I love technology!
Actually, I’m more like a technology geek with one careful distinction. I love technology with a purpose.
But, not all technology is good technology at least not all applications of technology are beneficial.
A prime example of that would be when you think you can run your company and do all your communications via email. You can’t!
Here’s why. You can’t read “tone” when you read email. In other words, you can’t see all the non-verbal clues you’re sending out when they don’t see you. And non-verbal communication is the largest big part of communications. Some experts have pegged the various aspects of non-verbal communication at 70% or more of the way we truly communicate with one another.
Is there a good place for email? Yes!
It’s great for staying in quick contact with Techs in the field and even documenting a path of communication within the office. It’s a great way to send restocking orders to suppliers.
But have you ever had an ongoing “email conversation” where you and the person you’re emailing ratchet up the hostility with each email response you bounce off one another? I’m sure you have.
I’d suggest that much of the email that gets rocketed back and forth with an ever-rising edge be nipped in the bud and instead you set up a time to meet face to face talk happen sooner rather than later or when it’s not practical at least get on the phone with one another.
Why so much emailing to one another anyway? I mean really sometimes the persons emailing are in the next office over or even worse the next cubicle.
I suspect that much of the inter-office emailing is an attempt to avoid face to face confrontation if it’s something you feel might spark contention. Although, I believe it’s more a desire to avoid interaction. And that’s a shame. One of the biggest reasons people go to work beyond their paycheck is to belong to a group and interact.
Is our technology isolating us more and more so that an email, a text or even a Facebook™ post now passes for communication? I think it does. It’s communication but not always productive and certainly not a replacement for face time or even phone time [the seemingly old technology].
Also, it’s clear that we’re all busier. The technology helps us communicate quickly but not effectively. It gets worse when we’re tempted to do broadcast emails that reach many people. This is especially so at larger companies. Most times mass emails get the same reaction as mass meetings. Those attending mass meetings tend to think to themselves, “This meeting isn’t about me. It must be about the others.” And this is what recipients of mass emails think too.
I know how fast an email conversation can become a war of words because I have experienced it with my own email communications. It’s easy to keep firing off emails to people and feel the tone we read into them make our blood pressure rise. That’s why I try to adhere to my own rule of thumb which is if I haven’t been able to successfully and clearly communicate with someone within two emails what I’m trying to convey I will set up a quick phone call asap. A phone call doesn’t address all of the ways we non-verbally communicate with one another but it does allow me to better address what I’m trying to say in email by being able to add in the right tone and inflection with my voice. It allows for a connection on a higher level.
One thing that is becoming screamingly clear and that the speed of our communications and the miscommunications it carries in our 24 hour a day world. Even how fast we reply to an email has repercussions because we crave immediate responses from an immediate medium. That’s once again why the tone can turn hostile quickly.
If you want to get better at the art of email, a great book to read about the hazards of email is “The Tyranny of E-mail: The Four-Thousand-Year Journey to Your Inbox” by John Freeman.
As far as I can tell, email and for that matter texting are here to stay so you might as well get good at the dos and the don’ts and find a way to have one less war to fight at your workplace.