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Perspective: Why Didn't You Reply to My Email? How My Wife and I Communicate During the Work Day

July 24, 2014

Couples CommunicationWhen I received an email from my wife Megan a few weeks ago, I thought everything was fine. And it was, until I chose not to respond back to the email. Imagine my surprise then when I got home later that evening to find Megan extremely frustrated with me. Clueless as to why she was upset, it turned out that not responding to her email gave her the feeling that I was unreachable while at work.

Megan also has a full time job and is limited on the time she can dedicate trying to get a hold of me. We, like 47% of all married couples in the US *, both have jobs during the day and as a result rely on communicating through a combination of email and text messaging.

As a response to dropping the ball on communicating effectively with Megan, we have developed a system that works for both of us. We use a combination of email, texting and calling to maintain open communication lines while at work.

  1. If it is an emergency, Megan will try calling my cell phone. If she doesn’t get a hold of me after two tries then she calls the HCSS front desk and they can page me.

  2. If it is time-sensitive but not an emergency we use email and write “Urgent” in the subject line. An example of this would be when Megan needs an answer from me to do dinner with friends that night. If there is no “Urgent” included in the subject line, then it is not a time-sensitive email.

  3. If it is not time-sensitive we still use email. But it is understood that if there is no “Urgent” in the subject line then it is OK to read it when it is convenient.

  4. Lastly, we do use texting but it carries the same idea as non-time-sensitive emails. For example, I will text Megan when I am still at work and won’t be home until later that night.

There are plenty of other options as to how couples can communicate in different circumstances. But the important thing that Megan and I learned was to decide on what worked for us and to stay consistent with it. Talk to your spouse about what system works for you when you need to communicate at work. And if you don’t have one yet, figure it out before anyone reaches their boiling point.

* Bureau of Labor Statistics

Click here to read another Perspective article about how a family balances the use of technology and time together as a family

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