Always follow-up with an email even if you spoke over the phone, especially at work and in business. ALWAYS.
At work, it always helps to have a written proof. Because when shit hits the fan, everyone will deny and push the blame onto somebody else and it helps when you have email proof. Even if you speak over the phone or in person, follow-up with an email reiterating the agreement/conclusions you reached verbally.
Conversely, as everything you write is a proof in business, be careful of what you write as well. If something has potential to blow up, speak instead of emailing.
People can always say –
- They did not catch that.
- They misunderstood what you said – especially in multicultural environments.
- Flat out refuse you ever said that.
I have had cases where I did not have proof and I was blamed. And I have had cases where I had an email proof.
Case 1 was 2 years ago. There was a tiny lab accident over the weekend and I had called a lab mate to help and inform him what exactly it was. He never showed up. No one knew what it was 2 days later. And it became a big issue and people assumed it was a dangerous virus or something. I was blamed for not informing properly and I had no proof that I did inform someone about it. Not even an SMS, And the person I informed left the job and did not even tell me.This really taught me to always have an email proof when it comes to work.
Case 2 was today. I am in charge of the company calendar from designing till the final product. We got the calendars today. A week earlier than expected. I had asked for a particular finish and it was not! The printers went into technical terms and how I never specified that I wanted that particular finish and the quotation stated this term. They said there was no email proof. The lady from the printer had come to our office and I had explained in detail what I wanted and showed her a sample as well. She said I never specified this particular term. There was no logic in their argument and though I left them speechless, she kept saying her side and I kept saying mine.
So, I calmed down, dug through all the emails and wham! – I found an email clearly explaining how I wanted it. That saves me lots of arguments and people telling me to pay them extra. If the person I corresponded with did not pass on all the information to their colleagues, it is between them, not me.
Note: I said work. It is not fair to use this to fight with friends and family 🙂 If people cannot relax with their closest ones and say shit once in a while, what’s the point?