My whole left arm aches as does my left shoulder. The back of my left hand twinges when I use it and my left pinkie tingles.
Because I disregarded one of the fundamental rules about working with horses: Don’t be in a hurry. And I ended up with these aches and pains but—thankfully–that was all. It could have been worse.
My iPhone wasn’t working. I took Chase and the dogs for a ride up the logging road thinking I’d get service once away from home, but I didn’t. That’s when I knew I’d have to go online to troubleshoot the problem.
I wanted to deal with it right away, so when I got back to the barn, I didn’t put a halter on Chase to tie him up while taking off his tack. He knows how to ground tie, and it’s not that I don’t regularly do this. But there was a difference: I was agitated and in a hurry and he knew it.
It made him edgy.
So when the other horse, Opie, who is 12 but sometimes acts like he is a 2-year-old, spooked, Chase took off out of the barn with all of his tack still on and his saddle loose and his breast collar hanging by one buckle.
All I could think was, “My tack! My tack! He’s going to trash my tack!” In an instant, I pictured my saddle rolling under his belly and freaking him out more. I pictured him stepping on the reins and ruining the bridle. I pictured a huge vet bill. All this flashed before my eyes.
So I grabbed that breast collar that was hanging loose and hung on for dear life with my left hand.
Chase weighs about 1,200 pounds. I weigh about 130 pounds. Chase has thousands of years of evolution as a prey animal running from danger. I had a measly human desire to save my tack.
Who do you think won? Chase did. He drug me through the paddock. I lost my grip by the time he got to the gate and he was gone running through the pasture.
I did that. I knew better. You don’t hurry around Chase. It sets him off. Horses are super sensitive to our emotions. It’s why they are used in equine-assisted therapy.
And by miracle of miracles, everything was fine. My saddle bag flew off as he ran, but nothing else happened. He didn’t step on the reins. The saddle didn’t roll under his belly. He simply got halfway across the pasture, stopped suddenly, and turned to face me with an expression that said, “What just happened?!”
I walked up to him and we calmly went into the barn together and I calmly took off the tack, put on his blanket and turned him out…without any hurry.
OK, that’s horses: Where does email fit in?
So that’s my horse story. Now you’re wondering how business emails can possibly compare to that potential disaster.
Well, your body might not be in danger, nor will your saddle, if you hurry through business emails, but guess what will be? Your reputation, your productivity, your time…
For example, someone forwarded me an email from a manager sent to employees that used the word “shits” instead of “shifts.” The email said “…when the shits will be served.” Ouch!
If the manager had taken 60 seconds to re-read the email before clicking Send, they would have seen the error and fixed it—avoiding countless sniggers and endless amusement on the part of the people under them.
The email was obviously dashed off with the intention of communicating something. But, instead of communicating a message with that email, the manager lost credibility—and the message itself was probably disregarded as no one even noticed it.
Plus, this manager indirectly communicated to the employees that they couldn’t be bothered to take the time to write an error-free email, leaving the employees feeling disrespected…and even more likely to laugh at a manager who had so little consideration for them.
That’s an example of writing too fast. What about reading too fast?
In my own inbox this morning I had an email reply from someone who didn’t bother to read my email to them and so I had to say my message all over again. And it’s not as if I sent her a 500-word email! It was short and to the point. But she only made an assumption about what it said rather than read it, and replied to tell me she already knew that information—yet the whole reason for my email was to give her new information which I knew she didn’t have.
So, instead of sending one email to her, I have now had to send two…possibly three. I’ll find out later when I check my email again. It only added 5 minutes to my day, right? So what’s the big deal? Well, what’s 5 minutes times 12 if I have to do this for multiple emails? An hour! I could potentially lose an hour out of my day dealing with emails that could have been written and read with a little more time…saving time in the long run.
Plus it was a negative experience because she didn’t think it was worth her time to actually read my email.
Why do we hurry through our emails?
In reality, there is no reason to hurry through emails. But we do. Why? We do it because we have adapted a mindset that says we must.
People hurry through work emails because they are overloaded by them, because we have a culture of busy-ness that says busy = productive (not true!), because having 50 emails to respond to means one is important…and because reading on a screen is different which makes us prone to scanning and errors.
Erica Dhawan, author of Digital Body Language, describes what happens in an article at HBR:
“…we comprehend less when we read on a screen than we do when we read print; we devote less time to reading something in full, and tend to skim and search for key takeaways. And when it’s our turn to reply to a message, we feel so burdened by the volume of emails we have to write that we end up sending sloppy, terse, or confusing responses.”
Obviously we are stuck with our digital means of communication. We aren’t going to go back to reading print. It’s reading on screens all the time now, my friends.
So…what do we do? Simple: We slow down.
We write emails with care. We read emails with care. We spend more time with each email.
In the end, you’ll save time, I promise, plus you’ll potentially save face too. (Remember our “shits” example above!)
Take your time with both horses and email
What’s our takeaway here? Being in a hurry is never a good idea with horses nor emails. We should take our time with both.
And with both, you get a payoff. With horses, you stay safe and so does your tack. With email, you maintain your credibility, you communicate clearly, and you cut down on the number of back-and-forth emails, saving countless hours.
You get back your time. You improve your results. You treat others with respect. The list goes on and on. So…why are we in such a hurry again?
Brilliant article! I’m glad you’re largely unscathed by your uncident with Chase. There’s a whole other article there about ‘hanging on’ when it’s ridiculous to do so. Unfortunately, I sent out my last e-news with some typos and grammatical errors – because I really wanted to get an e-news out. Thank goodness I didn’t get dragged by Cato, Rommi or Guinness too.
Amanda, I appreciate your praise and your insight: You’re right! This is also a lesson in knowing when to let go! Those horses, they just keep teaching us, don’t they. 🙂
They do. I appreciate you Sharon and all the help you’ve given me over the years.