Originally published on 3rd February, 2015.
“Hello sir! I’m calling you again to make sure that you read my email. I’d sent it a couple of days back..”
As part my recent work, I’ve been going around making presentations in b-schools in the valley. To arrange a date, I usually write an email to the management first and then look to take things ahead from there. However, only on rare occasions are emails reverted within a day, let alone a couple of hours. This seems to be a norm in the industry, bowing down to which, the sender of the email has to wait for a couple of days for the reply which eventually never arrives. Finally, the sender has to make a phone call to make sure that the intended recipient got the email only then to wait again for the reply and this delays the whole process.
This happens almost invariably which has got me thinking- who is responsible for this non-responsive culture in us? You might be wondering here if the email that was sent was interesting enough to prompt a follow up meeting in the first place. But my point here is different. Even if the proposal sent over email is not interesting enough to go further(probably because you’ve been sending messages that look like spam or have a user ID such as ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’), the recipient should at least send a quick reply to acknowledge; even if the deal can’t be taken on further at that moment of time.
What does it do?
- It shows both individuals respect each other for their communication efforts.
- It may pave the way for possible collaborations in the future.
B-schools are offering courses on Business Communication but somehow the lessons seem to have fallen deaf on the students because it’s the same batch of students that go on to be leaders of enterprises in the future and continue this culture of being non-responsive. So what can we do to make sure that a responsive culture at least starts?
Well, for starters I think b-schools have to encourage the students to practice writing emails. Whether it is communicating with lecturers, submitting assignments, communicating for event management and so on, a culture of email communication has to start within campus. Some of the colleges are already doing that, by asking students to log into their campus ID and check for updates. Along with this, if students are asked to compulsorily reply to these emails, that would be even better. Business Communication classes should not be limited only to theories. ‘Do what you learn’ should be the order of the day. Once these future business leaders get used to the idea of writing and reply quick emails, this will go on to become the new norm.
Going a step further, even schools can start teaching email communication to the students since everyone already seems to have a gadget and Facebook account these days. Instead of inventing a short word for every other word like ‘bcaz’ for ‘because’ while chatting through Messenger, asking school students to write emails to their teachers and even friends in proper English could go a long way in changing this unresponsive culture from the grass root level.
Personally, I’ve asked my sister to make use of her new smart phone and learn how to write and reply to emails. Doing her +2 in management, she is quite new to this and hence, she’ll be writing emails just to me. I’m hoping that through this exercise, she’ll break away from the menace of a culture I’ve talked about.
With internet penetration level going up by the day, it’s imperative that a strong culture of responsiveness over emails is learnt and exhibited by the future leaders of our country. It would mean quicker response time to curb unnecessary delays and better professionalism for relationship enhancement.
Even if a problem exists right now, a new wave of ideas to get students hooked onto their emails to constantly check for a new update will definitely help change this backward culture of unresponsiveness.