Okay everyone, deep breath. I’ve seen a lot of miss communications via email lately, not just in my business, but others seem to be having the same problems as well when we compare notes. This happens in a fast paced, stress filled environment both on personal and on professional levels. There’s a good reason for this. Black and white typed emails are only one third of the story.

Communication is a fragile and tricky thing.

We’ve gone from personal meetings and phone calls, to emails, texts, facebook communications, and the limited field of twitter as a means to do business. This is great! And this is awful at the same time. In speeding up life, we’ve lost two thirds of the sensory input in understanding communications. We no longer hear vocal intonation, nor do we see body language or facial expressions.

Just imagine, if you are stressed out and you read an email you may read it with your own tone, not the intended tone of the sender. Same thing if you are frustrated. If you are feeling frustrations, inadequacies, or annoyances on either a personal or a professional level you may transfer this to the reading, and at times the writing, of an email.

When I was teaching scuba diving we used to teach in an underwater stress situation: Stop – Breathe – Think – Act.

Always easier said than done, but it’s important to take a step back. Are you really reading what is being said correctly? Or are you reading it through the filters that you have personally put in place that have to do with the things you are going through?

Read all critical communications several times, and read non-critical communications at least once. This goes for receiving and sending. By dashing off an email and sending it without a re-read you may find that either something seems unclear, or something sounds inappropriate when written quickly. Always try to think, how will the other person read this.

And be careful when you write a veiled snide comment to someone. You may think they wont get it, but guess what, they probably will and that will make a situation worse. When you read the written word you are missing 2 thirds of the communication that is actually happening.

When it doubt talk it out.

Get on the phone, have a skype video call, meet in person to discuss the situation. Something small and inadvertent can turn into huge miss interpretations when they go unchecked.

So remember, before you jump to conclusions, Stop – Breathe – Think – Act.

2 Comments

  1. Erica Steele on March 17, 2011 at 6:49 AM

    This sums up my experience. I still ponder if the first email sent was snide. Hard to tell by my interpretation. If only I would have paid more attention. Stress gets to the best of us all.



  2. Leah Kaiz on March 17, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    Too true Erica, we are all guilty of reacting to emails verses taking a step back and making sure we are just simply reading the message.