What is Effective Communication?

“Effective communication is influence by:

  • Spirit and attitude
  • Tonality and body language
  • Timing
  • Personality of the recipient” (Laureate Education, n.d.)

This week in my course at Walden, we had to look at three different methods of communicating the exact same message. I have to say I was surprised by my reaction to the message in each instance. Below is the message, which was communicated in an email, a voicemail, and face-to-face (video).


Hi, Mark: I know you have been busy and possibly in that all day meeting today, but I really need an ETA on the missing report. Because your report contains data I need to finish my report, I might miss my own deadline if I don’t get your report soon. Please let me know when you think you can get your report sent over to me, or even if you can send the data I need in a separate email. I really appreciate your help. Jane


When I read the email, my first reaction was that it was very curt. More of a “I know you’ve been busy BUT … I’m more important” kind of message. The second word that came to mind was desperate. I know you are responsible for the full report, but I need the data NOW, and I’ll take it even if the report is not done. “If you’re responsible, you should be held accountable” (Portny et al., 2008, p. 294). In this instance, I do not believe the person is being held accountable. Maybe it would have been better to check in earlier in the week rather than the day it was due.

Email has an issue with regard to tone and facial expression. If you are not careful, your tone can be misconstrued. Without seeing your expressions, people can very easily make a leap to the wrong idea, rather than seeing what you “really meant.”


In the voicemail, the speaker’s voice sounds desperate and rushed. They are speaking quickly, which could make someone listening think that they are in trouble. If that happens, there are quite a number of people who will hide from you instead of facing up to the not being completed in a timely manner. I know I have done it on a very rare occasion. I am not sure this is any better than the email.


In the video showing the face-to-face encounter, it seemed a little friendlier, and being able to see the person’s facial expressions made it less desperate. This felt less like a “me, me, me” conversation, but a let’s just get the job done. They were leaning over a cubicle wall in a friendlier manner, which would make someone less reactive and less likely to try to run and hide.

“Efficient processes and smooth working relationships create the opportunity for successful projects” (Portny et al., 2008, p. 306). Communication is so key to the success of any project and any working relationship. There are times to seek someone out face-to-face and THEN follow up with an email stating what was discussed. You can set a friendlier tone when talking in person. We need to be very careful in our communication methods. Sometimes setting it out in the beginning in a Communication Plan will assist in making sure all communications go smoothly throughout the life of the project.


Laureate Eduction. (n.d.). Communicating with Stakeholders [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

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.Leaders

Good, Bad, or Indifferent … Project “Post-Mortem”

In our course e-book, The Project Management Minimalist: Just Enough PM to Rock Your Projects, Michael Greer states, “It’s important for project managers and team members to take stock at the end of a project and develop a list of lessons learned so that they don’t repeat their mistakes in the next project” (Greer, 2010, p. 42). We must always be learning from our successes and our failures. If we do not take stock of what occurred, we are doomed to repeat our mistakes and not understand what caused the success so it could possibly be replicated in the future.

When I was hired at Rancocas Valley Regional High School, as new teachers, we were told we needed to join in activities and committees to become part of the culture of the school. As a result, I found myself on the Curriculum Committee. I became a teacher later in life and was very interested in making my classroom the best it could be, and I believed (still do) that part of that is understanding how the curriculum is put together. I even completed a Master’s degree in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment to make myself a better teacher. I hope all that hard work has translated into better learning experiences for my students.

At that time, the Curriculum Committee was tasked with updating all curriculums in the school as it had not been done for years. During the first few meetings, I did “hang back” as I was in the learning phase and not quite sure what my role should be within the committee. During the planning stages, an issue of how to track the different curriculum and stages of creation and approval came up in discussion. As I had experience as a secretary tracking large amounts of data, I went back to my desk after the meeting and worked on a method of tracking using Excel. When I had it created to the best of my knowledge and skills, I went to the committee chair people and showed them what I had configured. They were pleasantly surprised and sat with me to figure out what I was missing, what was not needed, and how to show the columns in the correct order. At the next meeting, we presented it to the committee, and everyone was very happy to having a tracking device. Thus, it became my job to keep it up to date.

As the curriculum started to come in and go through the approval process, the committee wanted to have an online method of showing and updating the curriculum so it would become a living document and not just sitting on the shelf. Other members of the committee looked into various web sites and methods. It was finally decided to use a site called Taskstream. I was chosen as one the people to be trained in its use so I could help train the other teachers. We put a lot of time and effort into the process, but in the end, it was not exactly what we were looking for. One of the major issues we did not take into account was the lack of spelling, grammar, and punctuation skills of our fellow teachers. We were shocked at the lack of attention to detail that occurred when everyone was entering their own curriculum. Someone (or more than one person) was going to have to be appointed to review the documents and edit them. Part of the goal was to put the curriculum on our school web site, accessible to parents and community members. In this state, it was not possible; it would not make our teachers look professional.

After two years, it was decided that Taskstream was not working for us, and we would have to look for a different method of keeping the curriculum as a living document. Teachers were becoming too frustrated with the limitations of the web site and also with technical difficulties when using the site. Eventually, we moved to a wiki for the curriculum (http://www.virtualrvrhs.com/mediawiki/index.php?title=Main_Page), which has been successful in keeping the documents accessible. There are members of the staff dedicated to putting the information up on the wiki. The process has changed so that the curriculum goes to the supervisor first, who reviews it and sends it back to the individual staff member for revisions, if necessary.

As a committee, we attempted to follow a process, but I am not sure anyone on the committee had any true project management experience on the level that we were dealing with. It was such a huge undertaking that I do not believe we realized it at first. We were constantly looking at what we could do to make it easier on the staff, supervisors, committee members, and administration to ensure accuracy and accessibility. A lot of what we did was trial and error. In the end, after a few years, we had it down to a process that was successful, but it took a lot of time to get there. Staff members were getting discouraged when we changed processes for getting the information and methods for inputting the information. There was a lot of grumbling at times, but we all made it through and have living documentation of the curriculum, which hopefully can be updated on a regular basis.

Below I have embedded a YouTube video that shows what a bad project meeting could look like.


Beinerts, L. (2014, March 23). The expert (short comedy sketch) [Video file]. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/BKorP55Aqvg

Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough pm to rock your projects! Laureate International Universities.

A New Day, A New Start

After a few failed attempts, a leave of absence, and many medical tests, I am ready to continue my journey at Walden University – Master’s program – Instructional Technology, Online Teaching. I have learned so much about myself over the last few months. I have a whole list of “invisible” chronic illnesses. If anyone saw me on the street, you would never think I was sick — out of shape, but not sick. Over the last year, I have had overwhelming exhaustion, like I have never felt before. I would label everything before this as “tired;” I now know true exhaustion. I could barely function through my day, only to come home miserable, irritated, and head straight to bed.

The doctors have given me three answers to my exhaustion: my thyroid, my adrenal system, and my ability to have a good night’s sleep. My thyroid levels were off but they are keeping watch over them. My adrenal system is gone; I no longer will produce adrenaline in any form and must take steroids daily (i.e., looking out of shape). The last was the hardest to diagnose. I had three different sleep studies, and I have discovered there are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive and central. Obstructive sleep apnea is what you hear about most of the time. People who have this use a CPAP machine to give them oxygen at night while they sleep. They are simply blocked in some way from receiving oxygen. The other, central sleep apnea, is a little more scary. As the doctors put it, there is a “disconnect” between your brain and the nerves for your lungs. You actually stop breathing, and your brain does not tell your lungs to start up again. This is the one I have, and I need to use a BiPAP machine, which breathes with me all night long.

I am getting my energy back, looking forward to school being out for the summer (yes, I teach high school Business Education), and hoping that the rest of my energy will return during this “rest” period.

I hope, as I journey the rest of the way through this Master’s program, I learn as much from my teachers and fellow students as they can, hopefully, learn from me.