Who created this crazy rule that all communications have to be instant? Burn it in your brain that instant communications can instantly get you into HOT WATER. Particularly when you overreact to signals you may not be reading correctly, you’ll thank yourself for stepping away from the Send button.
I am known for my straight-shooting style. It’s tempting for me to assume that everyone is on my page with being direct and to the point. It’s the style of communications I prefer because it saves time! No one ever accuses me of being too sensitive and, frankly, often ask me to be more sensitive (I am a work in progress). But the reality is, many of the people we have to communicate with are sensitive people. And if you’re discussing a sensitive subject with a sensitive person, well, you’ve got even more reason to consider what you say very carefully.
Danger: Text, Messenger, & email ahead
When we type out our thoughts and hit the send button, we often have not stopped to consider how the other person will interpret our message. Like most people who use Texts, Messenger, and Email, I sometimes forget that it lacks tone of voice, eye contact, compassion, understanding, and human kindness. Electronic communications are often just words on a screen, us telling it like it is.
We lose sight that even the very form of a short, abrupt reply often insults people, nevermind what words were used. And we can be in such a selfish hurry to send an instant message that we say things that, in reality, should not be said at all. But in the fast, take-no-prisoners world of instant communications, we just blurt out a short burst of words, mowing down the folks on the receiving end.
Subject: You’re Fired
Most of us are guilty of not thinking about the impact or consequences of our thoughtless instant communications. I actually know people who have bragged they have fired a staff person with an email or broken off a romantic relationship with a text. For some reason, that lack of sensitivity seems acceptable in today’s culture. And when I say thoughtless, I mean that. We are not thinking at all when we respond too quickly about an important topic or subject. Shooting from the hip to say things that are often insensitive, emotionally driven, and reactive never fails to get us in trouble. The time you were hoping to save with an instant message ends up costing you much more time and energy trying to FIX the damage your thoughtless communication caused.
The truth is communication that is important and sensitive should NOT be trusted to mere words on a screen. Better to have some face time (in person or with a device), or at least a phone call, since these higher forms of Communication leverage how you say what you say. Words on a screen simply can’t do that. The old days when you actually had to write a letter, put a stamp on it, and put it in a mailbox may seem slow and outdated in today’s world. But if you think about it, since the entire process took so much time, we most likely did not get into as much trouble as we do today.
Did You Actually Send That?
How often have you wished you had not hit the send button? Or worse – panicked to find out how to recall it before it gets opened? (It ain’t easy, I can tell you.)
Part of being human is that we overreact and have unconscious expectations and personal agendas that occasionally run our behaviors. So I am asking you to be more conscious. You can ruin relationships with clients, friends, and loved ones by being too impatient to actually think about what you are saying. May I suggest that you remember the old saying: Sleep on it before you respond. How many messes would you keep yourself out of by not responding so quickly when your emotionally driven ego is in the way of seeing the truth or the other side of a situation?
Use the 24-Hour Rule
I know we live in a world today of instant texting, and social media. If you look at your past and you have had a problem with communicating too quickly, how about giving yourself the 24-hour rule? Write whatever you like, but only send it to yourself. Then wait 24 hours and review it again with a cooler head. Most of the time, if you are upset and you give yourself just one day to reread your communications, you will rewrite it to be calmer and more acceptable.
Remember, we are either part of the problem or part of the solution. As you can see, we sometimes are the problem. And it could have been avoided if we had just kept our big mouth (screen) shut.
A better solution to exchanging heated words with someone would be to stall for time. Ask for a phone appointment to discuss the issue at a later time, when everyone has had a chance to calm down. Then you can approach the situation from a more rational, less emotional, state. The old saying that time does heal is often true. Food for thought: If you are having a challenge, give yourself permission to let TIME do its magic. Who knows? Maybe in the meantime another alligator will come along to bite them in the butt, making the problem they are having with you will seem less important.
Think before you React!
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Lee Milteer is Productivity and Performance Business Coach, Award-Winning Professional Speaker, who has counseled and trained more than a million people throughout her career. Lee is the founder of the Millionaire Smarts® Coaching Program, as well as a best-selling author. Book Lee to speak at your virtual or live events. Learn more at www.milteer.com or contact her at [email protected]
Lee Milteer, Business & Life Strategist