Email as a weak shield
"Well, I can't explain that in email. I really need to talk to him about it".
This statement was made by former business associate of mine. I really had a chance to learn from him here.
I remember it was a tough conversation about pricing or a client’s invoice, and I was taking a hard stance with what I knew was right for our company.
My associate, while agreeing with our position, replied that an email wasn’t good enough. He said that I was using email as a week shield against a tough conversation. That we really needed to call the client to have this hard conversation man to man.
You know what, he was exactly right. While email is a great way to memorialize what is discussed in a prior conversation, it cannot take the place of that actual conversation. Seeing somebody in person, or at least having a conversation over the phone, connects with a person in a way that email simply cannot. So he visited the client since he had a prior relationship with them, and the conversation turned out fine.
Over the years since then, I’ve been mindful of that. I’ve caught myself dodging tough conversations and relying on email to send my one sided point of view. Often because hearing their argument would be uncomfortable and perhaps they’d even be right.
Well if that’s the case, then I’m in a somewhat selfish position, wanting what’s right for myself and my company only. That’s the wrong way to be, and I’ve learned to focus on what’s right for the relationship and both parties involved. This often results in a win-win situation.
So let me encourage you as well, don’t be so quick to send or reply an email in every situation. Consider the impact and whether an actual conversation would be best. The relationship deserves more.
Don’t use that email as a weak shield!