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Email overload – using alternative communications options

Wednesday March 23rd, 2011, 9:30 am

Email is only one of many communications media, yet consistently we seem to default to it.  Is it pure either email addiction or lack of understanding about how to communicate effectively?

Increasingly I am asked how to change people’s email behaviour towards talking more and using more effective options. 

One way is clearly through training and change management programmes.  The other is to produce clear guidelines about what is available and when they are best used.

However, all too often these guidelines are steeped in techno speak rather than features and benefits.  From the user’s perspective, with Instant Messaging the recurring question is ‘isn’t this just another way to check up on me and have me respond immediately’?

IM is a powerful way to communicate messages which are here and now, and ephemeral (eg who has an iphone charger, the fire alarm is about to be tested) and not needed as a business record.

One conversation is still often worth nine rounds of email ping pong especially if there is some negotiation involved.

The motto should always be talk first email later.

Some organisation have very successfully tried email free periods.  The result is always amazement about how much people learn when when they walk and talk.  Perhaps not surprising as email is so devoid of emotions and external contextual information. The added benefit is a reduction in the email overload factor.

What works for you?  Should we even be thinking outside the email box?

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