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Characteristics of mindful organizational email communication

Tuijl, R. (2015) Characteristics of mindful organizational email communication.

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Abstract:Background. Mindful communication has proven to increase communication effectiveness in numerous fields of study, but has yet to be researched in the organizational context. This study takes the first step into this direction by exploring how mindful communication is characterized in organizational emails, and if attributes of the sender and email message influence the participant’s decision to respond mindful- or mindlessly. Methods. This exploratory study is of a descriptive nature and the data is collected by means of an open-ended questionnaire. The questionnaire presented participants with ten fictional emails, which were based on eight variable templates (attributes of the sender and email message: professional relationship, gender, attitude, mindfulness, show of emotions, gossip, amount of questions, and formality). Office-workers (n=9) and mindfulness experts (n=7) were asked to reply to five fictional emails in a mindful fashion, and to five mindlessly. The resulting 160 responses were qualitatively analysed to explore differences between mindful and mindless responses. Quantitative analyses were performed to test if the average length of mindful responses differed from mindless responses, and if the sender and email message attributes influenced the participant’s decision to respond in a mindful or mindless fashion. Results. The qualitative analysis resulted in 18 phrase codes over three categories (communication skills, awareness of self, awareness of other) that differentiated mindful emails from mindless. No significant differences were found between office-workers’ and mindfulness experts’ mindful and mindless responses in terms of how they formulated these phrases. The quantitative analyses showed that office-workers’ mindful responses were significantly longer than their mindless counterparts, the same was found for mindfulness experts. Analysis of the sender and email message attributes showed that a number of variables significantly influenced the participant’s decision to respond mindful- or mindlessly: professional relationship, gender, attitude, and show of emotions. Conclusion. Mindful email communication in an organizational context is characterized by its length and usage of certain phrase types, and sender and email message attributes influence if the receiver will respond in a mindful or mindless fashion. These findings can be used as a first step towards identifying mindful communication on an organizational scale, to prepare for studying the effects of mindful email communication on organizational communication effectiveness. A different field of research may further study how sender and email message attributes further impact the receiver’s decision to respond in a mindful or mindless fashion.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/68044
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