Unplugged Part 2: Using Cool Thinking
In today’s always connected world, so many of our interactions appear to demand an immediate response, with an implied suggestion that if you cannot respond immediately, you are simply not up to the challenge! In our second ‘Unplugged’ article, we pose the question: is this environment overwhelming us and starting to degrade our decision-making capability?
This is important, as the quality of our decisions impact on all aspects of our life and human interaction. It can be argued that we have finite decision making capacity over any 24 hour period, eight of which we could / should be sleeping. How often do we come home after a demanding day and just deciding what to eat feels like a difficult process?
Email and social media can exacerbate a sort of ‘decision saturation’, by tending to suggest an urgency that is simply not always the case – hence possibly driving a less than well considered outcome. This is not to suggest we should avoid quick decisions altogether, rather simply ask ourselves – does this require an action from me and if so is it required ‘right now’? Especially late in the evening when our fatigue levels are likely to be at their highest.
As a simple test: try honestly reviewing some of your emails, where you have received them, felt the need to respond straightaway and done so, especially late in the day. In the clear light of the next morning, ask yourself, would you in hindsight change anything?
No? SERIOUSLY? Not the ‘typos’ that at best cloud the meaning, or at worst send completely the wrong message? Not the ‘snarky’, ill-advised language, which can escalate exponentially in further exchanges? Not the wasted time clarifying what you should have said in the first place, rather than the brain-dump you actually sent? Or even did you send the email to the right people?
We cannot simply and immediately change cultural behaviours that have developed over time, assuming that we wish to do so. There are however some small changes we can make and build upon over time.
As leader – ask yourself some questions:
- Do I really need to send this email and does it need to go now, especially if at a time when your people are winding down for the evening?
- Am I being efficient or selfish in trying to unload something? Again thinking about when you doing so.
- What example am I setting and what behaviours may this be driving in my organisation?
- Should I try drafting, then reread and send later, ideally in the morning?
- Would a call be better?
As a recipient, firstly ask yourself, “Do I need to answer this right now?” If not:
- Try giving yourself time to think through the language in your response,
- Are you responding to the right people (rather than the blanket cc!)?
- Do I need to respond at all or am I just anxious to put my scent on it?
- And here’s a thing, try writing your response by hand first. This will help you to think through what you are saying and you’d be surprised how much it reduces the word count!
Taking a bit more time to consider our responses, in what appears to be an always connected world, may just drive some moderation, balance and ultimately better or a least more considered decisions.
To paraphrase an old adage; respond in haste, repent at leisure.
Stay tuned for our final Unplugged article, where we’ll be looking at how switching off from social media could help you think more creatively.
From guest-writer Stephen Sharpen.
Stephen is a leading exponent for equipping people at all organisational levels with the tools, techniques and insight, to deliver effective and sustainable transformational change.
Until recently Stephen led the development of multi-functional business plans, the optimisation of people capability and capital investment, and the delivery of major change programmes for a FTSE listed company.