When you take the time to try and communicate, miracles can happen: http://www.wimp.com/helenkeller/
In a recent activity, this blogger was asked to review the same statement presented in three different modalities: a text/e-mail, a phone message, and a video clip. Of course, how each one was interpreted was slightly different. The email/text message could easily be interpreted as kind, pleading, and polite but rambling. The Phone message came across to this listener as being much more firm and direct, with an emphasis on time and deadlines, all based on the timing and tone of the voice (Laureate, 2010). The video clip shared the same exact statement, but came across as friendly, understanding and patient, based on the speaker’s body language, even if her smile might have been a mixed signal which downplayed the importance of her statement. As the Project Management mentor, Dr. Stolovitch, points out in his training video; everybody knows that 93% of communication is not what you say, but how you say it (Laureate, 2010).
Each Team Member’s, Stakeholder’s, and Project Manager’s INTERPRETATION of what is said is quite another matter, and can often be a reflection of their own situation, cultural training, agenda, outside interference, or emotional state. Even the best and most well-practiced diplomat can be challenged with getting a message clearly across to a listener, from time to time (Laureate, 2010). The value of communicating over the phone in our example exercise may have been the most effective way for the speaker to stress the importance of their message, without rambling or sending mixed diplomatic signals to a visual learner, but inevitably, it is best for a manager who is intending to communicate clearly, to understand the preferred and effective communication styles of their audience, if not each audience member uniquely (Laureate, 2010).
Knowing each stakeholder’s best communication modality is a bit like knowing each student’s learning style and preference. The most effective diplomats are able not only to communicate clearly and effectively, but are also able to treat each stakeholder as if they were a dignitary from a unique culture, and communicate with them by “mirroring” their unique vernacular and body-language cues (The Communication Help Center, 2013). Depending on a project’s time-table, the luxury of “figuring out what makes each stakeholder tick,” can be a both a challenge and highly rewarding. As the Golden Rule teaches; treat others how you would want to be treated… however, the “Platinum Rule” raises the game with; “Treat others how THEY would expect to be treated.” While this may be equally difficult for kind-hearted as well as ultra-demanding Project Managers, it may actually be essential for Project Management Success. “Know Thy Stakeholders,” is the First Commandment when using this technique, while at minimum, a leader should know how to communicate effectively to their intended audience as a cultural group. (Portney, et al, 2008 & Laureate, 2010).
Cartoon (2013). Facebook: Timeline Photos: The Secret to Humor is Surprise Fan Page. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=501013959972651&set=a.126895770717807.28294.126894987384552&type=1&relevant_count=1&ref=nf
Laureate, Inc. (Producer). The art of effective communication, (2010). [Interactive multimedia exercise]. Retrieved from http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/2dett4d/Walden/EDUC/6145/03/mm/aoc/index.html
Laureate, Inc. (Producer). Communicating with stakeholders: Dr. Stolovitch discusses communication strategies and managing client expectations. (2010). [Video Podcast]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_2823017_1%26url%3D
Laureate, Inc. (Producer). Project Management Concerns: Communication Strategies and Organizational Culture: Dr. Stolovitch gives Carole Kramer advice on adjusting her communication style to fit her client’s culture. (2010). [Video Podcast]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_2823017_1%26url%3D
The Communication Help Center (2013). Mirroring: A communication tool for generating rapport. Retrieved from http://work911.com/communication/skillsmirroring.htm