Email has killed personal relationships at work


A recent bad experience with McGraw-Hill publishing left me infuriated. After 15 emails over a 30-day period, I finally had customer service talk to me and attempt to solve my issue. It made me think about the impersonal world we live in. Email has killed personal relationships at work.

I hate email, as most of my former staff members know. When I must indulge, I believe in the twitter type email, short and sweet. Here are my typical responses to most emails: ‘Yes’, ‘No’, ‘I will get back to you’, or an answer that attempts to stay under 140 characters. My last corporate gig was the bastion of bad email etiquette. A minimum of 200 emails a day, an expectation of immediate response (immediate gratification) and the CEO who would send emails at 11pm or 4am in the morning to boot. To add insult to injury, my work environment was open and yet folks preferred to interact electronically. It felt like I was at a teenage party where 30 middle schoolers text each other rather than talk from 15 feet away.

As an HR practitioner and business leader it infuriated me that folks didn’t talk throughout the day. I spent at least 30 minutes twice a day having conversations around our office space with folks in every functional area. Many were startled when I would just pop in and ask how is it going or what is new in their world or life. To many it may have sounded intrusive, others though maybe I didn’t have enough to do, and yet to some it was a welcome respite from the maddening focus of interacting with their pc all day.

Artificial Intelligence integrated in business may be the wave of the future, however we can’t forget the importance of direct communication. In some ways HR folks are leading the way in promulgating this issue. Let’s take the bombardment of employees with benefit updates, weekly mailers, procedure updates, and the miscellaneous stream of mass communication.

I know most of it is important (at least to the HR folks) and of course they need to cover their butts on open enrollment deadlines or compensation deadlines.

So what should you do? The answer is obvious, give those thumbs a rest, buy some new kicks and add some steps to your daily activity. Get off your butt and visit people. Have a conversation, build relationships…the old fashioned way

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