You Need to Communicate Beyond 140 Characters

“What if we spent more time face to face, communicating with our lips rather than our thumbs, and synced our hearts rather than our iPhones?” Sunil Bali

Everyone has issues from time to time with co-workers, bosses, customers and vendors. Many times the normal way of handling these upsets is to wait and hope the issue goes away or to think, “It’s really no big deal.”

The challenge is that most people prefer connecting with others via texts, emails and other messaging methods. The problem is, those communication methods are not highly proficient in uncovering misunderstandings. They overlook new opportunities and important nuances. As a result, the wrong word or phrase can evolve into a major controversy quickly. Or, instead, people can allow their upset to slowly build over time until it becomes a big deal and no one understands how the issue got started.

As a leader, you don’t have the luxury of ignoring the impact you have on others. Putting off addressing upsets or avoiding tough face-to-face conversations will not result in these issues resolving themselves. While you wait for the perfect time, you will lose valued employees and customers, and possibly your career.

The key is to start talking now, face to face, before there is an issue. Then you will be more likely to address concerns in a positive manner as they occur, quickly and effectively. Yes, this means putting down your cell phone and talking with other people face to face, or via FaceTime or Skype.

Build Effective Interactions

Look for Commonalities. Having ongoing conversations when there are no issues make it easier to talk when there is an issue. Instead of focusing on differences when having conversations, look for common interests or experiences. For example, if the other person likes football, start a conversation with “How about those Denver Broncos?” Then talk about a work challenge that both of you have been experiencing. Keep the conversation on point. Build on similarities, not differences.

Expand Your Awareness. Your perceptions are your realities and are often based upon your biases, experiences and other cultural factors. People do what they do – they can be unpredictable. This makes connecting harder for leaders who do not have a natural interest in working with and through people. Expand your awareness by accepting others as they are, not as you believe they “should be.” One way for you to build your awareness is to take a workshop that can help you bridge these gaps in perception.

Acknowledge Others. Many times, a simple, positive acknowledgment can go a long way in building relationships. Try calling people and telling them their pictures or quotes are great on social media instead of just clicking “Like.” Share when someone has a great idea and/or did a great job resolving a particular issue during a meeting. Be specific and consistent in your praise.

Have Those Difficult Conversations

Straight Talk! Yes, it’s OK to be direct and tell the truth. Practice role-playing with your coach, mentor or boss. Keep the issue simple and on point. For example, you might say: “Remember when we went to visit a vendor and you made the comment that I was your assistant? I was bothered by what you said since we have the same job title.” Give others an opportunity to apologize. Then talk about a better way to handle these types of interactions.

Focus on the Facts. Too often we come from how we feel when there is an issue. While our feelings can be important, they often color the truth about what factually happened. Ask others for their version of the facts. Listen carefully and repeat back to them what you heard them say before offering your version. That way you will quickly find the core discrepancy that caused the issue in the first place. Then ask them how they would resolve the issue before offering your point of view. Build a win-win resolution.

Forgiveness Is Important. We’ve all done things we’re not proud of. Compassion and forgiveness can go a long way when you, your co-workers or your employees have said or done something you shouldn’t have. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. Remember, forgiveness helps everyone move on.

The key is to start talking early, face to face. Don’t wait. Learn how to talk through issues now!

Having trouble understanding how to have a conversation face to face? Get your copy of How to Have a Conversation Beyond 140 Characters! (Break through your #1 fear when having conversations!)

©Jeannette Seibly, 2016

Jeannette Seibly has been a business advisor and executive coach for over 23 years; along the way she’s guided the creation of three millionaires. She is laser sharp at identifying the leverage points that will take a business and its team to the next level of performance and success. Check out her website,, or contact Jeannette for a free, confidential conversation at

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