Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Guidelines for Email communication

Allow me to suggest Guidelines or Email communication.
from an HRM Instructor who teaches Business Communication.
Dr. Paschal Baute
First two sorties.

One. One of my sons runes a Business Solutions company with 60 employees.
He discovered that two managers whose offices were ten feet apart were not talking with each other. The problem was email communication in which both felt misunderstood and slighted. Even though their offices were ten feet apart they had not met to work it out.

Two. A talented writer and friend was helping me with a book. When I tried to clarify his role, he became upset at something I said, first refused to communication at all, then insisted I answer in detail his increasingly long emails. I refused to resolve our misunderstanding by email, and wanted us to meet. We both live in the same town and had met many times for lunch. He refused and insisted as a prerequisite that I answer his emails first. I refused. Impasse. No communication whatever. After several months I suggested that we meet because I valued our friendship and he finally agreed. We worked it out. Fortunately because within a couple of years he died and I was able to be instrumental in helping him reconcile with the mother of a son he had never accepted.

Suggested Guidelines for effective use of email

1. Best use of email is for simple data: times, places, events, announcement, consent or no.

2. Not so good use of email is for clarification beyond simple data. Meanings are inside people, and words themselves are poor vehicles of meanings whenever values, feelings and attitudes are concerned.

3. Our natural tendency to read in meaning, interpret and assume is always present. Studies show that only about 25-35% of the meaning is in the words themselves. This is why for effective communication, meanings needs always to be confirmed.

4. My experience is that email manners are mostly poor. People often fail to let the sender know that a message was received. This is a major flaw today with the amount of spam, and spam filters which can place important emails in your Deleted box without you even knowing this happened, unless you check your Deleted box regularly.

5. The rules is “the message sent is not the message received unless there is affirmation of what the message entailed, AND the sender agress you have understood what he or she intended to say.” To say only “I understand’ means only that you think you understood what the sender meant to say.

6. Lots of other rules and cautions. Perception varies widely and is often biased. We tend to immediately attribute blame rather than seek to understand the context. Memory is vain. We remember what suits us, so memory is NOT photographic, but reconstructive.
Do not try to resolve a misunderstanding of something with feelings by email. It is nearly impossible. Many think they need to interrupt to follow, but their impatience leaders only to confusion and conflict. Good listening skills are actually rare.

7. My map is not the territory, but only represents the territory, often inadequately. Jumping to conclusions is the universal cause of much conflict, misunderstanding, divorce and even war.

8. We are complex human beings. Our blind side is hidden from us. Out of awareness we shape what we hear and attend to. Actually we all have lions at the gates of our awareness that prevent us from hearing what we are not ready to hear.

9. Love requires us to work hard to keep channels open. Love summons us to suspend judgment. Love requires us to give the other the benefit of the doubt until proven wrong.

10. Genuine authentic listening is hard work and a life time project. True listening makes us vulnerable to being influenced and perhaps changed by the other. Silence may be golden.

Last caution. Jumping to conclusions has almost led to tragic outcome in three instances in our family history, not by email, but seriously. When we do not practice good communication skills we can endanger our lives and that of others.

One last story and a true one. My brother in law was an AF pilot and returning from a mission he found his VW would not start. He called his wife to ask her to drive their valued old Mercedes to the base to give his VW a push start to turn the battery over. Frustrated that she was only nudging him gently with the Mercedes, he told her she needed to get up to 25 miles at hour before the VW engine might turn over. Sitting in the VW waiting, he was horrified to watch her back up, gun the Mercedes and proceed to hit his VW at 30 mph, and extra five for good measure since she had felt scolded. . It was ten years before they shared that story with anyone.


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