Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Project Management 6145 Week 3-Communicating Effectively

Okay so I actually have it together this week and have my blog completed on time!  Kudos to me for getting it together J

So this week we have an interesting assignment regarding “how you communicate with different stakeholders is of equal importance to what you communicate and can influence how your message is interpreted”.

As you know I like to outline the assignment for you so you know what I’m talking about, here it is:
To prepare for this 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. Then reflect upon the experience by considering the following:
  • How did your interpretation of the message change from one modality to the next?
  • What factors influenced how you perceived the message?
  • Which form of communication best conveyed the true meaning and intent of the message?
  • What are the implications of what you learned from this exercise for communicating effectively with members of a project team?

 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. What did you learn that will help you communicate more effectively with others in the future?

“Communication is not just words” (Stolovitch, n.d.), this is a very important anecdote to remember when communicating with others. Effective communication is influenced by:
All of these items can directly influence how your message is transmitted and ultimately received by your listeners.  How often have we heard “that’s what I said, but that’s not what I meant?”

Overall I did not feel the message was misconstrued among the different modalities as the words, tones, and body language all synced up for the most part. However I definitely understand how in a different context this could be very, very different. The use of the capitalized acronym “ETA” in the email could be considered yelling, the tone in the voicemail could convey anger, annoyance, and frustration, or the crossed-arm body language of the face-to-face discussion should lead to a heated argument. 


Stolovitch, H (n.d.). Communicating with Stakeholders.  [Video] Available: Laureate Education, Inc.


  1. Interesting that you did not see any differences based on the delivery message. My first reaction was “you have got to be kidding me” but then I realized that each person receiving the message filters messages and may not see, hear or perceive the same messages based on these filters.

    Filters are not a bad thing; however, they play an integral part in communication. Not that this is the case with how you received the messages, but filters are sometimes considered barriers to communication and include the following physical or psychological barriers (Clark, 2010):

    Culture, background, and bias — Past experiences may change the meaning of the message.
    Noise —The sender and the receiver must both be able to concentrate on the messages being sent to each other.
    Ourselves — Focusing on ourselves, rather than the other person can lead to confusion and conflict. Perception — If we feel the person is talking too fast, not fluently, does not articulate clearly, etc., we may dismiss the person. Also our preconceived attitudes affect our ability to listen.
    Message — Distractions happen when we focus on the facts rather than the idea. For example, the word chairman instead of chairperson, may cause you to focus on the word and not the message.
    Environmental — Bright lights, an attractive person, unusual sights, or any other stimulus provides a potential distraction.
    Stress — People do not see things the same way when under stress.

    Filters (aka barriers) play an integral role in communication and may affect the receiver receiving the message as the sender intended.

    Case in point, look at the communication between men and women or review “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” book and concepts. Now that opens a can of worms!

    Clark, D. R. (2010).Communication and Leadership. Retrieved from http://nwlink.com/~donclark/leader/leader.html

    Gray, J. Ph.D. (2004). Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Retrieved from

  2. Audra –

    I thought it was interesting that you noted that the ETA in the e-mail could be misconstrued as yelling. In my analysis of the three types of communication, I thought the use of ETA left the message ambiguous. As the person receiving the message, I felt I had to interpret just how urgent it was based on the tone of the e-mail and the voice mail. Since you really can’t get tone from an e-mail, I put the e-mail request as a lower priority than the voice mail. I felt I got the most accurate interpretation of the urgency of the request from the face-to-face encounter. It shows how much meaning we put into non-verbal cues like body language and facial expression. This is why it is important to be clear and specific when you are communicating in writing or even in voice mail. Instead of asking for an ETA, the sender probably should have indicated a date she needed the materials. The less you leave open to interpretation in written communication, the better.

  3. Hi Audrea,

    It’s interesting how we all perceive the same message differently. I really did not perceive that much of a difference between the email and voicemail. They both came across to me a being professional, but flat. Neither message really triggered any real emotion from me. The face- to-face message did provoke some concern on my part only because I could see the facial expressions, but even with the facial expression, the urgency in tone was still lacking. Professors J. Kruger and N. Epley, account for the differences in the responses due to our egocentric natures. Meaning, we expect others to respond the same way we do. “Their conclusion: Not only do e-mail senders overestimate their ability to communicate feelings, but e-mail recipients also overestimate their ability to correctly decode those feelings.”(Enemark,2006).


    Enemark, D. (2006). It’s all about me: Why emails are so misunderstood. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved from : http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0515/p13s01-stct.html

  4. Chris

    I agree that "...filters are sometimes considered barriers to communication and include the following physical or psychological barriers" (Clark, 2010).

    To continue along that same train of thought, those same filters can also greatly impact how we learn, perceive, and interpret information which naturally then impacts our reaction. "We all have our own realities. Anais Nin said “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are”. We look at situations, events, and interpret what other people say and do, according to our own set of past experiences, culture, faith, values, all of which help us form our beliefs about ourselves, about others, and about the world in general. The meaning we give events, the way we make sense of our world, is based upon our set of core beliefs" (Vivyan, n.d.).

    Communication between men and women is definitely opening the proverbial "can of worms". "Women communicate through dialogue, discussing emotions, choices and problems. Males remain action-oriented -- the goal of communication is to achieve something" (Sherwood,n.d.), and that's only skimming the surface of this topic!

    Which leads me to my point, that I didn't include in my original posting, one should not "read" tone into email. "...when you receive an email, assume it is a simple transfer of information. Don’t read it over and over again looking for hidden meaning or trying to figure out how the sender feels" (Take the tone out of email, 2011). For all the reasons both of us stated, there are so many reasons why an email "appears or sounds" the way that it does, and our personal core beliefs can sway us to spin the message in our own way. "Often times, we try to analyze an email to see if the author is happy, angry, interested or turned off. Yes ALL CAPS can imply yelling, but it also might mean that the caps lock key was accidentally on. What if we stop assuming and intending, and just be real with email? Email should be a transfer of information, not a therapy session (Take the tone out of email, 2011).

    I think if people took more time in simply taking the message for what it is (regardless of media form) and less time interpreting and examining the meaning behind it, fewer feelings would be hurt and there would be fewer arguments and disagreements.

    For example I could interpret your statement, "My first reaction was “you have got to be kidding me”" as a personal slight... :)

    Sherwood, S. (n.d.). Curiosity "10 Ways Men and Women Communicate Differently". Curiosity. Retrieved September 25, 2011, from http://curiosity.discovery.com/topic/gender-gap/10-ways-men-women-comminucate-differently.htm

    Take the tone out of email. (n.d.). Life on purpose. Be More with Less. Retrieved September 25, 2011, from http://bemorewithless.com/business/take-the-tone-out-of-email/

    Vivyan, C. (n.d.). Different Perspectives. GET.gg Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Self-Help Resources. Retrieved September 25, 2011, from http://www.get.gg/perspectives

  5. Takehomemessages,

    Is it amazing how each of us looks at the scenarios completely different? Now that you mentioned it, I can definitely see ambiguity in the use of the acronym "ETA". I do feel this was intentional by the author, Jane, considering the other words that she used in the email. The email started with almost an "excuse' for why Mark had not completed the report (meeting), and continued with explanations and excuses for why the report was needed. Jane wanted to make sure Mark was aware that she needed it, but didn't want to further push the issue by placing a specific date.

    I agree with your interpretation of the messages, I also noted Jane's facial expression and crossed arms, but her tone of voice did not convey anything different from the voicemail or email.

    I also agree that a specific question such as "when will you be able to send that to me" would have been better in this context.

    Another consideration is due to the urgency of the situation, a face to face conversation should have been the primary form of communication and then an email summarizing the conversation should have ensued. I thought this was a great point that Dr. Stolovitch made in our resources this week. You have to consider your audience as well as the urgency of the message and then determine which medium is the best to convey the message properly.