Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What would you do?

Angie here: How much email do you get a day?

Say what??

Holy cow, my inbox feels like a flood about to breech the dam walls on a daily basis! So for the last few months, I've really tried to focus on what I can do to cut down on the amount of email I get.

The problem with the kind of work I do (writing, speaking, coaching) is that it does revolve around emails. Even my volunteer work for writing groups requires a lot of email communication. So how can I cut back?

What would you do?

I once asked a famous author for an answer to a question. I wrote it on the back of a business card and asked him to simply have his assistant email it back at his convenience. No rush, no pressure.

That famous man spent 5 minutes lecturing me on the fact that he did not have time to answer my question because he received 137 emails a day, while he yelled at me, and embarrassed me, in front of a long line of people. He spent time name dropping, sharing his importance, and impressing upon me my lack of worth.

Here I'd thought I was being respectful of the famous man's time and personhood. Silly me. Ironically, I received more than 137 business emails a day at that time, and often still do. But what a stunning revelation that "Famous Man" thought 137 emails would impress me. Hmm. Should I tell him how much email I get a day? Such a dilemma. I chose to stay quiet. He obviously had a mindset.

Then the famous man asked me if I'd like my copy of his book autographed. I'd already read 1/2 of it in between speakers at a large conference.

What would you have done?

I laid the book on the table. Then I shook my head and said, "No thank you." And walked away. I did not look back.

Yes, I'd paid for the book–full price. Yes, I'd read everything that famous man had written up to that final mid-book moment. No, I'll never read another word he writes again. None of his books are on my shelves any longer.

I left the book for him as a gift. One I do not know if he understood. The gift of respect. I respected myself too much to allow someone else access to the intimacy of my mind who would treat me in such a manner. I really hope I never do that to another human being. I learned what kind of person I wanted to be that day too. So he gave me a beautiful gift by example.

I learned something else. When someone's mind is set hard, it's not worth my struggle to "make" them open their mind to another possibility. Why? I can't make anyone else do anything. The Bible clearly says not to throw pearls before swine. It's not meant as an insult, believe it or not. It's meant for us to understand there's no reason to hit our head up against a brick wall for someone who will not budge in their ignorance. Let them wallow in it until they are ready to get out of the mud. Only then are they teachable. Trying to share something too soon is non-productive. (And that particular famous man taught on that very topic that day. Irony.)

People do watch what we do–not just what we write.

1. Have you ever met a person who you used to admire, but that changed your mind because of their "real life" persona?

2. I'm curious what you've done to minimize unnecessary emails. What has worked for you?


  1. Angie, I have met a couple of people like that man. it's sad, but I just move on. As far as minimizing emails - I feel like barely treading water. I delete as many as possible, but everything I do revolves around email. I'm curious to see how others have tames this digital monster. Thanks for sharing your own struggles, it's good to know I'm not alone!

    1. Isn't it amazing how a media form that didn't exist in recent history has become such a major communication? I wonder if someone in the 1800s thought they received too many telegrams per day?

  2. Angie, I liked this!!! Especially that you mentioned the scripture about pearls before swine! I have not heard that preached on or spoken of in a long time. However, I recall a dear (deceased) minister who quoted it often! I certainly believe it!!!
    I know this does not reflect on E mail quantity...just wanted to say this.
    Blessings on your writing!!

  3. Angie, I can't believe that happened. I'm glad you set the book down and left it. I had a similar experience with a famous author at a regional book fair. I was one of the signing authors so went up at the end after his line dwindled. I was probably the last book he signed of the day. And he NEVER ONCE looked at me or said a word to me. He was looking past me as if looking for someone more important. I'll never buy another of his books. And I made a promise to myself to make sure to always focus on each individual as I sign books.

    As for email…it's hopeless! LOL I have started unsubscribing to as many things as possible but it doesn't make a dent.

    I have found that having separate email addresses helps some.