Effective Communication

Are you communicating effectively?

Narinder Sharma

What is effective communication?

Effective communication may involve exchanging ideas, feelings, opinions, wants, needs and actions verbally or non-verbally. Effective is more than just sending and receiving messages. According to Wikipedia, it entails sending accurate information and receiving feedback that the message has been received without distortion.

Effective communication is the key to getting the right outcomes, to explain this better, let me narrate a brief story. My daughter is a girlguides leader, and she told me about an interesting game and fun activity that she introduced to her unit. All participants are given an A4 paper, and on her instructions, they have to fold the sheet in half, and then cut the corner of the paper, then hold it again in half and this time cut another corner, and repeat the process the third time. She finished the activity by saying this – “If I did a good job of communicating and you did a good job of listening, all of our sheets should look the same, now open your eyes”. When girls opened their eyes and compared the results, they were surprised to see different results with the same instructions.

So what went wrong? Why do almost all the sheets look so different? When they all had the same paper and were given the same instructions. This game highlights and emphasizes the importance of effective communication in everyday situations, and it becomes essential in a project environment.

Effective Communication
Effective Communication

Communication may attract noise at many levels and may get distorted due to various reasons, these gaps include the followings:
• Culture
• Expertise
• Viewpoints
• Interests

In my example above, my daughter’s instructions were not clear enough, and receivers, on their part, made assumptions to fill these gaps. This is an example of induced noise, there is a lot to communicate effectively in a project environment,  and we have barely touched the surface so far. So let’s get started.

What is communication management?

PMBOK guide defines communication management as the process of developing an appropriate plan & approach for project communications based on stakeholders’ information needs and requirements and available organizational assets. PMI recognises the need to plan, monitor, control and manage communication throughout the project’s lifecycle.

Much of a project manager’s time is spent communicating. The project Manager constantly communicates with team members and represents the team to external stakeholders. Therefore, communication management is essential to the success of the project. In this series of blog posts, we will look at all various aspects of communication – types, format, blockers, recording, security, disposal and its control for effective communication management.

The communication process involves all of the following key elements:

  • Sender
  • Receiver
  • Medium/Channel/Format
  • Noise/Distortions
  • Acknowledgement/Feedback

It can be various types:

  • Internal
  • External
  • Vertical – Downward
  • Vertical – Upward
  • Horizontal

Can be communicated using many methods available:

  • Pull Communication
  • Push Communication
  • Interactive Communication
  • Broadcast

Communication may use one or more formats, depending upon the type of communication being sent across:

  • Written Formal
  • Written Informal
  • Verbal/Oral Formal
  • Verbal/Oral Informal

Stay tuned for more on communication management in my upcoming posts for a detailed discussion on these topics plus much more in a project environment to pass your exam in your first attempt.

Read further on communication management in my next blog post here Understanding communication gaps in Project Environment