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Communication Theories Applied on Project Management

communication project managerTheories tend to overlap. Some sociological theories are often used in communication, while communication theories can be applied in pretty much every field out there and not just in journalism and literature. There are some communication theories that can improve an individual’s management skills, especially when interacting with team members. Project managers better take note.

Diffusion Theory

Humans are creatures of habits, and this is emphasized in the theory. It’s difficult to change how individuals change their habits or their choice of thinking in an instant. Some individuals can easily adapt to changes while others will take time to adjust. Project managers should keep this theory in mind during the planning stage. Sudden changes in plans can disorient some team members, causing them to not function as properly as usual. Thus, plans need to be concrete and thorough to avoid disorientation among team. But when you’re aware of the Diffusion Theory, you can come up with ways to make transitions effective for most, if not all, members.


To achieve maximum results, a group needs to have one mind. That’s the idea behind the Groupthink theory. The group members need to have the same goals, and there must be a unity in the decision-making. It will be difficult to achieve Groupthink since the cohesiveness within the members has to be high. As a project manager, you need to find a common ground with all the members to make sure that you’re all aiming for the same thing. Most importantly, the team members must feel that they’re part of the group that achieving the project goals is far more important than their personal differences. However, side effects occur in Groupthink and it’s best to be prepared for that as well.

Social Information Processing Theory

Many individuals are quick to dismiss the effectiveness of online communication, but the Social Information Processing Theory emphasizes how online relationships can be as strong as face-to-face ones. This interpersonal communication theory points out how strong bonds can be formed through the very few clues individuals can get from online conversations. This is important in this age where email correspondences sometimes happen more often than in-person conversations. It’s also inevitable to send group messages within the team to quickly disperse instructions and information. To keep in mind that online relationships also matter, project managers will put more care with their words and on how to properly relay a message despite the lack of social context clues.

Communication Accommodation Theory

This theory argues that an individual adapts to the person they’re communicating with. When they interact with others, an individual try to accommodate others by changing speech patterns, body language and gestures. As project managers, it’s your duty to communicate well with your team members and communication accommodation theory can help you understand how and why. However, try to avoid overaccommodation that can happen in four ways: overdoing, sensory, dependency and intergroup accommodation.


It’s not just in the communication field that project managers can use theories for their own personal development. As leaders, they need to constantly find ways to improve and develop. Adapting to different schools of knowledge is one way to do that.

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