Take your worst business relationship offline

Do you have any regrettable business relationships? You know, the up and down type of relationship that you wish was better? Maybe it is a Customer who is beating you up over a string of delivery issues (many outside of your control). Maybe it is a colleague that you are going back and forth with over small details on a big project. Maybe it is one of your own reports that is growing increasingly combative with you.

I’ll make a prediction: You are probably relating in the dark over email.

What I mean is that many of your regrettable relationships lack an essential component to the day to day communications: Accurately decoded intentions. Dr. Albert Mehrabian has studied how humans decode your intentions for most of his career. Dr. Albert Merhabian (UC Berkely) studied communications for decades and published some of his key findings in his landmark book, Mixed Messages. He suggested with data that people often decode your intentions for them (friend or foe, coach or dictator) based on various communication stimuli. In fact, he concluded that 55% of our intentions are decoded by others visually (face, body language), 38% through auditory means (tone of voice) and only 7% verbally. That’s why email is such a poor medium to convey emotions.

Over email, I have no earthly idea what you intend. This is especially true in the pithy thumbwritten world of Blackberry. It wouldn’t be surprising that you and I can get cross-ways in the up and down world of business. Stuff happens. If we are 100% over email, bad stuff happens to relationships when day to day stuff happens.

Recommended action: Identify three relationships that could be going better in your business life. Pick the one that is the most online (conducted over email) and take it offline to phone calls or face to face meetings for the next week. Do this regardless of geography or time zone differences. Many times these differences forced you into the asynchronous passive aggressive low communication world of email in the first place. Now its time to raise your head out of the sand and communcate that they are your Customer, your team mate and a stakeholder. Believe me, you’ll see a dramatic improvement in those relationships on the average. You might save you thumbs too.

Check out an advance copy of The Dirty Dozen Rules Of Email Etiquette audio CD as an exclusive part of my Whole Enchilada development program.