Wherein we return to a theme from the recent past.
I’m an unashamed email proponent–especially for business. I hope I base it on reason, though, and stay open to seeing when I misuse or overly rely on it. I prefer email for business, although I do use it for some personal communication.
Edward Muzio is correct that email is excellent for data and facts. It is, however, good for data and facts because it documents that information. However, communication is more than documentation, and even data delivers emotional content. If it doesn’t, it’s not very interesting and why bother?
One can’t always anticipate how much or where that emotional meaning will come from. I would go so far as to say there is always emotional content in our communication. To pretend otherwise is one of the ways email can start fights.
How is email different from other forms of the written word? It’s obvious that it’s too easy to send without carefully considering either the content or the recipient. Here are the main differences as they occur to me:
- Too easily sent
- Infinite copy and forward and no control over recipients
- Email is forever: not diamond-forever, but embarrass-and-blackmail-forever.
I’m not the first person to point this out, of course. However, if email communication is to be improved by making it more effective, if indeed it needs to be, then it’s the characteristics that make communication challenging we need to address.
Outlook allows one to delay sending emails for some amount of time. I set mine years ago to not automically send. I have to tell it to send. I’ve been saved many times. Mostly, I’ve been saved from glaring grammatical mistakes, or incomplete replies. Gmail has a similar feature now. If your email program has it, and you regret some of your emails, try this feature out.
Everyone should be regularly reminded, and mindful that whatever is sent can be used against you. Forever. Any apologies or explanations, the original may have been forwarded so many times your follow up will have no impact. Computer forensics experts can recover deleted data, and emails travel through multiple servers while in transit. Each step leaves traces. Think of it like picking your nose in your car. You may feel like you’re alone, but you’re not.