Mar 24, 201501:23 PMMind Your Business
with Corey Chambas
Evil Email: Go old school to communicate more effectively
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You may get the impression from the title that I hate email. Actually, it’s a love/hate relationship. One thing that I get frustrated by, as I’m sure you do, is the sheer volume of email that I receive at work. If I’m not keeping up throughout the day, I’ll have about 75 to 100 emails — and I’m pretty diligent about unsubscribing and blocking senders, so there’s another 25-plus in my spam!
But given the “real-time,” information-rich business world we live in, I can’t imagine how I could possibly do my job without email. Which is kind of strange given that during a big chunk of my career, there was no such thing! Now we all get texts, and there are intracompany or work group instant messaging platforms, but email is still the workhorse of business communications. What I really want to focus on is that email is a communication tool, and like any tool there is a right time to use it and a wrong time.
Recognizing the right time to use email is easy. If you need to disseminate information, email can be the perfect tool. It’s efficient and exacting. And you can get lots of info to lots of people in one fell swoop. I think we all get that.
However, because it becomes our go-to tool for communicating in the office, we often overlook its downsides — it limits collaboration and can strain relationships instead of fostering them. Specifically, I believe it should be avoided when you want to convey an opinion, ask a challenging question, or touch on anything controversial or that could be misinterpreted. In these cases, it’s equivalent to pounding in a screw with a hammer — the wrong tool leading to a potentially bad outcome.
It’s easy to accidently get caught up in email crossfire. Someone emails a group of people on a matter, and you hit “reply” (or worse yet, “reply all”) and weigh in with your opinion. Now you have to wonder what the group is going to do with it. More often than not, start a lengthy, disjointed, and often unresolved back-and-forth discussion. Even if it’s just one individual, you can end up batting things back and forth like a tennis ball. Not exactly a productive, collaborative interaction …