Why e-mails are so easily misunderstood


An excellent article talks about the reasons behind the misunderstanding of communication through email. Professor Morris and Lowenstein has studied about the advantages and disadvantages on email, and they found out there are three major issues – 1. it lacks cues like facial expression and tone of voice; 2. it creates the urgency for sender to think and write quickly; 2. it also unable to develop personal rapport. Solution? Add in other type of communication, such as phone call once in a while:

But the pitfalls of e-mail interaction were easily overcome by a single phone call. Morris ran a second round of negotiations, all conducted via e-mail, but made half of the corresponding pairs chat on the phone before negotiating – “just for five or 10 minutes,” Morris explains, “and the key thing is we told them, ‘Don’t get into the issues. It’s just an icebreaker.’ ” The result was dramatically improved agreements.

So if you want to buy something on Craig’s List, Morris says, “make a brief phone call, even if it’s not practical to do the whole negotiation by phone. You can establish a favorable bias with someone and then proceed in a less rich medium, but it’s very hard to just get right into the negotiation on a medium that isn’t rich.”

It’s all about me: Why e-mails are so easily misunderstood – [Christian Science Monitor]

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