Email Reflections: 10 Simple Courtesies
Okay, you are super busy or you are down to your last email before heading home. Maybe itís first thing in morning, you have a full in box to read and handle, all before your meeting starts in 10 minutes. Itís easy to be in a rush and dismiss little things, however...
...have you ever thought how your email looked from a receiverís viewpoint? Of course you have, every day, haven't you? It is so easy in our fast-paced lives to let little things go.
When you receive a poorly formatted email and you don't know where each paragraph starts or finishes -- thoughts are scattered and jumbled -- hereís readerís self chatter in action: "What heck, it'll take me hours to decipher this. I don't have time for this. Can't X be respectful? I'll just pretend I didn't get it and maybe their follow-up email will be clearer." Click and delete. Of course, you have never done this -- chuckle.
By chance, your next email receiver is nicer and doesn't delete and pretend. They just move onto next email and leave yours for "someday in future" stack. And maybe it will or will not ever be answered. Their response may even miss your point entirely or only provide feedback to half of items that need addressing.
If you have difficulty getting quick responses or any response at all, receiver could be sending you a silent message. They could feel that you are wasting their time or do want to educate you on common email courtesies.
Recently, after receiving ten emails in one day from separate independent professionals, with their personal pronouns "i's" in lower case besides other items. I asked them to enlighten me about their lax protocols. I received a wave of negative responses. In order to keep this a family-available article, here are a few responses cleaned up: "i don't have time, too many emails." A few others added, "i do it to everyone." I particularly loved "to" in last two emails -- I do it "to" everyone.
A human resource director client shared with me that every day she deletes ten or twelve applications, about 12% of total number she receives daily, that omit common email courtesies. A majority come from individuals with higher degrees. I chuckled at irony. She didn't and just heavily sighed. She found it even more serious on number of emails she received from recruiters that also lacked these simple courtesies.
"Don't Sweat The Small Stuff" is a book I read a few years ago if I recall correctly. Normally I wouldn't care much about small stuff either. However, coherent communication, whether verbal or written, still represents who we are and shows respect. Using history as an indicator, communication started and stopped wars.
Recently, I attended a speaking engagement with Michelle Singletary, author, "7 Money Mantras," and columnist, The Color of Money, for Washington Post. In presentation, she mentioned several times, "You had better sweat small stuff." Of course, her reference was to money. Yet, it was an important point. It takes pennies to develop into dollars, dollars to add up to ten, and so on up monetary ladder. Doesn't it hold true that if we leave out small common courtesies and respect in emails, will it not block dollars -- directly or indirectly?
When thinking over given benefits for taking care of "small stuff" in emails, here are three powerful mantras:
* A professional email attracts a professional response.
* When you respect other peopleís time, they usually will respect yours.
* When communication is thought through and clear, chances increase significantly that response will be returned in same manner. Stinkiní thinking attracts same.
10 Simple Courtesies, gathered from reading 2,000 emails, and feedback from human resource director:
1. Focus on one topic per email. Keep email simple so receiver can focus in fast and easy. This improves chance of a faster response, maybe any response. If you write to someone regularly, ask what he or she prefers.