Life by Design

Communicating Effectively

Posted on: November 17, 2010

 

These days, we all have so many options for how to relay a message to one another.  We can employ email, text messages, Instant Messages; voice mail and good old f2f visits.  Each person has a preference of how they prefer to receive information, especially at the work place.   In working on a project that involves team collaboration, it is especially important to learn the preferences of your teammates and key stakeholders of your project.

 

This blog assignment was interesting as we heard the same essential message delivered in three different styles:  email, voice mail and an f2f visit (filmed as a video).  As I went through the exercise, it was interesting to note the various reactions I had based on the venue of the communication.  Overall, I interpreted the message to mean that a colleague needs some important information from me that appears to be late, missing and if obtained, could help her meet a work deadline of her own.

 

I preferred the email text format the best and I felt it relayed the essential meaning of the message the best of the three choices.  I experienced a level of respect for what my time demands might be in light of the request of the message sender.  The email option made it easy for me to get the missing data to her in a separate email.  I felt the email was friendly, respectful and to the point.  I like email as I can access it when I have the time in a focused way and I can keep a digital paper trail of the conversation.  I can also re-read the email if I have questions or need to review directions or a special request.

 

The voice mail simulation gave the impression that the communication was more direct and less friendly than the email.  The sender struck me as a very direct person, with little to no humor and a lack of ‘human touch’.  Her tone of voice made it seem that her needs were more important than what I have been facing in my own work life.

 

The f2f meeting as simulated by a video seemed most negative to me.  I noticed the gal pointing her finger at times.  There was little attempt to engage me in a friendly manner and her Cheshire style grin at the very end felt insincere and ill timed.  Why didn’t she start with a smile and a friendly, ‘Hello? Is this a good time to talk with you?”

 

Clearly, content and tone are very important in communication.  The flat tone of the voice on the voice mail was a turn off.  I felt degrees of judgment and blame in the voice mail and f2f communication.

 

The implications of my personal learning in this exercise has led me to understand the value of understanding what kind of communication my teammates and stakeholders prefer, and to communicate my preferences as well.  Everyone will have his or her own preferences.  With voice mail and f2f visits, you get the added benefit of seeing body language and hearing tone of voice, which may or may not be pleasant!

 

References

 

Stolovitch, H. (2010), “Communicating with Stakeholders”.  Laureate Education, Inc. Video production.

 

Stolotvitch, H. (2010). “Project Management Concerns:  Communication Strategies and Organizational Culture”.  Laureate Education, Inc. Video Production.

 

 

 

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9 Responses to "Communicating Effectively"

Hi Deborah-

I always find it interesting how people can hear and/or see the same message, yet have a different perception of it. After I read your post, I went back and reviewed the video again. That is when I paid close attention to what you pointed out about the woman pointing her finger and her smile that seemed insincere. I had not interpreted those actions when I watched the video the first time. However, after viewing it again, I can see how those actions could be interpreted as negative.

I also agree that she should have started with a ‘Hello’, ‘Good Morning/Afternoon’, and asked if he had a minute. That has always been a pet peeve of mine…someone approaching me without first greeting me. I remember one of the faculty doing that to me when I first started working for this department, and I interrupted him and told him “a Good Morning” would be nice. He never approaches me without first greeting me now!

I think that this assignment truly demonstrates not only our perceptions of the methods of communication, but also our preferences. As you mentioned, we all have our preference in how we like to communicate. At work, my communication is typically f2f because it is a small office, so it is easy and convenient. However, when it comes to dealing with co-workers that work on our main campus, I typically use email and rarely use voicemail. Like you, I like the option of keeping a ‘trail’ of the communication, as well as having the option to refer back to it if needed.

Regardless of our preference, we just need to keep in mind what Dr. Stolovich stated in one of this week’s videos regarding the influences of effective communication (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.):

•Spirit and attitude
•Tonality and body language
•Timing
•Personality of recipient

Thank you for sharing your insightful perceptions!

References:

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Communicating with stakeholders [Multimedia]. Project Management in Education and Training. Retrieved from Week three resources.

Hi Karen,

I like the 4 points you bring up towards the end of your post above. Isn’t it amazing how much more receptive we are to a new task when our boss is in a good mood, and combines the message of the task with a positive comment about our work performance etc.? For me, it makes all the difference in the world about my desire to jump in and help!

Deborah:

The communication method I thought would have worked best in this situation was first, an in-person message, and then a follow-up to that communication with an email.

The problem I have with using the face-to-face modality is there is no way to document that the conversation took place. However, with email, there is a paper trail, as you stated. This can come in especially handy if there is a dispute or disagreement between team members. According to Portny et al, you should “confirm in writing the important information that was shared in informal discussions” (2008, p. 357). This is why I think if an important message is delivered in person, it should be followed-up with an email. This way, the follow-up email indicates that a face-to-face conservation took place, and the email starts a paper trail of the communication.

Like you, I prefer communicating via email, especially at work. I find when people come to me in-person and interrupt me from what I am working on, I immediately feel annoyed. With email, I can decide when to read it and when to act on it, which is preferable to being interrupted.

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.

Hi David,

I’m with you….when I’m working on something especially tedious and my boss walks by with a whole new agenda on something else, it really derails my attention. I have also learned reacently, that my boss is so over committed, that she really doesn’t finish her thought process in a verbal meeting. After a verbal meeting, I will email her back with exactly what the said to me to verify I heard her correctly, and the email comes back with an additional page or two of additional information. Sure glad I asked if I got everything!

Hi Deborah
Knowing how to communication is the backbone of any online business. Since so many businesses are turning to the internet, it becomes more vital that we know how to express ourselves . F2F is change since our world is growing smaller. Now day, f2f can be a web conferencing call and/or live feed. Joel Falconer states, “Running an online business allows you to choose how communication is done… to make sure that communication is both efficient and effective by developing a skill for only communicating with clarity and purpose” (Falconer, 2010). We have to choose our medium, which would be email, phone, or f2f. Next, we choose our purpose and Clarity, which is making sure we are not misunderstood. Whether we use email, phone, or f2f, we have to know how to communicate.

I agree with you and David. I prefer communicating via eamil.
Patty

Reference
Falconer, J. (May 2010). Good Communication: The Backbone of an Online Business . Retrievced from http://freelanceswitch.com/freelancing-essentials/good-communication-the-backbone-of-an-online-business/

Hi Deborah,

You had a great post this week. I am in agreement with rest of my fellow students, I prefer email traffic also. I have found that I respond to written communications better. For some reason my mind doesn’t tend to focus on what people are saying. What I mean is that I get distracted to easily and tend to be a passive listener. I get accused of this often from my husband. Go figure, it is usally the husband that doesn’t listen…lol…Anyway, I find it easier to organize my thoughts when they are written than if engaged in a face to face conversation. That is one of the reasons why I think that I do so well in an online learning environment.

I do agree that you lose the emotional aspect in this written form, but I don’t think that I perceived the email sender to be abrasive or rude. When noticing the number of times that she mentioned the report, I could see here stressing her point.

Hi Crystal,

I agree that an email format is to the point, efficient and often can leave the emotions and sometimes politics out of the communication. I think that’s why I prefer it in addition to the other things I mentioned in my post. Also, as I’m getting older, being able to refer back to something someone said and *reread* the directions is really helpful!!

Hello Deborah,

I agree with regarding the importance of determining the preferred method of communication of your fellow project team members. It is one of those “obvious” things that we do not seem to “obviously” do.

Andrea

Very Interesting Post.
I actually considered the voicemail to have relayed the message the best. I thought her tone was positive but had just a slight hint of duress. I thought the email was much less personal but I agree that I much prefer to have a digital copy that I can review whenever I want and to maintain for future reference. I would definitely recommend a follow up phone call or f2f meeting though rather than rely on email because although its generally effective, the one time you need a quick turn around, the MS exchange server will fail and your email will be delayed… I have been there. And yes I agree that the f2f modality represented here came across as less than professional to me. Her tone seemed like it was a hassle for her to take time away from her day to speak with me and she was not very good at keeping eye contact which I find very frustrating. I had not considered the smile but I liked how you related it to a Cheshire cat! As Dr. Stolovich states, 93% of communications is not in the words, but in our body language and tonality and I think her tonality and body language failed to effectively deliver the message as well.

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