How You Say it Counts

Communicating is so much more than words, as Dr. Stolovitch (Laureate Inc. a, n.d.) tells us in his video cast this week.  He goes on to add that body language, tone, and timing are also important.  These items are received differently depending on the modality in which they are delivered. 

In our assignment this week, we interpret the same message delivered three different ways – email, voicemail, and in person (Laureate Inc. b, n.d.).  Click here to access the modalities.

Interpretation of email:

Jane’s email to Mark is professional, yet casual in tone so it does not come off as pushy or demanding.  She also shows consideration of Mark’s time.  She explains the urgency of obtaining the information from Mark and finishes the email acknowledging Mark’s help. 

Interpretation of voicemail:

Again, Jane’s tone is professional, yet urgent.  Although she remains pleasant throughout, I thought her tone at one time does seem to get a little more aggressive, or at least more pressing as she describes the urgency with which she needs the information from Mark .  However, she wraps up the voice mail again with acknowledgement and thanks to Mark. 

Interpretation of F2F communication:

Jane remains as pleasant and professional when speaking directly to Mark.  I do think that she is almost apologetic in her tone, as though she is very sorry that she must ask Mark for something because he is too busy.  She smiles while she explains the situation, but she waves her hand and looks down and away occasionally – as if to formulate or remember what she is going to say. If I were Mark, I would wonder if the urgency is authentic, or an excuse Jane is using to get the information faster.

Which form of communication best conveyed the true meaning and intent of the message?

I found all the forms of communication to convey Jane’s message in a professional and courteous manner.  In each communiqué, she presented her need for the data in a manner that suggested urgency without being pushy.  I did not detect a huge difference in intent between the different methods, but I would rate her in person message the least effective. 

What are the implications of what you learned from this exercise for communicating effectively with members of a project team?

Since I did not find much difference between the messages, I would infer that being professional despite the modality is important.  Jane included all the necessary elements of communication as listed by Dr. Stolovitch (Laureate Inc. b, n.d.): state purpose, state situation, state solutions, however, she did not include a time frame or deadline for Mark to deliver the data.  We should be specific with team members and include “time frames” (Portny et al., 2008) when communicating the need for results or action.  


Laureate Inc. a (n.d.).  Communicating with Stakeholders. Retrieved from

Laureate Inc., b (n.d.). The Art of Effective Communication. Retrieved from

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.


4 responses to “How You Say it Counts

  1. When I began to read your blog and you spoke of the importance of body language tone and timing I found myself surprised at your conclusions, especially in regards to the face to face. You stated that she delivered her message with urgency. Did you really feel that her body spoke that? You said she came off as being sorry and apologetic but I felt her body was way too casual and did not give me a sense that this way really so important. Which of the modalities did you find to be least effective?

    • Hi Pat,
      I actually didn’t think Jane’s in person encounter conveyed the same urgency as the other two. She seemed as though she felt bad that she had to ask. The urgency I referred to with regards to this modality was the fact that Jane said she needed information from Mark in order to complete her own work. Even while saying this, I didn’t get the impression that she really meant it. I mention in my post that she looks away and down, which somewhat dilutes her message in my opinion. That’s why I rated her F2F encounter least effective in my post.
      Hope that answers your question
      Yuna 🙂

  2. Hi Yuna,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the case with us.
    I think it’s interesting to read everyone’s interpretation of the three scenarios.

    When I read, watched, or listened to each form of communication of Jane’s message, I found myself focusing on getting at what Jane was actually asking Mark. As far as the e-mail, I found that although I could figure out what she was asking, she could have stated what she wanted more briefly and much more clearly. I think PMs probably get a lot of e-mails a day. Jane could have had a better chance at getting what she wanted (a copy of his data so she could finish her work) if she clearly state what she wanted and when.

    I also found the voice and face-to-face communication interesting. When a person leaves a voice mail, he or she can add more of a sense of urgency to the message that you can’t with an e-mail as easily, and perhaps, more levels of meaning to messages. I think it’s also more difficult to ignore a request when someone is right in front of you.

    This exercise showed me how important communication is when we work on projects and just communicating with people, in general. I think as far as projects go, it showed me how differently people can can apply meaning to what we say and do when communicating with others. I have learned I have to pay attention to the messages I send through whatever form of communication I am using to send the right message.


  3. Yuna,
    I am surprised at the many different perceptions of the three messages from this week’s assignment. This exercise showed me how people perceive messages differently. I found the email the most effective, although you thought it was a bit too wordy. By far the face-to-face communication was most confusing for me. I have learned to pay special attention to body language when delivering a message. Your body language can counter your verbal message and leave your audience confused. The tone used when conveying a verbal message is also very important. From my point of view, the email was most effective and the face-to-face was least effective.

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