Good medicine for “red” relationships: talk first; then confirm by email to avoid those email wars…

…over the last six months I have heard more cases of business relationships turning sour – or “red ” as I like to call it – than at any time previously. What’s going on? Time pressure and amazing technology make it easier to text or email, than call. Rarely are emails read in the tone they are written. There’s no time to talk is often the excuse. Well it may be worthwhile to make time because some emails and texts cause havoc in business and this negatively affects performance. The elephant in the board room is that it’s easier to hide behind the send button than look someone in the eye and negotiate your need i.e. to clear contract unambiguously. Things have deteriorated so badly that one client told me that they have a rule that if anyone on the team asks anyone else to do anything by email without first calling them, they are reprimanded – not in writing of course. When I started work as a trainee accountant in 1982 after University I was puzzled that all of the memo pads in the office – and in those days there was no email – had the following legend printed in bold: “Don’t say it; write it!”. I was told that this was to encourage good process tracking. Since then the pendulum has swung wildly the other way. Email wars rage daily. A useful feature on email software would be a mandatory pop-up message asking if you have “talked first?”, which you must click before you are allowed to press the send button. Why not set one up? I’m certain it would reduce misunderstandings significantly.

Ciaran

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