“Thank you for your quick response” says email after email. At first I didn’t understand. Doesn’t everyone reply immediately or at least in the same day?
Apparently not, according to my colleague with over 300 unread emails in his inbox. 300! And that is with a spam filter.
“Are you worried?” I asked? “There might be something really urgent to deal with?”
His response: “If they want something really badly, they’ll phone!”
We’re meant to be in the service business. How can waiting for the urgent call be deemed “service”?
The trouble, with mobile technology, there is no escape. I readily admit I am an email junkie, hooked on the constant “ping ping” into my inbox. I get quite despondent at the weekend and during bank holidays when, instead of the usual 100-plus emails I usually get, only two or three lowly messages arrive in my inbox.
On holiday, I’m glued to my iPad, iPhone and Blackberry (yes, I do have all three). My husband says: “Turn them off or, better yet, don’t bring them”. He is nearly two decades older than me and mourns the loss of the age when you’d actually speak to someone to conduct a transaction. He points out that, by the time you have fired back 20 emails, texts or both, one call (or, better still, a face-to-face meeting) would have resolved it all rather more effectively.
Begrudgingly, I have to agree. But will it change my working style? Not likely.
A client of mine, who is deeply committed to improving communication, has banned all internal emailing and all emailing completely on a Friday. This is a brave move and I have seen his colleagues reverting to texting, albeit under the desk, to ask a friend on the floor below if they would like a pint at lunchtime. Everyone works electronically these days – most people expect (well, I do anyway) instant reactions and, when I don’t get this, I feel cheated out of precious time.
When I started my career, the most instant tool was teletext. When fax arrived, we couldn’t believe that we could send not only written words but pictures and diagrams instantly to someone’s office. Then when we all got car phones and there was no stopping the barrage of conversation as you drove down the M1. We live in an entirely new world of communication. Sure, my husband ran one of the world’s biggest advertising agencies in the eighties without any of these “new age” (his words) tools – but back then, there was no choice.
I’m not going to place a ban on internal emails but I do promise to consider:
1) How my email sounds to the recipient
2) Stop for a moment to re-read the message before I hit “send”
3) Spell-check all my emails (it’s simply rude and lazy not to do so)
4) Sign off emails in an appropriate manner
5) Be more tolerant if people don’t reply in ten minutes
6) Stop being afraid of the phone
7) Pop my head outside my office door if I want to ask my colleagues for a drink at lunchtime!
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