Emails are killing me SOFTLY! | Management Lessons 101 |

It is becoming more often that I open my queue only to find tons of emails waiting for me to read (I mean delete). Some I need to action, but most of them are useless emails that people force on me. I don’t want to read, but then I have to be careful of this one email, the email that has within its lengthy pages a small action for me to look for; the ticking bomb that you only recognize when it is too late.


Emails flood in all sizes and types: long and short, dry and vivid, one to one emails, and emails with half the office in copy, advisories, policies, queries, etc. As I start the first couple of emails, I feel overwhelmed. All the brilliant ideas that I had in mind for the day start to vanish from my head. I try to hold onto them, but they evaporate in the same speed that emails flood in. I decide to take a break; to get fresh air.


Really, the way people use this communication channel creates so much waste and kills any bit of creativity that I have when I come to the office. It makes me like a postman, only worse. For he doesn’t have to read all the emails he gets; that lucky bastard.


So, for all those employees who like this thing called emails, here are few things I have been dying to tell you. Your emails are killing me softly!


1) Emails are not the fastest way to solve a problem. First, I can’t understand why people miss stuff from the email. It is not a soap opera that I have to wait for another 30 episodes to know what you want. I am sorry, but if I wanted to become a detective who has to solve such a mystery, I would have joined that field! Can you please send me your email in concise and clear format? PLEASE! Otherwise, excuse me for de-prioritizing your email and moving to one of the other 100 emails I have to look through. Second, if you send an email and you don’t get it solved in one mail, most likely it won’t be solved in another 10. So, if you want to solve it quickly, go to the person and talk to him. I personally like to send such half cooked responses when I want to procrastinate. My favorite replies are: “I will check and revert”, “Can you please elaborate”, or “Can you please provide specific examples”. You get to procrastinate one day easily with those sorts of replies.


2) Emails are not a substitute for Morse Code. Can you please spare one more minute to write decent English. Whilst I know abbreviations like FYI, ASAP, you don’t need to write all your email that way. Words like Hi, Hello, and Regards are always welcome, unless you have a robot writing your emails for you. Keep in mind that there is more than logical side of the brain that is at work and you might want to appeal to both sides of the receivers’ brains if you want to have a chance in succeeding at what you want. That also applies even if you are the big boss, since the rest of us are all humans whose brains work in similar fashion.


3) Emails are different from books. Sometimes I think emails are books in disguise. I bet the person who invented emails loved books. He was looking for a way to trick people into reading books. The only difference is that emails are books that you read backward, the email starts from the last page backward. Not only that, you get to be part of that book just like the ten other people that happen to be in the email. It is sort of a book in progress.


4) Emails are the easiest way to pick a fight. Emails lack 93% of what you have in face to face communication. Emails can be easily misunderstood, especially if your colleagues like to read between the lines. I laugh at people when they start to analyze emails. You put his manager in copy and it is understood as complaining to the boss. You don’t put his manager, he might think it is not important. You say hi, it is too informal. You say dear, you become a very formal uptight person. No matter what you do, there is always a chance of being misunderstood.


From all of the above, you must think I hate emails. The truth is, emails are a great way to document something or send some attachments for somebody to review on his pace, but emails will never replace verbal communication if you want to discuss something. My advice to you, select your communication channel wisely, be it emails or not emails. If you use emails, be careful of the weaknesses this channel has, so that you get the most effective communication. Now you can delete this article. Regards,