Join Doug Rose for an in-depth discussion in this video Starting two-way communication, part of Project Management Foundations: Communication.
At the end of the nineteenth century, the telephone was invented and it changed the world. Previously, people used a telegraph to transmit beeps that would create written letters. The telegraph was limited to just one-way communication. The new telephone was a marvel of two-way communication. The telegraph had existed for decades. What the telephone gave you was the power of two-way communication with the long-distance reach of the telegraph. This simple ability to transmit back and forth increased what each person could communicate. This shift started a whole new era of communication.
Two-way communication is one of the most powerful tools you have as a project manager. You need to nurture two-way communication. It should be your go-to method for all important communication. If you understand the power of two-way communication, you'll start to rely on it more and more on your projects. Two-way communication is a conversation. This conversation can be in person, over the phone, through video, or even though instant messaging. The conversation should go from sender to receiver and back again. An important part of two-way communication is this back and forth.
There should be a rhythm to two-way communication. A message goes out, is heard by the audience, and the person has an opportunity to ask questions. The best form of two-way communication is face to face two-way communication. With a face to face conversation, you can take advantage of visual cues, gestures, body language. These cues will tell you when someone has a question even before they ask. I once worked for an organization that discouraged two-way communication. Co-workers were located throughout the building. Very few of the cubicles had names on them.
The meeting rooms were booked months in advance. So this organization had trouble completing their projects. The projects were swamped with e-mail messages and replies. Everyone spent a good part of the day just trying to find out answers to basic questions. So you should think of two-way communication as an investment in your project. You'll spend more time at the beginning clearing up questions. Then you can follow up later using one-way communication for updates and notice. Two-way communication is less prone to the miscommunication that can plague one-way messages.
The audience can quickly clear up confusion. It's almost always a more reliable way to get good information, but it's a lot more difficult to organize. You can fire off a one-way e-mail to half a dozen people in five minutes. If you wanted to use two-way communication, you have to visit each person individually, or gather them all in one place. One-way communication also takes a lot less effort and a lot less time. So it's much more widely used. Many organizations encourage one-way communication over two-way communication.
But one-way communication is always informative. You want to use two-way communication to explain something so that people can answer questions. You also want to use two-way communication for high emotion messages. You'll get the most value from two-way communication if you follow some simple practices. If you have meetings in your office, try to remove as many obstacles as you can when having a conversation. You should also focus on listening. Finally, make sure you don't multitask when using two-way communication.
You can enhance your two-way communication by being aware of physical obstacles. If you have an office, don't keep a chair on the other side of your desk. Instead, place the chairs on the opposite corner of your office. You might not realize that your desk is a communication barrier between you and your audience. A physical barrier can quickly become an emotional barrier. Instead, get up from your desk and sit right next to the other person. When you're using two-way communication, be sure to make the distinction between what you want to hear and what you're actually hearing.
Everyone's tendency is to accept good news, and be more skeptical of bad news. Finally, don't multitask when using two-way communication. If you're talking with someone, do not simultaneously check your e-mail on your phone. It usually means you're either not listening, or not reading. Most people are much worse at multitasking than they know. They assume their time is like a pizza that can be divided out one slice at a time. In reality, with each task, you lose a percentage of your productivity. If you use two-way communication, and you use it well, you'll find that it solves many of your problems.
If you take the time and effort you'll have the greatest respect for this oldest form of human communication.
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- Using formal and informal means to communicate
- Prioritizing stakeholder needs
- Listening actively
- Planning project communication
- Understanding leadership language
- Writing clear and concise project reports
- Learning how and when to say "no"<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.