I saved myself from several communication errors – when, if I’d hit send on those feelings, or if I’d written what I thought or sent what I drafted, I’d have offended a friend, irritated a client and misplaced some anger.
I stopped short several times and picked up the phone.
I deleted that draft, and I picked up the phone.
I stowed that thought in that DRAFT and deleted it instead, and I picked up the phone.
Thus ended the lesson.
We used to fix things with white-out.
Or an apology.
We used to joke about it was so much easier to beg forgiveness afterward than to get permission first.
We quipped about that because we knew those were situations were difficult – we likely wouldn’t get permission, or we would spoil our agenda, and we risked the consequences of overstepping our bounds without getting fired. Those stories are suitable for swapping, but they are about embarrassing actions, not for repeating.
We used to avoid fixing things by not breaking them. Sometimes, that was by being more careful; sometimes, it was because we spent a little more to buy an unbreakable item.
With a world of information and advice at our point/click fingertips, there is so much more to learn about life and human nature.
Do you get irritated when someone sends you an email ~ and to be clear, I’m not talking about emails where their intent is to be nasty, or maybe they are just carelessly negative ~ the kind when someone blithely writes something they haven’t through in terms of how it might be received, and you get mildly irritated?
Or REALLY IRRITATED?
I get them too.
And no doubt I send a few.
The other day I had a meeting with a client who turned his computer screen around to show me an email I’d sent to him, explaining how he felt I’d been insulting to him and his organization. The issue and the words I used are not the point. I was pointing out something matter of fact, and the recipient was taking umbrage with what I meant. We cleared that up. I found it amusing and informative; clearly, he was very smart, but I was right.
Fast-forward to the next morning, in my overnight mail was an email from someone else about something completely different (a long-time friend, colleague, writer, reader of this column, person skilled and charming with words), and it was me feeling insulted.
In that moment, I learned two lessons.
The first, a message of laughter at myself and a reminder that I owe the first guy an apology. The second, a lesson that no matter how right we might feel about stupid things done by smart people, “it can happen to you too.”
And a bonus – a poignant reminder that it’s better to speak directly to someone than to send them an email.
Corrective action – a note in several drawers, something I see several times a day …
‘SECRET TO BETTER COMMUNICATION: make more calls, send fewer emails.’