In collaboration with neuroscience and psychology researchers, Facebook has made significant changes to the ways its users communicate. The New York Times reports that this year, “the company introduced a gentler formula for settling tension between users. Previously, someone tagged in an unfortunate Facebook photo could flag the image as offensive and hope the other person would remove it. Now, a form pops up with options like, ‘It’s embarrassing,’ ‘It’s inappropriate’ and ‘It makes me sad,’ along with a polite request to take the photo down.”
According to Facebook’s engineering director, Arturo Bejar—who came up with the idea after being inspired by meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn’s maxim that “if people fully saw one another, they could get along better”—these new opportunities to communicate have tripled the likelihood that users will send a request for the photo to be removed. And the people they ask are cooperating!
“We didn’t realize how hard it was to feel heard in electronic communications,” Mr. Bejar said. “but now there are mechanisms for being more expressive and thoughtful.”
We applaud this mindful innovation in social media communication. Feeling heard is just as important in the virtual world as it is everywhere else.
We want to know: Have you ever been embarrassed by something posted on social media? How did you try to remedy the situation and did you succeed? Share your responses to the weekly discussion question here.
Research from NYU Stern Professor Justin Kruger shows that where email is concerned, there is frequently a wide divide between what the sender of a message intends and how the content of that message is perceived by the receiver. Says Kruger: “Overestimating the obviousness of one’s intentions can lead to insufficient allowances for ambiguities in communication—with occasionally destructive results.”
Problems arise because emails can’t convey body language, facial expressions, or vocal tone. In personal emails we might counterbalance this “flatness” with emoticons (i.e. smiley or sad faces), or acronyms like JK (just kidding). But these are often not business appropriate. Then there’s the problem of CAPITAL LETTERS, which a sender might use to suggest IMPORTANCE, but which receivers usually interpret as YELLING.
What to do? Be mindful in the workplace. Reread what you wrote before pressing send. If you think your email message might be at all ambiguous, take the time to insert a clarifying line or pick up the phone instead. Goldman Sachs and Farmers insurance are among the many companies teaching the value of pausing and paying attention when communicating at work rather than racing through the day on autopilot. This focus on conscious communication is what we have been advocating for decades.
Please share your experience: Have you ever had an email misunderstanding that could have been avoided? What happened when you reconsidered before sending your emails? Share your responses to the weekly discussion question here.
Welcome to our Community of Practice Forum, a forum dedicated to highlighting people and organizations around the world who have created best practices by applying our core communication tools and models to real life, real time situations.
The purpose of this forum is to serve as an incubator for ideas, where people share and learn from each other’s experiences. It is a place to inspire others and also be acknowledged for your cutting edge communication practices. Our goal is to create a community of people practicing together; a powerful support network with the purpose of helping each other to transform engrained communication habits into sustained, positive outcomes.
So please share any applications – big or small – that have worked for you. We look forward to joining the conversation.
Writing in the New York Times, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman recently admitted that he is sometimes wrong. “If you write about current affairs and you’re never wrong, you just aren’t sticking your neck out enough. Stuff happens, and sometimes it’s not the stuff you thought would happen,” he said.
Needless to say, if Nobel Prize-winners can be wrong, so can any mere mortal. But as Krugman also noted, people are reluctant to admit mistakes in a climate where critics jump on them and say, “In 1996 you said A, and now in 2014 you say B. Gotcha!”
We agree! If someone admits they have been mistaken, let’s be gracious and avoid gloating. Rather than accusing the person of “flip-flopping,” we suggest a more productive re-frame: Acknowledge that admitting a mistake does not show weakness, but rather a strength of character and a willingness to learn.
Tell us your thoughts! How do you react when someone admits a mistake? And how have people reacted to you when you have done the same? Share your responses to the weekly discussion question on our Community of Practice Forum
Last night we heard NPR's report on toxic leaders. In a study that looked at eight suicide victims in the army, all had toxic commanders who made the soldiers' lives miserable with no let up. "When you're ridden mercilessly, there's just no letup, a lot of folks begin to fold," the study's author concluded. He went on to describe toxic leaders as "abusive and self-aggrandizing, arrogant and petty, and ‘unconcerned about, or oblivious to, staff or troop morale.’" The researcher also described toxic leaders as "good at snowing their superiors — so they kept getting promoted." The report suggests that the impact of destructive leadership goes beyond the military. A key question posed: Are we tolerating this kind of leadership?
We applaud the army's initiation of an evaluation system where officers get anonymous feedback from those who report to them. We believe in the power of such information. Please let us know: Have you experienced the impact of 360° feedback? What happened when such a system was introduced in your organization? Share your responses to this weekly discussion question on our Community of Practice Forum.