Supervisors today are likely to do a lot of their communicating by e-mail or text message. Here are four points to remember when using these tools:

  • Exchange information, but don’t try to solve disputes. Disputes are better handled in person or by phone; if an electronic exchange seems to be heating up, break it off in favor of direct contact.
  • Don’t assume negative or harmful intent in an e-mail or text. Not on the part of the person you’re communicating with, or third parties. You don’t want to dash off a response that gives permanent form to damaging speculation or impulsive conclusions.
  • Provide a marker when action is needed. If you e-mail someone to do something and they don’t respond, you don’t know if they’re ignoring you or just didn’t see the message. But if you ask them to do something by Friday morning – and ask politely if that deadline is OK – you have a lever for any needed follow-up.
  • Spare your address book. Most often only one person, or a few, need to hear from you on a given topic.

Source: Stephen Paskoff at

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