I’ve been thinking about email: Apparently I’m not the only one. Seth Gooden of Purple Cow and a hundred other excellent books as well as Chris Anderson of emailcharter.org on how to make email stop being both a time-glut and a source of stress and guilt for people. I’ve taken my own list and pulled some thoughts from their’s, so enjoy. So without further ambling here’s how to get the edge on emailing etiquette:
- Remember you can’t read voice inflection - some use email technically and others misinterpret it. Short Does Not Mean Rude! Some people just use email to communicate a message, not as a mini chapter of the most recent happenings on their life since they last wrote you. It’s OK for them to be really short. Don't be offended.
- Coincidences do happen - I sent an email about a small matter to a member. Unbeknownst to me, one of our elders sent a very similar email at the same time to the same person on the same subject. Now, the person got two emails “correcting” them - one from the preacher and one from an elder. Now, they think they are being ganged up on and they aren’t being. Remember it could just be a coincidence.
- Some people will delete you before reading if you send to many (an arbitrary term i do not understand) emails. The Ministry Geek (listen at www.TheEquipNetwork.com) says I send too many. Sorry.
- This one from a former secretary. If angry: Save it as a draft and wait 24 hours. You may cool off, the problem may handle itself, the person may realize they were out of place and take care of it.
- Realize that email is not everyone’s priority: Some people hit “send” and then think that they will hear from the other person within say 20 seconds! Others only check their email once or twice a week!
- Chose Clear Subject Lines: Sometimes the subject line can tell the whole story. EOM means ‘end of message.’ It’s a fine gift to your recipient. They don’t have to spend the time actually opening the message.
- THIS ONE MIGHT SHOULD BE #1! Before you hit send check out who it is going to. Please, PLEASE, PLEASE, do not hit reply to all unless you know you want this to go to everyone. It may be the number one mistake of emailing. Not only do you run the risk of sharing too much, you are, frankly, a nuisance to people if you hit reply to all, all the time. I must confess, I’ve done both before and it’s just not good. THINK: Have I thought about who is on my list?
- Is there anything suggestive, inappropriate, etc in this email? If so, just don’t send it. Remember, people will forward and before you know it, your mean-spirited joke about the president, suggestive joke, “colorful” language is going out to people “worldwide” with your name attached to it. Is that what you want? I've been embarrassed FOR some friends before.
- Could I do this note better with a phone call? Yes, email is nice, but sometimes a good phone call or even better, face to face meeting would be better.
- Is any portion of the email in ALL CAPS? If so, consider changing it. You may not know it, but that is considered screaming in email world. Are you wanting to scream OR did you just forget how to turn all-caps off?
- Is it in black type and at a normal size? Remember, if you use HTML some folks will not be able to read your email. I have a good friend who sends out emails that are very informative and well written but the format makes it so hard to read, her emails are often deleted and over time people hit delete before they even attempt to read it. With email, simpler really is better.
- Do I have my contact info in the email? If you don’t take a minute, go to options in your email and add a signature. It will automatically add your closing (In His Care, For the Master, Sincerely...), and contact info. You can put in a website, your cell phone number, etc. Once you do this don’t forget that when you send you are giving people that info!
- Could this email be shorter? The longer the email the less likelihood it will be read. I tend to be wordy, that doesn’t help in emailing. Get to the point and get out! Along these lines, don’t send large attachments unless necessary. For many people it slows down their download speed and “clogs” their box.
- Am I forwarding someone else's mail? I was tempted to just ask “Am I forwarding?” - be so very careful of forwards. 90% of the times if you forward much MOST folks delete every time they see an email from you. If you forward, please clean it up of all the <<<< and other folks names first! If you are forwarding and it is a warning about a scam, virus, worldwide charity effort, etc. Check snopes first and make sure it is true.
- Check your grammar. If you don’t you’ll be like a throbbing toothache to grammar checkers! Yeah, I know I don’t have a right to say that - “pot, kettle...kettle, pot.”
- Bonus: Is there a long legal disclaimer at the bottom of my email? Why? It is not worth the paper it’s written...oh, wait, it’s not even on paper!
So, what would you add? What’d I leave off or say too strong?