Posts Tagged ‘communication’

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Can you hear me now, Spock?  For our EDUC 6145 Project Management course assignment this week we observed the effectiveness of a message that was presented using three different modes of communication — Email, Voicemail, and Face-to-face (presented as a video simulation).  For the project manager, indeed all team members, communication is the key to success (Portny et al., 2008).  As Dr. Stolovich states, the project manager must approach communications with diplomacy because “communication is not just words” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).  How you say something is more important than the words you use!  In fact, 93% of how a communication is received is related to the following influences (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010):

  •      Spirit & Attitude
  •      Tonality & Body Language
  •      Timing
  •      The personality of the recipient

Choosing how and when to communicate can “influence one another’s attitudes, behaviors, and understandings” (Portny et al., 2008, p. 357).  Communication may be formal, informal, written, audio, face-to-face, individually, or in groups (meetings) (Portny et al., 2008), but important information should be shared in a live format “with all team members present” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).  When communication is focused, clear, and concise it helps team members “stay on target” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).  Perhaps the poor bloke below could have benefited from the physicians having more effective communications!

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On to our experiment!  As I stated in the intro, we observed a multimedia presentation which included the communication of the same message via email, voicemail, and simulated face-to-face video.  My notes of the observation of each are documented below.  I will begin with the medium that seemed most effective and end with that which seemed least effective.  The basic message is from Jane who is in need of a report from a team member, Mark who has missed his deadline.  Jane’s ability to successfully complete her work is dependent upon receiving Mark’s report/data or she will fail to meet her own deadline.

Face-to-face

In the face-to-face example, Jane seemed very effective in communicating her message.  Her demeanor was casual, calm and relaxed and she was clear about what she needed and the degree of importance, while maintaining great eye contact and a friendly smile.  She was personable and respectful, and even acknowledged Mark’s busy schedule which was a great way to approach him without pointing fingers and playing the blame game.  In addition the tone of her voice was pleasant  and non-threatening.  All of these factors can have an effect on the way a message is received and  can influence the degree to which the recipient is persuaded to respond appropriately to the request.  Assuming that Mark is a reasonable person and a professional, conscientious employee, I suspect that he likely responded quickly to provide Jane with the information that she needed.  Heck, he may even have apologized for holding up her work.

Voicemail

I found the voicemail message to be a little bit annoying.  Jane’s tone of voice seemed a little whiny and demanding and I heard a sense of urgency, perhaps because she spoke rather quickly (to my ear).  Although the script of the voicemail was almost identical to the face-to-face script, I perceived less emphasis on the lines that acknowledged how busy Mark had been and more on what Jane needed, and the fact that she needed it right away.  The message was still clear however.

Email

Oy vay.  Email is often such an inferior mode of communication, due to the lack of cues related to body language, tone of voice, cadence, emphasis, etc., leaving much of the interpretation of the message up to the recipient.  Emails sometimes seem so utilitarian and stark, which may be beneficial for simple, factual information that must be shared.  But beyond that, communication by email is not as effective as more personal modalities.  Email does not provide a realiable touchy-feely, human contact component.  Also, the lack of vocal tone and physical cues that are present in face-to-face, and to a lesser degree voicemail, can affect the clarity of the message.  I found that I had to read this message closely a couple of times just to be clear on what was being asked.  I suspect that Mark may or may not respond to Jane’s request in a timely manner, perhaps as a result of the lack of personal contact.  In this way,  emails may be less persuasive than other, more personal, forms of communicating.  Plus, how many times have you misinterpreted the tone of voice of an email, or had someone misinterpret yours?  Risky business, this email stuff.

Finally…

A topic that I did not see discussed as a part of our curriculum this week, and one that I personally value, is the use of humor.  According to an article about humor as a communication skill, author Janelle Gilbert stated that, “The clever and appropriate use of humor is a great way to improve communication, reduce stress, help people think creatively, reduce the fear of making mistakes, improve morale, build stronger relationships, alleviate boredom…and more!” (2012, July 13).  When used well, humor can put people at ease and give them a spike of feel-good hormones which may make them easier to work with, so having great funny-skills is a bonus!

Enter— Savage Chickens!

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References

Gilbert, J. (2012, July 13). Great communication skills: Do’s and don’ts of using humor at work. [Blog entry]. Retrieved January 23, 2014 from http://www.cgwa.com/2012/07/13/great-communication-skills-dos-and-donts-of-using-humor-at-work/

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Communicating with stakeholders. [Video webcast].

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.