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?

For more time saving tips and hints why not buy a copy of one of our books or let us run a Smart Email Management workshop for you and your colleagues.
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4 responses to “Email overload – using alternative communications options”

  1. There is only ONE established way communication…
    AND…That is “Mano a Mano, Faccia a Faccia”
    “Hand to Hand, Face to Face”
    No-one talks to each other any more, families don't eat together any more, not even on a Sunday.
    It's all e-mails….texts….mobiles…and so on.
    It's Pathetic, it really is, some of you people should get a life……AND, live it, for once,,!

  2. Set a e-mail quota for each mailbox.
    Before the quota is active, send all who need it to class on creating .pst files and have them store the .pst file in their home directory so that they get backed up to the network in case of problems.

    Then after the hard heads keep filling up their mailboxes and not getting mail, they will learn to clean out their mail to .pst files.

    Other option in a global setting is a mail archive that sends all mail over X number of days old to a mail archive server. This is a lot of overhead and requires a dept. to run for global corporations. Plus hardware expansion costs in servers.

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  4. ozchrob says:

    Working remotely where my colleagues are spread throughout the globe make this a little more challenging unfortunately. Even with Skype and similar products it can prove to be difficult to arrange a time to discuss matters due to the different time zones in which we operate.

    When working in the same office, or someone is easily contactable over the phone it is usually easier, and more efficient to call them to clarify things. Email seems too easy to become the default communication tool. If a matter can be resolved with 1 or 2 emails then yes by all means send the email, but as you have referred to the conversation becoming a ping pong then I think a different medium is needed.