Gone are the days that you can respond to every one who contacts you with in 24 hrs. It used to be standard to return a call no latter then the next business day. Now you get calls and a ton of emails. It is so much quicker and easer to send an email these days then to call some one and hope to get them. If you think of some thing you can send an email at any time, 12 pm or 3 am. The result of this is tons of emails, legitimate business contacts, spam and friends and family. It is time consuming and frustrating to open, read and delete or respond to them all. So instead of getting back to people in a timely manner you have to prioritize and depending on the subject line emails may or may not be even opened, let alone read.
Why is it that people understand not to call some one at work to tell them a joke or funny story but it is ok to send it as an email to some ones work email. Then they expect you to take time from your work to respond to their emails and chat at work. It is easy to find yourself receiving lots of non-work related emails and fall into the trap of responding to the emails instead of working. It only takes a minute, but that is not your job. I am not going to even try to understand the people who send inappropriate material to your work email. I had to ask people to stop emailing me at work. It is such a large problem that a lot of large companies actually have computer programs to track and read your incoming and outgoing emails. Think about that the next time you forward a joke or respond to a personal email.
At work I would not go to every one in my department and show them my vacation pictures, or tell them the joke I just heard. It looks bad and would be keeping them from their work. But people seem to feel it is ok to do the same thing by email. Same with having conversations that you don’t want people to over hear. It is easy to be sitting at your desk, look like you are working but you are really gossiping with a co-worker.
Emails tend to be viewed as a more casual form of communication. This changes the tone we take when we send an email instead of a letter, memo or phone call. It is very easy to loose “common courtesy” that we would have in other forms of communication. We try to keep them brief and to the point and this can also seem impersonal and by some seen as lacking in respect.
When you are sending an email are you still being professional in your tone and the information being passed? Did you take the time to check your spelling and context? Or did you just dash off a quick response or question with out thinking it through first? Instead of bugging a co-worker could you have thought about what you were asking or do some research yourself? It is so easy to send an email about some thing we would not have bothered some one if we had to get up from our desk and find them, and ask them in person. It is a trivial thing we could have resolved ourselves. It was easer to send an email then doing the work. Just because it is easy to email some one we need to ask ourselves “should I”.
Written by: Lori-Lee Craig