Communicating Effectively

Posted: March 16, 2012 in Uncategorized
Interpretation of each Modality

My interpretation of the message from the email to the face-to-face modality changed quite a bit.  The email was the hardest modality to get a feel for.  There were only words to interpret.  When I read the email, I felt Jane was angry with Mark, and that she was not asking Mark for the report, but telling him.  She seemed pushy in the email.  When Jane says, “ I might miss my own deadline if I don’t get you report soon”, I took that as rushing Mark to finish the report and get it sent to her immediately (The Art of Effective Communication, n.d.).

The voicemail was a bit easier for me to interpret because it had audio, and you could her the tone Jane uses.  According to Stolovitch (n.d.), effective communication is influenced by the tone of the conversation (or voicemail).  Jane still seemed concerned about the report, but she seemed more understanding in the fact that Mark has been in an all day meeting, and did not have a chance to send the report.  You could tell from Jane’s tone that she is more worried about meeting her own deadline, and then she is about meeting the actual deadline.  She knows she will get the report; she just wanted to remind Mark.

The face-to-face modality was much easy to interpret because you could read Jane’s body language as well as her tone.  Effective communication is also influenced by body language, and Jane’s body language was relaxed (Stolovitch, n.d.).  I felt as though Jane’s body language was relaxed because she was leaning on the divider with her arms comfortably resting on top of the divider (The Art of Effective Communication, n.d.).   She is not shouting or talking fast, and she is not pacing around the office.  Those would both tell me that she is frustrated, upset, and possibly worried about the deadline.  She seems more understanding of Marks busy schedule.

The True Meaning

The true meaning and the intent of the message were conveyed best through the face-to-face modality.  Being able to look Jane in the eyes, hear her tone, and read her body language gave the message its true meaning.  The intent of the message was not to be demanding, and it was not meant to rush Mark.  It was simply intended to remind Mark, once he finished his meeting.  When Jane and Mark’s project roles were assigned, they agreed to share the responsibility of the report, something Portny et al (2008) lists as a guideline to follow when assigning project roles.  With this responsibility comes the need to be held accountable.  Jane and Mark have made a promise to each other and the success of the project may depend on their shared responsibilities (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, & Sutton, 2008).

Implications

It is important to consider the words, tone, and body language used when trying to communicate effectively with other members of your team.  When it comes to email, you need to make sure you select words that do not unintentionally give team members the wrong message.  Keep the tone “business friendly and respectful” (Stolovitch, n.d.).  I would use email to communicate minor details, and information that will not get misinterpreted.  Use email to ask questions and check up with the team.  Voicemail would be a more appropriate avenue for communicating needs, problems, or failures.  I would still prefer to meet face-to-face, but that is not always possible.  You can still get a good sense of the messages tone through a voicemail though.  It would be ideal to meet face-to-face every time a problem or concern arises.  According to Stolovitch (n.d.), it is best to communicate important information to the team when they are all present.  When working with a team, it is important to remember how the message was delivered.  Communicate with your team to clear up the intent of the message.

References

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.

Stolovitch, H. (n.d.). Communicating with stakeholders (multimedia program).  Laureate Education Inc.

The art of effective communication (multimedia program).  Laureate Education Inc.

 

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Comments
  1. devinvail says:

    Hi Jordan,

    very clear, logical post. However I am left with the thought that, like the flattening of the earth, and the approach to online learning we are studying, modes of communication are in the process of changing too. I agree that face to face is in many ways ideal in terms of getting to the bottom of an issue or clarifying a task. However, as in education we are leaving the traditional face to face classroom behind, so in communication we will get better and better at working together effectively without physical proximity.

    Do you share my enthusiasm? Or do you consider this idea ultimately unrealistic from a human standpoint? Do you think there are similarities between the issues that arise in distance learning, and those in “distance working?”

    – Devin

  2. peggywalden says:

    Nice post Jordan and I completely understand what you have stated in regards to face-to-face communication being the best way to deliver important information. I can read Devin’s response above as I type this comment now and I also see his point of view. Allow me to offer a few questions and to play the devil’s advocate.

    1. I do agree with Devin’s point that F2F communication may no longer be an option as teams begin to work from distances. How do you think conflict is resolved in teams that are dispersed by distance? Do you think it may be useful and/or valuable to include a communications protocol in the SOW for each form of communication?
    2. I almost find it amusing that we consider F2F communication as being the most effective form; however, we are encouraged to document in writing every passing conversation that involves discussion regarding the project and decisions. Do you imagine that we may some day hold out a recording device to capture spoken words in a digital or electronic form and then embed them into our documentation?
    3. To play devil’s advocate, I am curious what others might think if it had been disclosed that Mark never created the report Jane needed in the first place but was simply claiming to have lost it. Do you think Jane would have been as calm in her inquiry? How does it make you feel when others communicate information falsely in order to cover up their own mistakes?

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