"I didn't understand your email..."
"I think they're mad at us..."
These are phrases often whispered or yelled by people upon receiving emails. You can't hear what someone's voice inflection is over email. And even if you know them (ever misunderstand a good friend's text message?), you may assume it's a negative when it's not. You may not be able to read into it that the person is actually upset when you feel like the email is unemotional.
So, what can we do in this era? Email isn't technology. It's as much technology as the automobile or the landline phone. It's a way of life. It's communication. It documents everything, from who is supposed to do what for whom, to if your taxes were submitted on time. Email is crucial; however...
In service and sales-based jobs, most people hide behind email. Email is important to document contracts, and to document that the conversation was understood by both parties; however, it shouldn't be the only form of communication.
So at our company, one time a quarter, we have a "no email day." For one day, your email stays closed and you pick up the phone to talk to contacts and get up and walk over to a coworker's desk to talk through something.
One out of 90 days. It's not that much. Yet still people have withdrawals and they "cheat" beyond the two 30-minute breaks we give them in case a client emails something that needs attention and they don't call.
The results of no email day are terrific.
1. We have more actual conversations with clients. They hear the energy in our voices and the enthusiasm of our team wanted to please them.
2. There is a buzz in the office that is created. More talking, more laughing, more results.
3. When we catch someone cheating, we laugh and it builds a community around the "team."
4. It is truly a "stepping out of the box" moment. It shows and teaches our team that we can be different than the status quo.
5. Many of our clients love it. They all agree that emails can be misunderstood.
It may not work for your company. I get that. However, maybe there is something else creative, out of the box, that one of your employees is thinking. Give them a shot to give your company, for one day, a jolt!