What If I Need to Send an E “I-Message”?

You might be sitting there, scratching your head thinking, “Hey, I don’t remember that type of I-Message from the workshop I took from Gordon Training….”

Well, I just made it up. I wanted to address the very common issue of when you need to confront another person, but you might be in Virginia and they might be in Dubai and you can’t Skype or talk on the phone due to time and schedule issues…so now what?

confront communicate in personIdeally when you confront, you’re face-to-face so you are able to pay attention (through your Behavior Window) to what the other person is saying and doing—what body language you see after you confront, etc.). But when it’s not possible to communicate in person (which is much of the time), you don’t have that luxury.   Still, you do need to address the situation—the other person is doing or saying something that is interfering with you getting your needs met.  You are in the “I Own a Problem” area and we all know that the skill we use is the Confrontive I-Message.  This skill can still be used effectively via text or email.  But here’s the key—you need to set the stage a bit more than if you were face-to-face so an exchange might go something like this starting with the subject line:

From: Michelle Adams<adams@purplefans.com>
To: Laura Cruz<cruz@purplefans.com>
Cc:
Date: Tue, 21 Apr 2015
Subject: Email distribution list, deadline adjustments and my concerns

Hi Laura:

I have something I need to talk with you about that is a concern for me. Of course, I would prefer to bring this up in person, but since you’re on the road right now in Dubai, it’s too hard to do this via skype.

I’ve just learned that the last three emails from you about adjusting the delivery schedule haven’t included me in the email distribution list. And that’s puzzling and frustrating for me since part of my job on this project is to make sure my team is done with our part of the assembly of the fan, so we can have it ready to give to your team for Quality Control and then packaging. I am concerned that a change in the schedule will impact us and I have no idea how since I have not been in the email loop for three rounds.

I look forward to hearing from you soon, Laura.

Thank you.

Michelle

Now, as you can see, it’s still an I-Message, I just delivered it electronically. Just as you would do in person, you need to be ready to Shift Gears to Active Listening when/if she comes back with a defensive response (that would mean in your window, she’s in the “Other Owns a Problem” area).

So let’s say she comes back with this reply:

From: Laura Cruz<cruz@purplefans.com>
To: Michelle Adams<adams@purplefans.com>
Cc:
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 2015
Subject: Re: Email distribution list, deadline adjustments and my concerns

Hi—I don’t have time to make sure the whole department knows about a little deadline adjustment. It’s crazy busy here and I am overloaded, I don’t have the luxury of being at the home office right now where you have an admin to help you, so you’re gonna just need to check in with Steve to see if the deadlines have changed.

L

From: Michelle Adams<adams@purplefans.com>
To: Laura Cruz<cruz@purplefans.com>
Cc:
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 2015
Subject: Re: re: Email distribution list, deadline adjustments and my concerns

Hi Laura:

You’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t always have time to make sure you’ve emailed the whole team involved about what feels like to you, some pretty minor changes. Plus you’re feeling like a one-woman show over there and don’t have the support I have, but sure wish you did.

I hope I’ve identified some issues that you’re trying to juggle with and how stressful it is for you there.

Michelle

As you can see I shifted gears and heard her concerns and now need to wait for Laura’s response.  Depending on how she responds, I will either Active Listen again or will re-send (but re-worded) my I-Message in my email back to her.

We may wrap up this issue in one more exchange or it might be another two rounds—but the point is that you can continue to use your Gordon Model skills. If someone replies in all CAPS and in red and they usually don’t type that way–that can be a signaling behavior that they’re pretty upset but you don’t know that for sure. So when you send your e “I-Message” and Active Listening, be extra mindful of not assuming something’s wrong because of the short replies or they font they choose.

Thoughts, comments….?

 

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