This week, we viewed the multimedia program “The Art of Effective Communication” in which the following message was delivered in three ways: email, voicemail, and face-to-face.
Although the words were exactly the same, the message came across differently in each modality. These were my impressions.
My impression from this message is that Jane feels:
- Frustrated because she has tried to get this report from Mark before.
- Desperate because she is about to miss her deadline, and it’s all Mark’s fault.
- Not really concerned about Mark’s busy day and expects him to drop everything and get it done.
Although written communications provide an efficient manner for delivering facts, the author cannot “pick up nonverbal signals that suggest an audience’s reactions to the message” (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008, p. 358).
After hearing Jane’s tone of voice as she delivers the message, my impression changed slightly:
- Jane needs the report ASAP, but it isn’t quite as urgent as the email indicated.
- Jane isn’t mad at Mark, nor does she blame him for the report that is missing, but she does expect a prompt response.
- Jane appreciates Mark’s help because he’s busy.
In the final modality, the addition of facial cues along with voice tone give yet a third impression.
- Although Jane needs the report soon, it’s not urgent.
- Jane doesn’t blame Mark for the missing report but sees him as someone who can help her out of a bind.
- Jane is trying to sweet-talk him because she knows he’s busy.
- Mark could probably put her off for awhile.
In our business and personal lives, we rely more and more on email and text. In the “Communicating with Stakeholders” video, Dr. Stolovitch reminds us that communication is not just about words, but also “spirit and attitude, tonality, body language, timing, and personality of the recipient” (Laureate Education, n.d.). Not only are those cues hard to convey in writing, but I believe we sometimes say things from a distance that we wouldn’t say in person. Complicating this issue, as we send more of our messages via mobile devices, we tend to be brief and to the point, omitting the social niceties of face-to-face discourse. As a result, the recipient may find our messages to be abrupt, bossy, or rude.
A project manager should ask stakeholders and team members what form of communication they prefer. Most people will chose email, which, as this assignment proves, is the most likely form to create misunderstanding. As a remote worker, I find this particularly challenging because I can’t drop by someone’s office or pass them in the hall. Those casual meetings often reveal important information, and they can build rapport. Since completing this assignment, I’ve been more sensitive to my emails and found myself picking up the phone more often.
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.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Communicating with Stakeholders [Video podcast]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu