I KNOW: THIS MAY SOUND like one of those items on Yahoo! that show you, like it not, how to be a better human being or dynamite in business. Be that as it may, you have to admit that slow responses to your email can be decidedly annoying, as are the excuses that are sometimes offered, especially if a prompt reply was really needed. Chief among the reasons given is “I was too busy.” Just doesn’t fly, ever. Back at the rocket company there was one person who I could count on to send a speedy answer to an email note, and that was the president of the joint. Typically, his response was within a half-hour, often sooner, and I was hardly the most important guy in the place. Maybe it’s just me, but I have this notion that good communication is usually prompt communication.
Well, okay. There’s more. Once again, back on the business front we used to talk about this stuff, sometimes at length — because, I suppose, we were just naturally a chatty bunch. Old buddy Dan and I concluded that unless you were willing to post a hard copy of your message on the bulletin board of Ralphs supermarket, don’t send it. Ever.
Great story: I once worked for a boss who told me that he had grown completely incensed with his boss and wrote him — snail mail — telling him, book and verse, exactly what he thought about him and suggested a great place to archive the job. But he decided not to actually mail same and left it in his desk drawer. The next day, before he had a chance to mail it, he discovered that said boss had left the company. Point made, certainly to me.
Oh, and one more concerning questionable content in emails, and you may have seen this on the news several years ago. One Harry Stonecipher, who ascended to lordship of Boeing, apparently figured that the little woman back home would be none the wiser, and would not be aware of a little philandering he was carrying on with a younger woman at the office. So confident was he that he generated a trail of company emails to the subordinate (!) that were easily robust and ribald in their content, and were also typed (as was his custom) in UPPER CASE! As I recall he didn’t even bother to protest the order to pack up and find new and suitable (whatever that might be) employment. And Harry, folks, was the CEO of one of the most powerful companies in the world.
The point, of course, is that along with the convenience of electronic messaging is the risk of speaking rashly, borne of high emotion, and I’m certainly among the guilty on that one. More than once I’ve pushed myself into email wars because of that old insistence on proving myself right on you-name-it issues. And it was always so easy and so fast. Send ’em down in flames in a way that they’ll never forget…and as you probably know yourself, they never do..
So heeding my own rant, I try always to be prompt, reasonable, and even for me, brief. Plus, I aways use the spell checker, especially in posts such as this one (although readers have frequently found it necessary to point out typos now and then, which I truly appreciate). All caps, as you know, are considered the equivalent of shouting, and all lower case is considered juvenile. All of which, I should add, plays second to simply talking to people (skip most of the jokes) using this wonderful new tool we now have. We lost Dad last December, but one of things he enjoyed most after he moved into very old age was the convenience and fun of keeping in touch with his friends with one of these. He was not terribly wordy — he pretty much left that to his boys — but he stayed in contact. I can’t tell you how important that was to all of us.
From sightings that always seem to show up when you don’t have your camera (and failing to remember that your cell phone has one):
A Cooper Mini on the freeway was decorated with wild graphics featuring puckered lips that covered hood and sides, along with a business sign that identified Lipstick Bail Bonds. On the back it said, “Kiss jail goodbye.”