Thursday, March 19, 2015

EDUC 6145 - Week 3 - Communicating Effectively


Written Text:
Reading any type of communication in text makes it difficult to assess the tone of the “speaker” unless you know that person well. Jane’s email seems important, and her tone almost sounds frantic, but in such a way that she’s trying to cover up how frantic she is. It’s difficult to tell if the tone is a bit bossy, or if it’s completely professional, and even friendly. However, I did notice that she was very clear about what she needed, and almost wrote as though she is a manager, so I wonder if she could be the lead on a project they are completing together.

For me, I had mostly the same impression from the audio that I did from the written text. I wondered if Jane could be Mark’s boss, but after hearing the way she spoke to him it sounded as if they are simply teammates and that she needs something from him. Tone, obviously, is not difficult to interpret in a voicemail. Jane’s voicemail sounded less formal than her email.

The video again made me wonder if Jane could be a PM or boss. She only smiled at the very beginning of her request, and then was professional and formal in her facial expressions. Had I watched the video first, it’s likely I would have assumed she is definitely a manager of some sort, but after reading and listening to the other two first I still can’t be sure.


Portny et al. (2008) describe that there are two types of communication: formal and informal (p. 357). Based on the way they define these types, it’s clear to me that the first example of the message (the email) could be taken either way, depending on the context surrounding the message. It could be formal because it was “preplanned and conducted in a standard format in accordance with an established schedule” or it could be informal because it occurred as Jane thought of information to share (Portny et al., 2008, p. 357). The voicemail was definitely more informal because of the inflection of Jane’s voice, and because it sounded as if it was something not that imperative that she just happened to think of and wanted to let Mark know about. As for the video, my opinion is that it was formal communication. Jane did not laugh or make light of any parts of what she had to say, and she was straightforward with her request.

I think that a combination of the face-to-face request and an email would be the most effective; the email would reiterate what had been said, and there would be a paper-trail to document everything. What I realized from my own reactions is that if the person making the request makes light of what they’re asking for or jokes around, it’s possible that the person being asked will assume it’s not a big deal. I learned that it’s vital to be concise and clear about what you want, and to communicate it in such a way that will come across as professional. I’ve always been a supporter of the follow-up email, and it’s definitely something I will continue to do.


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. Gayle -
    I definitely agree with your suggestion of meeting face-to-face then following up with an email. Having a summary of what was said put in writing can be very beneficial, both as a reminder when follow-through is necessary and for assurance that everyone in the conversation heard the same thing. The course text recommends this as well, to be certain that there are no "misunderstandings." (Portney et al., 2008) Like you, I have worked this way for some time, and can attest to the value of having that documentation from personal experience.
    You also make a great point about those times when someone asks for something and then "makes light" of the request. I understand that no one wants to look like the bad guy, but if there is something you need, joking about it isn't the way to go. There definitely has to be that professional balance between being pleasant and expressing what you need.
    Thanks for your post! Renee
    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.

  2. Gayle, I enjoyed your post and I agree with the approach of face to face followed up with an email to support the documentation perspective of communication. I did not feel that the speaker was straightforward in the face to face. I'm glad you pointed out that she did not make light of the topic, and yet, I did not pick up any sense of importance or ugency in her body language. I felt that she seemed very very casual even in the face to face interaction. It just goes to show that the receiver of communication might interpret the exact same message in the same mode differently. Our video this week referenced that a PM needs to customize their communications to individual stakeholders and I think the same holds true in their interactions with team members.

  3. Gayle,
    I agree with you the email could have been either formal or informal. I think it would have been more formal had Jane been more specific and concise in the request for information she was making. She did not specify what information she needed, nor did she set a deadline for Mark to get her the information. I feel that in all of the modalities this is an important omission in effective communications. The request is ambiguous in both what and when the information is needed. The video from this week regarding communication points out “ambiguity kills” (Laureate, n.d.).
    I thought the voice tone in the voice mail did show empathy, which was undermined all modalities with the use of the word “but” after the expression of empathy. It is an excellent idea to send follow up email for both formal and informal interactions. I agree it is a good practice to use follow up emails especially when an informal conversation needs to be documented.
    Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Communicating with stakeholders [Video file]. Retrieved from