Monday, March 13, 2006

Thinkā€¦Before You Click

Recently, Jonathan Glater of The New York Times wrote an article about the barrage of e-mails that professors are fielding from their students and the often weirdly bad judgment evidenced by the correspondence. (One student, who didn't like her grade, wrote a petulant message to her professor. Another explained her tardiness for class as the result of a hangover.)

Shortly thereafter, CBS's Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer took up the theme, observing that e-mail has broken down old barriers, creating what he describes as a "new familiarity between students and teachers, the media and its readers and viewers, business and its customers, government and its citizens."

Schieffer then asked a string of questions that I often ask myself: "Are we staying in touch TOO much? Have cell phones and e-mail become the crutches we never needed until we had them? Has the new familiarity given way to rudeness and stupidity? Worse, is our new ability to communicate with almost everyone and to do it instantly causing us to lose our ability to reflect, to think before we speak?"

The answer is a resounding "YES!"

Communications is not the same as venting. Effective communications has as its ultimate aim an exchange of information between individuals. Careful thought is an absolute prerequisite. Thinking always takes time ... not a long time, but some time.

One of the first pieces of advice my grandmother ever gave me was to "think before you speak." If she were around today, she'd surely tell me to "think before you click the 'Send' button on your next e-mail."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. I'm a partner in a small agency located in Charlotte, NC.

We have a client in Chicago who has decided the email communication is the best and only way to it true or not.

I often get emails such as "can you make this website change in the next few minutes?" or emails that are in 30 point font size.

If you were to stand back from these emails and look at them, you would think..."wow, are they really serious?"

The problems are:

1) everybody thinks email is an immediate means of communication.
2) email is a crutch for saying something you wouldn't normally say face to face
3) emails can and are being misconstrued everyday

Unfortunately, it's not going away tomorrow.


Kevin Nichols

Monday, March 13, 2006 1:32:00 PM  
Blogger Ken Makovsky said...

Thanks. I truly appreciate your response!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006 12:48:00 PM  

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