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General Services Administration

Meaningful Communication - Ten Emails Per Day

I believe we can save money by reducing electronic "clutter". I challenge my colleagues (and anyone who reads this) to only send emails per day. Make a phone call. Stop by someone's desk. Have a video conference call. If you are limited to sending ten emails per day, I predict the content should become more meaningful, communication will improve, you will experience a positive difference in your workplace relationships, we will have fewer disputes (such as EEO complaints), and we will free ourselves to enjoy our work environment and focus on our job duties.

 

When a complaint can be resolved through mediation, it saves the federal government an average of $40,000 per case. I mediate disputes for other federal agencies when they need a neutral third party. At the heart of most discrimination claims: mis-communication. I've encountered employees whose desks are within 20 feet of each other and they have not spoken for years, only communicating by email. While I believe email is a necessary tool, we need to embrace...or at least consider other means of communication, its appropriateness, and effectiveness when performing our duties.

 

Don't get me wrong, I'm a "techie". I love my agency's cloud computing and chat feature. I'm on social networks and use a smartphone in my personal life. I text. I post pictures. I comment on other people's "status".

 

At work, I delete at least half the emails I receive. I get annoyed at strings of emails where many people hit "reply all" which results in several more messages - none of them resolving the subject matter. My personal rule: if there are more than three emails, have a conversation. If you can't resolve the issue in three emails, you won't resolve it in twenty-three, either.

 

Be conscientious about the ways you communicate. Reduce electronic "clutter" by taking the ten-emails-per-day challenge.

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Idea No. 3596