Thursday, November 17, 2011

Art of Effective Communication

After viewing this week's multimedia program "The Art of Effective Communication", I observed how the same message comes across delivered using three different forms of communication methods: email, voice mail and face-to-face. It is interesting to observe how I responded when reading, hearing and watching a video of a person demonstrating the exact same message. Reflecting on this week's topic, how should a project manager communicate on a project with their team members and is one method better than others?

The art of effective communication is sending and receiving messages that cannot be distorted or misinterpreted by the receiver (ELC, 2011). The key to choosing the correct method of communication is to first consider the type of context and purpose of the message. Your method of delivery must fit the circumstances for the message including the needs of both sender and receiver.

Communication can be more effective at certain project tasks than other, emails are great for schedule and confirming team meetings, quick questions and conversation that require a two-way conversation are good with a phone call or voice mail, face-to-face communication is best for meetings that require a discussion that requires dialogue and consensus from an individual or team member (Martin, 2007).

Commonly, misunderstood communication among team members can cause projects valuable resources such as wasted time and hours to rework tasks. Emails are extremely important on projects because you have a paper trail of the communication while “having personal face-to-face conversations can connect team work that builds trust and minimizes misinterpretation and misunderstanding” (Martin, 2007).

Email and voicemail are both asynchronous forms of communication that do not require both communicators to be present (Duthler, 2006). Communicating by email allows the sender to plan, compose, edit, and review before clicking send on a computer screen. Voicemail, in contrast allows the communicator to plan their message in advance with the option to delete the message and record it before pressing send on the telephone pad. While both forms of communication are asynchronous, voicemail and phone call are good for conversations that require two-way communication. This form of communication individuals can manage their speech vocal tone, rate, pitch, loudness, pauses, inflection, pronunciation in their delivery of content (Duthler, 2006).

In a recent survey poll by VitalSmarts, a corporate training company more than 87 percent of participants admit using hi-tech communication to resolve a workplace confrontation has not been effective in their experience, 89 percent say e-mail, text messaging and voice mail can get in the way of good workplace relationships (Patterson, 2007).  Overall, there is no one type of communication that works best on a project.

As project managers it is important to choose the correct method at the right time by considering the context and purpose of the correspondence. According to my research there is no one method better than others but a paper trail is always important for a project manager to back up their correspondence message. With work overload, I have found many team members do read every email in their inbox word-by-word plus find the time to meet with the project manager in person. However, to assure critical project information is understood correctly project managers should follow-up.  First, send an email to document the conversation then follow-up with another type of communication.  If it pertains to the entire team and is appropriate discuss the topic at a team meeting or address the team member personally face-to-face, make a phone call or leave a voicemail message to assure the communication is clearly understood.
-Mary Layne


Duthler, W. (2006). The Politeness of Requests Made Via Email and Voicemail: Support for the Hyperpersonal Model. Department of Communication Studies, University of North Carolina Retrieved November 17, 2011 from

Laureate Education, Inc. (n.d.). Communicating with Stakeholders [Video A]. Laureate Education, Inc. [Producer]. Retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (n.d.). Project Management Concerns: Communication Strategies and Organizational Culture [Video B]. Laureate Education, Inc. [Producer]. Retrieved from

Martin, C. (2007). The Importance of Face-to-Face Communication at Work. CIO. Retrieved November 17, 2011 from

ELC. (2011). Introduction to Written Communication:   Some Basic Principles. Retrieved November 17, 2011 from

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your thoughts and resources on the art of communication. I'm glad you were able to provide sample situations that call for the different forms of communicating with bosses or coworkers. That's good practical information.

    I also can appreciate your advice in the last paragraph and the idea of follow-up communication. As a teacher rather than a manager or upper-level manager,though, I wonder if there is a point when communication looses its effectiveness and actually contributes to slowing down operations. Although you mentioned that coworkers, based upon your experience, read their e-mails religiously, doesn't too much communication prevent people from doing what they were hired to do?

    I think even Dr. Stolovitch mentioned in one of his videos that he knew his three students wanted to get at the "stuff" of instructional design. Is there somewhere written a formula to determine how many meetings a team should have or how much e-mail communication becomes too much?

    I'd hope that somewhere it might say if the project manager is in tune with his team, he'll know when to communicate or request communication and when not to communicate. It's probably the same type of intuition or experience that helps any leader decide the method of communication or even what to say to motivate the team.