Composing, sending, and receiving productive, developed messages require a high level of awareness by the sender and receiver. Senders should be well-versed in the varying tones he or she may portray in reference to the point attempting to be made and receivers should remain open to feedback and maintain the ability to delineate between negative and positive messages. “No communication skill is more critical to the manager than the ability to frame an issue effectively. How someone frames an issue influences how others see it and focuses their attention on particular aspects of it. Framing is the essence of targeting a communication to a specific audience” (Raffoni, 2009, p. 3).
A message is a form of communication in which the sender’s thoughts, opinions, or instructions are articulated to the receiver(s). The receiver(s), when the message is in correct composition, should be able to comprehend the intentions and act in accordance. “Messages generally take one or more of three forms: _to inform, to persuade,_ or _to take action”_ (Roebuck, 2006, p. 10). Messages of an informative nature distribute educational or explanatory data. Messages of persuasion endeavor to alter the receiver’s thoughts, opinions, or actions whereas action messages encourage or prompt the receiver to perform specifics undertakings. Within this essay, three messages will be under examination and a response to one message given as a means of communicatory feedback.
Marisa, an office coordinator within the Emergency Department, sent me an e-mail two weeks ago in search of a meeting room. It read: “Would you mind looking to see if the Administrative Atrium is available for May 6th from 9am- 10:30am? Please and Thank you.” Marisa serves as the sender (or encoder) in this communication process and I remain as the recipient (or decoder). “The sender initiates a communication and determines the intent of the message, how to send it, and what, if any, response is required” (Roebuck, 2006, p. 10). The message is one of a mixed nature, combining both aspects of information and action request, within its brevity. Instead of calling to inquire, Marisa, with whom I hold a professionally positive relationship, chose to use e-mail format for this particular request.
E-mail stands as one of the most frequently used forms of communication in professional settings because of its record-keeping abilities and accessibility. Receiving e-mail communications makes the process easier as I can manage the requests sent via e-mail in a timely manner but most important, on my own schedule, versus dropping my present task to assist a caller. Because of the early notice of meeting space necessity, the e-mail format serves as an appropriate, effective way of requesting assistance. The e-mail is within a positive construction and includes no signs of punctuated or abbreviated wording to suggest hesitancy, malicious tones, or unprofessional construction.
Feedback, another form of communication, presents itself in various forms such as interpretive, descriptive, and evaluative (Roebuck, 2006). Receiving and providing feedback are important steps to the follow-up process of communicating messages and relates to the sender that the original message was understood. Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of teaching a management class instructing recently promoted managers on how to handle the evolvement from peer to manager and gain confidence in his or her newfound position. Three days post-course I received a phone call from one of the class participants, Carolyn, in reference to the class material, presentation, and general experience. The statement was: “Before the class I felt insecure within my management title and anxious for the backlash of my previous peers but now feel confident in my abilities and convinced I deserve my new title. The video was a bit juvenile but the examples within far outweighed the lack of displayed acting.” She also inquired in regard to the group exercises and once she was in full comprehension of the material and need for it all, the conversation ended.
I was, as in the first example, the decoder, and Carolyn was the encoder. Carolyn and I work together in various forums but know very little about one another on a personal level. We maintain a mutual respect but work together so infrequently, animosity or discontent have had no time to show themselves. Carolyn shows signs of falling into the ‘pleaser’ category because of her pleasant demeanor and approval-seeking manners (Roebuck, 2006). The message was one of a positive nature and was more informative than anything else. Although e-mail proves to be the most effective and preferable form of feedback communication as it serves as a record for future reference, this conversational instance required continued conversation for explanatory purposes. The feedback on paper would’ve been constructive for future reference and for placement in course filings but the confusion regarding the need for the material provided was a conversation that necessitated a response.
Twice a year I hold the honor of teaching a Medical Terminology course that carries on for eight weeks, one day per week. The class participation tops off at 25 students and after this is full, I begin receiving e-mails and phone calls requesting a wait list slot. One student who happened to miss the cut off number contacted me via phone and made the effort to bully his way into the roster. He said “I don’t understand why you cannot add me to the list when you only have 25 people signed up thus far. Can you not handle more students? Maybe your corporation should put someone else in front of the classroom to teach because that person might be able to handle a larger class.”
In this situation I was the decoder and the potential student was the encoder. He took an aggressive stance and the environment was unproductive, uncomfortable, and inefficient. He was proving himself to be a mixture between a ‘commander’ and an ‘attacker’ by the approach he took. “Commanders are individuals who thrive on control” and “attackers will appear angry, hostile, cynical, and grouchy” (Roebuck, 2006, p. 20). I wish some form of external noise was present within this situation to assist in distracting my anxiety and irritation. The caller seemed as if he was dealing with some form of internal noise that made him so incredibly infuriated. “‘Noise’ is anything which impedes or interferes with the message, and was not intended by the sender” (Communication, n.d., para. 1). The message was action-based because it demanded action from the decoder’s part to rectify the anger.
In response to the “gentleman” above, I made sure to take two extremely deep breaths and made an attempt to approach the situation in the most professional, mature manner I knew how. My verbal explanation was “Sir, I can tell you are upset by this and I understand your eagerness to join this course but I cannot allow it at this time. We do, however, have the next course dates set and would be more than willing to sign you up for that session? Per course stipulations, I am not permitted to allow more than 25 participants and will lose my certification upon breaking this rule. Again, I apologize for the inconvenience and can provide you with phone numbers of other facilities that hold similar classes?” I was the sender and he was the receiver but the environment was less hostile and more productive. I was offering ideas of rectification and in a tone worthy of respect and believed this manner of recourse was the most appropriate and effective. The attempt to re-establish a professional rapport was the best response and did not add fuel to the fire in terms of angering the individual more.
Ensuring the delivery and decoding of a message is to one’s expectations remains pertinent to effective message delivery and receiving. Remaining aware of the tone, environment, personality styles, noise, feedback, and mode of delivery are all important aspect to the communication process and can ensure smooth delivery and productive responses or harsh feedback and decoder resistance.
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