INside Track: My Filter – My Fault

I received an email from a member of our Sales team at Designer Greetings asking if our Art department had any new signage for a customer presentation or if our team had included signage examples on a set of presentation boards we had created for the pitch. My knee-jerk reaction/interpretation was that we were being asked to put something together by Sales, yet again, at the eleventh hour.

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I self-righteously brought this supposed transgression to my manager’s attention via an email and responded, again by email (and very politely), to the Sales team that because of our other responsibilities we couldn’t send them signage.

After shooting off the missives, I made a beeline to my manager’s office intending to commiserate with her about the Sales team’s chutzpah (that’s Yiddish for nerve). Lucky for me, my manager read the salesperson’s request from a bit more objective perspective than I had and rightly pointed out that there was nothing in the email implying an expectation that we put together a signage board for the client meeting. She mentioned that she was about to scold the “offending” salesperson until she read the actual email.

I was mortified at my blatant prejudice against the Sales team and incorrect interpretation of the email. Lucky for me, my manager carefully read the original email and that I had the restraint to follow up with Sales in a respectful and objective tone despite my negative misinterpretation. Had it not been for my manager’s diligence and my self-control, a heated exchange would have occurred and damaged the relationship between our 2 departments. It shocked me how easily I had assumed the worst and how that assumption had completely blinded me to the true nature of the email. I’m going to be redoubling my efforts to remain objective when dealing with others at my company.

3 thoughts on “INside Track: My Filter – My Fault

  1. Rayna Diane

    Emails (or comments!) can be so hard to interpret, too. We (a general ‘we’) think we’re being clear when writing something but just because we understand it, doesn’t mean someone else will. I reread things 3 or 4 times to make sure my language isn’t vague or makes too many assumptions – I’ve added three things to this already!! 🙂

  2. Chad Jackson

    This is good advise. We have a couple clients at our University who are somehow able to make every request and response via e-mail sound like they have a bad attitude about everything. A phone or visit in person unveils a very sweet accommodating person. It’s amazing how much valuable non-verbal information is lost when we rely only on e-mail.

  3. Andy Brenits

    So many times I have had to remind my team of three things:

    1. Slow down and read the request again. It may be for something other than what you assume it is.

    2. There is no inflection in email, they may not be saying it the way you think they are.

    3. Wait 20 minutes and pick up the phone before you fire off a response to that email. Have a real two-way conversation with your customer. eMail is a one-way conversation, and things escalate unnecessarily quickly. Read numbers one and two above, again.

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