Why don't they listen?

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Posted by APM on 19th Oct 2011

There is real evidence to suggest that many project failures can be attributed to poor communication. Naturally we all believe we are transmitting perfectly well, the problem must lie with those receiving and their understanding!

Communication is the giving, receiving, processing and interpretation of information. Information can be conveyed verbally, non-verbally, actively, passively, formally, informally, consciously, or unconsciously. Effective communication is fundamental to project management APM Body of Knowledge 5th edition

The latest People SIG workshop held on 26th September 2011reminded attendees that communication is constant and that were all communicating, all of the time.

To communicate effectively as an individual you should take responsibility for all three of the essential components of any communication:
-Transmission
-Reception
-Understanding

Around 40 people were there, and presentations were made by Tim Lyons, Rob Sadler and Sheilina Somani, with Irene Macdonald presenting the days conclusions.

Tim Lyons encouraged delegates to contemplate some of the assumptions that we presume are shared despite being based on personal logic, and round-table discussions were led on the positive and negative communication options in different project situations. The presentation also explored the three primary representational systems, thinking about how different people learn and understand through hearing (auditory), seeing (visual) or feeling (kinaesthetically) and the need to take your audiences needs into consideration.

Rob Sadler used video clips to prompt discussion. The monkey business illusion led to a debate on focus, awareness, and preconditioning. Some CCTV footage was shown which conflicted with a narrative and written description of events, illustrating different methods of retaining information. The presentation included the learning triangle representing the greater retention that comes through greater involvement and practical immersion (actually doing things!), and also that the simplicity of a message directly relates to the ease of retention, for example a single agenda item for a meeting, with interactive discussion, rather than a multi-message lecture to a large audience. As well as covering the benefits of multiple transmission (potentially including repeated use of a single media), participants were encouraged to consider communication being represented by a thrower, a catcher, and a ball and that its key to consider all three when communicating.

Sheilina Somani explored different cultural influences on communication, and how some of the preconceptions and prejudices that we personally bring into a project can affect the way we interact with different team members and stakeholders. The presentation included reference to the specific attention that is required when using a variety of social media. Sheilina proposed that with communication as with other aspects of the project environment, rather than focus on recording lessons learned we should concentrate on applied learning.

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