The BlackBerry Effect: Brevity Breeds Message Confusion

Todd Miller  Follow

I recently read an article that made me re-examine the messages I inadvertently give people via email.  The article mentions how one-word emails can totally give people the wrong impression of what truly needs to be communicated.   Of course, I have read countless articles in the past about email etiquette, and even preach to others within our agency, but this article made me want to re-examine my own email manners.

Being in the professional services industry, I have always been very careful when drafting emails to clients regarding the potential messages and/or tone my email could convey.  To be extra careful, I am constantly re-reading these emails not less than five times before sending them.

But, do I use the same care when sending an email to a friend or a colleague? I looked through my sent folder and was pleasantly surprised that when working from my office computer my emails all seemed to be more than one-word and generally well thought out.  I sat back in relief and began working on a client assignment.  Onward and upward.

Later that same day, I was talking with a friend about my “email analysis.”  He started laughing and could not disagree more with what I concluded.  I gasped.  Why? In one word… BlackBerry!  He told me to go back through my email again and pay special attention to those emails I sent from my BlackBerry. He was eager for me to get back to him after I did. So, I humored him and went back for another “analysis”…

I hate to say it, but he was right.  The emails I sent while working remotely on my BlackBerry were littered with one-word responses and to be completely objective and honest; the tone in those email replies could be taken many different ways. Some of which were not at all how I intended.

I hate to think that over these last few years, I may have been projecting myself as curt, insensitive or even distant. I value friends and colleagues far too much and would not want to convey this kind of message to them. That said, I’m thankful I went through this simple exercise as it forced me to realize that I need to immediately change my BlackBerry habits.  Furthermore, I learned another invaluable lesson:  BlackBerrys are certainly helpful in keeping us connected and efficient while on the move, but they also encourage brevity. Taking a few extra minutes to write a sentence or two and eliminating one word emails from my repertoire can go a long way toward making my message more clear to the recipient. CJP

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