Jennifer Darling

I Broke One of My Own Rules, and I Paid For It

Do you ever hear that little voice inside your head that tells you to do something, or not to do something? You avoid it, and basically tell it to get lost, you’ll do what you want.

I heard her voice earlier this week. “Pick up the phone and call this man. Forget the email.”

Of course, you know I didn’t listen to her.

This man had purchased a training program from a 3rd party vendor from me. He contacted me to compliment me on the training and ask me a favor.

I couldn’t do exactly what he wanted me to do, so I offered another solution. We were now on our third email.

This is where I broke my rule. The rule was given to me by a former colleague years ago in my days of selling advertising. He said, if an email goes more than three replies, stop and pick up the phone.

Here I was, email three, and I pondered if I should just make the phone call. I had the man’s phone number. It was in his signature line. I didn’t do it, nope, I typed a rather lengthy FOURTH email. I knew better. After all, I teach about sales and how to communicate your message.


He and I politely and graciously exchanged emails debating over his request. He had made a few comments that my brain did not compute, so of course, I gave my rationale. He bounced back with his rationale and so on and so forth.

Finally, after about six or seven emails, I think I figured out we were talking about two very different training courses!

At the same time I made this conclusion, he was the smart one, and picked up the phone and called me.

We had, in fact, been debating about two different things!

Who knows how much time I spent, or he spent, writing very thoughtful and cordial emails, but I imagine it was approximately an hour for what could have been resolved in a five minute phone call.

It is so easy to get wrapped up in an email exchange or social media communication that goes nowhere. Thank goodness for me, our correspondence was friendly and fruitful.

Hindsight, I’m glad I broke my rule, because I paid for it with my time and learned a valuable lesson. I was reminded that verbal communication is 10x, maybe 100x more effective than email exchanges. Often, challenging conversations over email escalate to a negative place and may cause resentment. This was not the result of my mishandling our communication, instead, I learned my lesson and made a friend.

I learned something else very important about myself in the process. I believe the reason our electronic communication did not spiral downhill is because I was open to his feedback, and he was open to mine. I welcomed it, and I asked for his perspective. I listened to his valid points, and my responses were carefully, and respectfully crafted. Also, in my mind I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and considered what could it be that I was missing? I took accountability that I could have been mistaken.

I will be the first to admit, I like a good debate. I make up my mind about something and dig my heels in the sand and love to prove my point (I probably shouldn’t even tell you this, ha!). Alas, I think I am growing and perhaps my emotional intelligence just increased a notch or two!

To my new friend, thank you for being you and picking up the phone! I can’t wait to learn from you again.

What about you? Have you found yourself leaning more on electronic communication to solve issues? Are you open to the three email rule? I hope you can learn from my mistake and find yourself willing to pick up the phone.

Want to learn my #1 way to build influence? Click here to to get your free gift!

About the author: Jennifer Darling is your Positively Successful Sales Coach. She has worked with 1,000s of businesses in strategic planning to increase their revenue. She provides sales, marketing, personal development and business consulting for small to medium businesses, corporations, nonprofits, and groups. Jennifer possesses 20 years experience for companies such as NBC, CBS, FOX, and Comcast. She holds a Master’s Degree in Management and a Bachelor’s Degree in Advertising & Promotion.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *