Effective Communication

“The key to successful project management is effective communication—sharing the right messages with the right people in a timely manner” (Portny, et al., 2008, p. 357). Effective communication is perhaps a subjective concept. What works well in one circumstance may not work well in another. This could also hold true from situation to situation.

The three messages this week left me with different interpretations when I progressed through them. My impressions changed further after listening to each message then replaying the previous messages and comparing them.

My impression of each message

Email – there was a muted sense of urgency. It was clear that the information was required, with haste. However, I did not feel as if the information was being demanded immediately. The wording was more formal than the face to face message and the words were chosen carefully in order to minimize misunderstanding (Portny, et al., 2008). Duthler (2006) posits that “electronic mail allows communicators more control over planning, composing, editing, and delivering messages than face-to-face communication” (p. 501). Duthler argues that this control might lead to communicators creating more polite speech. This explains why the content of the emails appears very polite. The precise and unambiguous nature of the message should further understanding (Laureate Education (Producer), n.d.).

Voicemail – vocalics and paralanguage communicate the urgency to provide the requested document. In my opinion, Jane sounds very mechanical on the recording. This is likely because when communicating via voicemail communicators can rehearse but cannot make changes to the message once recorded. This mechanical sound could be due to the dissonance between the plan and actual performance as well as the need to manage speech cues.

Face to face – Tone, pace and body language used in the face to face message gave me the impression that the message was not as urgent as the email and voicemail implied.

Which form of communication best conveyed the true meaning and intent of the message?

I had a hard time deciding which one method best conveyed the true meaning and intent of the message. I felt both the voicemail and email adequately conveyed the intended message. However, in actuality, I would perhaps first make contact via telephone or face to face then send an email to follow-up. Dr. Stolovitch suggests important communication is best delivered live (Laureate Education (Producer), n.d.). He further notes that these should be documented.

Lessons learn from this exercise

Communication is critical to the continued success of projects and other business activities. This activity highlighted how different media can be interpreted and misunderstood. The prevent misinterpretation of my communication I should utilize more than one medium. First I should always seek to communicate in person then use emails or other forms of formal written communication to document what was said and when (Laureate Education (Producer), n.d.).

References

Duthler, K. W. (2006). The politeness of requests made via email and voicemail: Support for the hyperpersonal model. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 11(2), 500-521.

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Communicating with stakeholders [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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7 thoughts on “Effective Communication

  1. Camille,

    It is fascinating to see how others interpret messages. I read a lot into emails and decide the tone in which it was written. As individuals, we filter messages through our own perceptions and experiences (Ertmer & Newby, 1993). As we have seen in our examples, two out of the three ways of communicating are missing certain visual and auditory cues. As we all did, we infer the mood and personality of Jane when we do not have all the pieces. The more senses that we use to receive messages, the better the communication can be understood (Simonson, Smaldino, and Zvacek, 2015). I, personally, liked the face-to-face experience the best as I was able to full understand what Jane’s tone was. If I was given the email version, by itself, I would have been glad to not have spoken with her. When I get a message like that at work, there is usually anger on the other end. Email, in my opinion, is a quick way to get rid of anger.

    Steve

    References

    Ertmer, P.A., & Newby T.J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance improvement quarterly. 6(4)50-71.

    Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). In Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

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  2. Camille,

    Your take on the mechanical sound of Jane’s voice was quite different than my take. I went back to listen again. I believe my feeling from the email reading made me react the way I did. I can see your point, but I still believe Jane was too informal in the voicemail considering the professional nature of the scenario. I agreed with Dr. Stolovich’s message that live delivery is preferred, but documentation is still necessary, as you pointed out. Thanks for your post and different viewpoint. It is always interesting to see how the same messages can be interpreted so uniquely.

    Michael

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    • Hi Mike,

      I find the varying responses to the messages intriguing. I realized our views were all influenced by our perspective and even our past experiences. We infer meaning based on our assumptions, right or wrong though they may be. I think it is like reading a book. I’ve read several books that became motion pictures and was truly disappointed in the outcome. I found that my mental image and the “reality” portrayed in the film were worlds apart.

      Camille

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  3. Hello,

    Communication is the vital to success in anything we do. If the message is misinterpreted it can change the intended pace of any project. I agree with you about Jane not communicating effectively how important the data was to her. Also she did not stress the importance of receiving the information in a timely manner. She told Mark, that he could send the information as soon as he could. With that being said, she most likely will miss her deadline because Mark may feel like it can wait. I also feel that she should have communicated with Mark over the phone or in person if possible then follow up with an email. This way Mark would understand the importance of the information that he has for the project. The ability to communicate well, both orally and in writing, is a critical skill for project managers (Portny, et, al 2008).

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  4. Hi Camille,

    Your opinion on Jane’s voicemail made me smile when you mentioned that she sounds mechanical. I find voicemails can cause a relationship to build or break by the way it is received. Jane sounds quite calm but yet she does not sound as if she really wants the report. This gives Mark some options whether to listen to it, act on it, or delete it. She expresses the informal way of communication although it is only Mark she is communicating to. Portny et al (2007)warns that “Project managers must take care not to rely on these informal interchanges to share thoughts about all aspects of the projects because they often tend to involve only a small number of people…” (p. 357)
    Stacia

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  5. Camille, when you stated: “Effective communication is perhaps a subjective concept,” I could not agree with you more. After reading the rest of our colleague’s blog postings, it shows that everyone has their own interpretation of which communication method was most effective given the example. The more I read the various blog interpretations of this exercise, the more I gain a different perspective and the more I understand why each person choose what they did. In your blog you mentioned that the voicemail sounded mechanical while in my opinion I detected the urgency Jane was attempting to portray. It takes me back to your saying that communication is subjective in that you did not pick up the same cues as I did. We both interpreted each medium differently which resulted in differing opinions this week.

    In addition, what about other factors that we were not privy to? For example, if the email was sent using Microsoft Outlook, did Jane include blind CC, read receipts or sent the message with high importance? For the face-to-face conversation, did Jane initiate this following the directive of the project manager who is aware of Mark’s lapse and suggested this as a next step before holding an official meeting?

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  6. Dear Camille
    I agree that her voice mail message sounded almost mechanical. There was no voice modulation at all. Her in-person appearance was even worse, very casual in contrast with the urgency of her email. As Dr. Stolovich (n.d.). points out, verbal and non-verbal cues are important in effective communication.
    Nevillle

    References

    Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.a). Communicating with stakeholders [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

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