On a Monday morning one of my colleagues ditched email and actually called a client. He had been wringing his hands and stressing all weekend after receiving an email from the client on Friday that led him to believe he had somehow unintentionally offended her.
On the phone call, he was relieved when his client clarified that her message “I resent your email” did not mean that she was resenting or upset by something he said. Instead she meant she had “re-sent” as in hitting the send button.
What a reminder of how easily miscommunication can occur when we’re communicating online…which is most of the time!
In my newest keynote presentation “How to Maintain High-Touch Relationships in High-Tech Times” I share the following:3 clues that you should choose to call instead of email or text Clue #1: Numerous Questions/Clarification Needed
The story I shared about my colleague is a perfect example of clarification needed. Whenever we have a strong emotional reaction to something in an email, it’s probably best NOT to immediately fire back a reply. In fact, email-induced angst may be a clue that we need to call and have a conversation…after we’ve taken a few deep breaths.
I also use the “rule of 3”. If I find myself going back and forth via email answering numerous questions or giving/receiving clarification three times, then it’s time to call.
Clue #2: Sensitive Subject
On a non-work note, we’ve all heard the horror stories of people breaking up with someone via text message. Similarly, it would be insensitive to end the company’s relationship with an employee via text or email.
Yet, we’ve heard about companies doing just that. Short of terminating an employee, there are many other sensitive situations such as negative feedback which would be best handled face-to-face or at least by phone.
Clue #3: Conflict Resolution
This could be considered a “cousin” of Clue #2. Just as we wouldn’t address sensitive situations via email, we definitely wouldn’t want to attempt to resolve conflict that way.
When brainstorming, problem solving or a free-flow exchange of ideas is required, it’s best to have an actual conversation.
Plus, periodically gathering your team for important decision-making and discussions is a great team building strategy that will ultimately help them work together better virtually as well.
I share more on these three clues and other high-tech communication tips in an article I wrote for The Executive, a publication of California Society of Association Executives.
As I say in my “wrap up rhyme” when I conclude my high-touch/high-tech presentations:
“Ditch the email and catch a clue, pick up the phone if something is bothering you! High-Touch. High-Tech. Communicate with respect!