As a follow up to last week’s essay on mindfulness I thought I would share some thoughts on mindfulness in communication especially email. Email is here to stay and there is no way to avoid it. It can either control you or you can control it. Blind communication, like email and social media, can be very harmful because we are not sitting across from the person and cannot read their expressions to get the full meaning of the message at hand. If there are questions it is best to ask before assuming anything because we know what happens when you assume.
So I came across this article by Soren Gordhamer about mindfulness and email and there are four steps to a better, more relaxed you when it comes to this form of communication. I have been guilty of sending emails that probably should have waited a day and I am sure I will do it again, but I will try and keep these tips in mind.
- Attend to Objective First. One of the complaints I often hear is email, and social media for that matter, suck your time away. This is true if you let it. So just like anything else we need to have a plan. Answer old email first them move on to writing new email. If you need to save email into folders that allow you go back at another time, once you have the information necessary, and then answer them. Just another world here, ignoring them will not make them go away.
- Give it a Day. This is a lesson I need to learn. Giving the email a day prior to answering it will allow us to really give this some thought. Very often our gut reaction is not the best reaction. Write the email but then save it. The next day, after we have cooled down, go back and read it again. If you still think it is fine then send it. I once wrote an email to everyone in the company complaining about an issue. It was a long and rambling email and I was upset about the issue. I clicked send and immediately regretted sending it. I wanted to get it back but there was no way I could. Funny thing is, due to a fluke in the system the email actually was never sent, so in a sense I was off the hook, but I did learn a hard lesson.
- No Email Will Make Us Happy. I used to constantly check email. I have it on my computer and on my phone and I was constantly refreshing to see if new messages arrived. I had become a slave to email and it was controlling me. This is not a good situation to be in. How much time did I waste constantly checking email only to be disappointed that none had arrived. Set a schedule and stick to it and you will be a much happier person.
- Email is a Tool – And Only a Tool. Email is one form of communication and is instant and easy to send but it should never replace personal, as in in person, communication. A good rule of thumb is that direct, face to face communication, will often remove any doubt about what the meaning of the conversation as about. Follow up with an email just to clarify a point, but it should not replace face to face communication.
The bottom line in all of this is that email, and social media, do not give of a license to say what we want just because the other person is not right there in front of us. Mindfulness and political correctness, as I mentioned in the previous essay, it is a reminder that there is another person, created in the image and likeness of God, on the other end and that person, and their feelings, need to be respected. The Gospel tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves, that is not political correctness that is doing what Jesus commanded us to do..