Email alert! Do emails have a dark side?

Emails are brilliant! They’re a cheap, easy to use, convenient and a time saving way to share information.

Pure genius!

So no wonder many organisations run on emails like a car runs on petrol. After all, what’s not to like?

Well, there maybe one or two things…or five.

Emails are brilliant – but like your favourite detective, they do have a dark side.

  1. Do emails encourage misunderstanding? It’s inevitable. By all means communicate an important date by email – that’s clear enough. But beyond that? No one knows quite how much of human communication is non-verbal but it’s somewhere between 60-80%. Tone of voice, emphasis and facial expressions are all missing in an email making misunderstanding or confusion a great deal more likely.
  2. Do emails slow relationship-building in your organisation? Almost certainly…which wouldn’t matter but good organisations run on relationships rather than information.
  3. Do they save as much time as we think, for instance? A fifteen minute face-to-face with someone might achieve more than a ‘time-saving’ exchange of emails over a period of days.
  4. Do emails encourage a snide negativity? Even if we’re only emailing someone down the corridor, we feel safe behind our words, which can lead to saying things we regret – with damaging consequences. ‘I should have waited before replying,’ is a common lament in the reactive email world.
  5. And finally, does an uncontrolled relationship with emails fry our mind, make us reactive and damage our ability to focus? Yes. It’s estimated that it takes us 20 minutes to return to where we were after receiving and replying to an email. This can have a serious effect on our quality of work, which is better for a stilled and focused mind – rather than a distracted one. So where possible, set aside a particular time for looking at emails.

Emails are brilliant – but only the fool runs unquestioningly into their arms.