Communications & Manners: Mutually Exclusive?

Jim Luff
Posted on September 10, 2014
Can you imagine making a comment to a co-worker as you pass each other and they just ignore you? Would it be considered rude? Of course it would be! Yet, people I know who carry their phone with a death grip sometimes fail to respond to my text messages or emails.


In my office, I pride myself on excellent communications between staff. We use email between us all the time. In a small office, it reduces chatter while others are on the phone. It also provides a documented record of communications between two employees. While we don’t specifically train for it, the culture is to respond to each and every single email received, even if it is to respond with one word, “Done” or “Received,” so both employees know the communication succeeded. Emails received in our reservations email box MUST be answered within 10 minutes from the time they arrive in the interest of good customer service. If we aren't answering an inquiry fast enough, some other company might.

I deal with business associates and colleagues who are professional business people who fail miserably in the area of electronic communications. Emails, text messages and phone messages go completely unacknowledged.  This is horribly rude and unprofessional.  I have sent emails to subcontractors requesting a copy of an invoice and had no response. I then have to pick up the phone and ask for the same. Why?  Why is it okay to ignore an email? Are people that busy that they just arbitrarily dismiss the email because it didn’t arrive at the right time?

Sometimes I have sent a text to people with information to update a situation or status without response. It leaves me wondering, did they get it? Do they have the information? Even if I am extremely busy, I can still muster a one-letter response, “K” so they know I received it.

Perhaps we are still too new in the technology age to have an established etiquette of when an email or text message requires some type of response and when it is socially acceptable to just blow someone off. I know we can get bombarded with emails, text messages, Facebook messages, Tweets and phone calls but it doesn’t make being rude acceptable. Last week I was working on producing a charity festival for 7,000 people, running multiple entities and writing for this magazine and not one email or text went unanswered. Maybe that’s just me.

Related Topics: business communication, communications, employee issues, employee management, etiquette, Jim Luff, management, Shop Talk blog

Jim Luff Contributing Editor
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