One of my favorite emails each week is a weekly article called “Wednesday Wisdom” from Tracy Higginbotham of Women Ties. (Women TIES stands for “Women Together Inspiring Entrepreneurial Success.”) One of her messages from a few weeks ago has stuck with me and is something I truly believe. She discussed how important it is to handle problems and difficult issues in person. Some conflicts are so sensitive that they should not be handled by telephone or e-mail. I know it is easier, but for more delicate issues, it may come across as impersonal and even disrespectful. I believe it is best to communicate in person (or by telephone) when there is bad news or any sort of controversy. There is too much room for misinterpretations when you cannot read the body language or hear the inflection in the voice. All too often, the meaning is lost in an e-mail and small comments or misinterpretations lead to hurt feelings or strong reactionary behavior.
Whether you are the one who erred or are at the receiving end of the wrongdoing, you will find that your relationships will be much stronger with a face-to-face meeting. People appreciate honesty. They trust you when you bring your concerns to the forefront. Addressing a problem or admitting an error and trying to make amends requires courage and self-confidence. Business relationships are built on faith and trust. How you approach fixing a problem will demonstrate the strength of these characteristics in you.
When you silently stew on issues, you slowly begin to resent people. You unconsciously project negative feelings and the other person feels it. This spreads distrust. Handling conflict requires humility and understanding, no matter what part you played. In order to protect your business, leave your pride and ego at the door. The end goals should be mutually beneficial. Use tact, avoid the blame game, and look for a solution. Most of all, learn from the mistakes (yours or not) so they don’t happen again.