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“Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people”    

~Jim Rohn                          

Communication must be “clear, concise and focused. It helps everyone stay on target” (Laureate Education, 2009). This week’s focus is on the importance of effective communication in the workplace. While this course emphasizes the role of the project manager, this week’s topic of communication spreads out to really include all of the members of the team. Without communication, a project can quickly become chaotic influencing deadlines, roles and responsibilities, budget, and ultimately the finished product. So what is effective communication?

Dr. Stolovitch notes that “Effective communication is affected by:

  • Spirit and attitude
  • Tonality and body language
  • Timing
  • The personality of the recipient” (Laureate Education, 2009).

To test our skills in communication, we were presented the same message in three very different formats-email, voicemail, and face-to-face conversation. The task was to read and/or listen to the message and note the characteristics of each format, interpret the message, and determine which message best conveyed the meaning or delivered the message most effectively. This is what I discovered:

  •  Email relies strictly on written communication; therefore it is often hard to read the tone, personality, and attitude of the sender. Dr. Stolovitch states, “Written communication should begin with a clear purpose, state the situations, include possible solutions, and specify the form that the response is required to take” (Laureate Education, 2009). In the email example provided in this week’s resources, communication is formal, and there is  a clear concise message of urgency presented with a requested action revealing that the situation is of great importance to the sender.
  • Voicemail is a better alternative when you are wanting to follow-up on a situation or if you want to ensure a quick response. Many people may not frequently check email or may have too many emails to respond in a timely manner. Voicemail allows the sender to use their tone to stress urgency and more effectively communicate in most cases. Spirit and attitude, tone, and personality can be presented more clearly in a spoken manner than in written correspondence.
  •  In most cases, face-to-face conversation is the most effective means of communication. The greatest reason for this is the use of body language. Body language represents the attitude of the speaker. “93% of communication is not in words” (Laureate Education, 2009) but rather in the accompanying factors such as tone, body language, and attitude that more effectively tell the true meaning of the situation.
  • This week’s task was a little hard to figure out in regards to the most effective message. Instinctively, I would almost always argue that face-to-face conversation is the most beneficial. However, the email and voicemail stressed importance and urgency in the message, whereas the face-to-face message was much more conversational than I would have thought. The speaker in the face-to-face conversation was very friendly and polite, and she seemed a little more nonchalant than in the previous messages. If the intention of the communication was to come across as urgent, then the email and the voicemail were more effectively communicated than the face-to-face conversation. However, we must keep in mind that in the face-to-face conversation, the recipient has the opportunity to ask questions for clarification, the speaker can assure objectives are clear, and an agreement can be reached all in one conversation without the various updates through correspondence required when communicating through email or voicemail. Live conversations should be documented in writing to ensure even better results.

“Communication is a skill that requires the exchange of information in a way that it creates a common understanding of an idea, expectation or an opinion. And good communication means one that has achieved its goal of making your audience understand what you have tried to convey.” (Velagapudi, 2012).

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References:

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2009). Project management concerns: Communication strategies and organizational culture. [DVD]. Baltimore, MD.

Velagapudi, M. (2012, June 26). 6 tips for good communication practices in projects. Retrieved May 23, 2013, from blog.bootstraptoday.com: http://blog.bootstraptoday.com/2012/06/26/6-tips-for-good-communication-practices-in-projects/

 

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Comments on: "Communicating Effectively" (3)

  1. Chrystal McDonald said:

    Lori,

    The photo that you added to the blog has added to the comprehension of your post. The email does present a sense of urgency. Is there a manner of distributing this information through the same format and obtaining an effective outcome? In the voicemail and face to face, you revealed that the tone participated in the receiving of the message. What, if any thing, could she have added to these venues in order to ensure the message is clear? Furthermore, you stated that the face to face appeared to be more conversational or causal. What should change in order to create a professional tone?

    Chrystal

  2. Hello Lori,

    As I was reading your post, it came very clear to me that effective communication is much like an Instructional Designer changing a synchronous instructor-led training to a asynchronous online training. You need to make sure you are engaging your audience in the right fashion and getting the key points across. My conclusion is that you can not necessarily have the same exact message presented in an email, voice mail, or video or the audience might not grasp the purpose, urgency, or other meaning behind the content.

    Janice Horoschak

  3. Lori,

    Good post; I think you make some compelling arguments. And I agree with you about face-to-face… most of the time. There are sometimes though, when I want my receiver to have a chance to think about something before they respond so sending an email is a preferred mode. Then, there are other times when I need to give someone a quick “heads up” on something; voice mail allows me to add more tonal modulation in delivery and requires less effort than face-to-face. I also have times when I do not want face-to-face as I want to avoid a confrontation or other issues that might be lurking. Learning how to use the various modalities is critical for us in our project communications.

    Rob

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