Email Etiquette – New guidelines and strategies for managing the Electronic Chaos

AlyzSE

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Alyza LeBlanc

One of the outcomes of our new era of remote offices, virtual interactions and electronic communications is that our email mailboxes now seem to rule us. They dictate our meeting schedules, our customer and internal communications, they provide training and assist us with marketing and gaining exposure when in person meetings are not possible. However, we are now inundated with a minimum of 30-40% more emails than we were receiving back in 2020. Not only is this difficult to keep up with, it can be insanely aggravating.

Meeting Notices.

In my book, these are the easiest emails to manage. First, can we please agree to only send the meeting request to those individuals who are needed? Do not copy people who are not required or those you know will not attend. You are better off sending a brief summary after the meeting to the folks you want informed of the outcome. Invite only the individuals who need to participate.

When a meeting invite is received I either immediately accept, promptly respond with a conflict schedule and propose another time or reject entirely if I do not believe my presence is required. Not responding to a meeting invite can wreak havoc on a multitude of schedules. Further, it reflects a lack of coordination to vendors, suppliers and customers, not to mention of lack of respect among fellow employees. When you receive a meeting invite, please respond.

Internal Communications

Have you received numerous email messages that say “can you address this”, “this is yours”, “see below” or the worst is no email whatsoever, you are just forwarded a stream that appears to be a month long dialogue of some issue that has suddenly been deemed your problem to solve. The message received clearly is, “I can’t be bothered and am dumping this on your lap.” With the volume and emails and a lack of clarity on the issue or requested action, this email will likely be completely ignored or will require multiple follow up emails or phone calls.

You will save much time, get better results and gain more cooperation from those you require assistance from by taking a few minutes to summarize rather than simply hitting your forward button. Here’s what this issue is, here are the steps that have been taken and identify the action being requested. You may still forward the support detail, but I assure you this step build partnership and will likely achieve better results.

Along the same lines, we need to avoid copying everyone on every response to internal communications. I am sure we have all experienced the annoyance of receiving 15 emails in one day that are back and forth communications on an issue you only have auxiliary exposure to? Before you hit the reply all button and start typing away, take a moment to consider if all parties are in need of the information you are sharing. If there is simply a piece of the larger matter that you are addressing with specific individuals, handle those separately. Once addressed, then respond to the entire group indicating your component has been resolved or managed. If we all take a brief moment to consider what we would and would not appreciate receiving and allow those guidelines to dictate our communications, we might all reduce our email consumption just a little bit.

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Alyza LeBlanc

Email Marketing

The marketing messages in our inboxes seems to be unavoidable and a significant distraction, yet it is not all junk mail. I am one that does not like a cluttered email box, so I have developed my own strategy that does not entail sending them straight to the trash. Whenever I receive an email that is not from my company, a customer, supplier or vender, I quickly move it to a separate folder. This is the folder that I review during slow time or when I am not engaged in significant business activity. Perhaps while I am taking a break and eating lunch at my desk, perhaps in the evening while my child is working on homework, or maybe first thing in the morning before I jump into the day. Find a time that works for you where you can scan these emails and determine if they have anything of value to you or if they can be discarded, but don’t let them cause you to get off track.

I am not a fan of the term “new normal” but the reality is the world of electronic and virtual communications will only continue to expand. The more quickly we are able to develop strategies that work, the more efficient we will be at tackling the business at hand.

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