Email is both a wonderful tool and something that can get in the way of effective communications. Too often, we ---- I plead guilty in this case ----- use email when a direct conversation is more appropriate. Somehow email is so easy, in a few seconds, I can send a missile across the world. I can hit as many targets as choose, then I can run and hide.
All of it is too easy, and is probably not great for effective communications. Yesterday, I noticed, I sent a colleague an email message, I got an immediate email response, to which I responded, and then we went back and forth 3 or 4 more times. Kind of like playing electronic Ping Pong across the country. At the same time, I think we both realized how ridiculous this was, he picked up the phone and called, we had a great conversation.
This posting was provoked based on a nice post on "PickTheBrain" called "Don't Let A Reliance On Email Kill You Communication." A few key points (verbatim from the post):
- Email is One-to-One. Although you can use Reply to All and mailing lists, email works best between two people. This means group conversations are difficult to continue.
- Email is Time Delayed. Conversations work best when there is a rapid flow of feedback. If your messages are hours or days apart, this makes chatting difficult.
- Email is Written. While there are written mediums of communication that work well for chatting, it is never as good as human speech. Text removes the tonality, body language and subtle cues that make a conversation interesting.
- Email is Bloated. People already get too many emails. Adding to that pile lengthy conversations means your messages will get ignored or skimmed.
I'd add a fifth:
- Email is One Way. Email does not establish an effective dialog or conversation.
The entire article is very good, take the time to read it.
One final thing, before you hit that send button, pause a moment and think, should I pick up the phone?