Published on May 31st, 2012 | by Chris Byers2
Difficult Conversations via Email
I’m an INTP.
In short, my best work is done alone. I think big picture, emote in my head, and like a free-flowing life schedule. I’m also an Activator. That means that when I make a decision, I like to act on it NOW! (Side note: My wife, Dana, and I are both activators. When in agreement on a common topic we take action fast. Most people don’t know what hit them.) And finally, as a relator, I prefer to avoid personal conflict and confrontation.
What does this have to do with difficult conversations?
In the past two years I have had many tough conversations in and out of work:
- Telling a friend and mentor that we were leaving his organization
- Telling people that they couldn’t stay in our organization
- Clearing up gray area between one person’s goals and it’s conflict with the organization
- Conversations with the leader of an organization who sued my organization
- Telling a good guy he couldn’t be a part of our leadership team
- Telling customers they can’t have what they want from us
In large part, most of these conversations started in person. Why? Well, weren’t we all taught to go and seek someone out to discuss conflict? So…I have coffee with them, we chat have a good time (remember, I’m a relator) and I rarely get to the point and clearly lay out the issue at hand. My fear of personal conflict arises!
This eventually leads to the final moment…when:
- The line finally must be drawn
- The decision can’t wait any longer
- The bad news must be delivered without confusion
What happens in those moments though, since I wasn’t clear leading up to the final moment, is that the other party (friend, co-worker, volunteer) feels blindsided. Yes, the bad news was going to be bad news no matter what…but it might have come with a softer blow.
Is there a better way?
I think so. So I’m throwing out personal conversations as the first step when I know fear is going to creep in. I’m going to start with email.
Yeah, yeah I know. It’s not personal. But if it gets my point across in a clear and concise manner, then in the longer term, future conversations…and the final moment will come with much greater ease. I think it will burn less bridges and create a better longer term relationships.
I’m looking forward to this change. I’m releasing the guilt I have not starting hard conversations in person and hoping that it makes the long term conflict more clear and easier to resolve.
How do you handle conflict and hard conversations in your home or organization?
Image Source: ”A Sign of Conflict” from Bigstock