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02 Jan '14

Conversations - why they matter

Posted by T.J. Addington in conflict, conversations, reconciliation
I recently was asked to sign a document that I could not in good conscience sign. Thus I asked for a conversation with the individual who was requesting it. What I received instead was an email that stated a position based on incorrect assumptions and fears. Not only did it shut down any dialogue but it was decidedly not a conversation.

When there is an issue to be resolved, email missives rarely resolve them. Often they escalate rather than deescalate conflict. They are one way communications that state positions which is not a conversation. When dealing with conflictual situations they are by nature impersonal and decidedly one sided. 

Conversations, on the other hand, are an exchange of ideas, positions or concerns that have the potential to clarity and get to issues that underlie one's concerns. It allows for questions and clarifications between two mature individuals. Often, even if there is not full resolution there is much better understanding from such dialogue.

If the individual above had been willing to converse I believe that many of his concerns would have been alleviated. Instead, by shutting down conversation (stating a position in an email with underlying wrong assumptions) he lives with his unfounded fears.

Where there is an issue, don't negotiate it by email. Try a conversation. It is more productive and certainly the more mature route to take. Any of us can state positions by impersonal email. Being willing to engage in a conversation demonstrates both greater humility and EQ and it has the potential to resolve thorny issues.