On average, managers send and receive 178 messages every day of their working lives, while their secretaries handle even more. If this load increases without proper management, it may eventually lead to a “communications gridlock”.

Managing information

Knowing how to communicate effectively is crucial to the success of organizations everywhere, as well as to your own peace of mind. There is a wide choice of communication tools available for modern businesses, and information can be transmitted efficiently using systems such as e-mail or fax. To minimize stress when using electronic systems, allocate sufficient time to send and reply to letters and messages, or try to delegate these tasks. Keeping on top of correspondence and processing information improves your efficiency at work and reduces stress. Good communication will also encourage a fast response from others.

Communicating effectively

Methods of communication should be tailored to the audience and the situation. In the case study discussed here, Mary felt that writing a memo was an inappropriate way of informing Bill of the situation. Telling him in a one-to-one meeting that he was valued, and giving him hope of a promotion in the future helped to minimize the stress of not being promoted.

Case study

Mary, a departmental manager, had to decide between two internal candidates for a vacancy. She considered both to be capable, but felt that Joe had the edge over Bill.

Instead of just appointing Joe and letting Bill hear the news from other sources, Mary arranged a meeting with Bill before announcing Joe’s appointment. Mary felt that a written memo or e-mail, however tactfully composed, was the wrong way to communicate her final decision to Bill, and would intensify any stress that he was feeling. She explained the reasons behind her decision, emphasizing that Bill was a valued employee, that the decision had been difficult, and that Bill would be positively considered for promotion in the future. As Bill appreciated Mary’s honesty and accepted her explanation, he did not feel bitter, undervalued, or resentful towards Joe and Mary.

Cultural differences

To communicate effectively in business worldwide, it is essential that you are aware of cultural differences. In Britain and the US, for example, you may be able to drop in to see someone “on spec”. In Asia, however, where communication in business is less open and more formal, it would be more appropriate to arrange your meeting properly in advance.

Keeping up to date

Video conferencing

People all over the world can participate in the same meeting by using a video link. This saves time and travel expenses.


Electronic mail allows you to correspond using your computer. It is the fastest and most effective way to send messages and documents worldwide.


An Internet link provides immediate access to information on every imaginable subject (a registration fee may be required). The data can be down-loaded and saved on to your computer.

Working together

Communicating with colleagues within a work hierarchy can be stressful. Minimize stress by:

Talking openly

Face-to-face meetings, such as impromtu meetings between two colleagues, are often more productive than written memoranda.

  • Communicating and discussing issues face to face whenever possible, to establish good working relationships;

  • Consulting frequently with colleagues and other teams to get their input;

  • Listening to what other people are saying, even if you do not agree with what is said;

  • Criticizing people’s ideas constructively.


Do not overload people with information that they do not need.


Keep a log of messages that require a reply. Follow them up.


Write faxes and letters early in the day – your communication skills will deteriorate as you tire.

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