Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thursdays with CC: The Written Word vs The Spoken Word

Obviously, I like writing. I like translating thoughts into the Written Word. In the corporate world, the Written Word means documentation. Documents institutionalize agreements, understanding, processes, correspondences, reports, opinions. These documents form part of the necessary administrative backbone of any company or organization.

But I believe in limits to the use of the Written Word.

I remember a colleague who used the email for each and every comment, reprimand, criticism, complaint. And she makes liberal use of capitalization, punctuation, symbolism to make or prove a point.

Her peers, direct reports are greatly offended by her use of the Written Word. I decided to talk to her to get her point of view. She explained that she resorts to emails because she is afraid that verbalizing her thoughts and feelings would just lead to arguments and debates. And she will end up being very hurtful. Writing, for her, is the less offensive way of dealing with negative issues.

i gave her my opinion on the matter. i have learned to rely more on the Spoken Word, specially when discussing sensitive matters. For me, a confrontation, a verbal tussle still trumps a strongly-worded written letter when it comes to relationship value.

I value my relationship to you so much that I would rather discuss it with you personally, allow you to explain your side and hopefully, reach some kind of agreement or understanding. I will see your reaction as you will see mine. Full transparency in communication.

Which is what I feel the Written Word does not do. It gives an effective screen to hide under. Face-to-face communication requires much more character.

Yes we can argue. Yes, we could even have a word war escalation. But these Spoken Words, though hurtful, will not be set in stone the way the Written Word will be. More so in this day and age, anything electronically written has a way of surviving. Those offensive terms and comments are released into the electronic universe. These can come back to haunt, further hurt and damage people.

I advise restrain in the use of the Written Word. Much much restrain. Try as much as possible to use the Spoken Word first. Again, it takes much more character and courage to speak rather than to just write.

8 comments:

Myth Maker said...

i used to work in an environment where i felt comfortable. i had no use for the written word. i spoke every single word that i had to convey to a colleague. i currently work in a different environment where i have to look after my welfare. emails and intranet messages are keep me afloat. it was good that your colleague pointed out the motivation behind her action. it's now up to her what to make of your advice.

Anonymous said...

I can affirm the disadvantages of written word. I once sent an email to my colleagues explaining the reasons why we need a protocol, an SOP. The colleague replied, expressing his disapproval of issuing such protocol to the point of attacking my department .. kung malaking abala sa inyo at para mapagaan ang trabaho nyo.. those were his words. We had a few email exchanges, it did not end well. If only I used the spoken word, maybe it did not end bad

narnian said...

while i think email has made it easier for people to work today, we've come to a point of overusing it--sometimes to the point of being paralyzed by it.

i guess it's important to get an awareness of which communication tool to use in how we perform our corporate activities.

i like this post, b.

cutemarc17 said...

i like this- I value my relationship to you so much that I would rather discuss it with you personally, allow you to explain your side and hopefully, reach some kind of agreement or understanding. I will see your reaction as you will see mine. Full transparency in communication.

Ming Meows said...

oonga. iwas libel pa.

Guyrony said...

For what is the use of confronting someone if it will be delivered impersonally?

Very well said CC.

Tony said...

One of the things that I have learned when dealing with people via email (especially since I used to work with people accross the oceans, in different timezones and cultures) if that people have a tendency to project their own emotion into what is being read. As we all know, tone, is very important. What could have been written down by the author with the intention to be very reserved and level headed, could very well be read as angry and insulting.

Ex. True.

You could read this as an agreement or matter-of-factly, indifference, smugness or pissed off. What more if it's a whole sentence, paragraph or idea.

serial said...

I am a fan of written word. I would now use it with discretion:)