Resolve to Look ‘Em in the Eye in 2018

Photo: David Friel, Wikimedia Commons

Photo: David Friel, Wikimedia Commons

Don’t risk relational capital on the bitcoin of quick fixes.

By Roy Harryman

Isn’t technology amazing?

It can solve innumerable problems – and create just as many. Especially when we try to use it to circumvent the reality of human nature.

Texting is ubiquitous. That doesn’t make it bad. Still, I remember a few years ago when a boyfriend sent his girlfriend a “breakup” text message. It made national news. Today, I’m sure this is a common way to end meaningful relationships.

Something’s broken.

Although I’ll speak primarily here of business and employee matters, these principles apply to all of our connections.

But it’s so easy …
… to hit send and tell someone their project stinks. Or whatever. But it’s so hard to pick up the pieces after you do it. We do have feelings after all. 

We can all be insecure and defensive. So why not do whatever we can to avoid setting off these alarms? They damage employee morale and stall productivity. They don’t save time.
We’re not machines.

At our core, we’re still relational beings. Armies of one are seldom victorious.

From the trenches
I’m revising a story from a colleague to protect the innocent (and the guilty). It started out with a simple email interaction that ended on a disappointing note. After that, one employee dropped the matter and resolved to communicate about it in person. However, others weren’t so diplomatic. They sent heated emails and the opposing parties returned fire. Things soon ricocheted out of control. 

The incident ended with hurt feelings, frayed working relationships and pieces to pick up. What a waste. And it all could have been solved by taking 90 seconds to walk across a building and sit down at someone’s desk.

It’s much more difficult to have animosity toward someone when you’re face to face. Especially when you must discuss a difficult issue.

Caveat: In the spirit of humanity I have certainly failed to live up to this standard of personal communication. But I hope I’m learning and that we can all grow together.

So this means …
… that in 2018 that you should “man up” or “woman up” and face that conflict. Put down the texting app and walk over to the person who needs constructive criticism or exhortation. It’ll take more time on the front end, but the cleanup is much less messy.

We only get finite relational capital. Let’s not recklessly waste it on the “bitcoin” of communication quick fixes.