The volume of emails I receive and send most every day is utterly bizarre. Today, for example, I had to communicate with four people at the same company and the emails were flying back and forth all day long. Emails crisscrossed one another; contradicted each other, were confusing, inaccurate and irritating. Many recipients don’t read entire emails and ignore questions that have to be answered. Others don’t even bother to read anything. I often have to send as many as four iterations of an email to the same person to get his or her attention.
On days like this, my inbox starts groaning and pleading for more and more of my attention, and all I want to do is press delete and walk away. But I dutifully work my way through the communications, which just lead to more communication. I periodically glance at the clock on my Mac and it reads 8:20 am one minute and 6:40 pm the next.
How in the world did we manage to function in the olden times, 15 years ago? This is how:
We talked. We used our voices to explain what we wanted, which injected some feeling into the situation, whether it was asking someone to have dinner with us or making a presentation to a prospective client.
We were less compulsive. If we were steaming about someone or something while we were on the street, we had a moment to cool off before we picked up the phone to give them a piece of our mind.
We were more articulate. When we took time to explain something verbally or to write it—instead of rushing to answer 200 emails and 49 texts and prepare three proposals by 6 pm—we explained it well.
We used our brains. We thought while we walked, we thought before the movie started, we thought when we were waiting in lines and when we were having coffee alone in the morning. Now, we can’t be alone with our thoughts, because we don’t have any, unless we’re near a keyboard.
We listened harder. When others talked to us, we wanted to hear what they had to say. We paid attention. No one listens to anyone, which is no surprise, since no one talks anymore.