People often say that technology has interfered with our lives, taken over and removed us from the “each other” of life but where email is concerned I beg to differ. As a result of this faster than light communication tool, I have been able to spend more time doing more things with the people I love.
“Hi Barb. Love to have lunch this month. Here are some possible dates:
Monday the 19th
Wednesday the 21st
Friday the 23
If none of these is good for you, please suggest what might work. Looking forward!
Love, Deb xo”
Would love to get together and:
Wednesday the 21st is great. Say noon at the Queen Mother?
Love, Barb xo”
Love, Deb xoxoxo
Okay so that took all of two minutes AND I was sitting in my housecoat and slippers AND we did not slide down the slippery slope of chatting on the phone about everything we were going to gab about during the impending lunch!
But ... you knew there had to be a but. Sometimes email does not do it! At all. Sometimes in fact it can be misconstrued and misleading. Email has no tone of voice, no soul. So, in order to make sure an email is taken in the right spirit I have gone to great lengths to fill said email with tons of LOL’s and :-) and :-( and (tee-hees) and (har)’s. I have even gone so far as to start the email with the following” “Hi just so you know this note is sincere and although the tone might seem irreverent, I want you to know I am being serious.”
At that point it always occurs to me that it might be time to pick up the damn phone.
I have been hurt and have hurt others by sending emails that were completely misconstrued and after the back and forthing we have had to agree to pick up the phone and straighten out the misunderstanding.
Barb and I had one such incident a few months ago. Barb sent a blog to me that I just did not “get”. Now when I say I did not get it, I don’t mean it wasn’t well written or wasn’t clear for that matter, but my brain was overloaded on that particular day and I just could not find my way through it. I responded with that tone and she sent me an email saying that “she wasn’t quite sure what to do with my response” and I took it to mean she was hurt that I had not gotten it. What she actually meant was, that she was genuinely concerned that her blog made no sense and was thinking it was bad and that she would chuck the post.
As it turns out, she was not upset at all with me. She was upset that she felt she had failed to communicate her ideas. I on the other hand thought I had offended her. She was upset that she thought that I thought that I had offended her (breath) and on it went...
At this point we should have employed the pick up the damn phone! option. And, actually around 11pm Barb suggested doing just that but we did not as I had a mega-migraine and had to be up at 6am for a flight. So we agreed via email that we both had the best intentions and that we were both looking after each other’s feelings. Having smoothed ruffled feathers we said our “love you’s” and went to our respective beds.
Because Barb and I are great at communicating with one another and never have falling outs, we were fine. But there have been other times with different people when it has not gone as well. There have been times when I was so sure that I had been so clear and yet, my meaning was lost on the recipient.
I am usually pretty good at knowing when to do the pick up but this one showed me yet again that I must be more diligent in this regard.
I love email. Live on the email. But every once in a while I must give a tip of the hat to Mr. A.G. Bell. He knew what he was talking about.
Barbara: You told this story so well, Deb, I have nary a comment to add. Other than the obvious reiteration that intent is everything. And sometimes it’s easy to convey, and sometimes it’s not. And of course our own insecurities and foibles are going to colour our receptors. And so we end up speaking in “defensive mode” about our own shortcomings instead of really reading what the other is trying to say. And sometimes (as I know you’ve discovered, Deb) all the lols and :) and ;) and ha!s in the world won’t make a damn bit of difference in getting past someone’s defense mechanisms (me and my dastardly fear of not communicating well!!) With a live conversation, verbal tone can at least impart intent. Way easier.
But I won’t give up my 2-minute email—no friggin’ way!!