Effective Communication

20 Mar

There are many alternatives to workplace communication such as email, texting, voicemail, social media and face-to-face meetings.  The variety of options only proves to highlight the importance of selecting the most appropriate method of communication to facilitate the conversation (Richman, 2012).  Based on the given situation and message that has to be exchanged, the correct medium must be used and the proper cues must be included.  Communication is not just the words that you use but also the spirit and attitude that is employed (Stolovitch, n.d.).

In the face-to-face meeting presented, I felt the real urgency of the matter was lost a little in the facial gestures and the tone of the speaker.  Though she was professional and courteous, the casual nature of the interaction really detracted from the true meaning of the message.  The speaker’s posture of leaning on the wall gave that non-verbal cue of that the request is no big deal.  The smiling and more informal nature of the in-person meeting contradicted the urgency of the request.

The audio request eliminated the non-verbal cues of body language and facial expression that the face-to-face meeting had but still lacked the urgency of the request.  Though I would have expected the voicemail request to be less effective than the face-to-face meeting, I actually felt like there was more of a sense of urgency to the request.  The pace of the speaker seemed more direct and inflective.  Even though both the face-to-face and verbal methods of communication were cordial and professional, the voice mail conveyed the true importance that was required.

Surprisingly, I felt the most effective means of communication in this particular instance was the actual email.  Though it eliminated all tone, inflection and body language cues, it also eliminated any confusion those cues offered.  When communicating, the goal is to avoid any ambiguity in the message by being clear and concise (Portny et al., 2008).  In this case, the email followed the correct format of effective communication as presented by Stolovitch (n.d).  It showed a clear statement of purpose, stated the situation, exact requirements and potential consequences.   By offering alternative methods of communicating the data back to the requestor in a business friendly and respectful tone, I, as the recipient, felt most compelled to help.

According to Stolovitch (n.d.), the important information should be communicated live and in person with a written follow-up to ensure there is a record of the meeting.  When reading, listening to and watching the three different presentation formats, I was surprised that this postulation was not the most appropriate manner of communication in this instance.  Communication techniques are not one-size-fits-all proposals so they need to be tailored to the audience and environment individually (Stolovitch & Kramer, n.d.).  In this case, the email was the most appropriate way to communicate the message.  Words in a written communication must be taken at face value and, as long as there is no room for misinterpretation, the message will be conveyed completely.  Since this request was not complex it could be communicated through email in the most effective manner.  Words, facial expressions, posture, hand gestures, body language and tone are all factors in the interpretation of a message.  If any are conflicting with another, there could be confusion in the delivery of the meaning.

 

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.

Richman, B. (2012, August 17). Face-to-face communication can help you accomplish business objectives. Retrieved from http://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/print-edition/2012/08/17/face-to-face-communication-can-help.html?page=all

Stolovitch, H. (n.d.). Communicating with stakeholders.  . Lecture presented for Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved March 19, 2013 from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_2652514_1%26url%3D

Stolovitch, H. & Kramer, C. (n.d.). Project management concerns: Communication strategies and organizational culture.  . Lecture presented for Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved March 19, 2013 from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_2652514_1%26url%3D

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8 Responses to “Effective Communication”

  1. Clair Brett March 24, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    You are the first post that agreed with my conclusions. I felt that the face to face interaction was not well done. The non-verbal ques given off were not that of urgency, but of relaxed office chit chat. I felt that the email got to the heart of the matter in a way that stated the problem, and solution without getting emotions or non-verbal ques in the way of understanding the message. Good post!

  2. Aubrey Steedman March 24, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    Dave,

    It is interesting that you mentioned texting as mode of communication. I only text with family and friends and do not use that particular mode with work. At one workplace, a few of the ladies who reported to me would text in important messages even after I explained it was not an effective way to communicate with me. From our media sources this week, we learned that every stakeholder has a different preferred method of communication. Just as I do not prefer texting for work-related communications, the recipient of the messages we viewed probably has his or her own preferred method as well. An important missing piece is knowing whether or not that individual is a phone person, someone who checks their email often, or someone who really needs a face-to-face interaction.

    Of all three communications, the one that would have me racing to provide a response would be the phone message. It came across harder than the other too. Although I would respond faster to that message, I would also lose time wondering if the relationship was damaged. It came across to me as more confrontational.

    The awkward demeanor in the face-to-face did not downplay the importance of the project in my perspective. I would empathize with the individual and interpret her gestures and tone as an attempt to not offend me. I would immediately provide her with the information she needs for her part of the project and be more sensitive to shared timelines. The face-to-face conversation would probably take a bit longer, since there would be following dialog. As soon as the conversation was over, I would dig up the data and send it on.

    The main issue I see with the phone call is that you really do not know when the individual will hear it. There is no way to track that you left a message, unless you follow it up with an email. The shared issue I see in all three modes is that there does not seem to be a set turnaround time. Can you get this information to me by tomorrow morning or close of business? Can we meet to work this out, so future deadlines are not missed when we have shared pieces of one big puzzle?

    Besides the mode of communication, what if anything do you think the message should have included to be more effective?

    Aubrey

    • Dave Levine March 25, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

      Aubrey,
      I use texting for short quick communications. Usually, it is a quick way to find someone in the facility or to let them know that they are needed urgently. We are a large company with a lot of people. Texting has worked to find a technician to repair a machine or to find another engineer to let him know that the machine is available for testing. It works great in those situations.

  3. Sally Bacchetta March 24, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    Dave,

    Thanks for your comments on my blog. I responded there, and I signed up to follow you.

    Sally

  4. Earl March 23, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    David,

    When reading your post, you caused me to think about things that I had not already thought about. As I reviewed the video a second time, I also saw a lack of urgency compared to when I originally viewed it. If the message was important, a more upright posture and focus would be used rather than learning on the cubicle wall while talking. In all three means of communication, the message seems kind of ambiguous and with the face to face conversation, questions can be answered right on the spot. You mentioned that you thought that the email was the most effective means of communication and eliminated confusion. Since the abbreviation ETA and also missing reports were used, the recipient could potentially misinterpret what is being asked of them. When writing emails, there is something called the PASS Process that can help with writing clear, defined emails that produce action by the recipient (Riddle, 2010).
    P: Purpose- What is the reason for sending the email?
    A: Action-What needs to happen as a result of the email? This is where Jane was vague by saying that she needed the missing reports. What reports were needed? She then goes on to say that he can give her either reports or raw data. It seems like Jane may potentially be unclear of what she is in need of for her own work.
    S: Support-What documentation needs to be attached?
    S: Summary-Is the email successfully summarized in the subject line?

    In the email correspondence we saw, only the body of the email was shown so some elements outline above were not observed. It is clear, however, that what was needed for action could have been stated in a clearer way.

    Resources:

    Riddle, J. (2010, December 1). Awesomely Effective Email Communication. [Blog]. Retrieved from http://workawesome.com/communication/effective-email-communication/.

    • Dave Levine March 24, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

      Earl,
      I took that both parties understood what reports were necessary for Jane’s completion of her assignment but I can see where it can be interpreted the other way. Jane could have been clearer about what was actually required so that there was no confusion. There is no time limit specified and that was also a mistake on Jane’s part. Saying as soon as possible leaves it open to interpretation. If she had said “by tomorrow at 4 PM,” that would have been clearer and provided a solid deadline for completion.

  5. idt2me March 22, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    David,

    Great post. I agree that the face-to-face communication was not very effective as illustrated in our example. In this situation where data was urgently needed to complete a report, I personally would communicate with email. Stolovich (n.d.) recommends documenting every important communication. Since email leaves such a trail, it makes documenting things very easy. I have been in this type of situation before and have had to forward my requests to my supervisors. Though unfortunate, the documentation was clear, and I able to get results quickly.

    Thanks,

    Marc

    Stolovich, H. (n.d). Communicating with Stakeholders. Presented for Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved March 17, 2013, from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_2652514_1%26url%3D.

    • Dave Levine March 24, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

      Marc,
      Email has the benefit of the built in paper trail as well as serving as a constant reminder since it remains in the inbox. In addition, the sender could have marked it with high importance, moving it to the top of the queue. Another advantage is the read-receipt option to send an automatic reply when the email is read. Generally, I do not use a read receipt as it tends to clutter my own inbox but for urgent matters, I use it. Once I see that my message has been read, I can start the timer for follow-up.

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