First, a confession. I am of a certain age and recall a time when there was no such thing as email. Heck, I recall a time when there was no such thing as the ‘Internet’ as we know it today, let alone smart phones, ‘social media’ and…emojis. How did we ever live without emojis?
Email was one of those things that, to paraphrase Steve Jobs, we did not know we even needed until it was invented. However, once it was invented (in a practical consumer sense), it unleashed a communications phenomenon that made the contents of Pandora’s famous box seem like unsalted mashed potatoes.
Before there was such a thing as a PC, virtually all my business communication was written in long hand, then typed by my ‘Executive Assistant.’ My Assistant was invaluable as both editor and spell checker (‘you really did not mean ‘laughenate’ did you?’, or ‘I don’t seem to have a Mr. Sponge in my Rolodex…’).
I don’t recall my first email but I am pretty sure it was not particular pithy or memorable. Probably something like:
Subject: Hello Mr. Sponge
Hello Mr. Sponge. I now have email.
Or something along that line.
I quickly discovered there was email etiquette and a list of do’s and don’ts. I had a colleague who ALWAYS COMPOSED HIS EMAILS IN ALL CAPS. I pulled him aside one day and told him that typing in caps meant he was yelling at people. He said, “I yell at people all the time anyway so why should email be any different?” Point taken.
At all events, given the wide variety of other communications channels available to us today, I thought that email would soon go the way of the mailed letter.
Coming to that conclusion, however, would be wrong.
I came upon a blog written by Emily Kate Pope of Fundera titled “Office Communication: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. How Americans Communicate and Are Perceived at Work” which discussed the findings of a recent survey they did on how comfortable Americans are with email communication.
Apparently, workers now send more than 108 billion emails every day and the average employee spends nearly a quarter of their time sorting through more than 100 emails they send and receive each day.
That is hardly a death knell.
They surveyed 1,000 Americans to get a take on the current state of the art of email, particularly in light of the extensive use of text messaging and social media. Here are some of their findings:
- Email, even with the advent of other ways to communicate, is still the preferred communication channel of most respondents (55.3%).
- Surprising is that the next highest preference is in-person conversation (15.8%).
- Instant messaging (any platform) is a lowly 11.2%. The phone was preferred by only 7%.
- One of the greatest concerns across all age groups surveyed was that the tone of their email was appropriate, and that great care be taken lest it be misinterpreted.
- The use of acronyms is generally considered not useful, and the use of Memes, GIFs and, of course, emails typed in all caps, were frowned upon.
- One of the more interesting facts was that “…the higher up someone was on the professional ladder, the more likely they were to include all five of these offensive email extensions. Respondents who identified as upper management were the most likely to include acronyms, emojis, memes, GIFs, or even capital letters and the least likely to find them inappropriate.”
- If you do use memes, emojis, or acronyms, be careful, especially if you are in a new job. Adapt to your new work culture. A thumbs up may be OK, but a heart may easily be misinterpreted.
- Make sure to check your spelling.
- Most favored a simple ‘thanks’ as a sign off for the conclusion of the email (over 60%).
- As a rule, restrict any embellishment of your email to your personal and not professional email.
If you care to find out more, you can read the blog here.
Email is far from dead so don’t count on avoiding your maxed-out inbox any time soon.
A. Alliance Collection Agency, Inc. is a full service, licensed accounts receivable management and debt collection agency providing highly effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. Founded in northern Illinois in 2005, we have been proudly improving the bottom-line on behalf of our business partners in and around Chicagoland for over 12 years.