I wish I had a magic blackberry (things I said that don’t add up)

The Magic Blackberry by David Thompson

I picked this book at London Heathrow Airport on my way back from a business trip. It was a great, quick read and I was done before I got home to Aberdeen (1 hour 10 mins flight). As you’ll see from my post about blackberries, I’ve been leaning towards owning one for some time now but still no traction. The author of the book, David Thompson used the idea of a genie in a phone to send a very strong message about email etiquette. It centred on the moments when we should refrain from replying an email. ‘Aha!’ I thought when I saw this. After writing ‘Save the brain-insects with your email etiquette’, I was rather excited about spicing things up even if it meant contradicting myself.

The magic blackberry describes a working guy who replies impulsely to provoking emails. He gets an email from his boss or colleague asking him to do more work or criticizing an earlier decision and he explodes. On email. One fine day, he sends off another fiery email and it just hangs. The phone “refuses” to send it. And then the phone starts talking to him and basically tells him that it’s the last straw and he needs to learn one or two things about relationships at work.

I remember receiving an email once that really made me furious. I was going to reply, in fact I had a draft and was going to press SEND when somehow I didn’t. The next day, I was glad I didn’t. I read what I was going to send and realised that instead of me receiving an apology from this person, I would have had to apologise. I also remember pressing SEND on at least one thoughtless response and later wishing that I didn’t. Those were the times I discovered that the RECALL EMAIL function is useless. People can still read what you recalled…. Anyway, David Thompson emphasised that relationships have elasticity and that you have to know your stance with a person and that determines  the amount of slack you’ll get. The more positive interactions you have with someone, the more slack you’ll get if you mess up. In a nutshell, don’t mess up too early on or you’ll be toast.

Here are some of my favorite advice from the book:

  • The glue that holds businesses and careers together is relationships. The power to get things done, the power to break the rules and the power to express yourself.
  • De-personalize the message, take the emotion out of it, and craft a rational and considered response.
  • Your reply represents who you are and how you work- make sure you are replying with decorum, dignity, respect, and professionalism.
  • Just because a conversation begins on email, doesn’t mean it has to continue on email.
  • Use your emotions as a kind of barometer: if you feel frustrated, let that tell you that an email reply is not the right communication option.

The most valuable for me was certainly the relationship elasticity theory:

The amount of stretch in your relationship will depend on a number of things 1) the past history that you have with that person, 2) the current status of your relationship with them, and 3) the amount of time that you have known them or worked with them. It’s certainly worth a read if you’ve got under an hour to spare.


  1. Great post, and one that I can definitely relate to. These are the reasons I don’t like e-mails–you can’t hear the tone of the message. There are times when I thought e-mails just wouldn’t work and I placed a well thought-out call, so the other end wouldn’t misunderstand the message.


    • A trip to the person’s desk always works for me. Or a phone call like you say. Especially with so many cultural differences, it’s dead easy to be misunderstood in person let alone on email! K


  2. Interesting! I don’t have business associates! But there is a moment in my life I responded in fury to a friend, which now I wish I didn’t! 😀


    • Yeah! It applies to non-business stuff too, my dear! It’s hard to keep those emotions under control……technology doesn’t help. In those days, you’d have to make the trip to the person’s office or house and by the time you get there, a reasonable frame of mind would have settled in and then you just had a drink with them instead and talk about the weather. K


  3. Lovely mybusinessaddiction… I love business as I am an entrepreuner/writer/blogger/wife/soon to be mother….
    yes there are times when I want to send an email or text messages and then I stop. When I finally reread itIi am like OMG so good I didn’t send it…
    Relationship really is the key for everything… I like the fact that not because a relationship started with an email it has to end with one… it must graduate to a phone call here, text messages there etc.
    love your blog do keep up the good work.


  4. I like to sleep on my words and see how they sound the next morning. If I cringe by the light of the sun, I hit the Delete key or do some heavy editing.

    Here’s a tip: When you’re drafting an email, never put the recipient’s name in the To field until you are really ready to hit Send. I bet a lot of people have been burned by accidentally sending off messages that weren’t ready to be read yet…or ever. 😉


  5. alero Odele says:

    Interesting, makes so much sense. I”ll have to remember this. This also goes for typos…. lol.


    • Ah, don’t get me started about typos. I review my emails thoroughly before I send them. Then later, I find a typo and I have to stop myself from crying my heart out. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! K


  6. This was fantastic! Ah, the number of times I’ve hung my head in shame. I used to know better. Never send mail mad, and never, NEVER, drunk.

    We live and learn, back to basics!

    I’m following sixthirtythree and found his post on This!


    I’m afraid I’m in the same boat, will rectify pronto!


  7. Great Post. I have read parts of that book.


  8. Brilliant post; I must find that book.

    I am so paranoid about sending an incoherent email to stake-holders, that I re-read it about ten times and then hit send. At which point I read it again and notice the glaring spelling mistakes (why do they hide until you hit send?).

    I like the bit about “just because it starts with an email…” I am forever going to the person, rather than replying – as I feel more confident I’ll get cooperative responses that way.


    • Yeah, I’ve got rather paranoid myself. I tend to call or do more face-to-face these days. The idea of a blunder being recorded on email…arrrgh! And don’t get me started about typos. I have to recover when I uncover those AFTER I’ve sent the mail :(. Thanks for stoppiing by! K


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