This same focus was the impetus for me to start communicating weekly by newsletter and then by blog and now by podcast. We’ll continue to talk about the industry, why we work the way we do, problems we are working to solve, productivity and innovation and through these conversations foster a community of people interested in doing what they do every day, a little better.
Today’s episode is – Emily Post, Where are You?
It’s kind of ironic that the reigning queen of etiquette remains Emily Post. Post. Posting. Email. Ironic indeed. In this age of social media and instant non-verbal communication, I’m thinking we could all use a little “Emily”. Etiquette is defined (from Wikipedia) as, a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group. So, it seems fitting that Emily should help us out with our contemporary means of communication. After all we can’t and don’t want to live without our e-mail, texts and tweets, but some rules of the road would be helpful. Believe it or not the technology is still so new that the “norms” haven’t settled in, but can we at least make an attempt?
Here’s my small contribution:
Recognize that rarely are others waiting anxiously for you to communicate with them. While our messages generally arrive in the inbox of the recipient within seconds after we click Send, it’s rude to assume those we send to should stop the presses (and any other responsibilities they have), and answer our e-mails now! Not later, not in an hour, NOW! Our expectations have become unrealistic.
Before assuming someone is ignoring you or not responding as fast as you believe they should, let me share some common issues you might consider. Everyone is busy. Let’s face it, sometimes people really don’t want to hear from you, even if they like or respect you. What I’m trying to say is they may not want to hear from you on your time schedule. On the flip side, if someone you communicate with regularly takes their time to send you an e-mail, make the effort to reply and let them know you received the e-mail and when you might be able to get back with them – this will help set realistic expectations for the future.
Studies have shown that coworkers expect a response within an eight-hour timeframe (business hours). They’d like a response much sooner, say within 30 minutes or an hour, but recognize that’s not always possible. People contacting businesses electronically have similar expectations, unless it’s when they can’t find something or are having trouble on the website they’re trying to get something from. Then, they expect an instant response. It’s a business after all!
But for most business email communication I propose the Rule of 48. During business hours try to respond within 48-minutes. And yes, the 48 minutes will work better than saying 60 minutes or an hour. The next threshold is 4-8 hours (get it?) and lastly respond within 48 hours. Even if you don’t have “the answer” within 48 hours, send a response telling the recipient you’re working on getting them an answer and will respond as soon you have one.
With some general guidelines, I know we could all be more considerate and communicate better.
And whenever possible, don’t forget while you are at your desk or while you’re out, you have this handy thing where voices communicate with each other. The phone. Hands down, it’s still the most efficient communicator ever invented. And Emily has already set forth good guidelines for that. So, until the rules of modern communication are well understood and agreed upon by all, we have an opportunity to create our own book of manners here. Send me some of your thoughts and we’ll share them and start a discussion. I promise to get back with you within 48 hours.
I’m Brenda Dohring Hicks. Thanks for listening to this initial podcast. Spread the word!