I spent July 4th and the majority of my weekend writing emails. All in all, I think I wrote a dozen emails to the same three people. Each email probably took 1-3 hours to write. Really? Really. I spent time writing to make sure that I was coming across in the tone I intended. For some of them, it was absolutely to carefully construct that language but, of all the advice this infographic gives about whether you should send an email or not, it all hinges to the following: have you tried talking to them like real people do?
As someone who works independently from home, the majority of how I communicate in my work is done over email. I don’t have meetings. The idea of waiting for a meeting to roll around seems like a huge waste of time. I’m used to getting a response within minutes, (at most) hours, not days. Email can be answered when you have time and when your recipient has time; you don’t have to coordinate to call or find time to meet. Meetings: they require time to schedule, time to plan an agenda, travel time, and lost time in banter before and after the meeting, aka: a waste of time. Give me a task, tell me how to do it, and I’ll submit the work on time.
You know what? That’s not what real people do. That’s what machines do. And what I just said about meetings? I couldn’t be more wrong.
Emails don’t build relationships, meetings do. All that waste of time not doing whatever it is you think needs attention? You’re actually doing something incredibly valuable: you’re showing the other person or people you care about their time and you genuinely want to get to know them. All that time you spend adds up to the sum of effort that person sees you investing in them.
If you’ve read this and gone, “Uh, no shit, Sherlock,” cut me some slack. My livelihood has been remote for over two years, so remote that I have never had a face to face meeting with my employers. Really, I’ve been working for a one woman company where I am the only employee and my own boss.
I’ve gotten so used to not talking to people, I’ve kind of lost the knack for it. But, hey, I know I used to be really good at it. I was in sales and marketing. So, I bet it’s like riding a bicycle. As the metaphor goes, I’m sure if I just get back on the bike and start giving face-to-face meetings priority over email, or picking up the phone more often, I may not have to waste time trying to write the perfect email and more time showing people that I care about them.