It doesn’t matter which industry you work in; there will be times when you need to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. In other words, it’s important to take a moment or two before responding to an email, voice mail, letter or in a person to person conversation. No matter how you look at it, interacting with others is a complicated process where things don’t always work out they way we expect or come across as expected. In our modern world there are many ways of communicating, both in person and remotely; each with it’s own unique challenges. Sometimes the thoughts, feelings and and intentions one seeks to express can be masked by the method of communication being used.
eMail, Texting, Social Networking and Good old Fashioned Letters
Methods of communication that require the written word are probably the most likely to be misconstrued as the message is interpreted through the lens of the reader’s own preconceptions. For this reason, it’s important to think before you leap; once the envelope is in the mail truck or the message has been sent it can’t be retrieved. Take your time and fully write out your thoughts — No matter how busy you are, there is no reason to send a message that would be considered terse in polite conversation. Any person who has conducted business with eMail has undoubtedly sent and received messages that could be considered disjointed at best. Take a few extra seconds and compose complete sentences; not only does it avoid confusion, but it will also convey to the recipient that your communication with them is important.
Focus on your message and the recipient, make certain that the message is clear and can’t be misconstrued or interpreted in a negative light.
Read what you’ve written — Before clicking send or dropping that letter in the mail box READ IT. In addition to finding poorly worded concepts that can be misconstrued, reviewing your message before you send it also provides a chance to correct spelling, punctuation and factual mistakes.
Never write a message while under the influence of medications, alcohol or emotions without taking a breather first. Save the message as a draft or in a document of some sort, then come back to it later.
Voice Mail, Multi-Media and Person to Person
Interactions where you can see and or hear the person delivering the message are a bit less complicated than written communications, but they can still result in misunderstandings. Even with the extra cues of vocal inflection and body language, always take time to think before you speak because these interactions can’t be repaired by hitting backspace. Leave clear concise voice messages — Think before you speak and have an idea of the message you want to convey before you start recording; on some systems you may be able to delete your message and record again, but don’t count on that option being available. By speak slowly and clearly, especially if you are using a cell phone, you will avoid your words becoming garbled or hard to understand and also have time to process what you are saying before you say it.
Never leave a message when you aren’t all there; exhaustion, intoxication or emotional duress can lead to poorly delivered messages. It’s better to call back later or even the next day than it is to leave an unprofessional sounding message or commit a huge public relations blunder.
When Speaking Person to Person, focus on the interaction — Over the phone or face to face always place your focus on the person or people you are speaking with; distractions can lead to uncomfortable situations. Just like any other form of communication it’s wise to think before expressing what’s on your mind. The idea you are conveying can be tainted by voice inflections or body language and you might convey an unintentional message.
Approach any conversation with a fresh attitude and perspective, leaving behind any baggage that could lead to missteps in communication. Avoid inadvertently tainting your message by speaking more loudly with your body language or inflections than your words; focusing on the interaction will help to keep stress and fatigue in check.