Paul Castain's Blog

Email Free Fridays!

Posted August 18, 2010

Fran walked entered my office with a look on her face that said “Paul you are about to get schooled” or she was in the process of smelling something foul. She closed the door and said “Paul, who are we?” Embracing my inner “smart ass” I said, “I’m Paul Castain, you’re Fran and its OK because I’m calling your husband to bring you your meds!” “Paul, we’re Dale Carnegie and we don’t email someone who is 10 feet away in the next office” “Fran, I can win more friends, and influence more people by shooting quick emails.” Fran wasn’t amused and let me have both barrels. “Paul, you’re better than that. Every time you send an email instead of walking the 10 feet, you miss an opportunity to connect. Besides, how freakin lazy can you get?” I must admit that Fran was right and also I dig any 70 year old woman who uses “Freakin” in a sentence. I took my medicine and turned over a new leaf.

Truth of the matter, email is the root of many an evil.

For starters, there’s just way too much of it. Radicatti Group tells us there are 247 Billion emails each day and those number will grow to 507 Billion by 2013!

Can I get a group “Holy Schnikees!” on that one?

The number of emails alone invites numerous problems such as poor “listening” skills because we are scanning and not really digesting. Additionally, we are responding on the fly and we might even find ourselves guilty of what Dr Edward Hallowell calls “Email Voice”. This is the monotone, lifeless tone our voice takes on, while talking with others while reading our emails. Ever have this happen to you? Have you ever had “Email Voice”?

Pissing Contests . . . On Steroids!

According to Dr Albert Mehrabian     only 7% of what we say is communicated through words. The other 93% is communicated through tone and visual cues. This would explain why the written word is so often misunderstood!

I had this happen with one of my posts a few months back. I had written a post called “For those about to rock . . . show up first”. Someone reposted it and misunderstood the title to mean “be the first one to show up”. My intended meaning was “if you want to rock, you have to show up before you can rock”. No harm, no foul but a case in point nonetheless. I’m quite confident that if I had mixed in some tone and visual cues I could have expressed myself more effectively but let’s get back to the email.

So now we have a misunderstanding via the written word and instead of picking up the phone, we continue the pissing contest. This is where numerous studies come into play that tell us that misunderstandings via email tend to last longer. This can be attributed to us all taking on the persona of a “7 foot giant” and saying things that we wouldn’t dare say to someone’s face. Egos tend to be a tad larger in writing too. No?

Emails can be a connection inhibitor by keeping things stuck in virtual instead of real time.

Oh, and they can be a huge time waster (especially when a jackass enters the picture and replies all or cc’s needlessly.

So here’s the dealio . . .

A few years back, some companies started a concept called “Email Free Fridays”. The concept is simple, on Fridays, you pick up a phone, walk the 10 feet and God forbid, CONNECT! Studies show that getting off one’s hiney is actually very good for the “Glutes”

I’m not going to lie to you, if we were to take this down a notch it would still be radical and on the surface time consuming.

But what if, for one lousy day each week, we were able to

–       Connect with that co worker

–       Let our customers know there is a friendly voice behind those emails

–       Get back to something called “conversation”

–       Work muscles that technology keeps us from working

Don’t get me wrong folks, we’re not trying to turn away more efficient ways of doing things . . . we’re just trying to get back to connecting in real time.

Perhaps there’s either an “Email Free Friday” in your future or for those looking to take baby steps . . . The “Minimal Email Friday”

Relationships are a terrible thing to waste my friend!

Paul Castain is a bad ass who works with organizations and individuals who wish to achieve higher levels of badassery. He is so good that he no longer poses topless for his bio pictures. For more information on how Paul can help you and your company click here dude.


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Paul Castain, Founder & CEO
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