It’s dark-thirty and you’re at your bathroom counter hastily going through your morning routine. You grab a tube, squeeze out a line of gel and start brushing your teeth. You gag as it hits you that the tube on your counter is NOT toothpaste. The right product, applied the wrong way has tainted your day before it even got started.
Then there’s the hurried start to my day when I’m putting in my contact lens and grab the soaking solution to wet my contact instead of the wetting solution. BIG MISTAKE. Grabbed the wrong bottle and now my eye feels (and looks) like it’s on fire. I pay for the rest of the day for a mistake made because I didn’t give a small matter my full attention. Haste makes waste.
What’s your story?
Congratulations if you don’t have one that comes to mind. But wait – have you ever sent an email you wish you hadn’t hit the “send” button on? Or maybe you’ve been on the receiving end of a message that twists your gut or makes you feel like the temperature in the room just went up to 90 degrees. How about the 40 second voice message you spent 15 minutes trying to decipher?
There’s no doubt technology has added many levels of convenience and expanded our options for communicating. But whether it’s email, voice mail, a text message, FaceBook message, tweet or any number of remaining options – these messages can become a liability if you’re not careful. You can spend far more time trying to resolve misunderstandings than the time it takes for clear communication from the start.
Think about your message. Is it a simple relay of facts, like “confirming our 9 am meeting at Starbucks. See you then”.
Or is it layered with emotion?
Clear Communication is Worth the Time
Ask yourself two questions before sending an email message:
1) Could this message be misinterpreted?
2) Is there a better way to communicate or am I cutting corners for convenience?
Many times I have been a mediator in business relationships that were strained as a result of faulty communications – often starting with an email. Sometimes you just need to pick up the phone!
The problem with email is that non-verbal communication is eliminated. Considering the following statistics from Professor Albert Mehrabian of UCLA who is recognized as an expert in the science of communication, it is no surprise that email messages can be the vehicle for misunderstandings.
Professor Mehrabian states that :
• 7% of a message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in the words that are spoken.
• 38% of a message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is paralinguistic (the way that the words are said).
• 55% of a message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in facial expression.
Next time you have a message to deliver that affects feeling and attitudes, consider that your intent has a 7% chance of being interpreted as you intended if you use email. Even if the statistic were as high as 50%, you would still be better served to pick up the phone. These statistics also drive home the fact that if the message is weighty, a face-to-face meeting is the best choice. Technology is a wonderful thing, but don’t let convenience make you lazy when it comes to good relationships.
No one wants to be an example of the saying, “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you read is not what I meant.”
The right message, delivered in the right way, can bring clarity and strength to relationships. Choose well.