There are occasions when we seem to wait forever for someone else to do something. There are times when they are waiting for us to do things. Truth is we each have our own priorities and needs. One man’s emergency is another person’s low priority task. As if both are not on the same page. They aren’t.
The Wait for Email
Whether its you or I, we need that email to take the next step in the things we are working on.
Forty years ago we would have waited for that letter. Such is the change in society that today more is done by email than letter. The needs met are probably the same, it is just performed at a different pace. Or is it simply perceived to operate at a different pace?
For some people the email and its delivery mechanism (e.g. the smart-phone) means they are available between waking up and going to sleep to respond to problems, panics etc. They make themselves available when rest is more appropriate. This has its positive and negative points. Most business execs have their smart-phone with them 24*7*365. It was the trap I fell into. I spent too much time responding to issues late at night and today question the wisdom of this need for continuous connectivity in order for business to succeed.
In many respects I would prefer to wait and obtain a full answer, sensible written, rather than receive half guesses or tired answers sent at 2am. I say this conscious that I have made many such errors during my life.
Yet email is today a very important part of everyone’s lives. We can’t live without it. Certainly, some people are addicts, as they are with messaging and social media.
The smart phone has become the prime source of bad grammar associated with emails. One former colleague used to excuse his errors on his big thumbs. Most of his errors were when using the Blackberry. There is an element of truth here because of the limited size of the keyboard. Yet, there are plenty of people, who regularly send emails containing errors, even when they use normal keyboards. Part of the problem is the desire to respond quickly.
Checking and Editing?
When writing an email I do remember my grandmother talking to me as a child about a letter I wrote her. It contained several errors. She was German-born and as is certainly true Germans are sticklers for correct use of grammar. I remember saying it was only a letter. Her response — it was more important to get letters correct than anything else.
We were encouraged to use our imagination to tell her something we were doing and show a little pride in our handwriting. Of course the one thing you cannot easily edit is your handwriting. You can write a first draft and edit that, but the final piece, needs to be perfect.
In truth we allow ourselves to use sloppy construction when writing emails. Perhaps, because people produce them in haste. Maybe, there is a feeling that email is a less formal means of communication. This means people check it less than they ever did when writing letters (especially those notes written to close friends and family). A bad mistake to make.
Impact of our Words
In the recent past I have done a lot of thinking about the impact of our words and the need for good and precise use of language. There is every reason we should take as much care with the language we use in emails as for that we use when facing a job interview. We should always aim to put our best foot forward when we write for other people to read. WHether they are close friends, business colleagues, or people we have never met the same rule should apply.
Of course we will make mistakes, but they should be rare, rather than what we normally expect with email — it is time to stop being sloppy. It is best to take a little time and get the words and sentences right.
The images used for this material were obtained from:
Email in envelope by MightyMerchant eCommerce Blog
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 by Geek.com
About Peter Giblett
Peter, a former business executive, has written on many websites about a variety of subjects especially about writing and the use of the English language. One challenge we must all face is about improvement and that is the reason behind the creation of this Blog — to challenge everyone with their use of the English language through its everyday usage.