The image above, at first glance, is about balance. In this case it is about my two passions on bad communications. The first is arrogance and the second in ignorance. The twin curses as it were. Both are bad and way too many of us hide behind it. I will forewarn the readers of this post that this is a rant.
Let me deal with arrogance, especially in the Technology field. It manifests itself in two forms. The first is the thought that since I know more than you in technology then I must be better and therefore treat all lesser mortals with disdain. The second flavor is that since I know Technology I must know it all. Both these conditions can be found when people speak with acronyms and double speak. When you read an email from a technology person and you want to “bitch slap” them it is likely their arrogance shining ever so brightly. I have on occasion, printed the email (environmentalists stay calm) and sat down beside the individual to ask them to read the email to me. Now I am a big guy and this effect is always powerful. My point gets made very fast. You wouldn’t speak to me like this in person so why are you putting it in an email. As you can tell, I do not tolerate this and we as a collective shouldn’t either.
This is also witness by short terse emails by support people that just take for granted that everyone has been ordained in geek speak. My theory is that if you can’t explain it in real paragraphs with real sentences then you are the idiot and should take a lesson on proper communications. I blame this on incessant email and text messages for this. Our youth may have their own “text” language but as a society is it lessoning the human factor.
Email has no tone and sorry smiley faces don’t really give the professional polish I expect from my staff.
This one is more passive aggressive and to some it is well hidden but just as nefarious. This manifests itself into, “I am not in IT so I don’t know”. I didn’t ask you to be in IT I asked you to think. Just because an IT person asks you a question like “so how do you do an expense report” doesn’t mean they are looking for pseudo code to build you a new system. They just want to know from your perspective how to fill out an expense report. Here is another form of ignorance that really gets under my skin. We in the technology field are constantly expected to know how other areas work. I really encourage this for it provides for better systems. So if I am expected to know your world then you might want to pause and have some respect for mine. Yes I know some of us are weird and geeky but hey if I am showing you respect how about giving some back. Most of us learned this simple rule in kindergarten. Share the love people.
It comes down to this. When you are writing an email, remember the person on the other side is a person and not just blank two dimensional text characters. Treat an email as you would a stranger on the street. Be polite, sincere and more importantly respectful. If you are asking for help, be kind and respectful (notice a theme). If you are providing assistance be polite and respectful and give an answer that is written in the language of the recipient.
Say thank you and mean it.
Many a relationship has been lost on bad emails. Yes, we all have to breathe and remember people have bad days. We also have to get over ourselves and stop thinking email is actually real, effective communications. Treat it as business letters conveying a message or request. Yes there is a difference.
Sincerely and respectfully