How do you communicate? What style do you adopt when chatting with friends or business colleagues or family? How do you compose your emails and social posts? What is true?
I have experienced so many different emotions when trying to write an engaging and impactful email to a potential client. Am I coming across with credibility, am I making sense, will they even care? These emotions have been amplified when communication takes the form of verbal interaction.
I remember one of the biggest lessons I learned happened a good few years ago while working on a project for a large Telco company. We were in the process of rolling out an extensive capability development programme and were engaging with multiple stakeholders to finalise all content and delivery logistics. I was experiencing a little difficulty with one particular stakeholder, who I shall call Bob. I had never met and Bob was simply not responding to any of my email requests. Now I should mention at this point, that my natural style of email writing involved an initial paragraph of pleasantries;
Hope you are doing well. What glorious weather we had over the weekend. Did you manage to enjoy any of the sunshine? I got to spend most of it outside at BBQ's with family & friends....'
Then I would include a sentence or two detailing the update or request, and finally, finish off with some more light-hearted narrative and well wishes.
At the time, I felt it was essential to be polite and conversational in emails, as this was my natural preference. The lack of response from Bob I took as a personal rejection and this prompted me to arrange a meeting so that we could understand the issue and prevent any further hold-ups on the project. I remember feeling somewhat nervous on the way down to the meeting. Why didn't Bob get me? What was his problem?
When Bob came into the reception, he greeted me with a smile and a firm handshake, and we proceeded up to the meeting room. What I uncovered, quickly, was that Bob was under vast amounts of pressure and stress, and my emails were only adding to his frustration. We, rather he, talked for a good hour and I listened. What concluded was an agreement between us both on how we would work more effectively with each other. I promised to be more direct in my emails - and to remove an unnecessary 'fluff', as he called it.
From that moment on, Bob responded to my now, single sentence emails, with promptness and clarity, and the project got delivered with tremendous success.
Thank you Bob
We interact with people all the time. For me, the question is, 'Are we communicating to engage ourselves or the other person?'