07 Jan Fix communication breakdowns
Joe saunters into his office on Tuesday morning. He settles at his desk with a coffee and opens his email. There is a mail from Janice, his boss’s PA, titled: URGENT. It reads:
‘Hi Joe, I didn’t get your numbers on the marketing campaign requested yesterday. The boss isn’t happy. Please send ASAP! Janice’
Joe’s blood starts to boil. He recalls the telephone conversation with Janice and knows that she never mentioned the deadline. His face turns a shade of red and his heart starts to pound faster as he thinks to himself ‘DOES SHE THINK I CAN READ MINDS? Did I put Telepathy on my CV? Great, now my boss thinks I am unreliable.’
Without thinking, Joe writes back to Janice, copying his boss into the chain. He writes: ‘Janice, you NEVER said that the deadline was yesterday! I was backed up on my work after the weekend and didn’t prioritise this request. I will have the report to you by end of the day. Joe’
Tell me….do YOU think that email did Joe any favours?
Me neither. Here are the potential consequences of his email:
- Joe’s boss thinks that he is hot headed.
- He shows no respect for Janice and does not look like a team player.
- Joe should know to ask for the deadline.
- The man seems a bit overwhelmed to his boss who is probably reconsidering his workload.
When communication on email is not going smoothly, the most useful move that you can make is…. Wait for it….
Pick up the telephone and speak the person at the other end of the computer. Email is great, but I have yet to see it fix communication breakdowns.
If Joe would have picked up the phone to Janice, he could have explained that he had not realised the report was due yesterday and then reassured her that the report would be with her shortly. With that phone call, Joe could have re-established his relationship with Janice, possibly asked he about her day as he eradicated her frustrations and explained why he hadn’t met her expectations. But more importantly, Joe and Janice would have strengthened their relationship with a personal conversation.
People seem to take the easy way out when it comes to communicating, rather than making the Right move. Next time you have a communication breakdown via email, make the courageous move and pick up the phone.
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