No too long ago, I wrote a post in which I admitted my inadequacies with regard to maintaining and organizing my email. I think I’m getting better–I have fewer emails in my inbox (although the number is still four digits), and I’m starting to use folders–a novelty for me! But that is neither here nor there.
As a direct result of the culture change initiative where I work, I have recently become acutely aware that people have very strong feelings when it comes to email. There are those who hit delete without so much as a cursory glance at the body of the email if the subject line appears to be unrelated to their concerns. There are those who despise “frivolous” emails–those feel good, of general interest, sometimes too personal-for-someone’s-taste-or-disposition emails. There are those who believe no email should be longer than a Tweet. And then there are those who view email as a burden–an invasion upon the productivity of their day.
It’s interesting to hear how other people handle email. Many complain bitterly when they return from vacation and are forced to attend to hundreds (or thousands!) of unopened/unanswered emails in their inboxes. There are people who feel personally affronted to have any email go unanswered. And then there are others who deem it a nuisance to have perfunctory acknowledgments for simple requests or announcements besiege their daily email flow.
I have to admit that I’m kind of shocked. I am completely neutral when it comes to email. Maybe not completely neutral–I actually like email. I don’t mind it at all. I don’t mind the quantity, the junk, the long emails, the cryptic emails, the confusing emails, the wordy emails…I just don’t care. In my mind, email is the least intrusive way to connect with someone else. Unlike a phone call, or an in-person visit, an email can sit until someone on the other end decides to respond. It can be set aside, saved, marked urgent, deleted, forwarded, copied–email is so versatile! I know there are downsides–lack of tone and inflection; impersonal (sometimes, not always); easy to lose in the shuffle; maybe not the most direct route in all cases, especially if you can quickly pick up the phone or just walk ten feet and talk to the person in order to get a quick response.
We are in the process of developing a policy to handle internal email–a protocol that will outline expectations and responsibilities and hopefully alleviate the nuisance factor that exists for many. I will almost always shoot out an email before I pick up the phone. I can express myself better and more fully in writing. Sometimes I choke on the phone. I prefer one-on-one conversations, but if I’m planning a business or professional conversation, it helps me to have premised the impending discussion with an email outlining my concerns. That way I can hit the ground running and not have to fumble with my words. I feel better knowing that the groundwork has been laid.
I guess I’m curious as to how you feel about email. Love it? Hate it? Ignore it? Prefer it? Use it as a last resort? Does your library or other institution/organization have a policy for handling internal email?
Am I the only one who actually likes it?