Tough conversations are not emails

So you’ve had a s*&t of morning.  Slept badly on your neck and have a shooting pain up the left side, the hot water tank is broken which meant a cold shower, combine that with the cold shoulder from your partner (didn’t have time to decipher the silent treatment – can’t wait for tonight, not!) and to top it all off a call before work from your accountant to say you have a hefty tax bill on it’s way.  So you grab a coffee (your saving grace before the barrage at work) but there’s a new coffee guy and of course the coffee tastes sour.   You wish you could go back to bed and start the day again… in a different way.

You login to start the day.  You’ve got mail.  Title: Your performance.

So how do you think you will receive it?  Are you in a great frame of mind?  What are you already expecting for the day?

“Sam, I have heard feedback from several members of your team, and others across the business, that you are increasingly difficult to work with.  You are consistently late, you have been known to talk poorly to others in meetings and it seems you are more focused on discussing what will not work, compared to the positives outcomes.  We need to talk.  Please make a time to discuss.  Sincerely, your boss”.

‘We need to talk alright’ Sam thinks.

Even if the above content was true, based on facts, is sending it on email the best way for someone to learn and digest the information?

Emails are great and they serve a great purpose.  But standing behind them to deliver constructive feedback is not their role.   Expecting others to receive this type of feedback well is about as successful as trying to build an Ikea kitchen without the instructions.

So why is not ok to send feedback on email?

  1. People can not read your tone. You might be writing with a smile but based on how the other person is wired, and the day they are having, they may read it as completely the opposite.
  2. It does the opposite of softening the blow. It’s like a full force wind smack in the face and one you can read and stew over, again and again.
  3. It’s not a conversation. It’s a download.
  4. It damages trust and respect. Great colleagues honour the person with a conversation.
  5. It’s gutless. Yep, ‘fraid so.  I know they can be tough but this just makes it harder and more likely to start things in the wrong place.

So next time you write that email and go to press send.  Stop and ask yourself.  Does this feedback warrant a conversation?  I think we all know the answer.

If you want to know more about remarkable communication and how to have these tough conversations contact Georgia Murch.