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.