I believe that as I get older, I become wiser as far as not acting so impulsively when I get upset. Although I do my best to not act irresponsibly, sometimes I still do. Sad but true. I think we all do. I try, however, to digest what has upset me and then act on it in a sensible and mature manner.
In the construction industry, things do not always go the way as planned. Owners, direct contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, you name it – at some point in time, everyone gets disappointed and sometimes offended by others’ actions. When this happens, with today’s technology, it is so easy to pull out one’s phone, iPad, laptop or go to one’s computer and start the negative dialogue rolling. Remember, a sharp tongue transferred to paper can be your worst enemy down the line if what you have put in writing eventually winds up in a courtroom before a judge. Whether you feel justified or not, a judge certainly isn’t going to look upon distasteful communications in a positive light.
Current construction contracts commonly acknowledge that the parties will communicate electronically, and many contracts provide specific protocol for the transmission and sharing of electronic information. This form of communication is by far advantageous to all parties in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. Remember that your written communication will become part of the project file and again, should records need to be produced to an opposing party, you will want all your communications to be professional. Even communications internally should be practiced with the utmost professionalism. Do not be overly critical of yourself or others on your team. If your matter results in litigation or arbitration, you will undoubtedly be asked to produce all communications from the opposing party who will use any negative communications to prove that you and/or your personnel are judgmental of their own practice.
Common sense is your best friend here. Remember the following:
- Do not use vulgar language or sarcasm.
- As much as you or your team may think something is funny (and it may be), do not use risque and improper humor.
- No matter how upset you are at something that just happened, do not respond immediately (wait, digest the information and then respond in a mature and professional manner).
- Make certain your subject line in an email will get the attention of the recipient(s) without being offensive.
- Keep your communications, especially email messages, to the project at hand.
- Remember that deleting an email and thinking it is gone “forever” is just a myth.
- The really important communications should be addressed in a formal letter.
- If you are communicating with your attorney, remember to mark at the beginning of your email that the email is a privileged and confidential attorney-client communication and by all means, do not copy a third party on your confidential communications with your attorney, and never forward to a third party a copy of your confidential communication. If you do, you will have waived the privilege as to that communication.