Am I a part of the Project Communication Process?

Published: 24th July 2006
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Am I a part of the Project Communication Process?

By Samuel Lartey, Project Manager.

One core management skill in project management process has to do with Project Communication Management. It is believed that successful project management lies in project communication planning, information distribution and performance reporting.

I have managed many projects teams successfully; one of the things I heard most frequently from people, and that I notice about project teams, is the difficulty of recalling a previous conversation. From both formal and informal communication and exchange processes, people get an idea about going after some goal, but what happens often is this cool goal is dismissed in a millisecond because one didn't hear the substance of the conversation or could not break it down in the mind into the packages necessary to reach it.

This is often too common in Project Management. Project Management teams have many associations, and opportunities to share great ideas that will make the project successful, grow the teams and achieve organisational and personal successes but what often happens, the art of good conversation is often absent.

The art of good conversation often centres on the ability to ask good, well worded questions and to pay attention to answers. What interests me most in project management is the fact that to successfully initiate projects you must involve all whose interest will be affected both positively and negatively. The need to question them and direct the conversations to give these people the opportunity to express themselves. This however becomes difficult to do.

Usually, we don't get the outcomes we want simply because we can't imagine it. Imagine it and ask about it. We aren't able to imagine saying the right thing or being confident no matter how much we prepared. We don't feel creative or successful, so that part of our mind stays hidden behind a brick wall. It's there, but we don't "let" it out. We "can't imagine it..." To do right with this ask, open ended questions that cannot be answered with a simple "yes" or "no". Open ended questions encourage the speaker to expand on his thoughts and comments. Open ended questions draw out of the other person everything that he or she has to say on a particular subject.

Remember, microwave ovens, laptop computers, fax machines and

email grew out of someone's mind. Effective questioning can let out great imaginations of a person's mind to make you achieve your goals.

In order to be an effective conversationalist, you must resist the urge to dominate all discussions, rather be genuinely interested in other persons. Be content to listen when other people are talking and make effective contributions as and when needed. If you want to learn something or do something you've

never done or done well, try this. You can do this absolutely well by asking yourself who's done this before? Who's good at this? You can then make effective contributions from there.

Project communication should shift back and forth, making way for all to get an opportunity to talk or share ideas that will develop the project. Never hold on communications for a longer time than is expected. If you feel you have been talking for too long, you should stop and ask a question of someone in the loop.

Listening is the most important of all skills for successful conversation. Make frantic efforts to listen to conversations. In effective listening assume you are talking and would therefore need the attention of people. Give your attention. Show effective body language that would translate your interest in the conversation to the speaker. The most acceptable actions to effective conversation are to express interest and be attentiveness throughout the exchange and remember to ask good questions, take deep relaxing breath, and show positive body language. Finally let the other person talk more, just as the old axiom; you have two ears and one mouth so listen twice as much as you talk.

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