Monday, January 10, 2011

Don't Get Burned by Flaming Emails

When was the last time you picked up the phone to call a colleague about a problem or just to check in? The last time you walked over to her office or cubicle to discuss an issue? For many of today's professionals, face-to-face contact has become rare. We work remotely or in separate locations. Cost pressures keep business travel to a minimum. We fall back on email as our primary way of communicating.

Relying on emails can cause real problems when discussions heat up and people feel their turf or reputations are at stake. We have all been caught up in strings of emails that begin to read like a shouting match. Each new message seems to confuse the issue, rather than move it to resolution. Tempers flare; misunderstanding grows; and third parties are drawn in.

This is not a good way to build solid relationships and get things done. If you are dealing with a sensitive topic, start with a visit or a call. You can then send an email to confirm the solution agreed to. If you receive an email that is smoldering or already in flames, don't respond by hitting the Send button. Reach out to your colleague in a more personal way; in many cases, you will be able to lower the temperature, improve the relationship, and resolve the issue at hand.

Check out this site for a primer on email etiquette.

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