You know what I’m talking about.
Disorienting, isn’t it?
One of my greatest bêtes noires is the email that only gives enough information to frustrate or irritate. I get them all the time, mainly from business-people. Look, I know you’re busy. We’re all busy. A single-sentence email that doesn’t explain anything is rude and exasperating. One of the reasons, if I might speculate, that I always received very good teaching evaluations boils down to a simple trick: good explaining assumes little on the part of the listener/reader. When I write an email, for work or for whatever life outside work is called, I explain why I’m emailing and I use common courtesies such as “Dear X,” and “Best wishes.” They take me all of seconds to type, and they make the receiver, I believe, feel human.
The other day I sent such an email and received a one-sentence response that assumed I knew a lot more about the topic than I did. It frustrated me so much that I had to write this blog post before going back to it and asking, yet again, that sender explain (in this case) himself. What was he trying to say? Who was he, even? I’d been asked to contact him by someone else. I had no idea who he was (I briefly explained who I was in my initial email). Electronic communication, IMHO, even if brief, need not be rude. If we’re all that busy maybe it’s time to step back and consider that life’s too short for generating hurt feelings and generating negativity. Emails without niceties are rude.
Of course, there are people you know well and that you contact frequently. I still try always to give them the courtesy of opening, body, and closing. I grew up in the generation of letter writing. One thing even businesses knew in those days was that rude behavior lost you customers and/or clients. Now in Generation Text rudely apocopated emails are standard and I have to wonder if anyone’s done a study on how much business money is wasted on the time it takes to recover from receiving a rude email. The writer may not be intending to be rude. Many of us were taught growing up that a “please,” “thank you,” or “I’m sorry,” went a long, long way in avoiding hurt feelings. Go ahead and call me a snowflake. But remember, it’s December. So I’ve just had to spend a quarter-hour of my busy day writing this rant before responding to an email that made me mad by its brevity. I’m not a texter, and I think I’m discovering why.