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It is often said that a good project manager spends 70 to 90 percent of their time communicating. I would argue that number is low! Even when we think we are not communicating, we may still be sending important messages. For example, lack of communicating may be interpreted as disinterest, or angry facial expressions may be interpreted as frustration and failure. All may be communicating unintended messages.

Therefore, in addition to traditional techniques and tools for managing communications (websites, newsletters, status reports), a good project manager needs to be deeply aware of other forms of communication such as body language and paralinguals (vocal signals that go beyond words, such as the tone and pitch). In a globalized and virtual world where stakeholders are located around the globe, communications skills such as cultural and political awareness are extremely essential. Body language, or simply the way you address a colleague is unique to every culture.

A good communicator is also a great listener! Effective listening (providing feedback and asking questions) and emotional intelligence (being in-tune with our feelings and with how we are perceived) are also vital skills used by great project managers. Understanding other person’s point of view will help mediate conflict, drive consensus, and overall improve mutual understanding; all skills needed to excel in project management.

Luisa Villegas is an adjunct instructor with Project Management Experts and has extensive education and practical experience in communications and international project management. She prepares students for the PMP exam and also teaches Effective Communications Techniques.