Friday, July 17, 2015

Beyond the Cup and String

This post analyzes a message transmitted via; email, voicemail, and face to face contact. Specifically; I will address my perceptions of how the message changed with each modality of communication. Unfortunately, the presentation containing the messages is located behind a firewall; otherwise I would be happy to share the material with my countless loyal readers.
Frankly, after viewing each message several times, my impression of the main point of the message….Jane needs Mark to provide information from his report so she can include in here report…has not changed. I did note that the email and voicemail are essentially simplex/one-way forms of communication, whereas the face to face meeting is ostensibly a two-way form of both verbal and non-verbal communication.
This is precisely why I flagged the face to face message as ineffective, as Jane delivers her message in an unprofessional manner. For starters, she only pops her head above Mark’s cubicle….that is to say, she apparently couldn’t bothered with walking around the cube. Worse yet, she delivers an entire soliloquy without pause and failed to elicit any feedback or acknowledgement from Mark.
The phone message is somewhat better, but Jane’s voice inflection fails to communicate any sense of urgency in receiving the required information from Mark. Ultimately, the email seems to be the most effective form of transmitting the intended message.


  1. Rob, you made some points about the face-to-face message that I had not considered. You noted that she peaked over the cubicle and there is no indication that asked if that was a good time for her to talk to him. You are correct, she also did not leave any space for him to interject or give feedback. Based on my communication style, I would definitely appreciate someone to get the point quickly, but not everyone shares that same preference.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Katherine,

      your take on the effectiveness of each mode of communication provides a great deal of food for thought. I have posted my thoughts on the subject on your blog.

  2. Hi Rob – This is an interesting little exercise. Interpretation is everything and in the eyes and ears of the beholder/listener/reader. I got the same message from all three modalities. I didn’t think about the informality of popping one’s head over the cube. I guess it depends on the relationship the two have. I thought the lady in the video was laid back, someone else thought she was stern and you thought she’s unprofessional – and those are the opinions I’ve seen so far. With so many different interpretations, it’s a wonder we can communicate at all.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      The visit is appreciated.

      For the record, I have done my fair share of popping my head over the cube. However, after watching the video, I will make a point of walking around before addressing a person.

      Indeed, communications are often difficult and subject to interpretation. It seems counter-intuitive, but oft times non-verbal clues are the most reliable and quickest indication of state of mind and intent.