I’m so old that I remember when THERE WAS NO EMAIL. Isn’t that crazy?
Yes, there was no email, so if you wanted to communicate in the workplace, you would actually have to talk to people on the phone or stop by their office. How barbaric!
Don’t get me wrong, I love email, but here’s the thing: technology has spawned a whole new technique in intra-office communication, one in which people use email not just to send a message, but send a message about what they think of you and your work.
How do they do that? Let’s say someone has a problem or gripe. Instead of just asking you a simple question, they send an email and copy your boss, your boss’s boss, your boss’s boss’s bosses and so on; this way, when they ask you a question, everybody and their brother gets to see what they are bitching about. Delightful.
It’s a great way to take a shot without having to look you in the eye while they do it. And just a few years ago it would have been unheard of. Think of it like dropping a bomb from a drone aircraft. You don’t have to see your enemy, just kill them.
But Rob, you ask, didn’t people send around memos like this in days of old? Yes, but the threshold of sending a memo was always much higher; now, being a jerk is just a click away.
Anyway, here’s something I want you to try: next time you need something from a co-worker, talk to them face-to-face instead of firing off a nastygram and copying everyone. It won’t be easy, but it just might make you a better person.