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email étiquette

Never Ever

How tempting is this button? How many e-mails do you have in your in-box.  I’m still trying to catch up and organize my files, so I still have more than 1500.  Surely, there are some I can delete?


In the midst of a skype chat, I received this stream from my IT Manager today:


don’t delete emails



He had asked my source for information and I recollected but said that I had deleted the e-mail, since the project was completed.  That was the response.  Never ever.

All I can say is – WHY?

More than ten years ago (wow) I worked for the American Film Institute.  While I hated working for a dictator who never washed her hands in the bathroom, I truly loved most all my other colleagues.  I have made some of the most solid friendships of my life via the AFI.   What was great in the day, was our hallway chats.  You’d walk down the hall to the restroom or to someone’s office to check-in and say hello and you would bump into someone and begin a conversation.  It may have lasted just 10 minutes, but usually some good idea was sparked and a meeting would follow and something new would be implemented.  Lots and lots of projects and programs we born from those hallway chats.  Sometimes we even call each other up and ask to meet in the hall; our springboard for creativity.  The only thing I miss about e-mails at the AFI was that for a time, we had an “unsend” button.  Now THAT is a feature I’d love to have!  Especially when I forget to attach the attachment!

At the City Club, I hosted numerous committee meetings.  Who dreads these?  Not me.  You learn a lot about people from group communication.  When a committee pulls itself together and starts cooperating, it’s magic.  So many great things can come of it.  Imagine trying to host a committee meeting via group chat. Yikes. A nightmare!  My former GM, Larry also had his management team meet twice a week.  We met first thing Monday morning to discuss our goals and at the end of the day on Friday to review financials and give status reports on our projects.  We also all ate lunch together as a group, our dysfunctional little family as we liked to say.  This helped us solidify our realtions.  We groaned sometimes that we were always in meetings.  But we never had an excuse that we didn’t know something or weren’t aware.  A simple, “I mentioned it in the meeting” would suffice.

Having stepped away from the hard-core business world for a short time, I must say that I am a little disappointed with the lack of talking people do.  Others around me may say that it’s an American thing, but I think this is very much a human thing.  We are communicative beings.  We have been blessed with the skill of language.  And while we have had amazing technological developments (who doesn’t love their Mac?  ;p  )  I’m afraid we are trading one skill set for the other.

To give you another example, our chef came by my office to have a chat.  We talked, we discussed, we agreed.  For me, end of story.  I’m a smart girl, I have a memory, I understood every word he said.  But ONE DAY LATER, I received and e-mail which cc’d our GM telling me the same thing.  It’s as though there is a need to document every bloody word which leaves our mouths.  Why do I need an e-mail to confirm that a conversation happened?  And why do I need to keep that e-mail?  I simply cannot get my head around this.

Mind you, e-mail and skype is terrific for keeping up with friends and colleagues who are overseas or in another office.  Skype has allowed my colleagues and I to transfer large files too big for e-mail and my parents and I to chat for free over the computer.  Phone calls are expensive, and computer technology is a blessing in this regard.  But C’MON!  If you sit across from someone or within walking distance of desks – do we actually NEED an e-mail?  An e-mail will never convey your exact tone of voice, your facial expressions, or even your intentions.  These are all things which we can only gather in eye contact, body language and intonation.  How many of you have read an e-mail and “heard” the tone of the sender.  Strongly or even well-written e-mails can come across possibly as angry or upset when the intention is really just to be thorough or clear.  As much as body language can be picked up in person-to-person discussions, an e-mail recipient has a near, default-mode of reading between the lines.  Let’s not even begin discussion on the decline of our language skills in e-mails. Just to throw it out there – when’s the last time you hand-wrote something longer than one page?

I am very perplexed by this everything by e-mail trend.  Is it a lack of trust?  A need for evidence?  An innocent back-up for a bad memory?  An inability to use a pen and paper to take a note? Are we really operating so much in a CYA mode that we cut conversations short and say, “Can you send me an e-mail on that?” ???  Do people really see e-mail as an effective means of communication?  Does anyone realize it actually takes a person a greater chunk of time to write all that nonsense out versus walking over to a desk and telling someone?

Am I alone in this thought or are some of you out there just as tired of all these e-mails and crave face-to-face conversations?  Of course I realize that you will most likely e-mail me your thoughts….

On the Bright Side,



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