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.

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