A Tale of Three Tells

This week’s assignment was to analyze three modes of communication in the context of the same business message from one colleague to another. Portny et al. note that, “The key to successful project management is effective communications-sharing the right messages with the right people in a timely manner…The ability to communicate well, both orally and writing, is a critical skill for project managers.” (p. 357, 2008). A brief analysis of each communication form follows.

Email Mode:

The message (send me the report yesterday) was understandable but I thought it was buried in some extraneous and superfluous verbiage that diluted the message. I feel that the message could have been distilled down to a couple of to the point, yet polite sentences.


Please send your report as soon as possible but no later than (some date/time). Without your report’s data, I cannot complete mine and run the risk of missing a deadline. The data by itself would suffice if this is easier for you.”

A direct and concise communication approach combined with polite tone works best in written business communications. Portny et al. also relate, “Written reports enable project managers to present factual data more efficiently, chose their words carefully in order to minimize misunderstandings, provide historical records of information shared, and share the same message with a wide audience.” (p. 358, 2008).

Voicemail Mode:

Jane’s voicemail was for me more effective in communicating her message expressing her need for Mark’s report or the data in the report. The personal tone in her voice conveyed well in a nuanced manner a clear expression of her requirements in a “human” way. If I were Mark, I would clearly be more apt to respond to the voicemail due its personal delivery.

Face-to-Face (f2f) Mode:

For most of us, the f2f form of communications is optimal in terms of effectiveness, especially in informal settings. The richness in communications from f2f interactions is part of our evolutionary heritage and no other technical mode can match it in terms of effectiveness. Some of the characteristics that Jane demonstrated in the f2f demonstration that I felt were useful to her included how she kept her body language signals at an even level. Her vocal modulations were at the right tone, and I thought that her eye contact was also effective.

The take away from his analysis is that regardless of the communication mode, each has its own considerations and factors that either add or detract from its effectiveness. Of the three communication modes, I felt that there is no “silver bullet” solution when it comes to communicating with a project team. However, I feel that this statement by Portny et al. is the most important factor for project managers to keep in mind, “Planning project communications up-front enables project managers to choose the appropriate type of communications for sharing different messages.” (p. 357, 2008). Simply put, project managers should not take effective communication for granted. Like creating schedules, handling stakeholders, and risk management, communication requires deliberate planning and due diligence.


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.


3 thoughts on “A Tale of Three Tells

  1. Good post Ralph, I agree that there is no “silver bullet” solution when it comes to communicating with a project team. I believe that a project manager should utilize as many communication channels as possible. Yes the most effective way to communicate is in person, therefore, if you really want to communicate effectively the project manager should figure out a way to communicate with all participants without losing too much of the personal touch. “A project manager isn’t a technician; you’re a diploma spirit and attitude is even more important than the words” (Laureate, n.d.). Our resources this week do a good job highlighting the importance of that diplomacy, including tonality, body language and timing of all communications.


    Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Communicating with stakeholders [Multimedia]. Project Management in Education and Training. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

  2. Ralph, again another great post. I agree with you that f2f communication is powerful and effective; however, I do not think in this case it was the best way to communicate. I think in a situation were one team member is holding another accountable email would a better way to communicate. I say this because of the need to document. Portny et al. (2008) recommends that we “Put agreements in writing to clarify the terms, to serve as a reminder” (p. 300). I think Jane should of held Mark accountable. Her email did not specific the specifics of the agreement between her and Mark. Her email did not include the deadline. I think Jane should have included these details in the email. She could have also invited Mark to a f2f meeting, but at least the email will serve as documentation in case it is needed in the future.

    Mark may repeat his poor performance because Jane did not hold him accountable. This sends the wrong message and will cause more damage than a firm email would create.

    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.

  3. I completely agree with your post. Each mode of communication has strengths and weaknesses, depending on the context. A long email with detailed information might be more effective than a long face-to-face conversation with someone, since some of the information might get missed. Conversely, an email does not always communicate the writer’s intent and can sometimes be misunderstood.

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