Tag Archives: communication

Watch Your Tone?

By Melonie Curry, MBA

Do you remember the days of chilling in your room and your mom calls you and you yell WHAT? And she responds, you better watch your tone of voice or if you were in arms reach… you know how the story ended.

As communicators, it is still important to watch your tone. The words you chose to use to communicate with customers and coworkers establish your brand voice. The Nielsen Norman Group has developed The Four Dimensions of Tone VoiceThe spectrums include:

  • Funny vs. Serious
  • Formal vs. Casual
  • Respectful vs. Irreverent
  • Enthusiastic vs. Matter of Fact

Think about some of the communications you have viewed. When you log onto your bank’s website, the language is going to be very formal and serious. Health and fitness ads are usually very enthusiastic. During the Super Bowl, the commercials for Pepsi and Doritos were funny and irreverent. If you are writing a proposal, it could be formal and matter of fact. Using the wrong tone can take a very negative turn, as in Pepsi’s attempt to be aspirational by having Kendall Jenner hand a police officer a Pepsi during a social justice march.

Get a notepad and make two columns. Take a look at the vision for your personal brand vision or your company’s vision. Write down five words that describe the vision on the notepad (i.e. educate, inform, superior service, quality, funny, factual, aspirational).

Now it’s time to take a look at the tone of your communication. You can look at your website, email messages, personal bio and or social media messages. Identify the tone of five samples in the second column.

Are the tones of your communications aligning with your vision? If not, it’s time to watch your tone. Before you post or hit send, take a moment to review the tone and ensure your communications are in alignment with and promoting your vision.

Melonie Curry, MBA, is a staff analyst with ParkHouston.

Send Me Your Emails!

By Matt Penney, CAPP

“It is Dr. Freemont.  I would appreciate you using my proper title each and every time you address me.”

Great. I had contacted “Dr. Freemont” about his daughter’s use of his faculty parking permit. In the original email, I addressed him by his first name. He was using that slight breach of etiquette to attempt to redirect the conversation. Maybe he was truly offended. Maybe he didn’t want me to realize that his other daughter was also using his wife’s faculty permit.

The lesson to take away from this specific exchange was to never presumptively start a written conversation with an individual’s first name. It was too easy to begin with a more formal title. Actually, the formal beginning really connected with professors, police officers, and those in the military.

From the hundreds of emails Baylor Parking Services receives each semester, several very practical guidelines have come together to improve communication. Eventually, in partnership with IPMI, I enjoyed the opportunity to present what we learned about the best ways to effectively email at several regional parking conferences and operations across the U.S.

With travel and face-to-face trainings on hold, IPMI wanted to get creative in how they provided support to their members. Frontline Fundamentals and other online training options were some of the first steps to adapt to this new normal.

With emails, IPMI saw the opportunity to provide direct modeling for parking agencies. What better way to demonstrate a concept than by working through an agency’s real-world customer interactions? It’s a little different but what in 2020 isn’t different?

For the next four months, IPMI members can send me actual emails for review, and I’ll return with a suggested roadmap for response. Simply send your emails to askMatt@Parking-Mobility.org

More information on the program and how the framework was developed can be found in the October issue of Parking and Mobility.

It’s an atypical training format in a year that has been anything but typical. It should be fun—you never know what people might say.

Matt Penney, CAPP, is director of parking and transportation services at Baylor University and an IPMI trainer.

Communication in a Virtual Training World

Virtual world blog postBy Kim E. Jackson, CAPP

I have the distinct honor of being a trainer for IPMI. I have been training for the past 23 years and one of the major highlights has always been the face-to-face interactions with trainees. During COVID-19, I decided to participate in Frontline Training Live Class Series in addition to teaching a session during the IPMI Virtual Parking & Mobility Conference & Expo. What an incredible experience! I was challenged in ways I did not think possible and realize this experience will make me a better manager.

In the world of Zoom and virtual meeting space, the interactive feedback I was used to during in-person trainings was often a black square, sometimes an initial and last name, making it impossible to see trainees’ reactions to the information I was sharing. Now there were those brave souls who turned their cameras on; they have no idea how helpful that was to this trainer.

Then there are the chat functions—a great feature when you have a co-facilitator, but very nerve wracking when training or teaching solo. It is nearly impossible to keep up with the flood of messages being shared to your questions or comments from others in attendance.

So you may be asking: How can this help me become a better manager? I have learned to be patient with the silence. I have learned eye contact, something I highly value, is not always necessary for comprehension or understanding. It is OK to take a risk and trust your own skills and abilities to communicate in any situation!

Kim E. Jackson, CAPP, is director of parking and transportation at Princeton University and an IPMI trainer.


Frontline Live: Key Components to Composing Effective Emails – June 23, 2020

Key Components to Composing Effective Emails

Review the potential benefits and detriments of email communication and explore ways to resolve issues and make effective connections with email recipients.

Instructor: Matt Penney

Limited to 25 registrants.  Registration coming soon.

$30 per attendee, or $75 for any three Frontline Friday sessions.

Are You Communicating Effectively?

By Jennifer I. Tougas, PhD, CAPP

Communication. It’s easy, right? After all, we live in the age of communication–digital connections, chats, email, texts, social media–all at our fingertips. Yet getting information into the hands of those who need it can be excruciatingly difficult. Ever have those “does the right hand know what the left hand is doing” moments? Despite our best efforts, they keep popping up and for some reason, this summer seems to be riddled with them: “What are the accommodations for this camp comping to campus?”  “What camp?”  Or, send a campus announcement that a parking lot is reserved for the weekend, but staff closes it at noon instead of end of business as planned.  Perhaps you have your own example to share.  It’s incredibly frustrating for all involved and creates a bad experience for customers, which makes the institution as a whole look bad.

High performing teams practice good communication. Good communication requires intent, attention, and vigilance. Who needs to know? This includes both internal and external customers. What do they need to know? When something is happening that directly affects them, they need to know what is happening and why. When do they need to know? Information needs to be provided with enough time to take action.

Are you experiencing “does the left hand know what the right hand is doing” moments?  If so, take a look at your communication practices to see if there’s room for improvement.

Jennifer I. Tougas, PhD, CAPP, is director of parking and transportation services at Western Kentucky University.