Guide to Communicating. Contents. Why communication is critical to projects A communications model The main channels of communication Examples of types of communications Filtering Barriers to communication Approach to communications Conveying messages effectively Listening
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Communication is a complex process. To better understand this it is helpful to break this down into components. A communications model derived from the telecommunications industry provides a useful representation of communications.
Consider the scenario:Mary wants to meet Jane for lunch on Tuesday, and sends an email…
Filtering is altering the interpretation of the message by applying certain influences or biases.
The receiver will filter the message according to their experience and as a result the interpretation of the message can be very different from what was intended.
The consequence of filtering is that there can be misunderstanding which can lead to an unexpected response.
For example, the project manager may ask a team member if the document has been completed. The team member may interpret this as asking whether it has been written, and not whether it has also been reviewed and signed off.
Some of the common areas that cause filtering are:
Project managers and business analysts need to be aware of how filtering can affect communication and appreciate that just because a message has been sent does not mean it has been received and interpreted as expected.
To avoid problems caused by filtering it is recommended that the sender of the message check that the message was understood correctly by asking questions, or asking the receiver to verify their understanding of the message.
Barriers to communication are obstacles that restrict communication.
Some common types of barriers are:
Project managers and business analysts need to break down the barriers so that effective communication can occur.
One of the simplest methods of achieving this is to ask the person if the barrier exists? For example, ask: Is there something affecting this that I am not aware of? Is location a problem in communication on this project? Is this the best method for us to communicate on this?
By asking questions the barrier can be recognised, and in many cases removed or made less restrictive.
At the project level a communications plan can be developed and the strategies put in place to avoid or address anticipated barriers.
What information does this individual/group need to receive?
What is the best mechanism for communicating with this individual/group?
When and how often should the communication occur?
Who will be responsible for creating and delivering this communication?
Considering the potential for filtering and barriers to communication a project manager should consider the following in each communication they make:
Listening is a key component of communicating.
A distinction is made between hearing and listening. True listening involves understanding.
Good listening skills are of major importance in managing projects.
The project manager needs to hear and understand the needs of the sponsor, team and stakeholders to be able to produce the best results for the project in the most effective way.
Business analysts need to listen very carefully when gathering requirements to ensure theyare captured correctly.
Some techniques to improve listening skills are:
Additional ways of improving listening:
The project manager needs to develop a communications plan for the project to ensure effective communication during the life of the project.
The communications plan identifies all regular communications and key one-off communications such as the kick-off meeting and post implementation review.
The plan needs to include all types of communications, including: