Friday, March 16, 2007

March 15 – Email Problems

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To some email is a necessary evil. To others it is the golden form of communication. From passing pictures of your pet to receiving approvals from your sponsor, email is a major part of our world. The trouble is there are a few things you need to avoid when using it.

Hiding. Email is simply a communication tool along with the phone and face-to-face meetings. If you are sending emails because you are avoiding a discussion that should take place in person then you are hiding. Get out from behind the screen and start talking.

Poor Naming. There are 3 things to avoid with the name. First, don’t forget to put a subject on the email. Second, don’t use a subject that could get blocked by spam. Finally, don’t get ignored. Give it a subject that will get the reaction you are looking for. If you need them to do something add ACTION REQUIRED to the start of your title. If it is acceptance management start with APPROVAL REQUEST. Use a title that explains the email and will get it read.

Mad Mailing. I have typed some emails that would have been career-shortening events if I hadn’t hit the delete button. Never send an email in the heat of the moment. Carefully save it as draft so you don’t send it. Go get a cup of your favorite, legal work beverage and come back to reconsider it. If you are still ticked, print it and have someone else read it to talk you down. Sometimes it is very therapeutic to vent but do so safely.

Spell Checking. Definitely use spell checking. One of my all time really bad jokes is “Bad spellers of the world, UNTIE!” Usually I have to explain that “untie” is “unite” spelled wrong which just ruins the whole affect. But use spell check wisely, especially with names. If you don’t Waithe becomes Waiter, Uwins becomes Wines and Shashank becomes Sheepshank. Not very pretty. My favorite example of spell check problems came from a woman I worked with once. (It’s ok, Judy, I won’t mention your name). She wrote an email about Sarbanes-Oxley and spell check changed it to Sardines-Ox eyes. She sent it before she saw it.

Not Reading. Before you send it, give it one last read. So often I look at something I have written and wonder how I expected anyone to possibly understand it. I also use spell checking as my last line of defense against a bad email. If it catches a word, I take a moment longer to consider whether to send it or not. Several times I have opted for phoning or going to see them person instead. More often I have chosen to reword the whole thing or drop it all together.

CCing. The entire company doesn’t need to get all of your emails. Does that long list of individuals on the TO and CC lines have to be there? What is your purpose for including each one? Many of them probably won’t even read it. I had a manager once who said because of the number of emails she received she never opens those that she was cc’d on. That explained why I never received the support I expected from her.

Email is just another tool in your bag. Use it for good and not evil.

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