Delivering the right message through written communication
As A mediator I have so many cases I have been mediate in a variety of issues .
I learned a lot about myself and about others from those cases. one of the big thing I learned was that we all need to delivery the right message through written communication in order to prevent dispute.
The vast majority among us tend to write a number of WhatsApp messages, emails or messages on Facebook or Twitter on a daily basis, and the list is long. But have we stopped for a minute to ask ourselves what did we write? Has the message we intended to convey been received by the other party, who reads it, in the most comprehensible manner?
From antiquity to the present day, written communication is the major means of communication among individuals. 20 years ago, when no one had even heard of iPhones, or in ancient times, when no one even thought of such a thing as Skype, in order to send a message from one person to another, whether a family member who lives far away, a business partner, the chief of a different tribe or even the enemy, the message/notification delivered were written on a clay tablet and later on a parchment, and this was the mode of communication among people, tribes and countries. Even nowadays, the main means of communication between peoples is the written word, though not on parchment, using hieroglyphics or (later) feather pens, but through electronic messages!
When writing a notice, whether on paper or by an electronic message, the written word and its weight should stand before the eyes of the person writing it, since the written word has great power and meaning, and at times can be of additional significance, being more easily subject to different and odd interpretations. The writer must always consider the choice of words or find a different phrasing with the same meaning, and make sure to minimize the potential for misinterpretation or misunderstanding.
For instance: You must leave the house at 7:45 with the kids to reach school on time.
You should leave before 7:45 to make sure the kids arrive at school on time.
"Must" and "should" – when one sees the word "must", his first reaction is that of resistance, but once the word "should" appears, the message embodied in the sentence will probably be easier to accept.
Many conflicts between people occur due to the lack of communication or miscommunication, which can lead to misunderstandings between the sides. Miscommunication can no doubt occur in a face-to-face conversation. However, the difficulties are even greater when it comes to written communication, since in both business and personal conversations, everyone has a chance to speak and an opportunity to explain himself when misunderstood. On the other hand, when a person writes an email or any other form of notice, the written words become a fact, and there is no way of knowing when the other party will read the message, what will be his reaction and whether he will understand the message as intended by the sender. It is even more challenging when the message is written out of rage, stress or fatigue.
SO... What to Do and How to React?
First, it is important that messages contain accurate information based, to the extent possible, on facts, because a message containing emotions and feelings may not be well understood by its
recipient. In addition, one should bear in mind that the person receiving the message is not necessarily aware of the mental state of the person writing it while he was writing it.
Furthermore, as already mentioned, it is necessary to remember that words have their own power and can be subject to various interpretations. Therefore, it is not only important to review the content of messages but also to try to consider how the message might be perceived by its recipient, before sending it.
Here are some rules to be applied before sending written communication:
A Concisely Worded Message – To the extent that a message is formulated concisely and to the point, there is less chance or risk that the other party will fail to understand it. The longer the message is, the more room there is for misinterpretation. Messages containing personal attacks on the other party must be avoided. For example, the use of words such as "rude", "stupid", "insensitive", and so on. Abusive comments may only aggravate the conflict for no reason. A concise and practical message, based on facts, will minimize the risk of aggravating the situation, calling for a similar response.
It should be remembered that written notification is not an arena for quarrels and insults nor does it, in and of itself, prove anything. Even if the other party does not agree with the content, the author should focus on conveying the message he believes in.
An Informative Message – is that which can be learned from - The message content should be informative and concise, focusing on correcting factual information in order to make the facts presented by the other side as accurate as possible.
One needs to make sure that the response does not deviate from the issue in question and avoid sarcastic or insulting comments towards the other party.
Sarcastic or insulting comments will only intensify possible or existing conflicts, thus the message should include, to the extent possible, accurate and true information.
A Friendly Notification Text - Normally, in response to an angry email, some tend to react nervously and angrily, but the proper thing to do is respond in a friendly way, even when responding to a blunt email.
Inasmuch as a message is written in a friendly and practical style, the chances of a pertinent and useful communication are greater. There is no benefit in pushing the other party into a defensive position, which will only result in another strident and angry response.
In cases where there is no room for friendly interaction, it is important to maintain a dignified manner without unnecessary hostility, then it is likely that the other party will follow and respond with respect and to the point.
A Firmly Worded Message – The written communication is to be firmly worded and resolute with respect to the message contained therein; e.g. "That's all I can say about the matter".
Firmness and resolution will emphasize the author's decisiveness on the issue, with the aim not to provoke the other party into responding in a manner that would turn the correspondence into endless verbal jousting (assuming no such intention exists). The message must not give rise to an adverse response.
For instance, "I hope you will agree with me on that…" - this kind of phrasing gives a sense of confidence and determination regarding the position expressed. More caution should be exercised in the case of messages aiming to obtain information, for fear that this will lead to unnecessary prolonged correspondence.
In Conclusion: A concisely worded message, written in a matter-of-fact and positive way, will inevitably lead to better results compared to other forms of phrasing, and save emotional energy and time.
Schaffer Roffe Adi
Divorce & Business Mediator