Assignment: view the multimedia program "The Art of Effective Communication." In this program, you will observe a piece of communication in three different modalities: as written text, as audio, and as video. Pause after receiving the communication in each modality, and reflect upon what you interpret the message to mean. Think about the content and tone of the message. Record your interpretation of the message after receiving it in each modality. Post your interpretation of the message as it was delivered in each of the different modalities, pointing out what, if anything, changed about your interpretation from one modality to the next. Then share a synthesis of your thoughts regarding what this activity implies about communicating with members of a project team. What did you learn that will help you communicate more effectively with others in the future?
It is likely not a surprise to anyone that effective communication is vital to successful project management. Through communication we are able to share and exchange information with others, as well as influence another’s behavior, attitudes and understandings (Portny et al. (2008). Communications style differ amongst individuals and what works well with one person may not work as well with another. It is important that we develop an awareness of our own communication style and how that style influences what we view as effective communication. For example, my communication style in a professional setting whether written or verbal, tends to be very direct and specific. I make requests and attach dates and times to my requests (ie: please let me know by Friday end of business when I can expect to receive the financial report for the Kensington project). For me, I have to be responsible that sometimes my communication can be too direct, and depending upon my audience I may have to alter the tone of the message.
When I consider the message delivered by the three different forms of communication, I would say that for me, the most effective style was the email, however having said that, I was not impressed with the message itself and believed it to be ineffective. I viewed the email first and my interpretation of said email was that Jane needed something from Mark, she was understanding of his schedule, but needed it soon. She seemed cordial, but languid in her request. For example, she was not at all specific in what she needed she only said “the report”, with no further information about what report, and no specifics about when she needed it. She stated “soon” which is open for interpretation. She further did not request that Mark get back to her to acknowledge that he got the message and by when she could expect the report.
The second message delivered by voicemail was similar in that it lacked the necessary details. Again, she seemed cordial and understanding of his time, but her tone had a hint of blame. My interpretation was that she was kind of blaming him that she could not get her report done. There seemed to be a hint of desperation in her voice as well, however the lack of details and a specific request of by when he could send the information negated any urgency.
The third message delivered face to face was the least effective. Her body language and tone of voice left me with the impression that although she wanted the information, there was no need to rush. She seemed like she was just asking for the report because she was “supposed to”.
What I learned from this exercise was that it is important to know your audience and to be very specific with regards to ones requests. If I were on the receiving end of the message in this exercise, I am not sure that I would have taken the actions that Jane intended for me to take in a timely manner. Jane assumed that I knew what report she was talking about, and she assumed that I would get it to her “soon”. Soon for me is likely different then soon for her. Being specific is very important. Second, with regards to knowing your audience, people will perceive communication in different ways, and it is important that whenever possible, we review our communication to ascertain if it could be perceived by another in a way unintended.
Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, & Sutton, (2008). Project Management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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