In sports we depend upon the referee or umpire or judge making the call. We hope that they had a good view of the game and were able to see exactly what happened. I often marvel when the play is so close and they review the call. They rewind and show every angle in slow motion, repeatedly. And most of the time the ref gets it right. How can they make that call when it happened so quickly in real-time. They do it because they have experience in making the calls.
Now you may think that I am going to discuss how you need to make decisions every day and how you can improve and get it right. That topic is for another day. Today I want to discuss making the phone call.
I have seen too many times when technology replaces relationship. I have seen it (and done it myself). I see how it drags on from email to email – or text to text – or whatever. What needs to happen is you need to get on the phone.
Going back and forth in emails may be good for exchanging data and verify facts, but it often fails to communicate well when things can be misinterpreted. Others cannot tell if you are joking or upset or happy when you type something out. We have heard this over and over and yet there are still so many that only use the phone as a last resort.
Here are a few times that I have to remind myself to pick up the phone (or get out of my chair) and talk to people directly.
When it takes more than 3-4 emails to make your point. I have struggled so many times to get my point across and thought that I nailed it, just to be misunderstood and have to try again. The nuances of language can lead to troubles because we try to be concise in our writing of emails. If you find yourself going back and forth on the same point, pick up the phone.
When you cannot explain it fully in brief. Some subjects just cannot be fully covered without writing an entire white paper about it. There are too many things that could be misunderstood and you know it about half way through the writing. Stop and pick up the phone.
When it is bad news. I always remind myself… do not deliver bad news via email. Think of it from the hearers point of view. If you have to tell them “no” on a topic, you may be better off using the phone to cushion the blow. If there is a topic that relates to corrective actions – don’t write it – pick up the phone. Use email after the fact to document the details, but deliver the message in person or via the phone first.
When you want to be vague. Sounds kind of shady, but when you do not want to be pinned down on exact dates, times, dollars or tasks, then talk it out before your pin those items down. There are too many variables that may come into play that might impact your timelines to document them without the nuances that can be played out in person. Pick up the phone.
When someone appears to be mad at you – pick up the phone. When someone emails you with concerns or has a disgruntled attitude, it is best to talk it out. Find out what has made them mad and seek to work through the issue. This is best done face to face, but the phone might help if they are not located near you.
When you are mad – at someone or about something. Don’t put anything in writing until you allow that person to clarify your perspective (you may be justified in your feelings). Allowing others to clarify your understanding can avoid frustration caused by misinterpreting statements.
I am sure that there are even more times that you can think of that email has failed you. Keep these and others in mind and stop and think before you hit send. By talking it out, you can make the right call when working through some tough issues with others.