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Knowing When to Pick Up the Phone

The other day, I was copied on an email exchange and could tell that the two emailing were misunderstanding each other and starting to get a little heated about the issue. Sound familiar? 

I knew if these emails continued, it was only going to get worse. So I did something totally crazy. I decided to pick up the phone. Within a few minutes of talking to both parties, things were cleared up, an agreement was put in place and everyone was happy. 

Clearly, some misunderstandings are not always this easy to put to rest, but here’s what I was reminded of after talking things out the old-fashioned way:

•    Tone can be misunderstood when you don’t hear it for yourself. If you’re delivering the message, know that someone on the receiving end may perceive frustration as something more, so you need to be wise when selecting your word choice.
•    It’s especially easy to be more aggressive when you don’t have to look people in the eye or speak with them directly. Always ask yourself, would I say this to this person’s face?
•    When you start to sense tension, stop and think about whether the discussion should be tabled and continued in a meeting or conference call rather than through texts or emails. The issue often doesn’t need to be resolved then and there, and may even benefit from a little time to cool off.
•    Sometimes it just feels easier to deliver a message over email, but certain communications need to be delivered personally. The method for delivery can be just as important as the message itself.

Have you ever had a bad email exchange that you realize should have been a simple call or face-to-face?