The comparison of written vs oral communication is ages old. Communication skills affect your ability to be understood and to understand others, establish positive relationships, and perform your job well. Both these modes of communication offer its own advantages.
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In a formal organisation, written communication is the most important media for conveying ideas, information etc. Written message includes reports, policies, rules, statistical data, newsletters, memo, procedures, handbook, bulletin boards and house newspaper etc. Written communication save time and money and can be retained as legal records and reference source.
A written communication has the advantage of being easily verified and of being more precisely defined if there arise a need for subsequent correction. The lengthy and complicated messages are better understood if they are put in writing.
Drawbacks of Written Communication:
An organisation cannot function without written communications of various kinds, yet by far the greater percentage of information is communicated orally. It has been observed that managers spend 60 to 80 per cent of their work time in oral communication. Oral communication has the merit of being more rapid. Spoken messages cannot always be verified so easily.
Generally, the spoken word is a quicker and less complicated way of getting one’s ideas across another person. Again, it offers the potential of two-way information flow, and therefore less possibility of misunderstanding the communication. The creation of a less formal atmosphere and generation of fellow feelings are the additional advantages brought about through oral communication. However, the oral communication is not entirely free from defects. It is less effective as a means of presenting complicated and lengthy data. It is also subject to misinterpretation and the effects of barriers arising from interpersonal relationships.
Examples of oral communications are conferences, committee meetings, telephone conversation, loudspeaker announcements, etc
Can you determine which of the two, oral or written, is a better means of communication? The choice between the two is determined by the situation. However, the use of both together will very often strengthen and reinforce a message. The material in your hand is the written communication which will be fortified subsequently through oral communication in the counselling sessions or educational TV programmes.
If you have time and resources, we recommend you to read Chapter on Communication from Organizational Behavior by Robbins. However this is purely optional since we have explained the basic difference.
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