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Think before you send. Send email you would like to receive.

41i6ZZdv6ZL._AA240_.jpgDavid Shipley and Will Schwalbe, authors of ‘Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home’, published in April, hope readers of their book take away two points--
Think before you send.
Send email you would like to receive.

The book is brimming with common-sense. How appropriate. Common sense seems to abandon us when we use email, when we don’t have the personal cues of voice or expressions to monitor and adapt our messages.

Office workers in the United States spend at least 25 percent of the day on email and countless hours on their handhelds. Email is overused and misused.

The goal: write email that is so effective that it cuts down on email
The authors use SEND as an acronym for proofreading any message before you hit the send key:
Simple, cut out the unnecessary words and sentences.
Effective, focus on the right tone for your relationship with the receiver, focus on what you want to communicate
Necessary, is your message frivolous? If you don’t need to know something, don’t ask. At the opposite end of the spectrum, personal email that reinforces your connection to another person is important.
Done, are you trying to move things along or just pass your work on to someone else? Everyone respects the person who takes on tough jobs, gets things done and shares the credit.

Email is not an easy written medium to get right, sometimes it’s far too easy to use
What is your relationship to the person you’re writing? That’s the first consideration. Set the right tone and formality in your writing. It’s easy to slip into communication that is too casual for the relationship. University professors have added netiquette pointers to their syllabi to set a professional relationship with their students. The authors contend that email has a tendency to “encourage the lesser angels of our nature”. In email, we are angrier, less sympathetic, less aware, more easily wounded, more gossipy and duplicitous, they say.

I’ll do several posts using this book as a reference. The book is more than 200 pages, an enjoyable read. Some of the details were tedious but as I reviewed what I’d highlighted, it made me aware of the capriciousness with which we use email and the amount of time involved. Email has its place in our communications but we can all probably improve that communication. I’ll share more with you now and then in the coming weeks. I’ll write on personal email vs. work email, when the phone or in person conversations are better than email, emotional email.

Comments

Thanks, Lynette, for your work on this topic. Communicating by e-mail really is an evolving art. I'll look forward to future posts on the topic.

a presenter at our recent ACE conference was shocked by lack of hands raised when asked if we attendees were using instant messaging within our offices. he noted some of the same things you did = how email is misused, overused etc., and how IM is one simple (and free!) solution we could all adopt! let's go gang!

Great post! There was an interesting podcast I listened to the other day called I Can't Believe You Sent That: E-mail Disasters, Large and Small and How to Avoid Them. You might want to check it out @ http://2007.sxsw.com/blogs/podcasts.php