Communication Skills

How Email Can Diffuse Difficult Situations

A participant asked (and commented), today, “What if I have already sent a reminder? I’m sick and tired of having to wait for all the people in my office who can’t get their stuff done on time.”

Umm… agreed. And before you start pointing the finger of guilt at others, you may want to consider your own part in this dilemma.

Yes, I know that you sent the request in a timely manner.
Yes, I know that it is his/her responsibility to get it to you.
Yes, I know this has happened before.

So what?

If you can’t persuade them to want to fulfill your request, if you can’t lead them to the most appropriate conclusion, if you can’t get what you want by any other means other than commanding (and.or acting prissy), you will always be frustrated with someone.

Try this. Help them feel smart. (I can hear the response now: But they aren’t. And that may be very true.) The more you can help them feel (authentically) smart about doing what you want, however, the more that you can help them want to do what you want, the more likely you are to get the best results.

Picture this. You’re at a meeting in Las Vegas (here at IMEX, for instance!) and you receive this email from a colleague:
I tried phoning you but your voice message says that you’re in Las Vegas at a conference. Really?! We’re in the middle of trying to tie down this issue, and you’re in Vegas? Wish I could leave all this behind for a little R & R but someone has be responsible. Where are your numbers/plan/report? I need your …

How you respond depends on what you want.

And, because I believe that what you want is to maintain a positive working relationship – to motivate and engage them – use your email to help the writer feel safe and smart. Here is my response:
Hi Name,

Thank you for your reminder! Here is the info you requested and you can count on my additional support when I return to the office Thursday. Also, if it would be helpful to you, my meetings end at 7p/PT tonight and I’m happy to discuss these results then. I’ll follow up with you as you suggest.

Thanks for your leadership on this project.

Warmest regards,

Do you agree?

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