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Problems with Email Communication

posted 6 Sep 2012, 21:51 by Lucky Systems   [ updated 22 Jul 2013, 20:56 ]
Email is an extremely popular form of communication in business and personal communication landscapes, 
but it often leads to major problems if the parties involved are in different emotional states of mind, the slightest disagreement via email can quickly spiral out of control leading to a full blown argument. 




Considerations
Using email in business communication is certainly less personal than face-to-face communication. It can hinder social interaction and lead to less relationship building in the workplace. Misunderstandings are commonplace in written communication simply because the recipient cannot read the writer’s tone and expression, and therefore is left to interpretation. Consider that even though email can be quite informal, it is also a permanent record and should be treated carefully.


HOW You Communicate Is Often More Important Than WHAT You Communicate.

We live with communication devices practically attached to our thumbs and yet in many ways communication has never been more difficult. Often the business and pressure of life can cause us to assume we are communicating if we send off a quick email or text. An unfortunate reality of 21
st Century life is that it is easy to send of a tweet or post something on FaceBook without thinking through the possible implications of what we have communicated in what is essentially a public forum. In anger or in haste it is easy to hide behind the relative safety of just clicking send.

Every professional organisation needs a communication policy.
No organisation can function effectively without healthy open communication. Unfortunately, we cannot leave it to the common sense of individuals because, as is often said, the problem with common sense is that it is not that common.

What is effective communication?
Communication is not just sending a message – by whatever means (spoken, written, delivered, posted, texted, etc).
Good communication covers the whole process of: sending a message -> gaining attention -> receiving the message -> understanding the message -> and acting appropriately to the message.

Who is responsible for effective communication?
The person trying to communicate is responsible. Obviously the hearer/receiver of communication shares some responsibility but the primary responsibility is on the initiator of the communication. Presumably they want a positive response to their communication, and so it is in their interest to ensure that their message is heard in such a way that the hearer can understand and respond meaningfully.
 

Function
Although it cannot and should not replace all face-to-face communication and others forms of communication, internal email usage can cover many areas within the business. Internal emails are effective messages to an entire workforce, it's fast, easy, convenient and can save the company money. If saved it's proof of pertinent information.

Etiquette
Whether sending an internal or external email, the subject line should accurately represent the content of the email. Business emails should be brief, positive and professional. 

Gains and Pains

How to solve the email communication problem?  
There isn’t a single correct answer, but here are 4 bullet points to help you out:

1.      Be clear. Be brief. – Write short email messages with a crystal clear point.  Do not write long winded confusing paragraphs that leave room for misinterpretation.

2.     Proofread. – Proofread your message multiple times.  If the email deals with touchy subject matter, have a third-party read it over as well.  This can give you added perspective on how well it will be received by the intended recipient.  AVOID assumptions, it's time consuming typing and reading about irrelevant matters leading to aggravation.?

3.     Wait. – Write the email, proofread it, and then sit on it for a little while.  Knock off a couple other tasks before you have second look at it.  If your emotions were flaring when you wrote the email, a little time can allow these emotions to settle, allowing you to evaluate the message in a different light.

4.     Pick up the phone! – While email can be a convenient communication channel, certain discussions need to be handled over the phone, or if possible, in person.  If you notice that the situation is starting to deteriorate, don’t send another email, it’s time to pick up the phone or arrange a face to face meeting.   How much time have you spent typing V's just pick up the phone, talk, collaborate, rapport, win/win.

Remember
Phrases characterize emotion that would normally be delivered via physical body language, the intended message could be misunderstood by the reader due to a complete misinterpretation of the writer’s emotional tone.

Sarcasm and Emotion portrayed in a text based email can be interpreted differently when being read by different people.
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