Modern conveniences like text messaging and email make it easier and faster to connect with co-workers, consultants, and remote employees. The unfortunate downside is that it is often more difficult to actually communicate what’s being said. Here, Douglas Battista answers questions about problem resolution in the workplace and explains when an email works and when it doesn’t.
Q: How can I communicate clearly to my co-workers when we’re trying to work through a problem?
Douglas Battista: In order to solve problems with another department, for example, you must first understand why a resolution is important in the first place. Take the time to sit down (in person) with the involved parties and get to know their perspectives on the issue. Ask them what their concerns are and really listen. A place of common ground is a considerably better place to begin, rather than facing off on opposing sides of an issue.
Q: Are emails and text messages a reliable way to communicate?
Douglas Battista: I do not believe so, in many cases. Text on a screen may relay information but it doesn’t necessary help the recipient understand why something is important to you. The inability to read people’s inflection makes it difficult to understand their intended meaning.
Q: But it’s so hard to get everyone together…
Douglas Battista: Emails, chat sessions, and texting are really easy ways to avoid a conversation and, consequently, never completely work through the problem. Using emails as the only form of contact isn’t appropriate and makes you miss out on valuable opportunities to build relationships.
Q: Is email ever a proper way to communicate?
Douglas Battista: Email is a great way to quickly convey your thoughts on a subject. It’s the perfect vehicle to spread information, request face-to-face meetings, congratulate a coworker on a promotion, or to get an answer to a straightforward question. It cannot be stressed enough, however, that email is not a tool for problem solving.