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I am addicted to using email for saying things in a stronger way than I would normally. I seem to be pissing people off...
April 2005, Article 2
I am addicted to using email for saying things in a stronger
way than I would normally. I recognize that not seeing or hearing an instant
reaction to what you are saying enables you to plow ahead with expressing
your thoughts. I try to resolve to talk with people in person instead
of emailing. However, 50% of the time, my coworkers are not available
and email provides an instant outlet for my current thoughts. I seem to
be pissing people off on a regular basis and it surprises me every time.
First off, I love your self-awareness and candor. Glad to see that you are aware your actions may be alienating people and that you want to take action to correct this. You are obviously skilled at communicating but the question is: Are you having a dialogue or a monologue with your coworkers?
Perhaps you have a bright future as a litigation lawyer? (I'm only partly being facetious.) Certain personalities enjoy being precise with their words, and relish the chance to structure their 'argument' so that their opponent loses, or at least is left 'writhing on the mat'. Putting things in writing is also useful to 'CYA', and all lawyers love having a paper trail...
But humor aside and assuming that you have no ambitions to be a lawyer, I can see why your coworkers would groan when they receive emails from you. Thoughts may be rushing through their heads like, "Addicted-to-email is sending me another loaded missile. I can read between the lines what he's really saying... He's covering his ass so he doesn't get blamed down the road," OR "Why is he bothering me with this minor detail? Doesn't he get the big picture (e.g. next week's deadline)?"
As you've so astutely concluded, being quick with the send key is not
good for fostering positive relationships. Relying solely on emails for
communication (especially with people you see everyday) is a bad habit.
So it's good that you want to break yourself of it. Here are some suggestions:
To be good at office politics is to know: whom to speak to, when
to speak, when to back off, and when to push your agenda forward.
And choose your mode of communication wisely. Some things are much better
spoken than written. That's why emoticoms have a place in written emails
-- they soften the words.
Franke James, MFA
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