Best selling business author and top blogger, Seth Godin, posted a great list of 36 items to consider before clicking send on an email. Email has become ingrained into our business and personal lives to the point that we barely think about how to manage it. Seth’s post points out a number of things to consider.
Here are the tips that either made me say, “Oh yeah, I hate that” or “Gee, I think I do that”.
# 3 – Are recipients blind copied?
Seth’s referring to group emails here. It amazes me when I get a group email and all the addresses of the other recipients are visible to me. That’s OK for the gals in my book club but not for an email where the recipients don’t necessarily know each other. You wouldn’t give someone’s telephone number and address to strangers would you? Use the blind copy (Bcc) address box for these emails.
#13 – Are you angry?
I have both been a recipient of angry emails and will admit, I’ve sent out a few in the past. I take Seth’s wait one hour advice a bit further. I now won’t draft a response for 24 hours or as long as it can reasonably wait. I’ll sometimes get someone else to read over my response before clicking send just to make sure I’m not saying something I might regret later. Email doesn’t go away. Once it’s out there, you can’t get it back.
#14 – Would it be better to make a phone call?
Ok, I struggle with this one. I love email. I prefer to get email over phone calls. Why? I’m an introvert and so I like to process information before I respond to it and I find interruptions jarring. I just assume everyone is the same so I email more than I phone. However, clearly a phone call is better in some cases. Complex ideas or information that will take a long time to type isn’t best for email. As well, if you’re worried about how someone will interpret your email, pick up the phone.
#15 – Blind copying the boss
Seth asks you to consider what will happen if the recipient finds out you’ve blind copied your email to the boss. Visibly copying the boss is not always advisable either. Are you doing it because the boss needs to be involved in decision-making or needs to know an outcome? Or, are you copying the boss as a message to the recipient that you don’t trust he/she will follow up or because you want the boss to know that the person you emailed has screwed up somehow. Either way, this is a nasty way to communicate. Be careful with this one.
# 28 – Forwarding a hoax?
This is one of my biggest pet peeves. I hate forwarded emails telling me about some concern that is clearly an urban myth (e.g. Don’t let someone spray a perfume sample on you in a parking lot—it’s poison etc.). Seth recommends checking snopes.com before you forward something like this.
# 30 – Am I quoting back the original text in a helpful way?
Related–make sure you respond to all the questions asked. There are some folks out there who routinely answer the first or last question in the email only, making subsequent emails necessary.
Check out all 36 items and let me know the ones that you can relate to. Are there any you disagree with?
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