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Do not escalate first & apologise later

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Good communication results in less time wasted and zero apologizing. But what is good differs. We all want to be friendly, warm and helpful. Stiff, formal and clear can be detrimental to building relationships. How many times have you read emails that give you too much “over information”, in that they become patronizing?

The key is to try to strike a balance and get everyone on the team to ask first and shoot later. In a dysfunctional team it is shoot first. A quick phone call works best.

One of the first things we  learned was email etiquette. Among the things we we learned was that it was it was very difficult to read the intended conjecture in pure text. Punctuation also communicates a lot. I am sure most people know the pitfalls of exclamation marks and “Eats Shoots and Leaves”. So much information is lost by not having facial expressions, tone of voice,  body language and the ability to respond in real time.

To work around this people adopted a more formal and safe style of communication. But this is impersonal. Talking in plain language and using smiley face etc. to convey winks, frowns of what is sarcastic and what is serious has taken hold again in the workplace.

The problem is even with all these learnings  so much time still gets wasted on email. Here is a translation of email pitfalls:

  • Using “Guys” in a mixed team is sexist. On a team of mixed ages insulting. In these enlightened days probably intentional as well. Keep it generic – Hello, Hi, best regards.
  • CCing: How many people some one can CC for no particular reason. It says; “I just want to big myself up and do not care about the time of other people. I want to F* you over”. If they are in the conversation then CC away. If they are new then simply say “I need to forward this to…X as I do not have the answer to xxxx and then CC” Think first “is this helpful?”
  • Escalate first, “I have no idea what this means and because it might be bad I will escalate. I do not care about you or our working relationship. My intention is to F* you over.”  Phone, email or chat and then once you have the facts raise them in an objective and helpful manner.
  • Not sending an acknowledgement says “F* You”. Say thanks and give an appropriate action of what you will do with it.

 

It is the little things that can make your team dysfunctional or working together for a common interest. Email may not seem like a big deal but if it is wasting time then it is time to go back to Email Etiquette 101.Thanks for reading please share or leave a comment!

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