Why You Should Stop Hating Email and Start Celebrating It
Like the weather among strangers, the drudgery and annoyance of email is a go-to conversation topic among busy professionals. The constant ping of inbox notifications is the drumbeat of all our days, perpetually breaking our concentration, sucking up our time, and sometimes making our working lives feel like an overwhelming and never-ending slog. Plus, various schemes to handle the onslaught make for a nearly endless source of small talk.
But while the near universal loathing of email may make for easy cocktail party chatter, does your bitching about the communication medium everyone loves to hate really improve your life as a busy business owner? Considering you still have to face your overflowing inbox every day, the honest answer is probably not.
But don’t worry, entrepreneur and blogger Whitney Hess offered a better alternative when it comes to conceptualizing your email in a post recently. Rather than spend our energy complaining about email and then having to wade through a continuous stream of messages anyway, she outlines a creative and compassionate rethinking of your inbox -- one that could actually transform it from a source of torment to a one of satisfaction.
Her simple but powerful idea: email is people. She explains:
We keep telling each other that email is stress, it’s a necessary evil, it is the worst part of our workday, it needs to be tamed, it needs to be ignored.
But it’s not "email," this mythical creature we have created as our enemy; it’s people. Email is people.
An email does not send itself. It is sent by another human being. Whether an individual person hit send, or whether they set up an automated service, it represents the same thing. It is one person making contact with another person. It is simply the chosen method of communication. In our vilification of the method, we have lost the message.
Email is people. Needs and wants, questions and advice, aspirations and inspiration. That’s what we’re putting off, avoiding, not making time for, bitching about. People who want to connect with us -- we are rejecting them.
By reminding herself of the humanity of email senders, Hess hopes to hack how both she and her readers approach email and make sorting through the daily pile of unread messages into an opportunity for serendipity and connection rather than a headache. She closes the post with a pledge: “as of today, I want to stop the email slander. Instead I want to recognize it for what it is: the people who make up my life. Best friends, strangers, colleagues, role models, mentees, prospects... So let’s embrace email. Let’s embrace each other. And respond.”
Is this a pledge you would be interested in making?
JESSICA STILLMAN | Columnist
Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.