Middleagedmum.com: talk to the face

EmailBack in the day, office were noisy places, where phones rang and people talked – to each other – all the time, as weirdly this was the best way to get things done. If you had a problem, you either called a meeting or asked the person concerned to help you out. You walked around quite a bit too, maybe even went onto another floor if it was a big office, or God forbid, went outside to another building to talk to someone. What was this insanity – why did we actually physically talk to other human beings – were we mad?

These days (and I know I’m in dangerous ‘nan’ territory here) there is technology to help us communicate, get things done and make things easier. Except does it, does it really, or does it turns simple interactions into  complicated scenarios and enable all kinds of bad behaviour.

Emails are the bane of my (and everyone elses) life, as they have taken over the office place and turned normal, usually well mannered, social people into non communicative virtual robots – with attitude!

Call me old fashioned or nanny Pat, but weren’t things a lot simpler, when you sidled up to someones desk and had a chat. Good God, sometimes you even made friends with them!

As emails have become our favourite and often only, mode of communication, you only have to leave your desk to make a cup of tea and your in box has filled up quicker than you can say Outlook Express.

Nowadays a simple interaction, which should really only take five minutes – i.e.,”do you want it red or blue” –  can take days…………

Hi there,  hope all’s well. I was wondering if you wanted it red or blue?

Hi there, Sorry I didn’t get back to you, I was out of the office and forgot to put my out of office on. I’m not sure what kind of shade of blue is it and is the red a bright red or more of a coral?

It’s more of a coral, did you want bright red? The blue is a cornflower/duck egg. What shade were you thinking?

Mmm I was thinking more of a bright red and not sure about the blue. Do you have swatches?

Yes I do – shall I bring them over to your desk?

I am currently out of the office until October 2014, please leave me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can……………………..

Honestly I’m not a technophobe (good God have you seen how may ways I communicate?) but wouldn’t a conversation have been easier!

There are various different types of emailers and they often reflect the personalities of their sender. Normal manners, punctuation and ideas of what’s appropriate seem to go out of the window when people decide to ‘inbox’ you. Here’s a few of them:

The curt, to the point emailer,  there are no niceties, just facts. The further up you get in an organisation, the more this seems to be the preferred way to communicate. They will ask (on a Monday morning) ‘Do you have that report I asked you to do last week’? No, hi there, how was your weekend, I hear your cat died – just straight to the point and abrupt, this is what I need!
Would they do that in real life – yes probably – but it doesnt make it any less rude.

The SHOUTY emailer who writes in CAPITALS to MAKE A POINT. Again rude – just rude!

The iPhone emailer – curt, bad (predictive) spelling and clearly sent from the pub.

The weird goth guy from IT who puts a kiss at the bottom of his email. That’s just weird. In fact kisses (real or virtual) in a work situation, from anyone, are weird. And even weirder when you forget where you are and put a kiss at the bottom of an email to your boss.

The copy everyone in emailer – yes we know you are really efficient and organised, have done a spread sheet and organised loads of meetings, but do you have to tell everyone about it?

Ditto the employee who is pissed off and clearly saving all their emails to prove a point in the future. Note to them, it wont make any difference how many people you copy in, you are still not that great at your job and everyone knows it. #just saying.

Double ditto, the copy in everyone of any importance, emailer. No-one’s impressed that you wrote a six paragraph email at 2am, detailing the all key action points from yesterdays meeting – you need to get a life! Again #just saying!

My rules for successful emailing are keep it short, to the point and polite and if appropriate, a little bit funny. Just act like you would in real life – or better still, come and talk to me. Who knows we might even end up friends.


  • steffi says:

    So true Jane, so true. In fact am just gonna email it (LOL) to my other half who ticks a few of those boxes. We should all take note and get back to basics. I would give a strong resounding YES to your question does it turn simple scenarios into complicated ones and it most definitely enables a variety of bad behaviour. It’s scary because people, especially in a work environment, become isolated and forget what it’s like to connect on a personal level with other colleagues, plus it really does nothing for the promotion of “team work” – there is no more natural, healthy, free-flowing conversation going on. I know all this second hand as I spend so many of my weekends listening (incredulously) to my husband’s frustration as he recounts his daily office life in a large international office. It’s not like it used to be neither for him, when he worked in London at all those design consultancies where the hustle and bustle was all part of the creative process, nor for me in my London fashion day where 80% of my day was all about banter!!!! I’m just embracing my inner nan, have stopped fighting her, she’s quite glam and she’s gonna be the one who rules the world when everyone realises how much we have lost in terms of communicating on a personal level.

  • Jane says:

    Hope R liked it Steph and can imagine what it must be like if you also add in another language to the equation!! J x

  • Margaret says:

    Offices were so much fun in the “olden” days. We talked, we bitched and we thoroughly enjoyed the company. And how much nicer was mild sexual harassment when it was done personally.

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