Tuesday, January 19, 2010

10 (or so) Survival Tips to Communicating Electronically

So, these are things that I have;
Tried to learn the hard way,
Seen friends try to learn the hard way, and
figured I'd share these old tips with you all.

1. 30 minute rule. Never communicate if you are in high emotion mode. Wait 30 minutes, talk a walk (sometimes, a long walk) and come back, then try it again.

2. Never assume your email made it to the person. Yes friends, even Gmail may throw your message in the other person's junk mail.

Tip: Wait a day or two, then email them again, MySpace message them, FB message them, Tweet them and ask if they received it.

3. Emails don't have tone or feeling. Use smileys more often, that can help. Realize that you are already at a disadvantage when you use computer typed words to reflect feelings. It is almost impossible, but if still want to try, cut the other person a huge bunch of slack, when they don't understand exactly where you are coming from.

4. If there is confusion in a back and forth email disagreement- Stop, and pick up a phone. Nothing beats a voice, nothing.

5. Never assume that the receiver has actually read your email. It made it to the person you sent it to, but it is number 555 in their inbox. This really is the case, if its a podcaster, they probably have a whole bunch to read. Give them some extra time to respond. Try a VM message, audio feedback, etc.

6. The old compose/throw away/cancel rule. If you are angry/fed-up/frustrated with a situation, and you must write something down, do it, but do it safely. Take out one of those, uh, pieces of paper and a pen, write and write and write, then wad it up and throw it away. Obviously, you can type on a Word doc, but no fair saving it! After the throwing away or canceling, take a long walk. Note: Remember, once you send an email, you can't get it back.

7. This may seem redundant, but it bears repeating. The person you sent the message to, doesn't know your state of mind. They may be going through something worse/better/or something else. Don't assume they can read your mind.

8. Be patient. Yep, that's it- be patient. You only see with your 'to-do' list, your schedule, etc, you have no up-to-the-second clue of what the other person has to do.

9. Use spell check. Spell check. Spell check (You get the idea). You can add constant spell check in Firefox. that has saved me many, many times.

10. Proof read visually before you send your email. Sometimes the words are spelled right (Meaning you ran spell check), but the wrong words are used. Just give it a once over, before you send it off.

11. Keep the good emails, and

12. Read the bad emails, yup, read them; Keep the things that are "growth opportunities" for you (This may take a huge dose of humility to find in these emails), and Leave the rest. Delete when done. Forget the wording, try to forget the sender, but remember the "growth opportunities," and adopt them. Gold is found in thrown rocks, many times. Hard lessons.

13. Send a compliment email to an unsuspecting person. I now induct you as a "Compliment Delivery Person". Maybe there is a podcaster, podcast listener, friend, old friend that you haven't seen around, heard from in awhile. Maybe someone has been sick, sad or both- go and deliver a compliment to them. You never know the full implications of giving goodness. Sadly, we all don't do enough goodness-giving. Sermon over.

Remember, you can't control the emails that come to you, but you can control the emails that come out of you.

Signed, The biggest offender of all of these (Remember, we can always start over. Now is the time for me.), Jeff