Re: Use of email
From: Lyle Scheer (wonkomonkeyhouse.org)
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2014 13:43:13 -0800 (PST)
I must caveat this quite a bit because I know which side of the bias I
am on....

I've worked all of my professional career in tech companies, where most
of the work is done by email.  I work from home, and other than email
and the phone, I don't have much else to communicate with.

Because of this, I've learned long ago not to read emotion into an
email, and that when I see emotion coming up in me based on something
I've read, I know to question myself.

I think this is much harder for people who have not used email much, and
that sometimes it is easier just to say, "don't discuss this in email..."

However, I also believe that just turning off email is shutting down a
potentially valuable channel of communication.... we all lead busy lives
and it's not always easy to find a time for everyone to get together.

I find facilitation to be very valuable, weather used during meetings
face to face, or in the design of a survey to be passed out
electronically and results gathered and analyzed to get to the core of
what's important in a discussion.  Email conversations by their very
nature avoid external facilitation.  Best if we can all self-facilitate,
but that in my experience is something that is learned by use.

- Lyle

On 2/11/14, 7:45 AM, Rod Lambert wrote:
> I think a significant chunk of this discussion can be clarified by looking
> at the following quotes from Diana's and then Jim's email:
>
> Diane:
> "But we DO also use it [email] to discuss ISSUES, and yes, sometimes it can
> get
>> pretty heated.  Only very occasionally does it spiral into overt flaming
> or
>> hostility, but even civil discussions can leave people with hurt or angry
>> feelings.  But then, that's true of in-person meetings as well.  I've left
>> plenty of in-person meetings feeling unheard, misunderstood, resentful,
>> etc."
> Jim:
>>> Unfortunately, it's hard to read body language in an email
>>> thread! For example, suppose you and I were talking face to face...
> Jim is talking about solving a "issue" between 2 people and Diane (and I)
> are talking about discussing "ISSUES" by the whole neighborhood. Expecting
> to do all the work at a business meeting for some issues is expecting a lot
> (we meet only once a month here at EcoVillage at Ithaca).
>
> Rod Lambert
> (with apologies for trying to speak for Diane)
>
> Date: Sun, 9 Feb 2014 22:54:23 -0500
> From: Jim Mayer <jim [at] pentastich.org>
> Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Use of email
> To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org>
> Message-ID:
>         <CAGYWHRNTT-Gev50ykOdwoX5dOsMkTVHTmCPXHr40QHN8iSjGtg [at] 
> mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
>
> I'm not in a co-housing group, but I've been using email for over thirty
> years.  In my experience, email is most useful when people treat it as if
> they are writing a physical letter. It's tempting, though, because email
> feels so interactive, to treat email correspondence as if it was a verbal
> conversation.  Unfortunately, it's hard to read body language in an email
> thread!
>
> For example, suppose you and I were talking face to face.  I turn to you
> and say, smiling, with an open body posture: "I can't believe you said
> that!".  Now, suppose I said exactly the same words but with an angry scowl
> and my arms tightly crossed.  The meanings are completely different!
>
> Continuing the same example, suppose I said "I can't believe you said
> that!", and then noticed that you  froze and looked hurt.  If I'd been
> admiring your chutzpah, I'd know my meaning hadn't gotten across and would
> say something right away.
>
> With email, though, the message I blearily typed at 2:00 am might not be
> read for hours, and it could be the next evening before I checked my email
> again.  A lot of  interpersonal damage can happen in a day!
>
> Group emails can get even messier.  You and I may have known each other for
> years, and that context can promote understanding, but John Doe, who moved
> in last week, doesn't know me at all.  It's the difference between a public
> letter and a private one.
>
> It sounds to me like the self-moderation and informal guidelines that Diana
> mentioned are working about as well as they could.  I've never seen it done
> "perfectly".  Actually, I wonder if the "difference in philosophy" Diana
> mentioned might have to do with differences in learning style as much as
> anything else.  I find it helpful to write my thoughts down, and I
> appreciate it when other's do the same.  I've known very smart people,
> though, who have a much more interactive learning style.  For them,
> communication is a contact sport!
>
> Thanks for the interesting topic!
>
> Jim Mayer
> Rochester, NY
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