In a video from BNET, Edward Muzio of Group Harmonics explains how email conversations can start unnecessary fights. “It happens all the time,” he says. “It starts out as a simple bit of information; turns first into a discussion; then an argument; finally our inbox is full of emails back and forth. No one knows what’s going on.”

The reason this happens is simple—and surprising. In conversation, says Muzio, words account for a paltry seven percent of the information we perceive. And since an email exchange makes it virtually impossible to convey visual cues (55 percent) and tone (38 percent), your recipient might “hear” something you didn’t intend. Muzio illustrates his point by placing stress on various words to demonstrate how the same sentence can carry a number of meanings:

I didn’t say you have an attitude problem (or, don’t blame me—someone else said it).
I didn’t say you have an attitude problem (or, I said that about someone else, not you).
I didn’t say you have an attitude problem (or, you have a problem alright, but not with your attitude).

The solution, argues Muzio, is restricting email communications to facts and data—deadlines, appointments, new policies and the like. Once a discussion veers into emotional content, it’s time to pick up the phone or, better yet, drop in for a face-to-face conversation.

If you choose the right medium for the right conversation, you can keep preventable drama to a minimum—and concentrate your energy on Marketing Inspiration, not Crisis Management.

Cheers, Skip

Source: MarketingProfs newsletter 11/07/08