Email is such a phenomenal innovation in communication. Yet, like any good thing, it has it’s drawbacks. Here are some more lessons I have learned.
- Appropriateness. Discern whether what you need to communicate is best done through face to face communication or electronic means. All of us have heard of the unpleasant text message break-ups. there are certain things that can only be communicated in an environment where the words are matched by expressions and where there is the opportunity of feedback. Other times, e-mail really is best – factual and un-emotive. The key is evaluating beforehand and anticipating the desired impact.
- Mobile email can be a blessing – in emergency cases or as you’re expecting a very important news. But i think – at least in my case – that is the exception rather than the norm. Over-checking email, while on the go can be at best distracting and at worst dangerous. If you’re not expecting something vital – learn to check and reply to email only as a way to redeem time, if stuck waiting somewhere.
- RSVP – this can be one of the perils of checking on the go and then forgetting about it. Learn to reply as soon as you can as this will avoid your inbox looking bloated and therefore encourage panic-stricken procrastination. If you don’t know what to say – say so. If you need more time to gather data or think – say so. Just, reply. Soon. This will add ‘zing’ to your electronic communication like you never thought…
- Drafting – related to the point above – if you have something to say but it’s incomplete, write what you know/feel and draft it. Gmail does it automatically for you. Then you can come back to it and continue. this works brilliantly for reports. You enter data as it happens, draft it, and then add further developments and then – bingo – it’s ready to be sent. That way you work on the go.
- CC-ing – always ask yourself the question ‘who else needs to know about this’. Most of the time we ‘under-communicate’ and that’s the root of misunderstandings, confusion and other perils. Include anyone in your team that would benefit from being ‘in the loop’. That will not just avoid hassle but will often redeem precious time in meetings as everyone is on the same page.