Email. Where were you all of my life? You are so fast … so inexpensive … so efficient. What a boon to communication … impacting just about anyone involved in my life. Wow!! So many positives! Is it even realistic to imagine a world without you? To the world I spurned for you … oh poor snail mail? Why pine for the “old days”? There is no going back and frankly … I don’t want to!
So let me imagine that anyone reading this agrees and may even be thinking … “where is this going?” Believe me … I understand. What just thinking about it does, is to remind me of the amount of pain we email users have the ability to cause that significantly lessens the pleasure that email offers .
It’s difficult to read an article or blog about what makes for effective communication without my thinking of the ‘email’ form. And why do I go there? It’s because in just about every organization within which we work as coaches, the topic of email is at the forefront of situations that cause problems in that organization … within leadership teams and both within and between various departments.
Here are a few of the more prominent misuses of email that work against team and organization-wide cohesiveness and become an obstacle to maximizing success in an organization.
- Vent frustration or anger without discussing the problem while looking the ‘other’ in the eye;
- convey a message in any manner, using any language, without feeling the need to be professional or respectful;
- make the oft hurtful and distorted ‘water-cooler’ gossip easier … without the need to leave ones’ desk;
- provide just enough of what ‘we’ think is important (knowledge is power); thus, making colleagues job more difficult because they have to ‘fill in the blanks’ or do duplicate work
- participate in the time-wasting practice of forwarding “jokes” or other unsolicited types of messages;
- and … my personal favorite misuse …. Shooting off an email ‘in the moment’ that reflects emotions and attitudes … ones that may not reflect our true feelings once the experience has been processed. It’s too often a very bad idea indeed!
I love email. As I said, I can’t imagine going back anymore than I can imagine looking for a gas station with a phone booth … both in the category of antiques. Frankly, both sound like bad ideas. Yet like so many other things, there’s both a constructive and destructive way to use something. Any organization that makes the decision to establish and enforce email etiquette will bring the good of email to the forefront and thus, impact the success it achieves. Do you relate to this through your experience? I’d like to know.