If you are asking yourself this question, I’m here to help.
You Are Frustrated
You have been sending your team email for a long time. Some people on the team are good at responding and others…well let’s just say they don’t seem to be as “on top of it”.
You were talking about a specific topic in a meeting, and half the room didn’t know what you were talking about. “Didn’t you get my email?” you chided in frustration.
What’s wrong here?
How Can I Make Them Read My Email?
And you’re going about this the wrong way. The problem is you, not them.
Email can be great for certain types of communication, but in my opinion it is an overused means of communicating, especially when so many of us have the option to walk over or get on the phone and talk to someone directly. It can be a great method of communicating when the needs are asynchronous and when people are disconnected geographically, but in general it gets overused in my experience.
I have been guilty myself of not fitting the communication channel to the situation.
Email is Easy
For some people, sitting down in front of a computer and typing an email is much easier than walking across the hall to chat with a co-worker. This can be especially true when the topic is charged, or if you are in conflict with the person on the other end. Ironically, these are the times when it’s most important to not rely on email, because the power of direct communication is often the best way to resolve issues of any kind.
It’s likely that 80% of email in organizations is ineffective and would be better served via a face-to-face or phone conversation. The categories of email that may pass as prudent include sending meeting agendas and minutes, sending files, and when you are on totally separate schedules from those with which you want to communicate. It could be argued that there are better means of collaboration and communication even in these cases too.
The Missing Feedback Loop
One of the biggest problems I see with email is a missing feedback loop. If you are chatting with someone you can make sure they understood you, and that you understood them. Tones of voice and body language play a role and more information is communicated.
With email, a vast chunk of it goes out and the author assumes everyone who was on the list 1) read it, 2) understood fully, and 3) cares about what you had to say. It’s the “silence is golden” philosophy which, in my opinion, is a bad philosophy.
What do you think?