t’s amazing how our world has changed in a relatively short period of time. When I attended college (not all that long ago) things like email and the internet were either in their fledgling stages or unheard of. Heck, anyone having a computer in their dorm room was a big deal. Today we are interconnected in so many ways it’s hard to believe. Now my phone is no longer anchored to the wall of my house, it’s anchored to my hip… and sometimes my ear. Besides that it also connects me to the internet, email, and text messaging. With so many ways it should be easier to communicate, right? Not always so.
I am writing this post because today I got one of those many reminders that I am human and prone to make mistakes. The irony that it is centered around communication can make it even more painful since I work with many of my clients on just that. Like everything in life, I treat it as a learning opportunity and thought I would share while this one is still painful because it is too easy for many of us to make the same mistake.
Without getting into many of the details this is what happened: I have been working with a group of people on a collaborative effort. One of many I have going on simultaneously right now. With collaboration comes planning and the desire by all participants to get it right. This group is no exception. For those who may not know me should know I am very driven as well as action oriented. My personal drive combined with my need to have a process around it can sometimes be challenging. So I am constantly working against the clock in my head of when things should be complete vs when more planning needs to be done. In this particular case I desired the need to keep moving ahead when someone forwarded an email to the group of some follow up things that needed to be completed. These items definitely needed to be done and I thought it would still be possible for us to move ahead in other areas. I responded to everyone with my thoughts and didn’t concern myself with it any further, that is until it surfaced later. My email came across the wrong way with other members of the group and I found myself making corrections and apologizing. I also kick myself for making this mistake. Email is a tool for communication.
Email has made our lives easier by allowing us to communicate information to others quickly. It has also become a crutch for many as the preferred method. I too have fallen into this trap. The problem with email is your inability to clearly share feelings and other thoughts. We make the communication short and sweet and abbreviate in areas we probably shouldn’t. Interpretation is then left to the individual reading it to get the message out. I have a very direct style of communication when writing email messages and that can be interpreted differently than intended which was the problem in this example.
The thing to remember is email has its time and place, but it should not be treated as the only source of information. It is used too often in many cases because it is easy and quick. Yet sometimes it is better to just pick up the phone and make a call. At the very least, be mindful of your words for they are open to interpretation. Question yourself, “Should I send this as an email, or is this better delivered in person.” We all make mistakes and I was fortunate enough to have people communicate back to me which may not always be the case. So be careful how you use technology so it doesn’t come back to haunt you later.