This should’ve been an email
a rant on an office pet peeve
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This should’ve been an email
I have a running list of office pet peeves that might become a larger article but for this essay, I’d like to focus on those meetings and calls that should’ve been emails instead.
A study was recently published about this, comparing the various communication types.
From the study:
“Excessive use of text-based communication—including email and instant messaging—for complex tasks such as negotiating, decision-making or problem-solving, can lower a person’s interest and performance on work started after the conversation is finished.”
I feel a little attacked here, as I’m one who would much rather receive an email than an unplanned phone call. But, this study isn’t really for people like me (working remotely, across many time zones, with multiple companies, and communicating with non-native English speakers). So I digress.
My first response in reading the article was, Well, why don’t people learn how to better communicate?. This is unfair of me to ask, plus I’d be out of work. There are always going to be communication issues, whether it’s at work or in personal relationships. In my experience, there are quite a few meetings and calls that could’ve been emails instead. At least for emails, I can sort through my inbox on my schedule. For random calls, I’m locked in for that moment. I’ve spent far too many hours in meetings wondering why I was there at all. There was no agenda, no follow-up, just a calendar invite existing as if it was shouting, “Look at me! I’m doing my job! I have this meeting about this project!”
One of the biggest reasons I prefer emails (besides how meetings and calls can waste my time) is that there’s documentation. Even if a meeting was better, I would still follow up with call notes or a summary so that everyone at the meeting is on the same page. Then you avoid those “but I remember Bob saying this at the meeting” when it didn’t actually happen.
There’s also the issue of “this Slack message should’ve been an email or documented in a central location”, which might be familiar to those who have spent too many hours searching through messages on the app. But, internal communications are always going to be an issue. I do strongly believe that people should continually learn how to better communicate, especially with different communication styles.
Unless you’re a billionaire who can afford a private shuttle around the Earth, we’re all on this planet together. And, if dogs can develop a special eye muscle to create the puppy dog look and bond with humans better, we can surely all figure out if that meeting should’ve been an email instead.
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