Communicating Effectively

This week in class we are discussing effective communication and for this assignment we are to observe a single piece of communication delivered in three different modalities. As we observe each modality we are to record are interpretations of the message.

The first modality was an email. The message to me sounded like Jane was asking Mark about when he will have a report to her. Her message comes off as nice but pleading, she tells mark she needs the report but never demands it from him. In the message she gives him options about how he can send her the report and says to let her know when he thinks he can get it to her and does not state “I need this document by this date and time”. Jane comes off as nice but possibly to nice especially if she needs Mark’s report ASAP.

The second modality was voicemail. In the voicemail Jane said the exact same content but this time she came off as more sincere and not pleading or overly nice. The message to me sounded like she was stating her knowledge that Mark might not be free the day she called but if he could send the report soon because she needs it to finish her own. In this modality Jane comes off as less overly nice and more nice but pressured by time constraints, almost as if she is restraining herself from demanding Mark to send the report soon.

The third modality was face-to-face. The face-to-face conversation was very similar to the voicemail. Jane comes off as in a rush but not demanding. She points her finger when talking but does not point it at Mark as if restraining herself. She seems anxious to get the report but does not want to offend or “boss” Mark around. Other than the finger pointing she comes off very laid back with he hands resting on the cubicle and not crossed over her chest or other dominant body gestures. Her tone as before is calm but has a hint of anxiety as if she wants to say “I need that report now!” but is holding back.

How did your interpretation of the message change from one modality to the next?

My interpretation changed as how I viewed Jane, in the email Jane just seemed like a nice lady who wanted a report soon but I did not feel as if she had to have it immediately. In the voicemail and the face-to-face I interpreted Jane’s message as that she needed the report as soon as I had time to send it to her. She came off as pressured and in need of a quick response but restrained and trying to not come off as demanding or bossy.

What factors influenced how you perceived the message?

I think for me the biggest influences were the tone of voice and body language. The email had very little content that implied emotion and it was hard to sense how Jane felt in the email. Her voicemail made it clear by her voice that Jane was in need of the report and soon but understood Mark had been busy. Her body language only reinforced the notion of pressured but restrain and helped me understand that she really needed that report but she wanted to make sure she came off in a nice way.

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

Voicemail seemed the best choice for this scenario. The voicemail was able to deliver the correct emotional signals and made Jane sound sweet but rushed. The voicemail would be my choice mainly because it saves time compared to a face-to-face meeting. Jane could send the voicemail and wait for a call back or the report instead of walking to Mark’s desk and hoping he was around.

What are the implications of what you learned from this exercise for communicating effectively with members of a project team?

I learned that each modality should be used for different types of communication. I feel email is useful for everyday communication items such as meeting notes, memos, and non-important messages. Voicemail is a great tool for more important information or possibly information in need of a quick response. Voicemail also helps you choose how you come off by the way you talk and the volume of your voice. Lastly, a face-to-face chat is important if you want to talk about very important matters. The face-to-face chat is a great place to convey important information that could possibly get looked over in an overly long email. You need to be careful with face-to-face meetings because it either takes you away from your desk or it takes the recipient away from their desk. A face-to0face is also a gamble if you do not know the other persons schedule, you may arrive at that person’s desk only to find out he or she is sick that day or in a meeting. Face-to0face is a great modality but it needs to be used sparingly.

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8 thoughts on “Communicating Effectively

  1. Daniel,

    In your interpretation of the voicemail, you did an excellent job at paying attention to to the subtle details. The inflection in her voice does show her emotions Mark.

    I see and understand your point that the voicemail showed her eagerness to finish her part of the report, but I wonder if the face-to-face meeting would be the best choice? The reason I ask that question is because a face-to-face, ad hoc meeting will show her emotion and force Mark to respond to her request. Ad hoc team meetings address specific issues that arise during a project and will clarify issues and what the intended outcome will be (Portny et al., 2008).

    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.

  2. rosa.gallardo@waldenu.edu says:

    David,
    Your analysis of the three modalities of communication is accurate. When we give people options to choose from, we may create confusion and doubt. The best way is to be clear, concise, and focus on the subject matter (Laureate Education, n.d.) when you send a message, independently of the modality of communication. If you need the report, ask for it. If you need data, ask for them. In any case, you must avoid ambiguity (Portny et al., 2008). Other important characteristics in team communication are the following: coworkers must “exhibit integrity and trustworthiness in your daily interpersonal conversations and actions,” (Heathfield, n.d.), and set up and meet deadlines. Therefore, Mark may risk his reliability.
    References
    Heathfield, S.M. (n.d.). 10 Simple Secrets of Great Communicators. Retrieved from http://humanresources.about.com/od/interpersonalcommunicatio1/qt/10-simple-secrets-of-great-communicators.htm
    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.

  3. rosa.gallardo@waldenu.edu says:

    Daniel,
    Your analysis of the three modalities of communication is accurate. When we give people options to choose from, we may create confusion and doubt. The best way is to be clear, concise, and focus on the subject matter (Laureate Education, n.d.) when you send a message, independently of the modality of communication. If you need the report, ask for it. If you need data, ask for them. In any case, you must avoid ambiguity (Portny et al., 2008). Other important characteristics in team communication are the following: coworkers must “exhibit integrity and trustworthiness in your daily interpersonal conversations and actions,” (Heathfield, n.d.), and set up and meet deadlines. Therefore, Mark may risk his reliability.
    References
    Heathfield, S.M. (n.d.). 10 Simple Secrets of Great Communicators. Retrieved from http://humanresources.about.com/od/interpersonalcommunicatio1/qt/10-simple-secrets-of-great-communicators.htm
    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.

  4. Great Analysis Daniel!
    You said in the analysis portion of your post that ” face to face is a great modality but it needs to be used sparingly.” According to the text face-to face communication is very beneficial. This allows the PM to know that the intended person received the message, it allows the receiver to clarify intent right away and it allows for the participants to pick up non-verbal cues. But if the face-to face was something that was very important then the PM should “confirm in writing the important information that was shared in informal discussions” (Portney et. al.)
    If there is a real need for ongoing face-to face, then the PM may consider using more formal meetings with all of the relevant team members. “Meetings can be valuable, if they are planned and managed effectively.”(Portney et. al.)

    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.

  5. Karyn DeFouw says:

    Daniel,
    Great job in interpreting the differences in the different modalities. I agree with you that hearing the voice and seeing the body language is an important part of communications. I also stated in my blog that these were the differences. I said that I thought face-to-face communication is the best modality if you are able to meet. I like that you chose voice mail as it is more convenient, but still gives the true meaning of the message.

  6. Krista says:

    Daniel,

    Great job on your communcication reflection. I interpreted the three modalities in a completely different way. This is proves how differently we all perceive communication depending on the venue used. I felt that Jane was very matter of fact in her email as if shed needed the report right away. I got the feeling that she was not interested in working together but rather came across as a little pushy in her request. I also felt that Jane was much friendlier in her voice mail and face-to-to-face communication as I could hear her tone in the voice mail and body lanugage in the face-to-face communication. It was refreshing to read your blog post as project managers we need to make sure to enforce positive communication amongst ourselves and team.

    Krista

  7. Daniel great job. My reaction pretty much mirrored yours with respect to the voicemail and in-person modalities. Where we differed slightly was the interpretation of the email tone. You stated “the email had very little content that implied emotion and it was hard to sense how Jane felt in the email” but the email was where i felt the most tension. The emotion behind it was hard to discern for me but I did seem to sense some irritation because she pretty much repeated the pressing need fro Mark to act. But as Krista pointed out, we do all perceive tone/intent differently.

  8. I agree that each of the modes should be used appropriately. I was on one job where the department manager liked to have daily face-to-face meetings. Half of the time, the meetings got off track and we started talking about recent movies or TV shows. Of course a major part of our client list worked in VFX, but I think our time could have been used more wisely with much of the information being conveyed by email.

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