Written Under The Influence Of Turkey
I'll note also that these were the earlier days of active daily use of company email. It was a new and perilous toy to most of us. I still recall sneaking upstairs to my email after Thanksgiving dinner, checking on some mundane client business, only to discover what to this day remains the most hilarious unfurling of "reply-all" disasters I can identify.
Seems that a person of stature within our corporation had released excerpts from a certain manifesto across companywide email during the holiday. In this statement, he explained to us all about his belief that ETs periodically come to earth to check in on earthlings' tech advances.
A small group of executives then chimed in to high-five him, applauding the lonely road of being a maverick and a pioneer. But there was also a stream of appalled missives from various staffers who really did not want to hear any of this stuff from higher-ups. Especially not on Thanksgiving, when they wanted to feel stable about their corporate situation come Monday morning.
No matter how you felt about the beliefs fueling the original email's content, you had to admit the resulting chaos was spectacular.
I remember running back downstairs, quite literally cracking up to my mom, "My god, I have just witnessed the most marvelously horrific train-wreck of an email chain!" She gave me a twisted glance, asking "What in the world are you doing on email on Thanksgiving?" Exactly.
Flash-forward all these years. Even at our most lucid, most of us think we are much better communicators than we are. And so, the email-scape remains an open and treacherous field of potential gaffes. This gives us all the more reason to take extra care when hopping online over the holidays.
Just for fun, I thought I'd take a crack at the various communications that should not be attempted under the influence of turkey and wine. And, these days, we are not just talking about email. Here are some words to the device-adorned and digitally wise written on Thanksgiving night -- notes to self on things that absolutely can wait until Monday.
1. Let us not reference ourselves or anyone else in our inner business circle as a pioneer, maverick or rogue, via mass email.
2. Generally we should not applaud, seek applause or high-fives our own good work or that of our staffs and teams.
3. Probably best not to preview any of your "creative" work, or "special projects" unsolicited. Manifestos, memoirs, articles -- don't do it.
4. No email to boss over 100 characters.
5. In fact, no emails over 200 characters, period.
6. Cap yourself at one to two tweets.
7. Do not send anyone missives regarding your compensation.
8. Best to not query any of your peer groups about statistics or research of any kind during dinner hours. You will look like you don't have a life -- or have not been entrusted by your family and friends with any of the cooking whatsoever.
9. In fact, let's try to avoid posting to industry peer groups between 3 to 8 p.m. Thanksgiving day in any time zone. Just a thought.
10. Please avoid posting a Facebook status marveling at shifting media spend allocations and showing fancy charts. This can wait until next week.
11. Be wary of the Twitpic and mobile uploads at-large.
12. If you must send out a euphoric or misty-eyed mass holiday email, enumerating your blessings, be ever mindful of the BCC.
13. If you must work on a presentation for next week, practice Presentation Zen. Eschew the PPT and do not harangue your collaborators for input while they are enjoying their holidays.
14. And, of course, do not hit "reply-all" under any circumstances.
The peculiarity of trying to unplug during the holidays is not lost on most of us. With so many points of access, we either can't, or we don't entirely want to do so.
So, just as your friend might remind you not to text the woman you went on exactly one date with before the holidays, we have to remind ourselves to keep a lid on it in the business world as well. The tryptophan haze hanging over you this holiday is not conducive to constructively working out your issues or whatever keeps you up at night during the week. At least not on Thanksgiving night -- a time for pie, Scrabble and more wine.