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Ever get abrupt, bottom-line emails like this?
Hey. There was a problem with those numbers from Tuesday’s meeting. We need to get this straightened out right away. Can you send me the original files so I can take a look? Thanks. DL
This sort of cold, dry communication is very common, especially at work. And it might not seem that bad at first glance, but from my perspective, it’s a communication mistake. Here’s why:
1) It’s a disconnect. Whenever we interact with someone, if we don’t make some sort of human connection, the message it sends is, “I don’t care about you,” which is about the worst message of all for being heard.
2) It diminishes our effectiveness over the long term. Once someone suspects we don’t care about them, they deal with us in a completely different way. They’re guarded, suspicious, much less cooperative. In other words, our influence and impact go out the window. And someone without influence and impact with others is simply not going to be successful.
3) It’s the opposite of what works. In order to be heard, people first need to be open to what we have to say. “Connect, then communicate” is the key to being heard, not the other way around.
The solution? Lead with the Relationship. Meaning, talk to the other person as a person before you get into all the the details and information.
Now, if you’re someone who uses email precisely to AVOID all the “How are you?” “How are the kids?” sort of nonsense, I’m sorry. This must be disappointing. :-) But the truth is, you don’t have to talk about personal things. You just need to make some basic, human connection.
Take our example from above. Here’s how a “Lead with the Relationship” approach might look instead:
Hey, Mark. How’s it going? Say, I know this is a hassle, especially with all we have going on right now, but there was a problem with those numbers from Tuesday’s meeting, and we need to get it straightened out right away. Can you send me the original files so I can take a look? Thanks! Appreciate it. DL
No personal stuff there. Just a few extra words in the greeting, a quick empathy nod to the hassle factor (the most important part), and a more personal sign-off. (Closing with the relationship is a good idea, too.) Easy as pie! But it feels quite different and sends a much more effective message, overall. Yes, it takes a little more time and thought, but not that much. And it’s definitely worth it.
Assignment: Try this out for yourself for the next few days, and let me know how it goes. I think you’ll really feel the difference.
“Lead with the Relationship.” And let the good times roll!
This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 1st, 2010 at 12:27 pm and is filed under Communication. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.