Most people would agree that email is essential for almost all jobs these days. (We’d be totally lost without it.) But as amazing as email is, it can also cause a lot of stress. Constantly checking email has been completely normalized in our “always on-call” work culture, and in some cases, it can lead to sleep problems and even career burnout. So how can we use this incredible tool without making ourselves crazy? Well, the findings of a recent study on email habits presented by John Hackston of OPP Ltd. might just help us figure that out.
While there’s a lot of information about how much we use email (spoiler alert: A LOT), we don’t have a ton of insight into how different types of people feel about using it, especially at work. For example, we know from past research that introverts tend to have more stress associated with using email at work, but this study took a closer look at how *all* the elements of your personality affect your email habits.
The research focused on personality types based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, which uses four different trait quadrants to determine your overall personality. People either prefer introversion or extroversion (I or E), sensing or intuition (S or N), thinking or feeling (T or F), and judging or perceiving (J or P). So your personality type is made up of a combination of these four letters. This multiple choice test is commonly used in workplace settings because it can help employees understand more about how they interact with others.
The researchers surveyed over 350 people who already knew their MBTI types with questions about how many emails they’d sent and received in the past year, the devices they use for email, and their attitudes toward email in general.
While there were many intriguing findings, some of the most significant ones are super relatable. Extroverts tended to send a greater number of work emails than introverts, and everyone in the study received more emails than they sent. That means you shouldn’t feel bad if you don’t respond to every single office-wide email — clearly most people don’t. Also of note, managers and those in senior-level positions felt that they received many more unimportant and unnecessary emails than those in junior positions. So if you’re unsure if you should shoot your boss an email about something that can wait, maybe reconsider.
Those who identified as N’s (intuition) were more likely to check their email outside of work hours, although almost everyone who participated in the study admitted to doing so. Interestingly, the people who felt more stressed and less in control, in general, tended to be the ones who were sending the most emails, especially late at night.
The researchers predicted that introverts would be more stressed overall than extroverts, since that’s what previous research indicated, but this turned out to not be the case. Instead, those who had a preference for perceiving (P) tended to be more stressed than those with a preference for judging (J), which was totally unexpected.
The researchers believe that just by knowing how your personality type affects your email habits, you can reduce your stress level around it. As an example, if you know that you’re a perceiving type and you feel anxious about an email you received, remembering that you’re predisposed to feeling that way can help ease tension. You can ask yourself if this is something you should actually be nervous about or if it’s your instinct to feel nervous about emails you receive. Similarly, if you know you’re an introvert but you’re trying to branch out, go ahead and respond to an email you might not normally feel like replying to. It’s like they say: Knowledge is power.
Do you think your personality affects how you use email? Tell us @BritandCo!
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