I spent today counseling a client on how to repair a damaged relationship with another business. Here’s what I learned: Emails are the most dangerous forum for negotiating or resolving disputes. Why? Because, as ironic as it seems, emails illicit too much emotion.
Email is such a part of our society now. Time management workshops spend time on how not let emails ruin your productivity. Texting is fast replacing emails as the preferred communication method. And both have one overriding danger. As we become faster and faster at checking texts and emails, we also become faster and faster at responding. And that is the problem.
The speed advantage and fun of quickly responding to friends and pokes and jokes turns into a liability when the email contact is a personal conflict. The quick response to conflict is often not the best. Yet that is now our instinct when it comes to emails.
How many times has an email hit you the wrong way and your reaction is immediate and often escalating in tone. Be honest. This surely has become my MO more often than I would like to admit.
Luckily, I have learned that the proper response to business conflict is to use as personal a response as possible. I counseled my client to go meet with the other business and apologize for the tone of his emails. In person he could better explain his position and better read their responses. From reading their responses to his emails you could watch the emotion build. Yet, I know both parties, and I know in person neither would be as emotional as their emails became. Ironic.
Emails have their place, and I find writing a great discipline for collecting your thoughts and presenting your position. But before you respond to an email that creates a conflict, ask this one question, “Would a phone call or a person to person be a better way to resolve this problem?” The more important the relationship, the more likely face to face is the answer.
LOL from your VBF:)! #sayit facetoface.