24 February 2020 Events

Sometimes it's better to talk

If printers argue that email mail collateral is easily lost or ignored, why is it people persist in sending important messages via this failed channel of communication?

The first true email is reckoned to have been sent in 1971. Now less than 50 years later the convenient computer to computer message has outlived its usefulness. It's not merely that any useful messages are swamped by spam, even when using decent spam filters. It's not just that they can be sent and read on almost any device, meaning that people send far too many emails. It's not simply because it is too bloody easy to copy all manner of people into a message.

The big problem is that there is a gaping discrepancy between the motives of the sender of the message and its intended recipient. The author sending the message – this author and this message included – believes it to be very important, perhaps even mission critical. The recipient rarely shares these sentiments. An incoming email is frequently a nuisance that has to be dealt with. Or in many cases ignored. Many people have evolved systems to tackle the Sisyphean task of tackling their email mountain, looking perhaps twice a day rather than allowing another CC to disrupt what they are doing.

If the email is being ignored, bounced into a junk or trash folder, why do people persist in sending them? It is a bad habit; communication by email is expected by managers if not clients on the receiving end; it provides evidence that the customer has been told the job will be late. But the customer doesn't know because he didn't bother reading the email. Younger generations have dropped email, turning to messaging services. Group communication networks are rising. Some in print are using tools like WhatsApp or Slack (many others are available) to communicate with customers knowing that the message will get through. More should do the same. More should also pick up the phone and make a call, something that with stretched resources is not without its problems. But do not automatically reach for the 'send message' icon.

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