" According to Short, Williams, and Christie (1976; cited by Van Den Hooff, Groot & De Jonge, 2005), Social Presence Theory notes that "communication media differ in the degree to which they can communicate (or simulate) the social presence of the communication partners through the use of social cues (both verbal and nonverbal cues)." This theory purports that if a medium can only communicate limited social cues, communication partners do not experience each other's social presence. In turn, they will likely not pay as much attention to each other in the interaction as they would if the interaction took place in a face-to-face setting. In light of this contention, Media Richness Theory (Daft & Lengel, 1984, 1986; cited by Van Den Hooff, Groot & De Jonge, 2005) proposes that not all communication media uniformly suit information requirements various tasks generate. Daft and Lengel (1984; cited by Van Den Hooff, Groot & De Jonge, 2005), differentiate two different information requirements:
uncertainty, the lack of information, which creates the need for more information, and equivocality, the absence of clear definitions of situations."
Equivocality does not mandate that more information be communicated, but that richer, more relevant information be related. Daft and Lengel (1986, p. 560; cited by Van Den Hooff, Groot & De Jonge, 2005) explain that richer information possess a higher capacity "to change understanding within a time interval." Daft and Lengel (Ibid.) further contend that "communication transactions that can overcome different frames of reference or clarify ambiguous issues to change understanding in a timely interval are considered rich." Media prove more appropriate for equivocal information tasks, or possess a greater measure of media richness, if/when they score higher on the following four criteria:
the possibility of instant feedback, the medium's ability to convey multiple cues, such as body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and so on, the use of natural language to convey subtleties and nuances, and the personal focus of the medium.
Daft and Lengel (Ibid.) argue that the best possible fit between task and medium may be achieved and that individuals whose media choice corresponds with this optimum perform better. Richer media better suits for tasks which possess a high degree of equivocality.
When a low degree of equivocality exits, albeit, a lean medium will likely prove more effective. In light of these contentions, communication technologies such as e-mail generally denote relatively "lean" media. Consequently, according to contingency theories, these types' media serve best for delivering noncomplex, information lean tasks. (Van Den Hooff, Groot & De Jonge, 2005) Media richness theory spawned a number of studies investigating its central premises. McGrath and Hollingshead (1993; cited by Van Den Hooff, Groot & De Jonge, 2005), for example, "proposed explicit task media fit hypotheses and found support for the importance of the fit between task and medium for communication performance." From their study, Rice, Hughes, and Love (1987; cited by Van Den Hooff, Groot & De Jonge, 2005) determined parallel results. Rice, Grant, Schmitz, and Torobin (1990; cited by Van Den Hooff, Groot & De Jonge, 2005), also confirmed the degree a person perceives a medium to be appropriate to his/her task consequently impacts his/her evaluation of that particular medium and, in turn, his/her adoption and use of it.
Consistent with media richness theory, Kraut, Rice, Cool, and Fish (1998; cited by Van Den Hooff, Groot & De Jonge, 2005) purported that people completing work deficient in routine utilized video telephony more than individuals performing more routine tasks. Contrary to media richness theory, however these researchers found that managers, filling "people management" positions utilized lean media more frequently than they used rich media.
At best, the exploration of existing research reveals only partial support for the central premises of media richness theory. Hollingshead, McGrath, and O'Connor (1993; cited by Van Den Hooff, Groot & De Jonge, 2005) discovered that for negotiation and intellective tasks, face-to-face groups outperformed computer-mediated groups. They did not find, albeit any significant differences on generative and decision-making tasks. Each of the laboratory experiments by a number of researchers (e.g. Kinney and Watson (1992; Kinney and Dennis 1994; Valacich, Mennecke, Wachter, and Wheeler, 1994; cited by Van Den Hooff, Groot...
When Suh (1999; cited by Van Den Hooff, Groot & De Jonge, 2005) conducted a similar experiment, he noted that none of the considered task-medium interaction revealed any effects on decision time or decision quality. The media richness theory's primary premise purports an optimal possible fit exists between task and medium and that users aim to achieve this goal. Trevino, Daft, and Lengel (1990; cited by Van Den Hooff, Groot & De Jonge, 2005) argue, however that media characteristics relating to media richness theory do not always prove to be absolutely objective, as media possess a symbolic value. This symbolic value may stimulate less than optimal media choices in regard between task and medium connection. Face-to-face communication, for example, depicts commitment and personal interest. "The symbolic value is believed to be an important reason for face-to-face interaction in circumstances where another medium would have been a more optimal fit." (Van Den Hooff, Groot & De Jonge, 2005) Munter, Rogers and Rymer (2003) point out that e-mail, like writing, provides a record. So do, as in the case of the Accident Insurance Group, the text messages the company sent May 30, 2008. The following suggestions by these authors relate ways to enhance e-mail communications. Some of these suggestions, this researcher purports, also aptly apply to text messages, albeit perhaps in an abbreviated sense.
Use a "talking" subject line to inform recipient what the message concerns how this specific information concerns them. In this introductory phrase, relate as much as possible about the message and its intent. For example, instead of "Scope statement," "Revised scope statement" or "Scope stmt/2nd draft" better conveys the message. (Munter, Rogers and Rymer, 2003)
When reader action is needed, use a verb, for example:
Comment on attached" or "Need input re. slides." (Munter, Rogers and Rymer, 2003)
Place the most vital important words at the start of the message, as readers initially see this text in their in-box display.
Unless it constitutes the most appropriate identification of the topic, when "reply" subject lines no longer fit the message - modify them instead of merely leaving this line unchanged in a series of messages
As readers frequently will only look at the first screen of message, apply the "top of the screen" test will let the writer know if the reader will likely see his/her request. Questions for the writer to consider include: Will the reader get the information they need most? Will they realize at the onset of the message whether it includes important information later in the message? The writer needs to inform the reader at the start of a message what the concerns, and then explicitly referring to the people, products, or issues involved.
If a writer has any requests for action and information the readers must see and wants a reply, he/she needs to ask for it up front. Whatever the reader needs to do, needs to be stated at the beginning. The writer needs to relate information most relevant for the reader at the message's beginning.
The writer needs to "forecast and number multiple points, requests, or steps" (Munter, Rogers and Rymer, 2003) that the reader needs to take. If this is not included in the message, the reader made neglect to scroll down and read that part of the message. For example, stating: "This e-mail explains the six-point process you need to follow to install the virus protection program in your computer," or "Here are three reasons in support of this recommendation," helps ensure the reader will get the entire message.
Readers comprehend messages better that were written in short chunks, as they tend to glance over email/[text] messages quickly. A writer can help the reader grasp his/her messages better when he/she utilizes "short lines, relatively short sentences, and short paragraphs." (Munter, Rogers and Rymer, 2003)scare me
To make the reader's job easier, divide material into normal paragraphs and avoid sending information and huge blocks of text.
Each new paragraph will likely catch the reader's attention. Place the primary point of each paragraph at its star, so the reader will get the message.
Conclude the message in a straightforward manner. Routine e-mails do not need a conclusion; however non-routine e-mails may require a brief statement, perhaps something interpersonal. Dragging out the end and/or repeating cliches implies the reader should confirm receipt of the message.
As readers may only glance at their e-mail, designing the message for "high skim value" helps ensure that the reader will notice the…
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