Thursday, May 17, 2012

Communication Breakdown

For this week’s assignment in my project management course, we were asked to view the multimedia program "The Art of Effective Communication." In the program, the same piece of information is delivered from Jane to Mark by three different types of communication: email, voicemail, and face-to-face. Each of these forms of communication has strengths and weaknesses.

The email was written rather casually but it conveyed its intended message well and with diplomacy. The message is “clear, concise, and focused” which Stolovich (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.) says is important to get things done. Jane began the email with an understanding tone and wrapped up the email very considerately even though she was the person that potentially had a reason to be frustrated as her deadline could be affected. I get a sense that the two parties have a good, casual, effective business relationship. The email also contained a necessary sense of urgency. The email is effective in that it documents her attempt at communicating with Mark and places accountability on him. I would have liked for Jane to have included more specific information on the deadline date as well as adding that she would like for Mark to contact her to confirm that the message has been received. Another weakness of email communication is that it does not allow the sender to be certain that there message is being received.

The voicemail essentially echoes the strengths and weakness that the email provides. They are both documented forms of communication that deliver a diplomatic message without being certain that the recipient receives the message. The voicemail, however, adds a more personal touch and more clearly conveys her urgency.

The face-to-face interaction is effective for a number of reasons. The message deliver knows that the message is being received. Feedback can be gained immediately and, in this case, that is important. One of the most important aspects of the face-to-face communication is that it incorporates a social, personal, and interactive means of connecting. Kupritz and Cowell (2011) suggest that interactive conversation is superior to other computer-mediated methods of communicating, like email, due to their potential to de-humanize workplace interaction.

I believe it is crucial to deliver a piece of information in the most effective means available. In some cases an email may be the most effective, while a face-to-face conversation may be more appropriate at other times. Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, and Kramer (2008) state that  “both written and verbal¬ communications-as well as formal and informal communications- are useful, meaningful ways to share and collect important project information” (Portny et al, 2008, p.357). I believe that face-to-face communication, however, best displays the true meaning and intent of the message given its personal, interactive nature. I believe that communicating with a project team includes a number of variants within each scenario. Written communication is documented and can provide easily accessed detailed information and face-to-face integrates a personal touch. The best approach requires an understanding of the given situation and acting accordingly and with diplomacy.


Kupritz, V. W., & Cowell, E. (2011). Productive Management Communication. Journal Of Business Communication, 48(1), 54-82. doi:10.1177/0021943610385656

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

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.


  1. Great points! Each medium has its advantages and disadvantages. As you point out, using the best medium that is available to you is the way to go! While email is sometimes easier, phone or an in-person conversation (if available) may be the right way to communicate a particular message.

  2. Hi Chris,

    I do agree with your concluding comments. There are times that a meeting has to be F2F to get certain points across without any misunderstandings, and other times an email would work better especially if explaining many points. With more and more project teams being geographically dispersed these days it is not possible to have F2F meetings, so conference calls are scheduled instead. So, sometimes it is just a matter of what options are available.

  3. Hi Chris, I agree with everything that you have said, I think that the least effective method of communication is the voicemail. i know that voicemail is very effective in a lot of instances but for the purposes of project management i do not think it would be that effective. Email can be effective if it is written clearly, That is the problem because a lot of emails are written hurriedly and someone does not have the opportunity look them over.

    Face to face is the best because any questions about the communication can be answered immediately, What i have determined is that there probably needs to be a hybrid of all three in order for the best communication to take place,