What Did You Say?

Want to know my number one Team Leader issue?!?

It’s something that I need to fix just about every week.

It is …… How people speak to each other.

Often, it’s just the tone. Sometimes it’s a harsh sentence, or it could be an unthinking accusation.

It can be just the use of the wrong word, and the word could have a connotation that doesn’t fit.

It’s usually due to a misunderstanding by the reader and poor communication by the author.

The practice of working from home is amplifying the issue.

Messages in Teams or Slack or an email get misinterpreted.

We don’t see each other’s body language or hear the verbal inflection when we read a text, so the extra signals aren’t there. If the reader is in a fragile mind or even just in a different space, the quickly written email or text is open to misinterpretation. When we ring the author to challenge them about the intent or content of the message, they provide a completely different tone to the message. Their mood is quite different from the message’s interpreted tone. Sometimes the author is horrified to think that the message was read in a way that wasn’t intended.

Here’s how to better share messages

  • information and instructions are better shared verbally
  • written messages need to include plenty of appropriate emojis
  • use a lot of ‘I’ phrases in sentences, and avoid ‘you’ phrases
  • listen to the question, read the question carefully before responding; if the question is not straightforward, ask for clarification
  • balance interactions with fun and non-work related content (but not in the same message)
  • reread the text before hitting ‘send.’

Team members also have the responsibility to understand that the message’s intent is rarely malicious.

In the end, the sooner we return to working face to face, the better the communication.