Sunday, March 3, 2013

Too busy to be kind and courteous

It has been commented on before, but I will comment on it yet again. We live in an information technology world, where because it is possible to communicate via so many different devices and platforms, there should be no problems informing others as to what one is thinking or about what is going on. Yet, time and again, communication fails, or if it does not directly fail, it is poor at best. I am not the only one to notice this; I have colleagues and friends who say the same thing. Emails pile up in my work inbox, and I start off my workday trying to make sense of them. Most are replies to previous emails, not necessarily sent by me, but sent by others to multiple recipients including me. Most of them are non-informative unless you read the entire email threads, which no one has the time to do. You might as well just tell me to ‘see below’ instead of sending me an email that says ‘yepp’ or ‘ok’ or some such thing. The level of rudeness in work emails has reached an all-time high; it is very rare that you get addressed by name. I do address others by name; on the rare occasion when I don’t, it’s to emphasize a point—that the person I am responding to has been rude and doesn’t deserve a courteous response. Most of the emails just state in one or two sentences what the email writer wants, or what he or she wants to inform you about. I have a problem with this lack of professional courtesy. Text messages can be even worse. They are often the preferred form of communication for many busy souls these days. And that’s ok, except when they resemble emails in the form of responses like ‘yepp’ and ‘ok’, with no reference to what has transpired previously. Again, I am not a mind reader and have no plans on becoming one. So if you want me to understand what you’re thinking about, if you really want to communicate with me, take the time to talk to me. Come by my office and stop in for a chat. I promise to listen.

I know that this problem has mostly to do with that everyone is so busy at work, that no one has the time anymore to really communicate, to have a conversation, to listen to others, or to try to understand others. Some of the ‘multiple recipient’ emails expect you to be a mind-reader; you’re expected to just understand what has been going on with very little explanation. I ignore these emails for the most part; if you cannot take the time to explain what’s going on, it cannot be that important for me to comment on it. So I don’t. In this way, I reduce the level of responsibility I feel for certain work situations. And that suits me just fine. The same goes for cryptic text messages. If you cannot take the time to write a coherent text message, I will ignore it.

I keep coming back to kindness and courtesy. We are losing these virtues in our busy world. They have been sacrificed on the altars of efficiency, productivity, and saving time. I’m tired of it. If you cannot be kind, if you cannot be courteous and professional, if you cannot behave in a civilized manner, I don’t want to deal with you, via any mode of communication. It’s that simple. And I don’t feel bad about saying that. 

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