing to Efficient Meetings

Ensure a productive meeting by

· Keeping the discussion on track

· Following agreed-upon rules, including parliamentary procedure, if appropriate

· Encouraging participation

· Participating actively

· Closing effectively

In formal meetings, one person is appointed to record the minutes.

In small meetings, attendees often make their own notes on their copies of the agenda.

The minutes of a meeting summarize

· The important information presented

· The decisions made

· The people responsible for follow-up action

Section 4: Using Meeting Technologies

Learning Objective 4: Identify the major technologies used to enhance or replace in-person meetings.

Replacing in-person meetings with long-distance, virtual interaction can

· Dramatically reduce costs and resource usage

· Reduce wear and tear on employees

· Give teams access to a wider pool of expertise

Virtual teams have members who work in different locations and interact electronically through virtual meetings.

Basic teleconferencing involves three or more people connected by phone simultaneously.

Videoconferencing combines live audio and video letting team members see each other, demonstrate products, and transmit other visual information.

Telepresence is the most advanced feature in which the interaction feels so lifelike that participants can forget that the person “sitting” on the other side of the table is actually in another city.

Web-based meeting systems combine the best of instant messaging, shared workspaces, and videoconferencing with other tools such as virtual whiteboards that let teams collaborate in real time.

Technology continues to create intriguing opportunities for online interaction:

· Online brainstorming allows companies to conduct “idea campaigns” to generate new ideas from people across the organization.

· Some companies are experimenting with virtual worlds such as Second Life; employees can create their own character (known as avatars) and can attend meetings, training sessions, sales presentations, and other activities.

· Other virtual worlds more closely simulate real-life facilities (e.g., Figure 2.7).

Section 5: Improving Your Listening Skills

Learning Objective 5: Identify three major modes of listening, describe the listening process, and explain the problem of selective listening.

Effective listening

· Strengthens organizational relationships

· Enhances product delivery

· Alerts the organization to opportunities for innovation

· Allows the organization to manage growing diversity

· Gives you a competitive edge

· Enhances your performance and influence within your company and industry

Recognizing Various Types of Listening

You will become a more effective listener by learning to use several methods of listening:

· Content listening emphasizes information and understanding, not agreement or approval.

· Critical listening emphasizes evaluating the meaning of the speaker’s message on several levels (logic of the argument, strength of evidence, validity of conclusions, implications of the message, intentions of the speaker, and omission of any important or relevant points).

· Empathic listening emphasizes understanding a speaker’s feelings, needs, and wants (without advising or judging).

· Active listening means making a conscious effort to turn off their own filters and biases to truly hear and understand what the other party is saying.

Understanding the Listening Process

Most people aren’t very good listeners—in general, people

· Listen at or below a 25 percent efficiency rate

· Remember only about half of what has been said in a 10-minute conversation

· Forget half of that within 48 hours

· Mix up the facts when questioned about material they’ve just heard

The listening process involves five separate steps:

· Receiving

· Decoding

· Remembering

· Evaluating

· Responding

Overcoming Barriers to Effective Listening

Good listeners look for ways to overcome potential barriers.

Selective listening is one of the most common barriers to effective listening.

Defensive listening—protecting your ego by tuning out anything that doesn’t confirm your beliefs or your view of yourself—is even worse.

To become a good listener, recognize and overcome potential barriers throughout the listening process:

· Avoid interrupting or creating nonverbal distractions that make it hard for others to pay attention.

· Avoid selective listening, in which you pay attention only to those topics in which you have an interest.

· Focus on the speaker (because people think faster than they speak, their minds tend to wander).

· Avoid prejudgment, and listen with an open mind.

· Avoid misinterpreting messages because of the lack of common ground.

· Don’t rely on your memory.

To remember material, you must first capture it in short-term memory, than successfully transfer it to long-term memory.

Use four techniques to store information in long-term memory:

· Associate new information with something closely related

· Categorize new information into logical groups

· Visualize words and ideas as pictures

· Create mnemonics

Section 6: Improving Your Nonverbal Communication Skills

Learning Objective 6: Explain the importance of nonverbal communication, and identify six major categories of nonverbal expression.

Nonverbal communication is the interpersonal process of sending and receiving information, both intentionally and unintentionally, without using written or spoken language.

Nonverbal cues affect communication in three ways:

· Strengthen a verbal message

· Weaken a verbal message

· Replace a verbal message

Recognizing Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication can be grouped into six general categories:

· Facial expression

· Gesture and posture

· Vocal characteristics

· Personal appearance

· Touch

· Time and space

Using Nonverbal Communication Effectively

To be a better speaker and listener, pay closer attention to nonverbal cues in every situation:

· Be aware of the cues you send when you’re talking.

· Be aware of the cues you send when you’re not talking (through clothing, posture, and so on).

· Be aware of the cues you receive when you’re listening.

If something doesn’t feel right, ask the speaker an honest and respectful question.

Section 7: Developing Your Business Etiquette

Learning Objective 7: Explain the importance of business etiquette, and identify three key areas in which good etiquette is essential.

Etiquette is now considered an essential business skill.

Poor etiquette can

· Destroy morale and drain productivity

· Drive away customers, investors, and other critical audiences

· Limit your career potential

Business Etiquette in the Workplace

Workplace etiquette includes a variety of behaviors, habits, and aspects of nonverbal communication.

Personal appearance may be thought of as an element of etiquette and sends a strong signal to managers, colleagues, and customers.

Personal appearance guidelines include

· Matching your style of dress to the situation

· Dressing modestly and simply

· Paying close attention to cleanliness and avoid using products with powerful scents

· Following company policy regarding hairstyle

· Smiling genuinely at appropriate times

Mobile phones can be disruptive, and some employers have banned or restricted their use.

Your phone habits say a lot about how much respect you have for the people around you.

Disrespectful choices that will reflect negatively on you:

· Selecting obnoxious ring tones

· Talking loudly in open offices or public places

· Using your phone right next to someone else

· Making excessive or unnecessary personal calls during work hours

· Invading someone’s privacy by using your camera phone without permission

· Taking or making calls in restrooms and other inappropriate places

· Texting while someone is talking to you

· Allowing incoming calls to interrupt meetings or discussions

Business Etiquette in Social Settings

When meeting people, learn about their cultural customs beforehand.

When introducing yourself, include a brief description of your role in the company.

When introducing two other people, remember to

· Speak both their first and last names clearly

· Offer some information to help them ease into a conversation

· Introduce the lower-ranking person to the senior-ranking person

When conducting business over a meal, be sure that you

· Choose foods that are easy to eat

· Avoid ordering alcoholic beverages or save them until after business is concluded

· Leave business papers under your chair until entrĂ©e plates have been removed

· Avoid using your cell phone in public

· Choose topics of conversation carefully (avoid politics, religion, other emotional topics)

· Avoid going overboard when chatting about personal interests

· Don’t complain about work

· Avoid profanity

· Avoid deeply personal questions

· Be careful with humor

Business Etiquette Online

Learn the basics of professional online behavior to avoid mistakes that could hurt your company or your career. Here are some guidelines to follow:

· Avoid personal attacks

· Stay focused on the original topic; don’t hijack threads

· Don’t present opinions as facts, and support facts with evidence

· Follow basic expectations of spelling, punctuation, and capitalization

· Use virus protection and keep it up to date

· Ask if this is a good time for an IM chat

· Watch your language and keep your emotions under control

· Avoid multitasking while using IM and other tools

· Never assume privacy

· Don’t use “reply all” in email unless everyone can benefit from your reply

· Don’t waste others’ time with sloppy, confusing, or incomplete messages

· Respect boundaries of time and virtual space

· Be careful with online commenting mechanisms


Solving the Case of the Missing Team

Students’ answers will most likely vary. Those who place the good of the organization before themselves will agree with the colleague who stated the goal of the team was to solve a problem for the company and not seek personal recognition. Those who are most interested in advancing their own careers, as the person described in the story, will most likely agree that Mueller behaved in an unethical manner. You might want to ask students if Mueller had taken one minute to introduce each team member to the board, would they be satisfied with his decision.


Whose Skin Is This Anyway?

1. Students will no doubt have a range of opinions on this matter, and those opinions will be influenced by their experiences as employees and as consumers and by their relative depth of perspective in matters of business. Any considered response to this question needs to include context and common sense, however. For example, one would be hard-pressed to mount a strong defense for body art and other appearance choices that openly clash with the brand image and customer experience that a company is spending thousands or millions of dollars to create and protect. Employees who choose to work in customer-facing positions are “constrained” in other ways as well (they most likely aren’t allowed to swear or smoke in front of customers, for example), so on the face of it, having stricter standards of appearance for these employees does not seem unreasonable.

2. This question is more nuanced that the previous issue, but again it comes down to a matter of context and common sense. A building supplies wholesaler and a bank might both cater to a clientele fond of body art, brand message and customer experience mean two different things to these two businesses.


Individual Challenge

This is a chance for students to demonstrate an understanding of resolving conflict and the purposes of collaborative writing. Of the choices offered in the text, calling her on the phone might be the best means to contact her. Dropping by her office unannounced allows for the possibility that she will not be able to meet with you and this might leave you frustrated, sending an email eliminates your vocal characteristics and increases the chances that she might misinterpret your message, and inserting a sarcastic comment on the wiki not only avoids the problem but also allows the firm to see your comments.

Remember the rules for resolving conflict:

· Proactive management

· Communication

· Openness

· Research

· Flexibility

· Fair play

· Alliance

When considering the form of your message, students should make sure to discuss the benefits of collaborative writing but not patronize their colleague; rather, they should make sure that she knows they appreciate the interactive nature of the wikis and her attention to their postings, but that they’re noticing she’s making several changes that don’t seem necessary.

Team Challenge

The guidelines developed by the team should incorporate the following points about collaborative writing that apply to this scenario:

· Restate the agreed upon project goals

· Clarify individual responsibilities (this will help others realize that the grammatical and mechanical errors will be corrected before the final report is submitted)

· Remind everyone about the process that was established at the beginning of the project

· Reassess whether the group even needs to be writing together


1. Few activities in business today are the sole focus of a single individual, so successful teamwork is vital to virtually everything a company does. Even individual salespeople who travel from customer to customer outside the office rely on a support staff to coordinate schedules, provide customer service, and help with other tasks. Similarly, marketing and research teams rely on feedback from the salespeople. Moreover, many tasks are just too large for any single person, and many others require input and insights from multiple employees. As a result, successful teams can improve productivity, creativity, employee involvement, and even job security.

2. Groupthink is the willingness of team members to set aside personal opinions and values to go along with the rest of the team, because belonging to the group seems more important than making the right decision. Groupthink can lead to poor-quality decisions and ill-advised actions, sometimes inducing people to act unethically.

3. Employees and companies can take advantage of social networking technologies by erasing the constraints of geographical and organizational boundaries, as well as enabling and enhancing teamwork.

4. Wikis tend to have fewer rules and procedures and lower skills requirements than formal content management systems, so companies choose them when fast, flexible, low-cost collaboration is important.

5. The advantages of virtual meetings are lower costs and resource usage, reduced wear and tear on employees, and access to wider pools of expertise than might be willing or able to attend meetings and job teams in person.

6. The listening process consists of receiving (actually hearing the message), decoding (assigning meaning), remembering (storing the message for future reference), evaluating (weighing the ideas), and responding (reacting to the message).

7. Someone using content listening is trying to understand and retain the speaker’s message. Someone using critical listening is trying to understand and evaluate the meaning of the speaker’s message. Someone using empathic listening is trying to understand the speaker’s feelings, needs, and wants and to appreciate his or her point of view.

8. An individual can communicate nonverbally through the use of facial expression, gesture and posture, vocal characteristics, personal appearance, touching behavior, and time and space.

9. Etiquette is important for multiple reasons. Teams rely on frequent, sometimes constant, interaction between members. Without some attention to etiquette, members can start to resent one another. At the very least, that resentment can create distractions, and in the worst cases, it can create dysfunctional behavior. Poor etiquette can also drive away customers, investors, and potential business partners. At a personal level, it can be severely career-limiting, for the simple reason that few people want to work with or for ill-mannered louts.


1. Answers will vary, but students should recognize the opportunity to turn the conflict into a constructive means for bringing important issues into the open, increasing the involvement of other team members, and generating creative ideas for solving a problem.

2. In the email message, students should discuss the benefits of social networking (e.g., connecting people across organizational boundaries) and how networking technology is an essential element of the network organizational structure.

3. Nonverbal communication can reinforce the points you’re trying to make in the meeting (or it can interfere if it clashes with your words). For example, a meeting leader might reinforce a call to order by standing up to say “Let’s begin.” Other nonverbal signals include using hand gestures and changing voice tone to emphasize topics, nodding to show approval, or raising an eyebrow to indicate reservations. Nonverbal signals also regulate the flow of conversation. For example, to discourage an out-of-turn speaker, depending on the culture, such signals might include facially expressing interest or boredom, covering lips with a finger, or frowning. At the same time, a motion of the hand or widening curious eyes could encourage a speaker to continue.

4. Students should recognize the different, sometimes vastly different, contexts of in-person and online communication. Online communication is a leaner medium, with fewer visual cues, so it doesn’t support the level of immediate feedback that helps keep emotions and behaviors in check during in-person conversations. Online media create a certain emotional distance that can lull people into forgetting that another human being is on the other side of the conversation. And, of course, if people are communicating online anonymously, the potential for rude behavior skyrockets as people feel free to engage in unsocial behavior in the belief that their hidden identities renders them immune from consequences.


1. Before even preparing for a meeting, make sure it’s absolutely necessary. Once you’re sure it is necessary, identify your purpose, select participants for the meeting, choose the time and prepare the facility, and set the agenda. Once you’re in the meeting, be sure to keep the discussion on track, follow agreed-upon rules, encourage participation, participate actively, and close effectively.

2. This situation invites students to acknowledge that gestures can be just as important as facial expressions since they can also influence the reception of a message. Since communication is a simultaneous process, the fact that the audience can see the speaker but the speaker can’t see the audience allows for a potential breakdown since the speaker is unable to receive the audience’s nonverbal reactions to his or her message.


Message for Analysis

Students should examine the sample agenda in Figure 2.4 and then reorganize and reword the information provided in the exercise to create a well-organized agenda. Here’s one suggested agenda:

Budget Committee Meeting
December 12, 2013, 9:30 a.m.
Conference Room 3

I. Call to Order

II. Approval of Minutes from Previous Meeting (5 minutes)

III. Director Reports

A. Real estate director’s report: A closer look at cost overruns on Greentree site (10 minutes)

B. Finance Director’s Report on Quarterly Revenues and Expenses (15 minutes)

IV. New Business

A. Discussion of Cost Overrun Issues (20 minutes)

B. Discussion of Additional Quarterly Budget Issues

C. Presentation of Divisional Budget

V. Announcements

VI. Adjournment


1. In the presentation, students should discuss challenges such as how to ensure that employees present a positive image of the organization through the messages they send. The exercise provides a good opportunity to analyze how the team negotiated the process of developing the presentation and agreeing upon content, organization, and other aspects.

2. This exercise challenges students to prepare and deliver arguments in support of their viewpoints, and then set those viewpoints aside in order to evaluate all of the arguments objectively. Emphasize the process of dealing with conflict in constructive ways without allowing it to hinder the progress of the team.

3. Although this member’s response indicates he wants to be seen as playing a task-facilitating role, he actually seems to be playing a self-oriented role. Students may offer a variety of ways to deal with this situation. For example, next time the member calls for a vote prematurely, the student—who is the leader—can politely intervene and suggest that the vote be postponed until all members have had their say.

4. Encourage students to implement the guidelines for effective collaborative writing listed in the chapter. At least one team is likely to attempt writing as a group. If so, having them describe the experience is a helpful way for everyone in the class to gain a better understanding of the challenges associated with attempting to do so.

5. This exercise gives students the opportunity to imagine their responses to an uncomfortable situation when they probably have little personal or positional power to deal with it. This group is clearly dysfunctional, so students need to consider this larger context as well—do they really want to fit in with this group, or perhaps just “go along to get along” long enough to find another position? Looking for opportunities to quietly lead by better example is another avenue to consider. There is also the important matter of compromising one’s personal values, given that at least one of the behaviors described (taking credit for others’ ideas) is unethical. A workable solution under the circumstances could be to take a bolder and more aggressive approach to being heard, without compromising one’s ethics or resorting to rudeness.

6. This exercise gives students an opportunity to practice listening, observing nonverbal cues, and critiquing a group in action. To answer the questions, students will have to pay attention to a number of things occurring at the meeting. By comparing notes with a partner, students will see that a person’s own background and listening skills influence the type and content of the notes he or she takes. What is obvious to one person may be worth noting to another. Similarly, poor listeners tend to have superficial notes.

7. Students should try to be as inclusive as possible, without making the situation unreasonably uncomfortable. Consider two options: They might ask the speech-impaired person to team up with one or more other employees and let that team report as a unit. Or they might provide an alternative way for this person to communicate during meetings, such as overhead slides or flip charts. Most important, since this communication challenge surely exists outside formal meetings, students may suggest working closely with the person to explore ways to help him or her contribute to the department’s work flow.

8. In addition to providing an opportunity for collaboration, this exercise encourages students to take an audience-centered approach to a topic with which they are likely to be very familiar. The teams should look beyond simple textual instructions or static maps and explore options such as video, animation, or even GPS waypoints.

9. The objective here is to stimulate self-analysis. The following list of listening problems should spark discussion:

· Prejudging the subject as boring

· Reacting to a speaker’s style

· Overreacting to certain ideas or words

· Listening only for facts

· Trying to take notes on everything

· Faking attention

· Succumbing to distractions

· Tuning out difficult material

· Planning a rebuttal while the speaker talks

· Jumping ahead of the speaker; presuming the next point

10. This assessment provides students with information about their listening skills. If you choose to discuss the results of the self-assessments in class, be sure to ask students to identify instances of selective listening, prejudgment, and selective perception.

11. Students will discuss how nonverbal messages need not be human gestures; they also include the appearance of written messages. Students will consider how letter and memo quality is often judged first by overall appearance. You may want to refer students to Appendix A for a discussion of the importance of formatting and laying out business documents.

12. Many of these movements can be interpreted several ways, but the exercise leads students to think more clearly about how nonverbal cues influence their communication attempts. Particularly, the list should give students more insight into how they can learn from watching their audience while speaking. They might interpret the movements as follows:

a. May indicate nervousness, disagreement with what’s being said, boredom, or simple physical discomfort

b. Could be a nervous reaction or simply an ingrained personal habit

c. Conveys a lack of respect—for the speaker and for oneself

d. Skepticism, doubt, disbelief, or in some cases, an exaggerated negative commentary on a speaker’s message, perhaps as a display for the benefit of others

e. Lack of confidence, shyness, and weakness

For the second part of the exercise, students may elaborate with a general discussion of the ways in which such nonverbal cues sometimes reinforce a speaker’s words and meaning and sometimes offer conflicting and therefore confusing signals. Students might also mention that our response to nonverbal cues is often unconscious; that is, we interpret them almost as automatically as we express them. Thus, differing cultural norms of nonverbal behavior can easily cloud communication.

13. This scenario should help students recognize the importance of keeping one’s emotions under control. The boss’s failure to notify employees is thoughtless—and demonstrative of poor project management, to boot—but expressing anger or frustration in the voice-mail message will accomplish nothing. Students should phrase their messages in a way that puts the company’s interests above personal frustration or inconvenience. Since the meeting is with an important client, making sure it is successful is clearly in the company’s (and the boss’s) best interest.

14. Students’ memo should address the following points:

· Etiquette is now considered an essential business skill. Nobody wants to work with someone who is rude to colleagues or an embarrassment to the company.

· Shabby treatment of others in the workplace can be a huge drain on morale and productivity.

· Poor etiquette can drive away customers, investors, and other critical audiences—and it can limit one’s career potential.

· Students should also include the etiquette advice included in this chapter.


Chapter 3: Communicating in a World of Diversity


Understanding the Opportunities and Challenges of Communication in a Diverse World
The Opportunities in a Global Marketplace
The Advantages of a Diverse Workforce
The Challenges of Intercultural Communication
Developing Cultural Competency
Understanding the Concept of Culture
Overcoming Ethnocentrism and Stereotyping
Recognizing Variations in a Diverse World
Contextual Differences
Legal and Ethical Differences
Social Differences
Nonverbal Differences
Age Differences
Gender Differences
Religious Differences
Ability Differences
Adapting to Other Business Cultures
Guidelines for Adapting to Any Business Culture
Guidelines for Adapting to U.S. Business Culture
Improving Intercultural Communication Skills
Studying Other Cultures
Studying Other Languages
Respecting Preferences for Communication Style
Writing Clearly
Speaking and Listening Carefully
Using Interpreters, Translators, and Translation Software
Helping Others Adapt to Your Culture


Section 1: Understanding the Opportunities and Challenges of Communication in a Diverse World

Learning Objective 1: Discuss the opportunities and challenges of intercultural communication.

Diversity includes all the characteristics and experience that define each of us as individuals.

Merck identifies 19 separate dimensions of diversity in its discussions of workforce diversity.

Intercultural communication is the process of sending and receiving messages between people whose cultural backgrounds could lead them to interpret verbal and nonverbal signs differently.

The Opportunities in a Global Marketplace

Two trends contribute to the importance of intercultural communication: advances in economic globalization and the increasing diversity of the workforce.

Chances are you’ll be communicating across international borders sometime in your career:

· Local markets are opening to worldwide competition.

· You’ll face cultural and language barriers among customers and employees.

The Advantages of a Diverse Workforce

Many innovative companies have changed the way they approach diversity, from being a legal requirement to provide equal opportunities to being a strategic opportunity:

· Connecting with diverse customers

· Taking advantage of the broadest possible pool of talent


· Brings a broader range of viewpoints and ideas

· Helps companies understand and identify with diverse markets

· Enables companies to tap into a wider range of employee talents

The Challenges of Intercultural Communication

Diversity can affect employee behavior on the job, which presents challenges to

· Supervisors (communicating with diverse employees, motivating them, and fostering cooperation and harmony among them)

· Teams (working together closely)

· Companies (coexisting peacefully with business partners and the community as a whole)

Cultural diversity affects how business messages are conceived, planned, sent, received, and interpreted in the workplace.

The interaction of culture and communication is so pervasive that separating the two is virtually impossible.

Culture defines many aspects of communication, including the

· Meaning of words

· Significance of gestures

· Importance of time and space

· Rules of human relationships

Culture influences the ways in which one encodes and decodes messages. The greater the difference between cultures, the greater the chance for misunderstanding.

Misunderstandings arise when

· Senders encode messages based on the assumptions of their own culture, and

· Receivers decode those messages based on the assumptions of their culture(s)

Section 2: Developing Cultural Competency

Learning Objective 2: Define culture, explain how culture is learned, and define ethnocentrism and stereotyping.

Cultural competency includes

· An appreciation for cultural differences that affect communication

· The ability to adjust one’s communication style to ensure that efforts to send and receive messages across cultural boundaries are successful

You are already an expert in your own native culture, which

· Is positive, because you understand how your culture works and how people are expected to communicate

· Is potentially negative, because your communication habits are based on your own culture, so you rarely think about how cultural influences you

An important step toward successful intercultural communication is becoming more aware of the rules imposed by your own culture and of how those roles influence your communication.

Understanding the Concept of Culture

Culture is a shared system of symbols, beliefs, attitudes, values, expectations, and norms for behavior.

Your cultural background influences

· The way you prioritize what is important in life

· Helps define your attitude toward what is appropriate in a situation

· Establishes rules of behavior

You belong to multiple cultures, e.g., country, ethnic, religious, professional.

Understand three characteristics of culture:

· Cultures are automatic; that is, people learn culture directly or indirectly from other members of a group—whether they are explicitly told which behaviors are acceptable or they learn by observing which values work best in a particular group.

· Cultures tend to be coherent; that is, they are fairly logical and consistent throughout.

· Cultures tend to be complete, providing most of their members with most of the answers to life’s big questions.

Overcoming Ethnocentrism and Stereotyping

Ethnocentrism is the tendency to judge all other groups according to your own group’s standards, behaviors, and customs.

Xenophobia is a more extreme reaction—actually fearing strangers and foreigners.

Stereotyping is assigning a range of generalized attributes to an individual on the basis of membership in a particular culture or social group, without considering the individual’s unique characteristics.

Cultural pluralism is the practice of accepting multiple cultures on their own terms.

Try to overcome ethnocentrism and stereotyping by cultivating a few simple habits:

· Avoid assumptions

· Avoid judgments

· Acknowledge distinctions

Be aware that overcoming ethnocentrism and stereotyping is not a simple task, even for people who are highly motivated to do so.

Section 3: Recognizing Variations in a Diverse World

Learning Objective 3: Explain the importance of recognizing cultural variations and list eight categories of cultural differences.

Cultural variations include differences in perceptions of

· Context

· Legal and ethical matters

· Social matters

· Nonverbal communication

· Age

· Gender

· Religion

· Ability

Contextual Differences

Cultural context is the pattern of physical cues, environmental stimuli, and implicit understanding that convey meaning between two members of the same culture.

To convey meaning in high-context cultures (such as Japanese, Chinese, Arab, Greek, Mexican, Spanish), people tend to rely less on verbal communication and more on the context of nonverbal actions and environmental setting to convey meaning.

In high-context cultures:

· The rules of everyday life are rarely explicit, so individuals learn how to recognize situational cues and how to respond as expected.

· The primary role of communication is building relationships, not exchanging information.

To convey meaning in low-context cultures (such as Germany, Scandinavia, U.S., Canada, England, France), people tend to rely more on verbal communication and less on circumstances and cues.

In low-context cultures:

· The rules of everyday life are usually spelled out through explicit statements.

· The primary role of communication is exchanging information.

Contextual differences affect

· Decision-making practices

· Problem-solving techniques

· Negotiating styles

Communication tactics that work well in a high-context culture may backfire in a low-context culture and vice versa.

Legal and Ethical Differences

Contextual differences also affect legal and ethical behavior.

Low-context cultures tend to

· Value the written word

· Consider written agreements binding

· View the law strictly

High-context cultures tend to

· Put less emphasis on the written word

· Consider personal pledges more important than contracts

· View the law with more flexibility

Keep intercultural messages as ethical as possible by applying four basic principles:

· Actively seek mutual ground.

· Send and receive messages without judgment.

· Send messages that are honest.

· Show respect for cultural differences.

Social Differences

Rules of social etiquette may be formal or informal:

· Formal rules are specifically articulated.

· Informal rules are usually learned over time as people watch and imitate how others are behaving.

Social norms vary and affect the following areas:

· Attitudes toward work and success

· Roles and status

· Use of manners

· Concepts of time

· Future orientation

· Openness and inclusiveness

Nonverbal Differences

Nonverbal communication can be considered reliable only when the sender and receiver assign the same meaning to nonverbal signals.

Enhance your nonverbal communication across cultures by observing the way people behave in these areas:

· Greetings

· Personal space

· Touching

· Facial expressions

· Eye contact

· Posture

· Formality

Age Differences

Communicating between a youth-oriented culture and a seniority-oriented culture can require flexibility on both sides.

Today’s workplace can have as many as three or even four distinct generations working side by side:

· The Radio Generation (born 1925 to 1945)

· Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)

· Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980)

· Generation Y (born after 1981 to 1995)

· Generation Z (born after 1996)

Gender Differences

The perception of men and women in business varies from culture to culture

Gender bias can range from overt discrimination to subtle and even unconscious beliefs

The percentage of management roles held by men increases steadily the further one looks up the corporate ladder

Whatever the culture, evidence suggests that men and women tend to have slightly different communication styles. Speaking in very broad terms:

· Men tend to emphasize content in their communication efforts

· Women tend to emphasize relationship maintenance in their communication efforts

Religious Differences

Religion in the workplace is a complex and contentious issue—and it’s getting more so every year, at least as measured by a significant rise in the number of religious discrimination lawsuits.

Companies vary widely in how they approach the subject and their policies for allowing religious activities and expressions at work.

Ability Differences

Colleagues and customers with physical or cognitive disabilities that affect communication represent another important aspect of the diversity picture.

Companies can use assistive technologies to help people with disabilities interact with computers and colleagues.

Designers can also emphasize web accessibility, taking steps to make websites more accessible to people with limited vision.

Section 4: Adapting to Other Business Cultures

Learning Objective 4: List four general guidelines for adapting to any business culture.

Adapting your approach is essential to successful intercultural communication.

Guidelines for Adapting to Any Business Culture

There are four general guidelines that can help all business communicators improve their cultural competency:

· Become aware of your own biases

· Ignore the “Golden Rule”—treat people how they want to be treated, not how you want to be treated

· Exercise tolerance, flexibility, and respect

· Practice patience and maintain a sense of humor

Guidelines for Adapting to U.S. Business Culture

Businesspeople adapting to U.S. business culture should keep several points in mind:

· Individualism. U.S. culture expects individuals to succeed by their own efforts, and it rewards individual success.

· Equality. Equality is considered a core American value.

· Privacy and personal space. Americans expect a fair amount of privacy and personal space.

· Time and schedules. U.S. business values punctuality and the efficient use of time.

· Religion. Many religions are practiced throughout the country, and people are expected to respect each other’s beliefs.

· Communication style. Communication tends to be direct and focused on content and transactions, not relationships or group harmony.

Section 5: Improving Intercultural Communication Skills

Learning Objective 5: Identify seven steps you can take to improve your intercultural communication skills.

Improve your intercultural communication by

· Studying other cultures and languages

· Respecting preferences for communication styles

· Learning to write and speak clearly

· Listening carefully

· Knowing when to use interpreters and translators

· Helping others adapt to your culture

Studying Other Cultures

Effectively adapting your communication efforts to another culture requires not only knowledge about the culture but also both the ability and the motivation to change your personal habits as needed.

When learning about another culture, you don’t need to

· Learn about the whole world all at once—many companies appoint specialists for specific countries or regions, giving employees a chance to focus on just one culture at a time

· Learn everything about a culture—even a small amount of research will help you grasp the big picture

Try to approach situations with

· An honest effort

· Good intentions

· An interest in learning more about other cultures

To learn as much as you can about traveling and working in specific cultures, check out

· Websites

· Books

· Newspapers, magazines, music, and movies of another country

Studying Other Languages

Successful businesspeople commonly have multilingual skills, but different countries emphasize the need for language diversity to different degrees.

Many companies are teaching their English-speaking employees a second language to facilitate communication with co-workers.

Learning the basics of the language spoken by your colleagues or customers

· Helps you get through everyday business and social situations

· Demonstrates your commitment to the business relationship

Don’t assume that two countries speaking the same language speak it the same way.

Respecting Preferences for Communication Style

Communication style varies widely from culture to culture and, among other factors, includes the

· Level of directness

· Degree of formality

· Preferences for written versus spoken communication

In international correspondence, U.S. businesspeople should probably be more formal than they would be when writing to people in the United States.

Writing Clearly

To write more clearly when communicating across cultures, try to

· Choose words carefully

· Be brief

· Use plenty of transitions to help readers follow the flow

· Address international correspondence properly

· Cite numbers and dates carefully

· Avoid slang, idiomatic phrases, and business jargon

· Avoid humor and references to popular culture

Speaking and Listening Carefully

When communicating with people whose native language is different from yours, get insight into speaking more effectively by remembering what it’s like trying to listen in th

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