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Hiding behind your keyboard?

For all the productivity improvements technology has brought us, there is a dark side and it is impacting employee engagement and management effectiveness.

I’m talking about the tendency to send emails instead of going and talking to people.

In extreme cases it might even be to the person in the office or cubical next door.

With technology, it has become easy to avoid talking to people. Even cell phone providers are noticing that subscribers aren’t using many voice minutes, preferring instead to send texts and emails. For a manager, the use of technology can create an illusion of productivity and leave behind a wake of destruction in terms of engagement and less than stellar results.

Email isn’t a problem when dealing with facts and figures. It is a problem when dealing with conflict, persuasion and criticism. You may have been on the receiving end of a caustic email, or perhaps caught in the cross fire between two colleagues trying to out do one another with criticism. Hopefully you haven’t been the sender of this type of communication.

One of the exercises in our front line leadership course is reflecting on a communication situation in which you feel uncomfortable. Some of the most frequent responses:

  • Delivering bad news
  • Dealing with authority figures
  • Communicating with negative people

The discomfort leads to avoidance and makes it easier to type out an email instead of doing the right thing – going to talk to the person. Yes it takes longer and it could get a little messy and yet it is the only way to achieve the results you are looking for.

Putting it Into Action

  • When you are avoiding a conversation, stop yourself from sending the email and go talk to the person.
  • Before you send criticism by email and copy everyone in the organization – stop and go talk to the person.
  • Before you hit ‘reply to all’ and send back a zinger to someone who maligned you, stop and go talk to the person.

Need help to be able to have those uncomfortable conversations with people – come take our courses…

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