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What frustration that I have with instant messenger or text messaging in situations such as conflict is that the recipient cannot tell the style of conversation coming out of certain individuals where one thinks he might be joking or it could be angry, and you can’t really tell exactly the tense of the conversation. So definitely, in dispute with a spouse or a family member, I think it would be best to have a verbal over the phone or a face to face.

DR. SIEGEL: Then, Scott, let’s talk about applying that in business. Let’s say you’re a manager in a corporation and you work with other managers, and you and another manager have a flare-up about something that you disagree about for the company. You go back to your own office, the other person goes back to his or her own office, and then you’re thinking about it, and it’s disturbing you. Now to settle that problem, because there’s a personality clash, there’s a disagreement, there’s a little tension, I’ll ask the same question. Given that circumstance, would you then use one of the technologies, email, voicemail, text, some of those things, or would you then in fact think that the same would apply, that you and that person need to resolve those issues?

SCOTT THAYER: Well, Mike, when there’s a personality conflict, as well as the actual conflict itself, I think it’s important to be able to voice one’s concern completely in order to find resolution. Often times I’ve discovered that when there’s a personality issue, the other individual engaged in that conflict doesn’t necessarily listen to the whole point being expressed, so that kind of loses the flavor. So in that situation, what I would do is I would go back to my office, sit on my keyboard, and type out an email detailing my frustrations and my thoughts for two reasons: One, I would be able to express it to him clearly, or her, so that they can see all of my frustrations. Number two, I would have a record of exactly what I said and how I said it.

DR. SIEGEL: Actually, that’s a great point, because when you’re in a business setting, having a record is important. Obviously in a personal situation, that can almost work against you because the other person involved with you in a personal relationship is going to say what are we, a business couple here? What is this about? So you’re right. But I would also follow up with the idea that not only the email, but then also, because that puts it on record, but then also the actual interaction between the two of you. Once that email gets sent and once you’re trying to be conciliatory and trying to resolve the problem, depending on how the other person responds, to me, it would be important then to get out there and have a one-on-one conversation. Maybe go to the lunchroom and have a cup of coffee with the person in the building and sit down and go over what was the disagreement about and how did we get there and how can we resolve this between us so that there is at least the ability to see the eye contact and the nonverbal behavior as well so that the two of you really do resolve this as human beings working together because you’re going to have to be working together in the future?

SCOTT THAYER: Absolutely. And that’s something that I think the email can actually bring out, because it would allow myself to voice all of my concerns. Maybe at the end of the email I would request or suggest, hey, let’s get together for lunch down at the local restaurant and talk some things through based upon this email. Yeah, most definitely, face to face, I believe, is the best way to resolve conflict.

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