Be a Better Colleague by Being Less Vague


Here is another valuable Management Tip of the Day from Harvard Business Review. To sign up for a free subscription to any/all HBR newsletters, please click here.

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Sometimes people send vague messages because they’re in a rush, perhaps tapping out a quick text or leaving a voicemail en route to the airport. But if the recipient doesn’t know the full context, a curt message is often read like a Rorschach test, with fears and interpretations piled on.

o Be aware that if you send a late-night email to a coworker that says “We need to talk” without further explanation, it can trigger an unhelpful cascade. Your colleague might wonder: Is there a problem? What did I do? Is she going to reprimand me?

o This can inflict a psychic toll that isn’t healthy for your colleague — or for you, when you have to deal with their stress the next day.

o Take the extra time to make your messages clear. Before you hit send, ask yourself how the other person might interpret your email or text. If you think it might cause them distress, provide more context.

Adapted from “3 Small Things Every Person Can Do to Reduce Stress in Their Office,” by Dorie Clark

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