Saturday, May 15, 2010

Responses are Rewards: email is a synchronous communication medium

When my career started, I was to work first and respond to mail late in the day. The reasoning was that it is easy for managers to forward a mail, while I have to work on my deliverables and report them back with details in my response. May be, it is also due to the fact that I have grown throughout using snail mail habit of finding focused time and getting consumed in writing a good letter addressing all points. The habit continues to this day. I have enough criticism to not respond fast and first. Until the system changed me...

After reflection, I realized that what the other party needs at physiological level in Maslow terms is a response. Proceeding directly to address their security needs of analyzing and fulfilling their queries lose their value. And they lose value fast with progress of time from the moment the email arrives at your mail box. Commitment, then is felt missing by the originator and there isnt a clue whether the request is being handled on a priority level.

Thus, I realize that responses, are about, commitments. When your kids ask you to fulfill their wishes, we do respond. Either it is an instant gratification or we chose to defer to get our wishes answered first. But the satisfaction in the response is what makes kids get to their business with fervour and enthusiasm. Even statements saying "Acknowledged. I will give a detailed response by _______ hours" is good enough to enhance value and show commitment in business circles.

email is considered by many as an alternative to telephone. This is the fact. All other communication channels including chats are alternate mediums.
It is easy to differentiate and argue about asynchronous vs synchronous medium. But they are theoretical debates that business people do not wish to enter. The job is to
  1. have information and then
  2. deliver results and then
  3. Convey the results.
If you notice the sequence, then we know that responses are for self empowerment. Would you want to face a meeting without getting empowered to know the facts ? Innately, we land up in gibberish phrase play like "We are working on it. Am sure we could get this out in the time." What work, what time ? If I am probed, I am bound to give away my apprehensions. Luckily business people do not discomfort others as every one of us have been in that boat many times.

Lastly, responses are a social reward mechanism. In a society we like being the cynosure for a recent action, not for what we did say in child-hood, or say winning an order or a game in past year. Responses are rewarding when they are received within a short span of time. Don't we feel elated when a reader responds with their comments for our blog posts, happy when your tweet is RTed, Glad to see your friends giving thumbs up/poked in FB, Happy and smiling when you receive a note from your network about the change in your LinkedIn profile or leaving a scrap in orkut immediately which itself I saw in current younger generation using it as a chat tool - so instantaneous and fast.

In short, responses are the rewards. Work, then is an essential criteria to fulfill the demands to retain the happiness. The true happiness is when you respond as early and soon as possible.

I own a smart phone now. Partial reason is to keep up with the communication speed of my stakeholders. It is an expensive gift to myself that I cannot afford to indulge in. But, I believe that it has made me a better professional and hence considering it an investment is a better self consolation technique. :)

email in corporate world, is the synchronous communication tool. All are available ubiquitously throughout the day in computers or smart phones.
Doesn't this then warrant me to unlearn my education to adapt to the current circumstances ?
There is an old adage that rings true now: "Say what you do and Do what you say." I would add a third line "...and say you did it".

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