Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Day 50 - Ps & Qs

I got an email this week which began 'I need you to...'
No 'please could you', no 'sorry for making you do this', just 'I need you to...'
This is from a colleague I know quite well, and I know that if they were to have met me in person, they would have said 'please could you', and apologised for making me do it (it's quite an annoying task transferring data from one format to another, inferior, format). Actually I did meet them in person and they did both of these things.
Why is email so different?
How do we come across in emails?

I will often read an email through before I send it to check that I'm not coming across as passive aggressive, annoying, shouty, bitchy, etc. but sometimes we misjudge these things. Emails can be read and re-read, they don't come with gestures and facial expressions, and they can be forwarded infinitely.

It is easy to see how emails can become weapons in the wrong hands, stored up and saved to be used against our 'enemies'. It is also easy to see how emails can sow discord and fray relationships if they are not written with sensitivity or read with latitude.

I think that I have always taken email etiquette as a given, although I have written some awful emails in my time, and it's something I've been aware of for a long time. In fact, training myself to write texts that were more casual, and were aimed at giving the impression of being hastily written, took a while. In an environment where the primary mode of communication is via email, whether that's between colleagues or between academics and students, I think that these considerations can be critical.

I suppose that the aim is to read our emails as others read them. And only then press 'send'.

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home