Communication – is it more web conference, chat, mail or phone – a face-to-face meeting? Are there trends and what is your experience?
I offer two tier quotations as an introduction about communication. Do you know them?
Analog and digital interpersonal communication
„Human communication involves both digital and analog modalities: This axiom refers back to the use of non-verbal’s and system strategy explained in the first axiom. It is mostly related to the digital content of communication within a relationship.
2. Quotation – according to linguistic researcher ‘Friedemann Schulz von Thun’ communication has four sides: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four-sides_model:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four-sides_model
The matter layer contains statements, which are matter of fact like data and facts, which are part of the news.
- In the self-revealing or self-disclosure the speaker – conscious or not intended – tells something about himself, his motives, values, emotions etc.
- In the Relationship-layer is expressed resp. received, how the sender gets along with the receiver and what he thinks of him.
- The Appeal contains the desire, advice, instruction and effects that the speaker is seeking for.
Every layer can be misunderstood individually.
The classic example of Schulz von Thun is the front-seat passenger that tells the driver: “Hey, the traffic lights are green”. The driver will understand something different regarding to the ear with which he will hear and will react differently. (On the matter layer he will understand the “fact” “the traffic lights are green“, he could also understand it as “Come on, drive!”-“Command”, or on the “relationship” could hear a help like “I want to help you or if you hear behind it: I am in a hurry it reveals part of yourself “self-revelatory“.”) The emphasis on the four layers can be meant differently and also be understood differently. So the sender can stress the appeal of the statement and the receiver can mainly receive the relationship part of the message. This is one of the main reasons for misunderstandings.
However this is our topic today –
Web conferences, chat, mail, phone or face-to-face meeting – what has this to do with project management?
Most modern technology offer a great variety of options to get in contact with friends, business partners and other human being quick, and reachable at all times.
This contains many opportunities but has also limits in the contrary to face-to-face meetings.
Our experience – our approach
In projects the important rule is constant communication with
- Project members (team)
- Internal and external stakeholders
- Sponsors and the client
Regular contact with outsourced teams can be by chatting or speaking on the phone. It helps to save time since travelling time and cost can be reduced and time zones can be overcome.
Face-to-face meetings where decisions are directly taken are the most effective. Participants should follow a strict agenda like in the daily scrum.
There should be no discussion about topics from the past. Only agenda point’s currently relevant and requiring decisions are to be discussed.
When I meet a business partner in person I’m able to concentrate on his voice, the way he speaks and I can listen to his body language and read from it. This is for me the genuine communication!
I cannot gain the full picture of the communication in a web conference or in an email, since I cannot read from the oscillations in my dialog partners voice to avoid incorrect conclusions or misinterpretations.
I expect no changes for this in the near future.
As stated before – a face-to-face meeting can only be replaced by a face-to-face meeting.
There are many business or private topics that can only be discussed or sort out while sitting face-to-face.
Body language and immediate nearness while having a coffee with ‚the other person’, means for me shutting down the mobile, take the time it needs to speak and listen carefully. Get the whole picture!
At that moment I get the feeling to assess the situation accurately (from my perspective!!) and respond reasonably.
What do you prefer in your projects and what changes do you expect in the future for modern work environments?