COMMUNICATION IN THE PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Barriers in Interpersonal Communication and Importance of
Conducting Project Meetings
The purpose of communication is to get your message across to
others clearly and unambiguously.
Doing this involves effort from both the sender of the message
and the receiver. And it's a process that
can be fraught with error, with messages often misinterpreted by
the recipient. When this isn't detected,
it can cause tremendous confusion, wasted effort and missed
opportunity. In fact, communication is
only successful when both the sender and the receiver understand
the same information as a result of the
communication. By successfully getting your message across, you
convey your thoughts and ideas
effectively. When not successful, the thoughts and ideas that
you send do not necessarily reflect your
own, causing a communications breakdown and creating roadblocks
that stand in the way of your goals
– both personally and professionally.
In a recent survey of recruiters from companies with more than
50,000 employees, communication skills
were cited as the single more important decisive factor in
choosing managers. The survey, conducted by
the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Business School, points out
that communication skills, including
written and oral presentations, as well as an ability to work
with others, are the main factor contributing
to job success.
In spite of the increasing importance placed on communication
skills, many individuals continue to
struggle, unable to communicate their thoughts and ideas
effectively – whether in verbal or written
format. This inability makes it nearly impossible for them to
compete effectively in the workplace, and
stands in the way of career progression.
Getting your message across is paramount to progressing. To do
this, you must understand what your
message is, what audience you are sending it to, and how it will
be perceived. You must also weigh-in
the circumstances surrounding your communications, such as
situational and cultural context.
Communication In the context of Project Manager
Project Communication Management provides a critical link
between “people, ideas, & information” at
all stages in Project Life Cycle. Communication in Project
Management is a formal process aid in
“decision making” & help to achieve a successful project.
Approximately 70-90% of a typical Project
Manager’s time is spent in Communication according to the
45% - Listening.
• Another ~30%-
• PM's spend ~
50% of time in meetings.
Communication Management Plan defines how & when various
stakeholder receive information &
communicate with each other. Memos, emails etc. are non-formal
communication types. Total number
of communication channels between stakeholders is given by the
N(N - 1)/2 (where N is the number of stakeholders)
It means that if there are 10 stakeholder in a project, that
project will have 45 channels of
Cost of Correspondence
One page business letter that took 10 min to dictate cost
between $13.60 & $20.52 in 1996. one can
imagine its cost today. poor writing costs even more since it
wastes time, wastes effort and jeopardizes
Characteristics of Effective Communication
Following are some of the characteristics of effective
- Fostering an
“Open Communication Climate.
- Committing to
- Understanding–”Dynamics of Intercultural Communication”.
Proficient in Communication Technology.
- Using an
“Audience Centered Approach”.
- Creating &
Processing Messages Efficiently”.
In series of transmission form one person to next, message
becomes less & less accurate. Poor retention
of information is another serious problem. It necessitates
repeating message & using several channels. It
will obviously require use more than one channel to
Communication same message.
Figure 43.1: Percentage of Understanding Lost in Communication
Figure 43.2: Information Loss in Downward Communication
Techniques to Improve Organization Communication
Following are some of the techniques, or process improvements
that can improve the communication in
Employees Participation & Involvement
The function of communication is to provide form in which ideas
& purposes can be expressed as
Message. Vocabulary, language, & knowledge play important role
in sender’s ability to encode.
43.2 Interpersonal Communication
Interpersonal communication is the process of sending and
receiving information between two or more
people. Communication is interpersonal when the people involved
are contacting each other as persons,
on a personal level.
Effective Communication is much more than simply transmitting
information to employees. It requires
face-to-face contact in environment of “Openness & Trust”.
Several aspects of Interpersonal
communication include Talking, Listening, Reading, Writing and
the more formalized aspects such as
conducting meetings, interviews etc. and so on.
Elements of Good Talking
Word Choice and
Three Broad Types of Interpersonal Communication:
consists of all forms of spoken
Information & Most preferred type of
Communication used by Managers. Managers prefer face-to-face &
Tele Communication to written
Communication because it permits immediate feedback.
Letters, memos, policy manuals, reports,
forms, & other documents are used
to share Information in Organization.
Types of Nonverbal Communication
- Body Language
- Para language
- Layout and
43.3 Barriers against Effective Interpersonal Communication
Emotions Sometimes when people communicate an idea or matter
across, the receiver can feel how the
sender perceives the subject matter. Often messages are
interpreted differently for different people.
Extreme emotions are most likely to hinder effective
communication because the idea or message
maybe misinterpreted. It's always best to avoid responding or
reacting to the subject matter when you're
upset or angry because most of the time, you'll not be able to
think in a clear manner.
This is where the sender manipulates the information that he communicates to the
The purpose of this is because sometimes people would shape and
reform the message so that it appears
and sounds favorable to the receiver. Filtering information may
mislead the receiver into thinking into
something favorable and the let down may be upsetting if it's
found out that information has been
Overloaded with Information
Too much information about the same
subject matter may be confusing.
For example, you have 50 e-mails on the same subject matter,
each e-mail contains a little part of the
subject matter. It would be better to have one e-mail from the
sender which includes all the information
in clear and simple form with only the information you want that
you asked for. Normally, the human
brain can only take in so much information to process,
overloading it with information will exceed our
human processing capacity, and the receiver would often
misunderstand or not understand at all what
the sender is telling them.
Humans tend to refuse for a mutual
understanding when they feel that they are being
threatened or are put in a position which they are at a
disadvantage. Defensiveness normally consists of
attacking what the sender tells you, putting out sarcastic
remarks, questioning their motives or being
overly judgmental about the subject matter.
Sometimes our culture may be a huge
hindrance for effective interpersonal
communication. When two people with different cultures
communicate, they often do not understand
each other's cultures and may misunderstand the true meaning of
what each other's trying to convey
through such a sense. For example, Japanese people would say
'ha-i' and Americans may misunderstand
that they are saying "hi". This makes the intentions unclear
between both people.
Jargon Not everyone understands each other's jargon words.
Jargon should be avoided when talking to
someone who isn't familiar with you personally or within your
43.3.1 The importance of removing barriers
Problems with communication can pop-up at every stage of the
communication process (which consists
- see the diagram below) and
have the potential to create misunderstanding and confusion.
Figure 43.3: The Communication Process
To be an effective communicator and to get your point across
without misunderstanding and confusion,
your goal should be to lessen the frequency of these problems at
each stage of this process with clear,
concise, accurate, well-planned communications. We follow the
process through below:
As the source of the message, you need to be clear about why
you're communicating, and what you want
to communicate. You also need to be confident that the
information you're communicating is useful and
The message is the information that you want to communicate.
This is the process of transferring the information you want to
communicate into a form that can be sent
and correctly decoded at the other end. Your success in encoding
depends partly on your ability to
convey information clearly and simply, but also on your ability
to anticipate and eliminate sources of
confusion (for example, cultural issues, mistaken assumptions,
and missing information.) A key part of
this is knowing your audience: Failure to understand who you are
communicating with will result in
delivering messages that are misunderstood.
Messages are conveyed through channels, with verbal including
face-to-face meetings, telephone and
videoconferencing; and written including letters, emails, memos
Different channels have different strengths and weaknesses. For
example, it's not particularly effective
to give a long list of directions verbally, while you'll quickly
cause problems if you criticize someone
strongly by email.
Just as successful encoding is a skill, so is successful
decoding (involving, for example, taking the time
to read a message carefully, or listen actively to it.) Just as
confusion can arise from errors in encoding,
it can also arise from decoding errors. This is particularly the
case if the decoder doesn't have enough
knowledge to understand the message.
Your message is delivered to individual members of your
audience. No doubt, you have in mind the
actions or reactions you hope your message will get from this
audience. Keep in mind, though, that each
of these individuals enters into the communication process with
ideas and feelings that will undoubtedly
influence their understanding of your message, and their
response. To be a successful communicator,
you should consider these before delivering your message, and
Your audience will provide you with feedback, verbal and
nonverbal reactions to your communicated
message. Pay close attention to this feedback as it is the only
thing that allows you to be confident that
your audience has understood your message. If you find that
there has been a misunderstanding, at least
you have the opportunity to send the message a second time.
The situation in which your message is delivered is the context.
This may include the surrounding
environment or broader culture (i.e. corporate culture,
international cultures, etc.).
43.4 WRITING SKILLS
Many people are intimidated by writing. Even so, there are times
when writing is the best way to
communicate, and often the only way to get your message across.
Write With Necessary Caution
When writing, remember that once something is in written form,
it cannot be taken back.
Communicating this way is concrete than verbal communications,
with less room for error and even less
room for mistakes. This presents written communicators with
additional challenges, including spelling,
grammar, punctuation, even writing style and actual wording.
Thankfully, today’s technology makes memo, letter and proposal
writing much easier by providing
reliable tools that check and even correct misspelled words and
incorrect grammar use. Unfortunately,
these tools are not foolproof and will require your support,
making your knowledge in this area
The Importance of "Style"
Some of the most basic tips to remember when writing include:
Try not to use
abbreviations (unless appropriately defined)
Steer away from
the symbols (such as ampersands [&])
be avoided, or at the very least, used with caution
used to play down words or phrases
generally used for emphasis
should ALWAYS be taken to spell the names of people and companies correctly
be expressed as words when the number is less than 10 or is used to start a sentence (example: Ten years ago, my brother and I…). The number
10, or anything greater than
10, should be expressed as a figure (example: My brother has 13
• Quotation marks
should be placed around any directly quoted speech or text and around titles of
• Keep sentences
While these tips cover the most common mistakes made when
writing letters, memos and reports, they
in no way cover everything you need to know to ensure your
written communications are accurate
While this takes some practice, there are many sources available
to assist with writing style, including
“The Elements of Style”, by Strunk and White. One glance in any
newsroom or on the desk of even the
most accomplished writers and you are sure to find this small,
easy-to-understand, no-nonsense guide to
writing. It is clear, concise and perhaps the best book of its
kind. If you plan on writing a great deal of
letters or even proposals, it is strongly recommended that you
pick up this nifty guide, which by the
way, will fit in your shirt pocket.
43.5 Letter Writing
When writing letters, it is best to address the letter to an
individual. And, when beginning the letter with
a personal name, be sure to end it with an appropriate closing,
such as ‘Sincerely yours’. If you cannot
obtain an individual’s name, consider ending it with a more
generic (less personal) closing, such as
‘With kindest regards’.
For normal business letters, your letter should start with an
overall summary, showing in the first
paragraph why the letter is relevant to the reader. It’s not a
good practice to make the reader go past the
first paragraph to find out why the letter was sent to them.
The body of the letter needs to explain the reason for the
correspondence, including any relevant
background and current information. Make sure the information
flows logically, ensuring you are
making your points effectively.
The closing of the letter is the final impression you leave with
the reader. End with an action point, such
as ‘I will call you later this week to discuss this further’.
The Importance of Careful Proofing
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when writing a
letter is to check it thoroughly when it is
completed. Even when you think it is exactly what you want, read
it one more time. This “unwritten”
rule holds true for everything you write – memos, letters,
Use both the grammar and spell check on your computer, paying
very, very close attention to every
word highlighted. Do not place total faith on your computer
here. Instead, you should have both a
dictionary and thesaurus (printed or online) to hand to
double-check everything your computer's editing
tools highlight, as these tools are certainly not always
reliable, for a variety of reasons.
When checking your written communications, make sure the
document is clear and concise. Is there
anything in the written communication that could be
misinterpreted? Does it raise unanswered questions
or fail to make the point you need to get across?
Can you cut down on the number of words used? For instance,
don’t use 20 words when you can use 10.
While you do not want to be curt or abrupt, you do not want to
waste the reader’s time with unnecessary
words or phrases.
Is your written communication well organized? Does each idea
proceed logically to the next? Would
some additional headings help? Make sure your written
communications are easy to read and contain
the necessary information, using facts where needed and avoiding
information that is not relevant.
Again, outline the course of action you expect, such as a return
call or visit.
Close appropriately, making sure to include your contact
information. While this may seem obvious, it
is sometimes overlooked and can make your written communications
look amateurish. This can
diminish your chances of meeting your written communication’s
43.6 Active Listening
It is obvious to say that if you have poor interpersonal
communications skills (which include active
listening), your productivity will suffer simply because you do
not have the tools needed to influence,
persuade and negotiate – all necessary for workplace success.
Lines of communications must be open
between people who rely on one another to get work done.
Considering this, you must be able to listen attentively if you
are to perform to expectations, avoid
conflicts and misunderstandings, and to succeed - in any arena.
Following are a few short tips to help
you enhance your communications skills and to ensure you are an
1. Start by Understanding Your Own Communication Style
Good communication skills require a high level of
self-awareness. Understanding your personal style of
communicating will go a long way toward helping you to create
good and lasting impressions on others.
By becoming more aware of how others perceive you, you can adapt
more readily to their styles of
communicating. This does not mean you have to be a chameleon,
changing with every personality you
meet. Instead, you can make another person more comfortable with
you by selecting and emphasizing
certain behaviors that fit within your personality and resonate
with another. In doing this, you will
prepare yourself to become an active listener.
2. Be an Active Listener
People speak at 100 to 175 words per minute (WPM), but they can
listen intelligently at up to 300 words
per minute. Since only a part of our mind is paying attention,
it is easy to go into mind drift - thinking
about other things while listening to someone. The cure for this
is active listening - which involves
listening with a purpose. It may be to gain information, obtain
directions, understand others, solve
problems, share interest, see how another person feels, show
If you're finding it particularly difficult to concentrate on
what someone is saying, try repeating their
words mentally as they say it - this will reinforce their
message and help you control mind drift.
3. Use Nonverbal Communication
Use nonverbal behaviors to raise the channel of interpersonal
communication is facial expressions like smiles, gestures, eye
contact, and even your posture. This
shows the person you are communicating with that you are indeed
listening actively and will prompt
further communications while keeping costly, time-consuming
misunderstandings at a minimum.
4. Give Feedback
Remember that what someone says and what we hear can be
amazingly different! Our personal filters,
assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear.
Repeat back or summarize to ensure that
you understand. Restate what you think you heard and ask, "Have
I understood you correctly?" If you
find yourself responding emotionally to what someone said, say
so, and ask for more information: "I
may not understand you correctly, and I find myself taking what
you said personally. What I thought
you just said is XXX; is that what you meant?"
Feedback is a verbal communications means used to clearly
demonstrate you are actively listening and
to confirm the communications between you and others. Obviously,
this serves to further ensure the
communications are understood and is a great tool to use to
verify everything you heard while actively
43.7 Presentation Planning Checklist
This presentation checklist will help you deliver successful
presentation. This is adapted in part from
“Business Communications: A Cultural and Strategic Approach” by
Michael J. Rouse and Sandra
Does your introduction grab participant’s attention and explain
Do you follow this by clearly defining the points of the
Are these main points in logical sequence?
Do these flow well?
Do the main points need support from visual aids?
Does your closing summarize the presentation clearly and
Is the conclusion strong?
Have your tied the conclusion to the introduction?
Are you knowledgeable about the topic covered in your
Do you have your notes in order?
Where and how will you present (indoors, outdoors, standing,
Have you visited the presentation site?
Have you checked your visual aids to ensure they are working and
you know how to use them?
Make sure you are dressed and groomed appropriately and in
keeping with the audience’s expectations.
Practice your speech standing (or sitting, if applicable),
paying close attention to your body language,
even your posture, both of which will be assessed by the
Are the visual aids easy to read and easy to understand?
Are they tied into the points you are trying to communicate?
Can they be easily seen from all areas of the room?
43.8 Running Effective
Meetings are wonderful tools for generating ideas, expanding on
thoughts and managing group activity.
But this face-to-face contact with team members and colleagues
can easily fail without adequate
preparation and leadership.
The Importance of Preparation
To ensure everyone involved has the opportunity to provide their
input, start your meeting off on the
right foot by designating a meeting time that allows all
participants the time needed to adequately
Once a meeting time and place has been chosen, make yourself
available for questions that may arise as
participants prepare for the meeting. If you are the meeting
leader, make a meeting agenda, complete
with detailed notes.
Managing a Meeting
Choosing the right participants is key to the success of any
meeting. Make sure all participants can
contribute and choose good decision-makers and problem-solvers.
Try to keep the number of
participants to a maximum of 12, preferably fewer. Make sure the
people with the necessary information
for the items listed in the meeting agenda are the ones that are
When an agenda item is resolved or action is agreed upon, make
it clear who in the meeting will be
responsible for this. In an effort to bypass confusion and
misunderstandings, summarize the action to be
taken and include this in the meeting’s minutes.
Meetings are notorious for eating up people's time. Here are
some ways of ensuring that time is not
wasted in meetings:
• Start on time.
• Don't recap
what you've covered if someone comes in late: doing so sends the message that it
to be late for meetings, and it wastes everyone else's valuable
• State a finish
time for the meeting and don't over-run.
• To help stick
to the stated finish time, arrange your agenda in order of importance so that if
have to omit or rush items at the end to make the finish time,
you don't omit or skimp on important
• Finish the
meeting before the stated finish time if you have achieved everything you need
Minutes record the decisions of the meeting and the actions
agreed. They provide a record of the
meeting and, importantly, they provide a review document for use
at the next meeting so that progress
can be measured - this makes them a useful disciplining
technique as individuals' performance and nonperformance
of agreed actions is given high visibility.