Whenever my mailbox threatens to overflow with messages and my to-do-list seems never-ending, I try to save time in every open task. Do I really need to write every e-mail with accuracy? It would safe me a lot time if I just could skip those empty phrases. And who cares about correct spelling anyway?

In times of e-mail, WhatsApp, and Twitter, we tend to associate communication with speed, volatility, and efficiency. Our daily life has become hectic and our encounters and interactions with other people are often volatile and anonymous. This also effects the way we communicate with each other. Who has not received an e-mail before that lacked any salutation or contained unfinished sentences? Of course, this method saves time. But what kind of impression do you leave with that?

Communication is always an interaction between two or more individuals – with our values and emotions playing an important part in it. This is also true for written communication. Although certain interaction elements are missing in the case of written communication – such as gestures, tone of voice, and facial expressions – the same rules apply as with every other human interaction. And it is because of these missing elements that written communication is more likely to cause misunderstandings. Whereas in face-to-face interactions you get an immediate feedback from the other person, the feedback you get from e-mail conversations is quite limited. The resulting uncertainty is part of our daily working routine. Ideally, we have established a good relationship with our coworkers, our clients, and other stakeholders. We can rely on and respect each other, which in turn reduces the uncertainty. Needless to say, such a relationship only works if both parties play by the rules and treat each other with respect – including an appropriate conservational tone.

Imagine two coworkers meeting in a hallway. Whereas one of them greets the other, his colleague skips the greeting and starts talking business right away. Alternatively, think of a salesperson who does not look the client in the eye when talking to him. Both situations probably result in one party being irritated or getting hurt. The same is true for written communication. If I skip the basic rules of politeness, I risk hurting the other person’s feeling and damaging our relationship.

Therefore, falling below the standards of written communication turns out to be a bad idea. A correct salutation, an appropriate form of leave-taking, correct spelling and complete sentences are key requirements for anyone who value respectful and solid relationships. If you insist on communicating more efficiently, you should seek out other possibilities to safe time. More on this issue in my next post.

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