Monday, January 28, 2013

Communicating Effectively

I received a message from my supervisor last week; below you will find the message.

I was wondering if you were able to complete the new SOP for our internal application review project today instead of the original due date; this Friday. If we can get it done before the due date it would allow me to review it and compare it to our Florida location’s SOP draft. I took a look at your schedule and it looks like you have plenty of meetings and will be at one of our satellite locations on Thursday. Please let me know what time you will have it to me on Thursday. Thanks, Jessica.

Text version:
When I read the email I assumed that Jessica was asking me if I could accommodate her request. As I continued to read the email, the end of sounded like I had to have it done early based on the last sentence, “Please let me know what time you will have it to me on Thursday.” Her tone in the email sounds sympathetic in relation to my busy schedule. Because she is my supervisor she technically didn’t have to acknowledge my busy schedule or ask if I could accommodate her request. This text had mixed messages in it. However, with Jessica being my supervisor, it would be in my best interest to accommodate her request regardless of her “asking”.

This email needed to be organized better and be more concise. It had mixed messaging that confused the recipient (me). Dr. Stolovitch stated that, “Written communications should begin with a clear purpose.” I think Jessica could have simply asked, “Steve, can you get the new SOP report to me by Thursday instead of Friday?” That would have been just as effective.

Audio Version:
The same message was delivered to me via a voice message that Jessica left on my office and cell phone. The audio version of the message provided me with more color. I could sense urgency, panic, and concern in her voice. There was more of a sympathetic tone acknowledging my busy schedule. This in turn made the message sound more genuine.

In person:
Jessica is a very jovial person but is also very direct. We had an all staff meeting and after the meeting she asked the same question she had emailed to me and left as a voice message (I returned both the email and phone call prior to the meeting). When she made the request of me I could tell that she was more so “telling” me to have it done by Thursday but the rest of her mannerisms were suggesting that I had the option to have it done by Thursday instead of Friday. Dr. Stolovitch stated, “Tonality and body language are important elements in communicating in person.” The more familiar you are with a person in different settings and situations, the better you can interpret their message(s).

In my opinion, the best version of the message was the voice message she delivered to me because it include her voice/tone and was clear and concise. The second best version was in person but was diluted by her mannerisms. Normally body language and in person communication is the best and most preferred version of communication. In this particular instance, it was not. The email offers an added element. There can be a consistent paper trail and the messages can be reviewed multiple times and contain the same message. Dr. Stolovitch suggests that oral communication should always be documented.

Multimedia Program: “The Art of Effective Communication”

Video Program: "Communicating with Stakeholders" 

1 comment:

  1. Hey Steven,
    Do you think that your supervisor may have actually been giving you a choice because she acknowledged your hectic schedule? Perhaps her emphasis was more of a plea than an ultimatum. I think that the whole situation would have benefited from a more concise line of communication. When you have a chance, check out this article on office communication.