Unreasonable Expectations Contribute to Email Overload

I was talking to some "unsophisticated" email users recently. I asked them what their experience was of email in the workplace. I expected to hear complaints about poor performance, overuse of the CC feature, and misaddressed love notes. Instead, their main gripe was their correspondents' unreasonable expectations.

There's a culture grown up in some organizations that any email message will elicit an instant reply. This impatience seems to be born of the immediate nature of email -- if it's simple and quick for me to send a message, it should be simple and quick for you to reply.

"My" email users had learned that it's necessary to manage these people's expectations with a quick reply, informing them when to expect the task to be completed or the requested information to be sent. They've found that if they don't do this, these impatient senders will follow up by phone or with another email message -- even if it's obvious that what they're requesting will take a few hours or days to deliver.

Perhaps you recognize your organization's email culture in this description?

... Richi Jennings

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  1. By Computerworld Blogs on April 21, 2006 at 6:02 AM

    More GBs in drives, more Chinese in jail (and more cars in water)

    Lock up yer daughters, it’s IT Blogwatch, in which today’s watchword is more: more data (Seagate’s 750GB drive plans get leaked) and more China concerns (citizens in jail and Skype censorship). Not to mention putting more trust in your car’s sat-nav…

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