Why Email Ruins our Conversations
Skylar Wooden and Katie Butler
March 26, 2017
Imagine your work day without email. It’s nearly impossible. How would the business run? How would people communicate? We would be on the phone or walking around the office for nearly our entire day. Email is the center of our business communication, and rightfully so. But is it sometimes too much of a good thing? Absolutely.
Typing our conversations is efficient because we’re able to think through exactly what we need to say. We have the time to consider the tone, appropriate language, and main points. The ultimate benefit? The ability to review a message before it’s sent into the abyss.
Unfortunately, when we speak to someone face-to-face, we don’t have these luxuries. Even more unfortunate, thanks to email, we’ve taught ourselves to craft the perfect response—ruining our expectations for personal conversations before they start. Suddenly, we’re in front of a person and are at a loss for words.
Here’s an example…
You receive this email: “Hey, could you tell me a little about what you do?”
Your written, thought out response: “Good morning, David. I am a Business Development Writer. That usually entails writing employee documentation for a small, growing business. I help my clients develop the documents they need to hire employees, which includes policies & procedures, employee handbooks, offer letters, etc. If you or someone you know needs this type of help, don’t hesitate to reach out for consultation call. Here is my contact information.”
Now, pretend like that didn’t happen. Instead, David catches you off guard when you run into him at the coffee shop.
David: “Hey, could you tell me a little about what you do?”
You: “Uh, well, I write documents for small businesses… So, freelance work as it comes up. Do you know anyone who needs that type of work?” not handing him a business card…awkwardly walking away when he says he can’t think of anyone
Thanks to our emailing habits, we’re out of practice when it comes to talking to people, especially about our professions. Here are a few ways to practice talking about who you are, what you do, and why you do it (to a real, human person):
1. Talk to Yourself
It sounds crazy, but it’s true. Talk to yourself about your strengths, weaknesses, goals, etc. You’ll find that the more you talk to yourself about what you do, the more comfortable you’ll be saying it to others.
2.Set Up a Mock Interview
Talking about your professional life is never more important than during your next job interview. Don’t wait until the night before to start thinking about what you can say. Ask a friend to ask you common interview questions. If you are a student, most universities’ career centers offer mock interviews to help you prepare.
3. Attend Networking Events
Networking events are the perfect place to practice answering “So, what do you do?” repeatedly. Think of how you want to represent yourself and practice that with each interaction.
4. Talk to Your Coworkers
No one knows your job better than you; but, your coworkers are the next best thing. When you’re at your desk all day, you don’t give yourself the chance to discuss work.
To clarify, discussing work should not be negative. Complaining about work occasionally is healthy, but in this context, talk to your coworkers about your career goals and how you plan to help your company reach its objectives.
You don’t want to be stuck in a conversation about your career and realize you don’t know what to say. We’ve been there, it’s embarrassing. You can’t always craft a perfect conversation, but you can always prepare. What do you do to keep your communication skills up to par?
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