Defeating Your Achilles Heels
I recently had an off-line discussion about my email communication style lately. I’m not sure why the thoughts and emotional intentions behind the emails I send when I’m in a rush don’t translate well to the page in recent weeks, but they don’t. So, while I would not have put “email tone” anywhere near my Achilles heel list a year ago, it is definitely there now. So I’m working on it.
What’s an Achilles heel list? It’s a list I keep of personal things I need to work on that changes often. Everyone can use improvement in something. Last year the top of my list was my phone manner – being much more comfortable with writing or in-person communication, I couldn’t wait to get off the phone, and it came across to the people on the other end loud and clear. So I worked on it, and it got better. The phone is still my least favorite method of communication, but I don’t want to run screaming after five (or even 50) minutes on a call anymore, and the people I talk to know I really want to hear what they say. I learned to focus and listen in a better, more active way on the phone.
Basically, I just like to confront issues I have head on – I’m a no-nonsense person like that. You can’t improve if you don’t self evaluate (or at least I can’t). So, this new issue to tackle is email. More specifically, rushed email. So, I’m retraining myself. I’m no longer replying right away or under any sense of urgency. If I feel rushed, I’m trying to make myself get up and do something else, then come back to the email later. I’m also reading the email out loud to myself. Recently an email I sent that was intended to offer help came off as critical, and made the person not want to work with me! That sucked, as it was a genuine offer of assistance (and hit me in the bottom line, so to speak), but when I went back and read that email out loud, it was easy to see how it had hurt their feelings. What sounded “efficient” to me in a hurry, sounded “brusque” at best later on and was absolutely deserving of apology.
It pains me that this is an issue, because I love people, and normally, writing is my strong suit and that passion for people comes through. So whatever the reason behind this very recent issue, no one deserves to receive a rushed or insensitive email. Hopefully I can nip this weird issue in the bud quickly with a little retraining and few deep breaths. And occasionally the help of my friends, who aren’t afraid to call me on my horse-crap if they see it.
What’s your Achilles heel? What are you doing to make it better?