In a world where email and online interaction have become the norm, people are actually talking to each other less and less. The new norm has some pitfalls.
Today’sÂ 24×7 socially connected world has us interacting in the digital space more than ever before. We all âconnectâ on LinkedIn; âfriendâ each other on Facebook; âtweetâ our deepest, most thoughtful insights â in 140 characters or less; and we can watch almost anything on YouTube! Â We have customized feeds that send us a constant barrage of information daily âŚ hourly…..even every minute.Â We have more access to information, data and processing power in the palms of our hands with our smart phones than the Apollo missions had in their lunar modules.Â Why, then, donât we talk anymore?!
In a word â email!Â We all love to complain about it.Â We all get way too much of it.Â Some of us even wear it as a badge of honor â âI typically get more than 225 emails a day!â a friend recently told me.Â As if that were a key measurement of productivity âŚ or of importance.Â Sad!!
OK, benefit of the doubt, perhaps the problem isnât actually email (a nod to an old friend from high school who was one of the original developers of a new product at Microsoft which came to be known as Outlook).Â No, the problem is the way we are using email.Â Email is a wonderful tool â great for communicating, setting appointments and meetings, and sending contracts and other important documents around the world in the blink of an eye.Â The problem is that email has morphed from a great tool into our de-facto method of communicating with one another!
With so many ways to communicate about so many different things, it amazes and confounds me that we have developed an aversion, almost a phobia, to picking up the telephone and having a good conversation with another person.Â We deride others for this practice but get caught up in our busy lives and end up doing it ourselves.Â Weâve been trapped; damned if you do/damned if you donât.Â Here is a challenge to each of you â break the cycle!Â It is much easier said than done, but here are a few tips:
- Do not use the âReply Allâ button!Â Iâve got news for you, most of the people in the âToâ and âccâ lines really donât care about your response â which is typically only targeted to one or two people anyway!
- Please donât respond simply to thank me.Â I know the information was useful and/or timely or I wouldnât have sent it to you in the first place.Â No need to clutter up my Inbox and divert my attention with yet another email just to say âThanksâ
- Ask yourself, âIf I were sending this via USPS, UPS or FedEx, would I still send it?âÂ If the answer is no, then the answer is no.Â Please donât send it to me.
- I donât check my mailbox at home 75 times every day.Â Why do you expect me to check my Inbox that many times?!Â Note:Â I donât âŚ see point #3 above!
- Schedule time for yourself (a good habit anyway) to work, manage and respond to the email in your Inbox.Â If you schedule two or three blocks of time spread throughout the day it is usually sufficient to ensure you havenât missed âthe end of the worldâ while youâve been doing everything else required in your day.
- THINK â this is a lost art!Â If I send you something via email it is because I believe it is important to you or it is something I think you need.Â Do me the favor of thinking about your reply before just shooting back a quick note (usually without having read or understanding my entire message).
- Better yet â after reading through all of these tips, pick up the phone, call me and letâs have a conversation!
Perhaps if we follow some of the tips I’ve outlined above, we can spend less time emailing and more time talking. Too much email ends up being counterproductive, but a good conversation can do wonders for productivity.
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