Sep 30, 2009

Can information overload produce death?

The flood of information that swamps your job daily seems to produce more pain than gain.

It’s not just amount of of e-mail messages that cause you grief. It's also the vast ocean of information that invite you to go out and explore in order to keep up in your job.

Researches suggests that the surging volume of available information—and its interruption of people’s work—can adversely affect not only personal well-being but also decision making, innovation, and productivity.

People took an average of nearly 25 minutes to return to a work task after an e-mail interruption. That’s bad news for business.

Innovative tools and techniques promise relief for those of us struggling with information inundation. Some are technological solutions. Others prevent people from drowning by getting them to change the way they behave and think...

The fact that anyone can be an editor today is a kind of curse?

More @ Harvard Business Review article...

Sep 25, 2009

Leave the funny out of email

Anyone who has sent a humorous email that has confused — or worse, offended — someone knows the danger of trying to be funny in an email. Email does not convey tone.

How your message sounds to you when you type it has no relation to how the reader will interpret it.

Keep business email straightforward.

Pointing out that something's funny by using an emoticon can appear juvenile.

If you need to share your irresistible sense of humor, save it for phone calls or in-person meetings where tone can be more easily understood.

More info on Harvard Business Publishing

Sep 16, 2009

Tips for writing better email

Given the number of emails you send every day, you should be an email-writing expert, right? In case not, here are a few tips for effective messaging:

Ask for something. All business writing includes a call to action. Before you write your email, know what you're asking of your audience.

Say it up front. Don't bury the purpose of your email in the last paragraph. Include important information in the subject line and opening sentence.

Explain. Don't assume your reader knows anything. Provide all pertinent background information and avoid elusive references.

Tell them what you think. Don't use the dreaded "Your thoughts?" without explaining your own. Express your opinion before asking your reader to do the same.

Read the David Silverman's article...

Sep 11, 2009

When a phone call or face-to-face communication is better than an email?

How will you decide in the workplace when to use email, phone calls, or a quick meeting?

Remember these cases, where email is not the best mean (the most efficiently means to obtain the best result at the best price):

* To urgent messages (unless there is a previous and explicit agreement with the recipient).

* To discussions or arguments (unless you have large literary skills, in which case you will require much more time writing than a phone call).

* To clarification of meanings or intentions from messages previously sent.

* To messages filled with strong emotions.

* To ironic messages (the irony basically contains nonverbal communication codes).

* To reprimand employees or fellow team members.

You know almost always in these cases, you end up calling your recipients or in a meeting with them.

And I know that every day there are many temptations to write messages of this kind, but believe me, it is much better not to.

In all situations above (without exception), you will get better results using the phone or a conversation face-to-face. Besides, you will save a lot of time and money, and you will protect your relational capital.

Sep 2, 2009

Emails versus phone calls or face-to-face communications

A British study in a company show that 56% of employees thought that e-mail was overused, since a telephone call or a personal communication could have been better.

In other words, could we says that around 50% of the e-mails managed daily in a company can be ineffective (from a communication point of view)?

When we use an e-mail to request information that is very important for us and we don’t receive an answer, we usually call by phone to make sure that the recipient is aware and provides a response.

Isn’t this a way of acknowledging that the e-mail we sent didn’t fulfill its objective, or that it potentially failed?

If we call a meeting via e-mail and the people don’t go, it is obvious that the communication objectives of this e-mail were not achieved. Therefore, many of our written messages are followed by "follow-up" telephone calls which at times become like a hunt.

Many people get anxious not knowing if the recipients understood the message, or if they grasped its urgency. This almost always translates into re-work because the sender invests additional time to call the recipient to see what he/she understood.

In situations like these, I suggest that you act carefully, no matter how anxious you feel, because in some cases a telephone call can be perceived as excessive and inappropriate pressure or that you are indirectly telling them that they are incompetent in their management of e-mail.

The stress produced by the great number of e-mails is part of a communication overload, with serious negative consequences on the productivity of work teams.

Actors in this drama are: Multiple phone calls (at the office, on the cell), text messages, the “Blackberry”, chats, and Skype calls.

See the study A simple approach to improving email communication...