By: Pat Heim, PhD. | Tammy Hughes | Latitia S. Lattanzio, PhD, NCSP

Yesterday, Anna prepared reports and sent them to her co-worker, Tomas, for review. The next morning, she received a reply email that said:

“The numbers you sent me were incorrect. I need you to review your work and send me information I can actually use.”

Anna is shocked and taken aback by Tomas’s curt response. She quickly reviews her work and has another coworker review it as well. They find no errors. She wants to blast Tomas for his discourteous and inaccurate message, but she’s not sure that’s the best way to solve this…

Here are four tips to consider if you find yourself in Anna’s situation:
  1. Take time.
    • Knee-jerk reactions are often emotional and illogical.
    • Don’t quickly assume you’re wrong and apologize
    • What’s the rush? Not every message requires an immediate response. Give yourself time to plan your response.
  2. Don’t personalize – this is about the numbers, not about you.
    • Find the errors, if any, and make corrections if needed.
    • When composing your reply, focus on the numbers and not on how you feel attacked.
    • Empathy – think about the predicament this has put him in because he believes the numbers are inaccurate.
  3. Take action.
    • Much miscommunication can easily be resolved through direct, live- time conversations
      (e.g., phone call, face-to-face, Skype, Zoom).
    • Take caution to not own a mistake before it’s been found.
  4. Respond in a live-time format (e.g., phone call, face-to-face, Skype, Zoom)
    • Written communication is easily misunderstood; live communication allows you to manage the non-verbal reactions of the other person.
    • Live-time format encourages more civil, reciprocal conversation