The Art of Effective Communication

This week I was tasked with reading, listening, and then watching a short video and then to share a synthesis of my thoughts regarding what the three methods of communication imply about communication within a project team. The three methods of communication (email, voicemail, and video) discuss Jane’s concern that she may miss a report deadline if she does not receive Mark’s input promptly. In this blog post, I will provide my interpretation of each form of communication, followed up with how these three similar but different communication techniques can help project team members communicate more effectively with others in the future.

Email

Jane’s email is a form of formal communication in the fact that it is “preplanned and conducted” (Portny et al., 2008). The email delivers Jane’s sincere concern when she asks Mark’s how long his report will take to finish in order for Jane to meet her report deadline. In her email, Jane establishes an eager attitude to finish her report while at the same time firmly ensuring Mark understands that he is holding her up.

Voicemail

While the voicemail does show a calm tone, Jane definitely seems more worried that Mark has not finished his portion of the report. Jane’s inflection gets higher when she says, “I really need an ETA on the missing report” which demonstrates a formal communication tone. Jane’s voicemail in my opinion is both formal and informal because even though her intent is to formally warn Mark of his actions thus far, a voicemail is informal in nature due to the fact that there is no way to track whether or not Mark heard or received it. Jane should “confirm in writing the important information that was shared in informal discussions” (Portny et al., 2008).

Face-to-Face

In the F2F video recording, Jane’s demeanor is definitely friendlier than the email and voicemail because she smiles more. Her face does turn to a more serious demeanor as she lets Mark know she may miss her deadline if he does not provide her with a portion or the whole report.

Lessons Learned

The “Art of Communication” lesson has provided a few valuable lessons to any member of a project team. The first lesson is no matter what the form of communication is (written, verbal, and/or non-verbal) everyone will interpret the form of communication differently. In this communication exercise, Jane is the “sender” of communication and Mark is the “receiver”. No matter what the tone and demeanor of the sender’s message is, the receiver is going to decode the meaning of the message in their own personal way. Understanding this concept, it is very important that the sender keep a message clear and concise and in a way to not offend or confuse the receiver of the message.

Another lesson learned from this communication exercise is any informal or verbal communication should always be followed up with a written message as Portny et al. states, “Clearly describe any actions that people should take… minimizing the use of technical jargon and acronyms… and to carefully document all action items developed at the meeting and assign responsibility for their completion”.

Reference

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 “The Art of Effective Communication

  1. dwjanicki

    Joseph,

    I find it interesting are different opinions on the tone of the message in the different modalities. I felt That Jane seemed friendlier in the email and steady seemed more rushed and anxious in the voice mail and face-to-face conversation. I agree with you that “No matter what the tone and demeanor of the sender’s message is, the receiver is going to decode the meaning of the message in their own personal way.” I feel that this is why we as PMs need to remember that “a project manager isn’t a technician, you’re a diplomat” (Laureate). We need to make sure that are messages are being revived correctly and not taken negatively. You need to craft a message with the receiver in mind and make sure you do not say anything that might offend or anger them. It is a tough line to learn and walk but if you can do it then you will be a great PM.

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

    Reply
  2. davidsmith42014

    Joseph,
    I liked how you explained all three styles of communication and how each one is different. I would like to add on the face-to-face communication that we also have body language going on. Both Mark and Jane can see how each other is reacting to the conversation. I think this bring it to a new level of communication because you not only get the voice you also get the body language. This alone Jane could tell if Mark understands her concern about getting either the report or the data so she can finish her report on time.

    Reply
    1. R M Wilcox

      Great analysis Mike. Your closing with the need to follow up important verbal communications with a written message is very important. Having meeting minutes, e-mails and even handwritten notes has been a lifesaver for me many times over the years.

      When I saw the assignment, my foregone conclusion was that the f2f mode of communication would be the most effective based on previous communications courses taken. However, in retrospect I felt that the voicemail was just as effective as the f2f mode. Was this due to the fact that the f2f mode was filtered through my notebook system and I could not directly experience the nuanced, contextual expressions of Jane, or am I becoming someone who prefers aural modes of communication due to age or life experience? This is a rhetorical question so no need to answer, but feel free to comment.

      Reply
  3. rosa.gallardo@waldenu.edu

    Joseph,
    In the process of process of communication, there some factors involved: sender, message, media, receiver, noise, and feedback. The following contains a graphic of the communication process: http://www.mybusinessprocess.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/The-Communication-Process-4.jpg
    I agree with you. The sender’s message has to be clear, concise and focus on the subject matter (good encoding). Also the sender must avoid noise, such as grammar and mechanics mistakes, jargon, and acronyms that may interfere in the decoding of the receiver. The media is another important aspect in communication. As a member of a team, I would follow the ways of communication established in the project, as well as the best way (verbal or written communication) of communicating with a particular member.
    -Rosa

    Reply
  4. Sriya Krishnamoorthy

    Dear Mike,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts this week. You make some excellent points about choosing the right communication mode for the message you wish to convey. While face-to-face communication may be appropriate, if presented at an awkward or inopportune time, a message could be received poorly or discounted. However, Warrell (2014) suggests that too often individuals use email to hide and avoid personalized communication. In this scenario, where a request is being made, I feel email is the most appropriate. This acknowledges that Mark knows his responsibility to complete the task, but serves as a quick reminder without being obtrusive or disrespectful of Mark’s time. I welcome any additional thoughts that you may have.

    Best,
    Sriya

    Reference
    Warrell, M. (2012, August 27). Hiding behind email? Four times you should never use email. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/margiewarrell/2012/08/27/do-you-hide-behind-email/.

    Reply
  5. Karyn DeFouw

    Mike,
    Thank you for your interpretation of the messages. It is interesting how many people have different impressions. I suppose this is the point. In my blog, I stated that I thought that F2F communications was the best method because we could see the body language and hear the tone of voice. I think it is true that when sending an important message, it should always be done F2F if possible. I like your point of sending an email to confirm the message also.

    Reply
  6. ericbronley

    Mike,
    Truly great post sir. I felt much more informed on the subject that when I did my own post. What caught my eye was your point about no matter what form of communication you use, the person or person’s you are trying to communicate with will interrupt the information their own way. This can cause serious issues that I have seen when someone feels they sent a great message out but on the other end someone took offense thinking they were in trouble or the sender was being rude. Careful consideration of the written communication, plus having someone proof read it would be an even better safety net so that you can get someone’s opinion before sending.
    Thank you
    Eric

    Reply

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