Instructional Design and Technology

This blog was created as a class project for my Instructional Design and Technology degree from Walden University. Blogging is an educational tool that can be used to share information with my fellow classmates and vice versa. I hope you find this site both informative and useful.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Communicating Effectively

The multimedia program "The Art of Effective Communication" communicated the exact same message using three different delivery methods:  email, voicemail, and face-to-face.  Of the three different methods of delivery, I felt the voicemail was probably the most effective.  The voice inflection conveyed both empathy and a sense of urgency on the sender's part.  The sender (Jane) voiced her understanding that the receiver (Mark) has been busy and tied up in meetings, however, Jane needs Mark's report to complete her own work and I thought her tone of voice transmitted this urgency.  The email was rather wordy and I lost interest before I got to the crux of the message.  It is possible that the receiver will glance over the message without really reading it, thus causing further delay of the missing report.  Usually face-to-face communication is the most effective method because of the ability to observe the nonverbal communication cues as well as hear the verbal exchange.  However, in this face-to-face example of delivering the message, I sensed Jane was not comfortable in confronting Mark based on her body language and the tone of voice she was using.  It was like she was trying to minimize the urgency of the situation because she didn't want to upset him.

Communication is a process that involves exchange of information, thoughts, ideas, and emotions involving a sender who encodes and sends the message, which is then carried via the communication channel to the receiver where the receiver decodes the message, processes the information and sends an appropriate reply via the same communication channel (Manohar, 2008).  Communication in the workplace can be difficult due to many reasons.  Problems can occur due to geographical distance, language barriers, lack of interest, power struggles, politics, and cultural differences to name a few. 
There are several common barriers to communication.  One of the most common barriers is assuming that the other person understands what you have communicated.  In order for communication to be effective, one needs to get feedback from the other person regarding what they heard you say.  This way, both parties can ensure they are on the same page.  Another barrier is too much information.  Communication needs to be clear and concise in order to avoid information overload and lost transmission.  Cultural differences can also lead to different perceptions and meanings and cause misunderstandings (Papa, 2010).  Barriers can be minimized however by using diplomacy, listening as opposed to hearing, and paraphrasing and giving feedback . 

Manohar, U. (2008).  Types of communication.  Retrieved 1/20/2011 from

Papa, N. (2010). Barriers to workplace communication.  Retrieved 1/20/2011 from

Stolovich, H. Communicating with Stakeholders. [Online Video].  Laureate Education, Inc.  Retrieved from


  1. Sharon,

    (Have I mentioned how much I like the visual impression your blog makes? I love the choices of color that add vibrance and energy while maintaining excellent contrast for reading.)

    It was interesting to read your preferences about communication modes, since mine are nearly opposite yours! Please don’t take my observation as a criticism. It is clear that great minds don’t always think alike! I envy people who find they can glean useful non-verbal information. I generally feel a significant sense of accomplishment if I just recognize that a non-verbal dimension exists. Those clues may prompt me to ask questions, but I get my information exclusively from words, whether written or spoken. I prefer written communication because I feel I’m at a disadvantage when part of the communication is non-verbal. It is clear to me from reading your perspective that you and I have very different sets of communication skills. (Hargie, 2006)

    I was intrigued that you preferred voice mail as a means to receive a message. I can understand why some people prefer to leave voice mail, because they can save time. I hate receiving voice mail. When I ask a secretary to route a call to voice mail, it’s not so that I can check the message later. It’s so I can avoid the interruption. When I check voice mail, I generally write down the name of the person who called, when they called, and their number. I may listen to the first couple of sentences to get an idea of the topic before I press “9” to delete the message. I have always found voice messages tedious and ineffective for retrieving information. Voice messages usually have a few words I can’t quite hear. Consequently, I end up replaying the average voice mail a half-dozen times if I am interested in knowing the content at all. As you might imagine, I don’t generally expend that level of effort to retrieve a message.

    I was also intrigued that you dislike email. I prefer email because it gives me a more equal footing with those who gain information from non-verbal communication. I prefer to receive emails because I don’t have to devote a lot of time to processing them. If an email is restricted to one paragraph (as most are) I can generally take in the main message in a glance. When I receive a longer message, I generally flag urgent messages and return to read them later.


    Hargie, O. (2006). Skill in theory: Communication as skilled performance. In Handbook of communication skills (3rd ed.). New York: Rutledge.

  2. Sharon -

    I agree with you that the voicemail was the most effective mode of communication in the example provided. As you mentioned, the email was wordy and didn't get to the point soon enough. In written forms of communication, I believe you should state what you need in the first few sentences and then provide additional information below the critical needs. Dr. Stolovitch (Laureate Education Inc., 2010)also mentioned that communication should be brief, concise and to the point. It almost sounded as if Jane was making excuses for Mark right off the bat in the email (as well as other communication methods).

    One interesting study that was done back in the late seventies, was on the effect of communication over distance. Allen (1977) stated that the message being communicated tends to get lost when the sender and receiver are located more than 30 feet away from one another! The portion of the message retained drastically decreases the further the two are away from one another. As we rely more and more on electronic communication and teams, I believe some of the message gets lost. Portny et al (2007) also suggest that face-to-face communication is the most powerful and effective method and builds upon Allen's findings from 30 years ago.

    Allen, TJ. (1977). Managing the Flow of Technology: Technology Transfer and the Dissemination of Technological Information Within the R&D Organization. Boston, MA: The MIT Press.

    Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Communicating with Stakeholders [DVD]. In EDUC 6145. Baltimore, MD.

    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. Hi Sharon,

    It is interesting to read each other's blog and see how we can take the same information and percieve it so differently, but yes we are all different. We all have to communicate with people on a daily basis and we all can tell if the other person is listening, or whether we are getting our point across. I communicate to my students everyday, but I can't say they listen because when it is test time, they do not perform well.As I mentioned in my post, I think communication is vital and depending on your own personal preferences, you know what form of communication works best for you and that will be the one you use the most. I don't life voicemail, probably because I've had some people leave not so nice messages on my phone. I just don't like calling my messages and possibly getting some bad news or mean messages. I don't like face-to-face that much either because I might tune the other person out if it's not something I want to hear and then I will tune them out completely. I use email throughout the day and just by reading it, I can tell the other person's tone. Emails work best for me. Thanks for sharing,

  4. Dear Sharon,

    Recipient perspective is an interesting thing. You found the email to be “rather wordy and I lost interest before I got to the crux of the message,” while I found it to be straight to the point for the main content of the message. However, I do agree that irrelevant parts may have caused the wordiness. Written communication does not allow the project manager to be sure that the recipient actually read the message or interpreted it as intended (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008)


    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.

  5. Sharon,

    This assignment showed me how effectively communication can be in any given situation. Jane for the most part did not prove to me that she was really concerned about getting the information needed from Mark. I feel like she would have gotten a better response if she would have informed Mark in her meeting with him that she would be sending out an email to him letting him know when she needed her information. Most times when I read emails is when I know somebody is sending me something important. Other than that, I usually delete them. Obviously she wasn't concerned as I would have been because it did not come across as urgent. The face to face video was very comical and silly to me. Communication has to be clear, concise, and focused, and helps everybody stay on target (Laureate, 2011). She needed to have Mark there face to face because important communication is best delivered with all team members present (Laureate, 2011). So communication is definitely a key factor in anything you do.

    Video: Communicating with Stakeholders, Walden University, Laureate, 2011.

    Reply post from Connie Jefferies

  6. Brandie,

    Your comments would not have applied to me when I was a student in elementary school. Over the years I have learned to assume an interested expression as I listen to a lecture, so I don't get the same kinds of reactions I used to get when I was younger. As a child, I would frequently have teachers stop and quiz me to catch me not paying attention. However, I could generally repeat every word the teacher had said. I also tended to retain what I learned better than most of the class, although I frequently tested poorly when multiple choice or true/false tests were used. I am mildly autistic. In the 1960's they called it "minimal brain dysfunction." I have never learned to interpret the facial expressions of other people beyond the most basic happy-sad-angry level, and other people regularly comment that they can't "read" me (whatever that means.) I also tend to take language more literally than most people, which gets me in trouble when taking multiple choice tests that involve any level of ambiguity in the answer choices. I don't doubt your ability to understand others based on facial expressions, but I would caution you to not assume too much either. I have learned from painful experience that people who think they understand others based on facial expressions are to be avoided.