Do more, be better

Talking the walk

by Harry on 10 December 2011, filed under Working It Out

Somewhere along the line something went wrong. Before we started living our lives through computers, didn’t we used to show more respect? Raised voices and shouting were reserved for situations of real urgency; times when you had no choice but to verbally shake the person you were talking to. But now it seems to happen way too often and maybe that’s because we are not doing it out loud.

If I comb through my inbox on any given day there will undoubtedly be at least one email where the tone is aggressive and all manners and respect have been left at the door. Why is that? No greeting and no sign-off; a confrontational or emotional tone; multiple question marks at the end of sentences and the use of capital letters for no good reason. And I’m talking about work emails here. There will always be times when ‘yelling’ or a stern tone is warranted, but I swear that nowadays a disproportionate number of emails are aggressive for no reason at all. This is despite most of these people being polite, even tempered and respectful in real life.

I think the problem is that when people write emails they do so in a disconnected state. They don’t think about the person who will end up reading it and there is no immediate feedback to call their behaviour into line. If you are in a room with someone you normally think before you speak, you don’t just dive in and dump your own mental state on the person standing in front of you. When arguments do happen they usually reflect a genuine problem or breakdown in communication – but the norm is to try and kick things off in a civil tone.

It’s also the speed at which email communication happens. Busy days mean that there are occasions when we only have time to rip out a quick communiqué without the small talk. But even so that is no excuse; to add a greeting and respectful phrasing really isn’t that hard.

I think we all need to chill out a bit and try to remember what we are doing this for. Work is so much more enjoyable when we have healthy and friendly relationships with the people we deal with! Foster that. If we all make a bit of an effort to show respect to the people we are dealing with the outcome will be much more productive too. I know that I’m much more willing to do something for a person who is friendly and positive. As they say, you get more bees with honey than vinegar.

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