Archive for December, 2012|Monthly archive page

email anti-patterns

Email is the tool we use every day. It’s the basic communication medium for preparing for the con I’m running. Nothing would run without it, even face to face meetings are announced and scheduled over email. So why is it so damn hard?

Yes that’s a rhetorical question. It’s hard because email cuts out so many cues to the response we’re getting on the other side of the email. And at this point, 35 days or so before the event., it’s hard because we’re all in a hurry. We start to cut corners and respond too fast and before you know it, misunderstanding multiply.

Two particular instances of emall anti-patterns:
1. The more upset you are, the faster you write back.

It’s rare for responding to an email full of whitehot indignation to improve anything, though it may make you feel better at the time. Sometimes the right thing to do is to find a third party to hear your side, and then get back to just writing the simplest answer possible. Sometimes pushing back from the keyboard and taking a walk is the right call.

2. You are so important that even people you haven’t met yet know all about you.

When writing for the first time to someone you don’t know, introduce yourself. Even if you’ve been around the organization for a long time, new people don’t necessarily know who you are or what your responsibilities are. Saves all kinds of questions like “who are you and why are you making demands of me? ”

Toolbox: Seven Questions of Change Management

I’m always working with my teams to accommodate change. Whether those are small changes or large, considering Peter de Jager’s Seven Questions of Change Management has made me better at introducing those changes smoothly.

On beyond the who, what, and where classic questions, some questions are immediately in need of an answer when changes occur.
In short they are:

  1. Why is this change taking place?
  2. What’s in it for me?
  3. What do I do next?
  4. What stays the same?
  5. What could go wrong?
  6. What’s going to be difficult?
  7. When are we going to get there? (And how will we know we’ve arrived?)

I’m still not as good as I could be but when I go back to troubleshoot problems associated with change, I can often identify which question was left unanswered when I initially proposed a new thing.

Toolbox: The Satir Interaction Model

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