Over the last few years person to person verbal communication has been often substituted for other modalities such as texting and email. Quite aside from the distortions created by predictive text or spell checking (sometimes funny, sometimes disastrous) the potential for miscommunication is huge. Added to that, the emotive weight given to these bursts of communication can be significant. In the Mandt System program we talk about the encoding and decoding of a message and how ‘noise’ or ‘interference’ in the perimeter can distort the message and subsequence response. Nowhere is this more true than email.

A recent example of my own concerns the impact of emotion. A colleague sent me an email which I interpreted as being incorrect and containing a tone of criticism. I immediately responded and my response had the effect of pouring petrol onto the fire and what came back was suitably chastising. Taking time to reflect on what my colleague had written in response, I returned to the original email and in re-reading realized that I had misread what they were saying and my response had been based upon that misread NOT the actual content. At this point I did what arguably I should have done when first reading the email…. I got on the phone and called my colleague in person to discuss the misunderstanding and to apologize.

Now the example of my recent experience will have no lasting negative consequences because of the relationships I have with this colleague and my respect for them. But this is not always the case and in many organization’s the culture and willingness to seek conflict resolution and embrace healing is not present. So take heed from my example, take time to re-read emails, if you have an immediate emotional response, try and resist the temptation to fire back until you have a chance to regain rational composure and then consider phoning the person to seek understanding of their position and intended message.

Mandt – Director of Communications