Do you really think people in your office communicate the way they do because it’s the smartest and best suited way for their environment?
The UGH email experience
Can you think of a time when you felt frustrated or disappointed just because you had just read an e-mail?
Take a moment to remember it
Now think about why you got so emotional; was it because it sounded harsh or impolite? Or was it because of a misunderstanding? Whatever your reason, we can agree that it is very hard to put all the information you want to share in written and structured format, right?
We can also agree that e-mail may not be the channel you would like to use to ensure clarity, understanding, human touch, setting the tone of a conversation, gather ideas and collaborate with others.
My previous email experience
I had similar feelings 3.5 years ago. I work for a multinational company where communication happens through channels that are pretty similar to the majority of all other companies. I was a financial analyst that time. You know, a job where your inbox is your morning intellectual reading and the source of all your work-related knowledge: what your manager and peers need from you, news about your company, inquiries from clients, training….
Could I get such information from another channel, better suited for the particular job I needed to do?
Of course there is!
I could use an enterprise social network (ESN), my smartphone, organize face-to-face meetings, record and share videos, write blogs, wiki pages, use chat and video chat and also leverage from the amazingly rich jungle of social collaboration tools. Many of them are free.
And that’s exactly what I did! I chose to literally close my inbox and updated my colleagues and peers how to get in touch with me from that moment on. I prepared for how to approach them in case of need and had to learn to use certain tools and start to discover what was available within my company.
Exciting, isn’t it?
One more thing: an enterprise social network (similar to Facebook but built for enterprises) isn’t useful if no one is using it, like a restaurant is not cool and cosy if it’s empty.
I realized that if my aim was to improve my communication, I had to do the same for my peers, share more and get more engaged. If I played my role, if at least I could make three of my peers use our ESN, through the exponential power of networks many more people would follow.
So I put my face in the game. With the help of other passionate colleagues, I started a video series called “DrConnections”. We began with the basics, “How to use the tool”, and we also dealt with more food-for-thought topics like “Why it’s worth to SHARE openly in the corporate social network” or “What are the benefits of not using e-mails”.
How to approach?
- Should you just close your inbox and stop using it from one day to another?
Of course not! it’s a long (and sometimes painful) process.
For each e-mail I received from somebody that didn’t know my updated style, I had to reply (not through e-mail), explain, prove that e-mail is just a channel and that I could get my things done in many other (and almost always better) ways.
- Will you hear complaints from leadership and peers?
I did, and they were always retracted once I solved the issue they wanted to get solved in the first place. And I proved that getting things done together is the most important thing, not the channel of communication.
- Will you still send e-mails sometimes?
I do. In 2016 I counted the average of no more than three each week. Only for those few cases that really required e-mail as part of the process.
The no email experience
After 3.5 years, I’m still here, working for the same company, but now I work in communication, and my videos got hundreds of views each. I started with just an idea and I went on to build a strong network of peers all over the world who I met along the way and make everyday way more engaging. Many of them I can call friends.
I completely enjoyed this journey (and still do) that eventually made me a better communicator and made my company richer in knowledge, ideas, tutorials and opportunities that I could share openly through my corporate network.
p.s. all starts from an idea and I couldn’t have done anything of if without knowing that no email was possible. The idea bounced on me from Luis Suarez, he deserves to get all the credit.