Communication channel: matching technology with the message discussion


Much of our time in the workplace is taken up by e-mails and texts.  E-mail is critical in the workplace and has in many cases replaced phone calls.  It’s important to use e-mail and texts to our advantage.  So, for this portion of the class, we will consider our workplace communication practices and examine their success or hindrance to our productivity.  But there is more.  Letters, e-mails, phone calls, and memos — when is it ‘correct’ to use each one?  There are situations that each one of these genres lends itself for the most appropriate and successful communication.

To Read:

Jamal Wright arrived at the office a bit late on Monday morning, around 9:45. He had been invited to speak at the Miami Chamber of Commerce breakfast as the chief operating officer for InterWorld Traders, an international shipping service. His topic, ironically, was communication efficiency. His speech was well received, and he was in a good mood as he logged in for the day. As he opened his e-mail, he was instantly struck by the incredible number of internal e-mails he had waiting in his inbox. Normally about 20 messages, today the tally was 21,291! The e-mail messages were from all over the world and were short messages in reply to others’ messages. Thousands of them!

Jamal scrolled down the list until he got to the last ones he had read on Friday afternoon. The culprit soon surfaced. It was a message from Sue Knowles, a manager in charge of distribution analysis. Her job focused on the efficiency of logistical matters concerning the shipping of parcels and the organization of the firm’s headquarters warehouse. Sue had sent out a call asking for input concerning any efficiency issues that had been noticed in any of the areas within the firm. Unfortunately, the question was open ended, and her delivery method had created a monster. She had sent the message to all of the 546 supervisory- or higher-level managers within the company. She had not used a mail merge process to send the messages; instead, she had listed a group with all of the e-mail addresses included in the recipients line of her message. The result was disastrous. As several well-meaning recipients responded with their observations and suggestions, they had unfortunately selected Reply All. Apparently, the recipients were under the impression that only two or three people had received the initial e-mail. Unfortunately, as others also hit Reply All in their responses to the responses, thousands of e-mail messages flooded the firm’s servers.

Jamal returned to the more recent messages. They were noticeably aggressive messages, like “Remove me from this e-mail list” and “I wish you people would learn to use e-mail properly!” and “You idiots stop e-mailing me!” There were even some who obviously realized what was going on—they had replied to all saying, “Everyone stop pressing Reply All!”

The tumult of messages was growing greater minute by minute. The company was bogged down in its inability to function by e-mail, and there seemed to be no end in sight.

To Do:

For this assignment, students will respond to the following prompts.  Initial response, 400+ words (include properly formatted citations and corresponding references from the assigned readings/videos in support of your response); then, respond to two classmate posts, 100+ words each.

  1. How could blunders like the one described above be prevented?
  2. Since it was not prevented, what should Jamal do now?

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