YP Perspective: The Enigma of Email

Posted by: Pulse Young Professionals on Wednesday, August 13, 2014
I have found that you either love or hate emails.  Personally, I love them for the simple fact that you can either shoot off a quick, simple message or a more detailed message with specific directions, yet everyone is informed of the same information in a consistent manner.  I have colleagues that would much rather just walk into my office to discuss a project, and that’s okay, too.  You can never go wrong with communicating face-to-face, but sometimes emails serve as easy, organized reminders on a busy day. Emails can be a Sour Patch Kid sometimes.  One day they can keep you in the loop about a particular subject, and the next, they can frustrate and irritate you beyond comparison.  One thing we all have in common is that we all probably receive too many emails in our inbox on a daily basis.  Nonetheless, a working day without emails would probably be unproductive and even overwhelming at times.  Emails act as that easy little reminder that helps you stay informed on all aspects of a particular project.  You don’t have to simply remember everything in your head, because an email serves as a documented resource that you can refer back to.  But what happens when emails are sent unnecessarily or excessively?  People may get annoyed, or maybe simply just don’t have the time in a day to respond – and that can possibly create ill feelings for the sender of that message. Due to a person’s schedule, sometimes they don’t have time to reply to your email message.  Personally, that is one of my pet peeves, but that’s another story.  I do understand, though, that Presidents and Managers don’t always have the luxury of giving attention to every single email message that hits their inbox.  The higher up the chain you are, the more likely it seems that you get double the amount of emails a subordinate may receive.  Therefore, picking-and-choosing commences as to which ones are responded to.  There are various reasons as to why your boss (or colleague) may not be replying to that email message as quickly as you would like. Punctuation marks can really mislead someone’s understanding of your implied message.  A period could make you feel like the writer is being blunt or annoyed; an exclamation point can possibly be a statement made in anger or frustration, or maybe that the writer is just really excited about the topic at hand.  We all have impressions and connotations tied to email (and text!) messages.  Because we are strictly reading word-for-word, without any emotion jumping off the page, we apply our own personal emotion towards the email message – good or bad. A good rule of thumb:  “Reading an email aloud before sending it is a good way to ensure the tone is neither wishy-washy nor too harsh.”  It also comes down to whether you are a good writer or not.  Sometimes I’ll receive an email, and I am so puzzled as to what the question is or what that person is trying to accomplish due to their wordy, showy vocabulary and excessive, misplaced punctuation marks.  Since emails are often times the only communication you might get with a new contact, we may try too hard sometimes at coming off as intelligent in order to make a lasting first impression.  But most people don’t use words like “indubitably” or “altitudinous” on a regular basis, so when it’s put into an email message, it will do one of two things:  turn you off or impress you.  Again, emails are nothing but text.  If you do not know the sender of the email, you are likely to misinterpret or create some random scenario in your head about the message if something rubbed you the wrong way. I think it’s always safe to be professional, use appropriate vocabulary and grammar, and throw in an explanation point at the end of the message to express your excitement in working together.  You want to show personality, yet remain competent and grounded. Email should be a catalyst for communication in the workplace, not a hindrance or speed bump.  Continue working on that project, keep your team informed, and represent yourself through good, efficient work… the mystery of the email will work itself out.  Like I said, you’re either an email lover or hater.  But either way, whatever works to get your organization to reach the ultimate goal… do that. Brittany Baughman is the Community Relations Coordinator of Webster University in Greenville.  She is responsible for the recruiting and public relations activities ofthe campus, as well as managing social media, planning all campus events, and implementing local marketing initiatives.  She and her husband, Jonathan, live in Greenville and stay busy spoiling their 1-year-old Lab/Spaniel mix, Darla.  Brittany also serves on the 2014 PULSE Marketing Committee as the YP Expert blogger.

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