Theories of Business Communication

A company opts for the communication style that it believes works best.
A company opts for the communication style that it believes works best. (Image: business team 9 image by Paul Moore from <a href=''></a>)

Business communication--the exchange of information and ideas in an organization--takes many forms. Communication is a necessity for every business. The style that a particular company uses is a significant part of its corporate culture. These styles range from top-down strategies to more egalitarian approaches that involve employees more fully in communicating.


Until the 1980s, a top-down style of communication prevailed in the United States and Western Europe. In this system, communications start with a senior manager who presents information to a junior manager, who then gives the information to a supervisor, who informs the line worker. Those at the end of the line had little input into decision-making.


A more recent emphasis is multi-flow communication that empowers all employees, explains In an organization using multi-channel or multi-flow communication, information flows in a variety of ways, from top to bottom, from bottom to top, and from side to side.


One theory of business communication includes team briefings and discussions, email exchanges, meetings and informal communications. When a company incorporates a multi-channel approach to business communication, it uses various channels to impart information. Multi-disciplinary groups are created--teams whose members can draw on their expertise in a specific area. The teams are empowered to make decisions instead of waiting for orders from above.


Upward communication, the opposite of top-down communication, encourages feedback from the lower level to higher levels. This makes it possible for managers to gather ideas from those at the grass-roots level of the organization.


Another theory of business communication is sideways communication, in which those at the same level in the company exchange ideas.


For business communication to be successful there must be a qualified sender, regardless of where he ranks in the business hierarchy; an absence of "static" that interferes with hearing the message; and a recipient who is open to the message. When the recipient acts on the information that has been conveyed to him, the communication is considered a success.

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