Many years ago, my grandmother asked me to explain “email” to her. Some of her younger friends were pestering her to get an email account so she could receive info about group meetings, bingo nights, etc. I dutifully explained to her that email was short for electronic mail and is a quick, easy, efficient way to send and receive messages. It was used for both work and personal messages. I boastfully bragged that I could sit at my desk all day long and not have to engage anyone face to face or on the phone. It was great! “Hmmmmmmmm,” she muttered, “sounds kind of lonely to me.” Whatever, I thought to myself.
Fast forward ten years and I have a resolution for 2011. No, I am not giving up on email or even reducing my use of it. My resolution is: I will try my best to avoid using email if I have to communicate disappointing or bad news to a client, prospect, candidate, colleague, or business partner. I will have the courage to pick up the phone or engage the person face to face. Why this resolution? Because I have been on the receiving end of these types of emails and not only am I sad about the communicated news, but I find myself disappointed that the person is hiding behind the non-confrontational nature of email. I may have some follow-up questions, I may want to express my frustration, I may want to ask why or how questions.
I realize my resolution is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to some of the negative aspects regarding our society’s ubiquitous use of technology; but it’s one small thing that irritates me and I want to change my behavior. I’m curious, do you sometimes hide behind email when you have to deliver bad news?
Happy New Year!
P.S. My other resolution for 2011 is to use more idioms in my daily interactions. Some of my favorites include: dime a dozen, sink a battleship, swing a dead cat, a blessing in disguise, blue moon, long in the tooth, pass the buck, slow as molasses in January, and three sheets to the wind.