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Did you READ the email?

Thursday, March 17, 2011 by Slaughter Development

We admit it. We love it when social media reveals workplace frustration. Here’s another one fired off via Twitter.

The name of this user is @meghanefreeman. On January 24, she published these words onto the public Internet:

This may come as a shock but if you READ the highlighted part of the email I sent you, you wouldn’t need to ask those questions. Oh Monday

Oh, Meghan, we feel your pain! Although your anger wasn’t enough to get you arrested on suspicion of twitter terrorism, you are clearly frustrated. And though your comments are negative, they probably won’t damange your job search. In fact, you remind us most of another Twitter comment from last month about other duties as assigned. Yes, you have every right to be upset.

We know what happened. You sent an email, and you even highlighted the important text. Then, someone else (probably a manager, otherwise you would not have shared with Twitter) asked you a question that you already answered! Result: Frustration.

Thanks for sending this to Twitter, Meghan, so we could blog about it. But if we may: this is an opportunity to improve productivity and satisfaction.

If someone asks you a question that you’ve already answered, don’t get upset. Don’t assume that they are lazy and pulling a two-taxi on you, even though this is the most likely scenario.

Instead, consider the possibility that something else went wrong. Maybe the server ate your email, which would be pretty serious indeed. Maybe the other person is frazzled and needs some moral support. Maybe they are asking a question which comes from their boss and needs to get a direct answer straight from the expert. None of these are likely, but they are all less judgmental. Bring them up in a new medium by calling or visiting the person:

You: Mr. Jones, I am sorry to interrupt you, but I’m really concerned about the email you just sent me. I think we might have a serious technical issue on our hands and I just want to confirm it with you.

Mr. Jones: Go ahead, what is it?

You: I printed out a copy of the email from my end to show you. Now keep in mind this is my end, I am concerned it might look different on your end. You can see here at the bottom where I highlighted part of the text. Then, above this is your reply where you ask the exact question answered in the text. My concern is that maybe on your computer, my highlighted text didn’t appear.

Mr. Jones: Yes, I didn’t see that.

You: Well, if our computer systems are randomly deleting parts of emails, that could be a serious problem. That’s why I wanted to bring it to your attention. Do you want me to follow up with IT or will you do it?

Mr. Jones: I, uh, will take care of it. Thank you.

There you are, Meghan. And for the rest of you, send us your frustrated workplace tweets! Or, your frustrated Facebook exchanges. We are not picky. We love to hear about office productivity challenges and love to help make a positive difference.

❖ ❖ ❖

Like this post? Here are some related entries from The Methodology Blog you might enjoy:

30 Days Without Email - Like almost every office worker, Katie Goodman was drowning in email. She decided to fight back by abandoning her inbox entirely for a single month. Read on »
A Lesson from Six Months of Email - Every six months, I archive my Sent Items folder. This may sound geeky, but it’s one of the most productive and satisfying activities I do all year.
Read on »
Reading Employee Email - A few weeks ago, I was casually discussing the topic of corporate email privacy with another professional. Although the standard policy on the topic is fairly well-known, I was shocked to learn how his company managed individual email accounts. Read on »
Want to learn more? Register now for the 2011 Productivity Series

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