Jul 05, 2016
Communicating as a Leader? Give Email a Miss!
If you have ever operated from a leadership position of any sort (as a boss, team leader, department head, etc.), there is a good chance that the bulk of your communication with your team or subordinates is made via email. For the simple reason that email is easier and faster than having an actual conversation (and because it provides a written record of the transaction), it becomes the chosen mode of communication even if the recipient is just down the hall. The issue however is that most leaders use email to get their point across, more often than they should. Here are a few reasons why email is a poor communication choice for leaders and why it is far better to opt for a real conversation instead.
1. Danger of misinterpretation
You could be the most adept communicator in the world and still have your email misunderstood. This is because the ability to convey tone, is often lost in written communication. So while email does enable you to take the time to draft the perfect response, there is always the danger of the recipient misinterpreting your tone, because while they read it, they may not emphasize the same parts of the message as you intended and end up hearing it differently.
2. Absence of a response
Many times you do not hear back from someone you emailed and are left wondering if they even got the message at all and if they did, if they understood that it required a response. This requires follow-ups and confirmations and overall a greater time investment than you originally intended. An easier approach would have been to simply walk across or give them a call in the first place.
3. Unintentional ambiguity or curtness
As a leader, you probably receive a staggering amount of email every day and it is natural to want to work quickly through them so you can move on to more important tasks. In an attempt to get them off your plate quickly, the replies that you dash off could become either ambiguous or curt. This does the recipient no favors at all and only serves to confuse them or make them wonder what they did to deserve such curtness from the boss!
Good communication that is clear, provides the right amount of direction and is not offensive in any way is the basis of good working relationships. And this in turn leads to the team reaching its goals under your leadership. With email as your main mode of communication, you are simply leaving all this to chance. Instead of choosing to sacrifice quality communication at the altar of speed and quick results, it is best to keep your most important conversations verbal and build strong and lasting relationships with those that you lead.
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