Written, Verbal, or Face to Face Communication?

Choosing the appropriate mode of communication, or appropriate modes of communication is crucial to success in project management, instructional design, and quite frankly, in most other fields as well.

Nonverbal-Image Image from Microsoft Clip Art. Used in accordance with sharing policy.

A “no” said with a laugh, and a “no” said with three exclamation marks do not mean the same thing. Similarly, a message delivered in e-mail is not equal to a message delivered by voice mail, nor is that message the same when delivered face to face. Written communication is perfect for transmitting facts, dates and non-emotional, non-sensitive, fact-based communications. Voice mail escalates up the scale a notch, by adding more urgency, or enthusiasm, more inflection and emotion, and more diversity in communication. Many emotions can all be picked up in the tone that is used, and variances in mood can be detected in verbal communications.  Face to face is by far the safest way to successfully communicate thoughts, ideas and needs to other people, as it is easier to see the effects of the communication, and make appropriate adjustments on the spot.

Oftentimes, more than one method of communication is necessary. It is important to “confirm in writing the important information that was shared in informal discussions” (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer & Sutton, 2008). Because the “key to successful project management is effective communication – sharing the right messages with the right people in a timely manner” (Portny et al, 2008), it is important to know and understand the audience in order to best deliver the most effective modes of communication.

The multi-media presentation “The art of effective communication” (Laureate Education, n.d.) can be summarized in my words as follows:

  • E-mail is fine (if the communicator has strong writing skills)
  • Voice mail is better (voice inflection helps to communicate what words cannot)
  • Face to face is the best (it is the most empathetic, communicates the most, and can be adjusted immediately based on feedback from the receiving party as information is received)



Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The art of effective communication [Multi-media file] Retrieved from http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/2dett4d/Walden/EDUC/6145/03/mm/aoc/index.html

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, Inc.


2 thoughts on “

  1. I agree, it is what you don’t say that counts. As you work toward in-Person communication, it does seem to get easier to align what you’re thinking and feeling to what you are communicating. Sometimes communicating deadlines to stubborn coworkers or just overly worked coworkers, requires a bit of persuasion to get your project moved to top priority. I’m much more persuasive in person than through email. I dread leaving voice mails! I sometimes talk in circles.

  2. Hi Deb,

    I picture is worth a thousand words, and the unspoken communication queues are just as valuable. I really appreciated your image that you attached. It is a perfect example of body language that we all use everyday to convey unspoken feelings and attitudes. For our exercise in this example, I chose the voice mail as the best communication tool for the subject. The reason being was that I was not not convinced by the face to face meeting that there was any sense of urgency in the presenters words, actions or body language. I got the feeling that she was being defensive and insecure about what she really needed. You might not have gathered that at all, and that is a perfect example of why communication needs to be detail oriented with the availability for feedback. I do believe that the best form of communication is face to face whenever possible as it leaves less for interpretation. I just think that in our example, she could have expressed herself better.

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