Lately, I’ve been feeling more than a little depressed. If only it were just the February blahs, but the source of my glumness isn’t tied to weather.
It’s this endless blitzkrieg of emails and their first cousin, texts. I feel like I’m stranded in the wilderness with nothing but a fly swatter to defend myself against the relentless onslaught of blood-sucking insects, night and day.
And I’m not alone.
Almost everyone I speak with (now there’s a novel approach) who needs to communicate by email is suffering from this plague.
Email is a great personal and business communication tool. I can’t imagine navigating the world of business and my network of family and friends without the convenience of email. And there’s an art to writing great emails, just as there is to writing poetry or prose, but for the love of my old Underwood, enough already!
How ironic, that in this day and age when we have more ways and means by which to communicate, we’re leaning on this one form and ignoring all the others. I’m no social psychologist. I don’t know why we gravitate to email over other forms of communication, but I get the very disconnected feeling that we are becoming less effective communicators as a result.
Time to scrutinize the use of email and text.
To reiterate: just so I don’t sound like some old-school lunatic who’s pining for a return to the ancient art of storytelling around the fire or decoding pictographs, I’d like to make it perfectly clear that I think emailing and texting are great. Indispensable, in fact.
What’s troubling is this marginalizing of other forms of communication.
We are losing our ability to distinguish the difference in fidelity between a cryptic text and a phone conversation, or a Skype encounter versus a string of emails, or a face-to-face meeting and a letter.
We act as though simply banging out an email is enough.
The way to cultivate a healthy communication ecosystem is by nurturing an awareness of the impact we intend to have with our communication. What is the outcome we desire? How do we want to make the other person feel?
So, the next time you find yourself imbedded in an endless email string, or trying to understand someone’s cryptic text, remember, maybe it’s time to “reach out and touch someone” (circa AT&T 1987).
If you want to dress to impress, and up your communications’ game, try a letter on letterhead. Your message will stand out from the crowd.
Then there’s the face-to-face meeting where you can communicate at your highest level of human competency using body language, inflection, presence, awareness, listening and energy — none of which can be captured effectively over email. Think about it: while all your competitors are sending their offers in an impersonal electronic format, you’re wowing them and building a relationship.
All I’m asking is, let’s try to find a balance in how we communicate with one another.
Seriously, wouldn’t you want fewer emails in your inbox? Would you miss the anxiety that surges with waking up to 148 unread emails?
Next time you’re thinking of writing me an email, consider inviting me for coffee. My treat.