Better Project Communications

Share with othersExcellent “soft skills” distinguish the great project managers. Communication and emotional intelligence are essential traits for project managers, as 90% of their time is spent with other people. They are able to assess the context and communicate better with their customers, colleagues, and stakeholders.
Communication theories and models provide a framework for understanding individual and collective behavior. These models help to understand the observed dynamics. This knowledge will make project managers more efficient. They will be able to recognize problems sooner, use more productive techniques, and achieve better results.
Communication with non-verbals is important
Communication is over 90% non-verbal. Only 7% of communication is made up of words. Intination (38%) and body language (55%), convey more information than we realise. Face-to-face communication is the most effective and provides the highest level of understanding as well as fidelity.
This phenomenon can be observed, but not necessarily measured. Email, text messages, and chat applications are all message-only mediums. Conference calls allow for intonement. Video conferences allow all three modes of expression. Body language is not shortened. Meetings in person allow for full communication.
It is easy for instructors to see if students are interested and understand when they are teaching in-person. While virtual classes can provide visual cues, seeing faces one inch in size offers less fidelity. Classes without video are hollow experiences.
Sender-Receiver Model
The Sender-Receiver Model describes how ideas are shared with others. This commonplace transaction requires complex interactions.
The sender encodes the idea and transmits it. The receiver then decodes the message, and acknowledges receipt. We are not certain if the message was received correctly until we confirm our understanding.
The Model teaches us three main lessons:
Communication is about the receiver. The sender must communicate the message to the recipient so that they can understand it.
Communication is a closed loop process. When confirmation of understanding has been received, the communication is considered closed. Receipt acknowledgment is not sufficient.
Filters and noise can adversely affect the quality of communication. This includes poor technology, acronyms and cultural differences as well as language barriers.
This model explains many communication failures. Complex or abstract ideas may not be clearly articulated or understood. Context can affect the meaning of words. Ineffective communication methods are used. Understanding is not confirmed. The results can be misinterpreted, based on poor assumptions, or even disappointing.
Allen Curve
The Allen Curve is a measure of how often we communicate with others. Thomas Allen, MIT Professor, observed an exponential decrease in the frequency engineers communicate with each other. 50 meters was the minimum distance required for weekly communication.
Allen first described this phenomenon back in the 1970s. He updated and validated his research for the digital age. Despite all the electronic tools available, we still communicate with our closest friends and family. Leading companies have learned this lesson and designed their workplaces to encourage serendipitous encounters that increase innovation and performance.
Communication Pathways
Communication becomes more difficult as our project teams grow. Communication paths are the number of one-on-1 interactions that can be made within a group.
Although team size increases linearly, the number and quality of communication channels grows exponentially.
Team SizeCommunications Paths2146104520190Communication channels are a proxy for organizational complexity. Larger teams need more detailed and formal communications plans than smaller teams. A group of 10 people sitting in t

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