Downsides of Digital Conflict Resolution

In his recent HBR blog post, Anthony Tjan,  CEO, Managing Partner and Founder of the venture capital firm Cue Ball and vice chairman of the advisory firm Parthenon, discusses the downside of using email for “digital conflict resolution” and highlights three of the problems that often result from pressing <SEND>.
1. It is hard to get the EQ (emotional intelligence) right in email.
2. Email and text often promote reactive responses.
3. Email prolongs debate.
One antidote for this is to allow natural, live, on-to-one conversations to happen as Tjan emphasizes.
In today’s wired world, the most effective way to “allow” natural conversations to happen is to make them happen.  This means YOU must make them happen.  The following are some guidelines for when it is appropriate to have a conversation instead of an email exchange:
1. if you have to re-read an email string in order to follow the conversation– it is time for an in-person meeting with everyone in the To: field.
2. if you exchange emails with someone at least once a week and haven’t spoken with them by phone in more than a month– pick up the phone and call.
3. IF SOMEONE STARTS SCREAMING VIA EMAIL, STOP IMMEDIATELY (all CAPS are annoying, right?); this is a signal that an in-person meeting is likely overdue.
4. if the issue you are discussing via email is a recurring problem, a meeting or phone call is in order.
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