Some people hate emails, I love them and here is why
It's easy to dislike emails, but just as you wouldn’t decide to walk everywhere when frustrated by traffic jams or lousy public transport, you should be careful not to shun emails.
Why do we get frustrated?
I don’t believe that the medium of email is the problem, just as roads and railways aren’t typically the cause of problems with your commute, it’s what people do with the medium that is the problem.
If your colleagues send you too many emails, it’s often because they have not stopped to think whether you need to see the message and have taken the lazy route of emailing to a distribution group. Or perhaps the topic of the thread has moved on and now only needs to be seen by one person, but they reply to all anyway.
I say ‘they’ but ask yourself, do you take the time to respect others and reduce their spam, because if you don’t, you are also a big part of the problem.
Other causes for email frustration are: it can take too long to get a response from someone, searching for emails/attachments is slow, you have too many to go through, or you simply prefer talking to people on the phone. Those having to now work from home due to the pandemic can no longer speak with colleagues face-to-face, so revert to email when they can’t reach them via the phone.
We don’t need more communication products
Some will argue that email is not the most appropriate tool for some communications. If we are purely considering the communication at that point in time which requires a quick response, then there is a lot of support for this eg SMS, instant messaging, forums, etc.
These platforms all have their place and can sometimes feel more appropriate, but it’s not just about communication, as you will often need to find the evidence of the exchange and potentially many years later; that’s when you start to wish you had been more careful.
There have been countless claims, typically from vendors of communication products that email will be displaced by this, that or the other, and we have seen a proliferation of communication tools being added to systems too. So your screen sharing tools may now have a chat function, you may have instant messaging, there may be forums that you use and there will undoubtedly be collaboration services used by your business that include their own communication hubs as well.
In many ways these are great, and one needs to have a range of tools sometimes, but there are also down sides. Firstly, they can create confusion and anxiety as users now have many input streams to monitor, so finding things can become challenging. Ironically, many of the notifications for these tools are via email, so your email traffic rises, making you dislike email more, and you now need to become a master of multiple systems.
They also present a risk in terms of auditability. Are the instant messages being filed to the project, is the data going to be available to you in 6 years’ time if there is a claim against the project, can you find what you need quickly?
A typical example is collaboration systems as you may be encouraged by a construction management firm to use their portal to comment on the project, but what happens if you have a dispute and are kicked off the project? You won’t have access to the data that could help you defend yourself if you need to go to court.
So, giving people more communication tools is not the answer, in fact you are just adding to their stress.
We just need to be better at managing emails
Email is generic, we all have it and it works regardless of what the other person is using. You don’t need to force others to use the same software or worry about version compatibility or even operating system compatibility; it just works.
If you look after your emails well by storing them in a sensible way, they can become valuable records. After all, who hasn’t written an email rather than phoning simply because it will provide written evidence?
So, it can provide an indisputable record of a conversation and that’s really valuable and legally admissible too.
The problem is however that many people fail to organise their messages and file them to a sensible place because it’s too hard. I personally use AEC email management software to make both filing and subsequent searching really easy and there is a link at the bottom of this article if you are curious, but you can do these things manually too:
- When sending an email or once you’ve read one, file it to the most logical place
This will help you control the abundance of emails you may receive
- Create shared folders so that colleagues can access your emails too
This is particularly useful when a colleague is on holiday or leaves the business
- Save email attachments to a relevant folder too
This will help you save time searching for them
If like me however, you don’t have the time to manage your inbox manually and would prefer to have a tool to help, take a look at our AEC email management software Excitech Mail and find out how you too can begin to love emails here.
Keep an eye out for our next blog post, where I’ll be explaining why I love emails, and what you can do to change your hatred of emails in more depth.
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