While email has become a staple of workplace communications, I think we can all agree there are some flaws in this system. Some of the top leaders in business are actually discouraging inter-office email to spark collaboration and take a step back from the complete snafu email communication can turn into quite quickly.
One of those top leaders is Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote. Libin said,
“One of the things I’ve tried to do is uproot any sort of e-mail culture at Evernote. We strongly discourage lengthy e-mail threads with everyone weighing in. It’s just not good for that. Plus, it’s dangerous, because it’s way too easy to misread the tone of something. If you want to talk to somebody and you’re a couple floors apart, I kind of want you to get up and go talk to them.”
cc: Resentment, Tension, Confusion
Email is the leading cause of confusion and resentment in most offices. Between the overuse of that “reply all” button, forwards with pages and pages full of irrelevant communication vollies and constant misinterpretation - email is a broken process.
- Although 92% of those surveyed said email was an essential communication tool, 43% say it's also the most likely means of communication to cause tension in the workplace.
- 64% of respondents have sent, and or received email that unintentionally caused anger or resentment.
So, the bad news is our number one means of professional communication is causing a lot of undue discourse. The good news is we can take action to fix this intrinsically flawed system. The following are common pain points for email recipients, and what you can do to make sure you’re not the one clicking “send” on boring, confusing, long-winded emails.
25% of email recipients want you to cool it with the “reply all” button.
I know, It’s an easy and failsafe way to make sure every one is in the loop, but you’re sending the message to those who do not need to be part of this communication that your time is more valuable than theirs. Instead of taking a moment to evaluate who needs to be part of this communication, you’ve simply hit reply all, meaning they will read the email, try to figure out why they are receiving this email, and probably write back inquiring about their part in the email. That’s ridiculous.
19% of email recipients said they are frustrated by vague or confusing emails.
Again, this is a matter of valuing your own time more than the recipients. Take the time to read what you’ve composed. Does this make any sense? Does the recipient have all the context and information they need to proceed? Also, for the love gmail, stop just forwarding emails without context. You are not that important that you can’t take 60 seconds to explain the forward.
18% of email recipients are annoyed by the sheer amount of email they receive.
You don’t have to shoot off an email each and every time you think of something. Instead, create a draft or doc and add to it as you go. Use bullet points so that each separate thought or idea is clearly delineated. This way, your recipient doesn’t need to open, search and prioritize. It’s all there right in front of them.
12% of email recipients want you to cut out the long-winded emails.
We’ve all received those emails, 1700 words of the sender’s stream of conscious. That is not communication. Once again, have some respect for people’s time. Don’t leave out your personality or professional niceties, but bring it down to the essentials. If you have a story or a lengthy explanation, pick up the phone, it will save you both time.
Email doesn’t have to be the necessary evil that we get through every day at work. With a renewed respect for the time of our professional connections, we can streamline this tension-causing system. Always keep you recipient in mind, work smarter not harder and be willing to pick up the phone every once in a while.
Saving time, resources and sanity is what we do around here at ClearCompany. Check out our latest viral SlideShare and find out where you’re losing money at work each and every day.
As the head of a department in the midst of a sustained period of rapid growth, Sara has spent hundreds of hours interviewing, hiring, onboarding and assessing employees and candidates. She is passionate about sharing the best practices she has learned from both successes and failures in talent acquisition and management.