I've always been a huge fan of email for most business related communication. It's fast, and asynchronous, meaning I can work on something else while I wait for an answer. I don't have to wait on hold, and I don't have to knock other people out of the zone. For the most part, I only use email.

The biggest problem with email, is that it is pretty much impossible to convey tone. If you're like me, I'm usually very direct, and try to get my point across with as little communication as possible. I'm a very positive guy, and RARELY send a negative email. Yet my emails tend to be randomly interpreted by some people.

Yell at Laptop

I've noticed two common behaviors in the way people communicate. There are people like me, direct and to the point, and there are people that have to say their point many times. You might not believe me about the people that have to repeat their point three times. Of course 3 times isn't the hard and fast rule, but seems to be the average. They'll say something like this:

"I would really appreciate it if you could make the top button blue because I think it will match the site theme better. You see, the site colors are very important, and I want the button to fit in with our theme. I've seen a lot of other sites that have button colors that don't seem to fit in, and we don't want to make that mistake!"

Wow! I heard you the first time! Here is how I would have said it:

"I think we should make the top button blue because I think it will look better. Let me know if you would like me to stop by and discuss."

Ok, I like it. Straight to the point with no extra information. If you want more information, just ask.

I've realized that if the direct person talks to another direct person, everything is great. If the repeater talks to another repeater, things also seem to go great. My conclusion is that people talk like they expect to be talked to. If a direct person talks to a repeater, the repeater wonders why you're only saying your point once, and may even get offended. If the repeater talks to the direct person, they become insulted because they're acting like they're stupid.

My suggestion, if you're dealing with the type of person not in your group, pick up and give them a call. I know you don't want to, but there seems to be less of a clash when the communication is bidirectional. Better yet, if they're at the same location, walk over and talk with them face to face. It's a lot of work, but worth it if you can avoid a conflict.