We’ve all been at the receiving end of email and thinking, “What the heck do they mean by that?” And we’ve also been the sender of emails that probably would have been better communicated in another method. I was reminded of this last week when I sent email that was misinterpreted. Sometimes, damage control after the fact doesn’t seem to erase the recipient’s perception of the first email.
Simon Sinek comes to my mind when I heard him say that [paraphrasing because I can’t find the exact quote], “Emails are great for information exchange and sending attachments but not for difficult conversations.”
I’ve thought a lot about this, and when we were in the office more, I would try to walk and ask someone my question instead of sending an email. That way, 1) I’m avoiding adding more to our exploding inboxes and 2) I’m able to see their reaction. In a world where are constantly behind screens, seeing someone up close felt like a reward to me – even more so now.
There’s tone, voice inflection, excitement, sadness, and genuine curiosity that can be conveyed over the phone or in person. And if the other person is confused by what you are saying, you can address it in real time.
Here are some basic guidelines:
· If you’re not sure how someone is going to react, it’s probably not best for email.
· If you want to show someone you’re thinking of them, a short audio or video message would go a long way.
· If you remember nothing else, think of this tweet before you send another email:
I’m not going to beat myself up for making another poor email decision; I’m human and I make mistakes. You will, too. But there’s always an opportunity to try something new and grow.
So here’s our challenge for this Thanksgiving week: send one person an audio or video message instead of email or text. And before you hit SEND, decide whether its information OR conversation. Then post in the comments below – tell us how it went!
Until next week,
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