Tag Archives: email

Keeping it Conversational

Having just blogged again about how email is a poor substitute for conversation, I thought I should check myself and see how I’m measuring up.

Last week started with a shot of extra Joe Gerstandt via Skype quickly followed by an interview with Jo Dodds for Engage for Success radio. Tuesday was spent talking with clients about culture, effective communication and collaboration. On Wednesday I got to spend time talking with Meg Peppin and the author Jamie Notter on humanising work, before flying towards the weekend in conversation with Kev Wyke about business development, and more client stuff about making work better and communities. I also squeezed in phone conversations with Julia Briggs and Dorothy Matthew too, and a few very helpful mini chats with folk on Twitter. The week closed on a high after Susan Avello offered to have a Google Hangout with me as a sneak peek on my contribution to the upcoming Illinois SHRM conference in August.

My session in Illinois on connected leadership will be a series of building blocks. I’m pulling together a series of stories, approaches, ideas and exercises and I’m going to lay them out and encourage people to choose the direction of the talk on the fly. A lot of my work is about how good conversations sit at the heart of good work, and by way of example I want the nature of the session to be more conversational and participative.

Having checked my email sent folder I’ve not done as well as I would have liked, and a few people have had emails from me where I think a phone call would have been better. Sorry if you’ve been on the less conversational end of things this last week, I make mistakes and I learn from them too – I will do better next time.

And I guess another thing I need to check is – was all this conversation needed? Would our week have been more collaborative, more productive had we not picked up the phone as often as we did? I guess I should have closed each of the conversations I’ve been involved in with those questions, so I can’t speak for everyone but for me, those conversations weren’t just enjoyable – they were absolutely necessary. Thank you to everyone I spoke with for helping make a good week, great.

Abdicate Responsibility

A couple of months ago I wrote a piece called ‘It’s Good to Talk’, which shared some interesting research from New York University and Chicago University on why email is not a good tool to use if you want to be understood. Building from that, here is reason number 256 why email sucks:

Abdicate Responsibility

I write some crap.

I press Abdicate Responsibility Send.

It’s your problem now, deal with it.

And if you don’t, I’ll copy a bunch of other folk in just to heap pressure on you, in fact, fuck it, I’ll do that right from the start.

Sound familiar?

Please – before you send that email, go and see the other person first, particularly if they are at the next desk, or on the same floor, or same building. And if they’re not, then call them. For the most part, email should be our last resort, not our first port of call.

It’s Good To Talk

I’m in London today running a workshop on Managing Difficult Conversations with Boyes Turner. Conversations are a critically important part of my work and I’m intrigued to see how the day pans out. One of the reasons why people find certain types of conversation difficult is that we’ve simply fallen out of the conversation habit. Modern work relies heavily on email, and whilst email currently has a place for exchanging information, as the following figures* show, it doesn’t serve us well as a conversational medium, at least not if we want to be clearly understood.

How Well Do We Communicate

When you’re busy and your inbox light is winking seductively at you – it might feel tempting to resort to a hasty note and a quick press on the send button, particularly if the subject matter looks a little…awkward? But if you want to prevent awkward becoming difficult and difficult becoming even worse, why not pin this little chart on the wall as a reminder that when you want to be understood, it’s good to talk. 

* Source: Profs. Justin Kruger of New York University and Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago