Some very funny messages are sent with unintended consequences. Social media can be a great tools and have been the catalyst for many changes in the work place. They all have some short comings that make it necessary to use caution in sending a message.

Using them does allow us to get our thoughts to someone very quickly. This may be the problem. We tend not to re-read what we are about to send off and generally we do not stop to think how the message may be received.

What is missing is that we do not have a reliable way of conveying our true intentions (emojis may well convey a false or flippant emotion).

We need to be clear in what we say and how we say it.

This may take a bit more time when you write the message, however it will avoid multiple emails and a lot more time to correct a misinterpreted message.

This is a two-way street  – which means that as a recipient of unclear messages we should err on the side of caution and give the benefit of the doubt to the sender.  You can always ask for clarification of the message to ensure that you have a solid understanding of what is being asked or stated.  This will help you to make a fully informed decision as to whether you can comply with or make a sound response to what has been stated. We need to be just as vigilant in our response, knowing how words can seem cold or harsh in a response.

Here are some quick steps to help avoid conflict in messaging:

  1. Know your intention.
  2. Take a moment to consider the impact
  3. If you are unclear about the message, ask questions

If you are the sender, make sure that your message is clear and non-threatening.

If you are the receiver, make sure you understand what is being stated or asked.  When in doubt, ask for clarification.

This all seems simple, however at the pace of the workplace these days, one needs to be aware that mistakes can happen quickly and we all need to do what we can to prevent conflict whenever possible.


Dan WilliamsDaniel Williams is a Mediate BC Civil Roster mediator. Based in Kamloops, Dan provides conflict management and mediation to unionized and non-union workplaces, the construction industry, for insurance claims, and more. Find out more at


This post is part of Mediate BC’s WorkPeace series: mediator tips for addressing workplace conflict effectively.