Effectively and efficiently: same meaning?

Effectively and efficiently: same meaning?

written by Lilian Ndongmo. ESL Teacher

A few days ago, one of my students, whom I had been coaching for a presentation she was going to give, had a slightly different view on the words effectively and efficiently. The sentence she wanted included in her presentation was: “The objective of this project is to provide services to our customers effectively.”

“Do you mean efficiently?”, I asked

“No. Effectively.” She replied.

“Effectively and efficiently, then?” I proposed.

“Both words have the same meaning.” She said.

“No, they don’t.”, I replied

“Yes, they do.”

“No, they don’t.” I said, shaking my head. “Ok. Let’s use the dictionary.”

“Alright”, she replied. “but I have to go to the bathroom first. While I’m gone, prepare your arguments.” We both burst into laughter.

Difference in meaning

Though effectively and efficiently are slightly similar, their meanings differ in context.  Generally speaking, effectively has to do with the capacity to produce a result. If you provide services to your customers effectively, what is the result? Your customers are happy. They buy more and tell their friends about your product.

Efficiently has to do with competence; how well a job is done in the best way possible, without wasting time and effort. The reason why your company provides services to customers effectively is because of the assistant who works efficiently.

A person who works efficiently is skilled, knowledgeable and quite capable of doing his or her job. Who doesn’t want that?