In my seminars on how to optimize the use of e-mail, I ask to participants "which are the most important benefits from using e-mail?".
And after their answers I make another question: "what don’t you like about e-mail?".
This exercise is very interesting, because the answers are closely related.
For example, as senders, we like sending messages to many recipients at the same time, but we don’t realize that this is precisely part of the origin of the "chain mails" that are so annoying.
We also like sending as many e-mails as we want, but this is also part of the origin of the "spam" that causes so many headaches.
Every day there are more professionals that feel overwhelmed by the number of e-mails they need to read at work, but we are somewhat unaware of the abuse we ourselves make of e-mail, which in a way also generates the same volume that overwhelms us.
We also enjoy the possibility of responding whenever we want, but it also bothers us when our recipients don’t respond at the speed we want them to.
We also like having the possibility of sending attachments like pictures and videos, but many times feel annoyed when we receive those kinds of messages.
The same happens with the written record that e-mails leave. We like using them as a formal back-up in some circumstances, but at times we are annoyed when we receive messages from workmates that were written just to "cover their backs", and feel even worse when these mails are copied to the bosses.
It seems then, that we are unaware of the negative effects of e-mail that result from our own abuse of this medium. Not many people are able to see how they contribute to increase the same thing that they don't like...