Email Etiquette: Delivering Success
GUEST EDITOR – Greg Adamson
Emails are easy, but can cause confusion.
For several years now, Americans have used texts more frequently than phone calls. Look around at any airport terminal and you will notice that most people are texting or emailing rather than speaking on the phone. Our smart phones can prove the point, offering us a weekly snapshot of our time spent using data.
It is surprising how this habit permeates into our daily interactions within the sales training department and with marketing and sales counterparts. Emails are quick, easy and help us check-off items from our personal to-do list. However, emails can cause unnecessary angst, confusion and anger. Almost all ill-will created is unintentional.
Let’s look at a few real-life examples and possible solutions:
- Example: Getting sucked into the vortex of a long email chain, where there
can be 20+ exchanges bouncing back and forth.
Solution: This situation never ends well. Way too much can be lost to interpretation in these exchanges. It is a much better idea to walk down the hall and see them live or call them to resolve the situation. This strategy works almost all the time.
- Example: Getting trapped in broad emails where many people are copied, especially those with big titles who have nothing to do with the topic the email discusses.
Solution: Only copy people that absolutely must know. That one tip saves lots of time across the organization and it changes the way you are perceived. If you are the recipient of this, I recommend never hit “reply all,” except in the most-dire situations.
- Example: Long, complicated emails to a marketing or sales leader that will inevitably lead to multiple email exchanges.
Solution: If you know in advance your email is going to require multiple exchanges, either take the time to write a clear, articulated message with well-written action items or a request for action. If that does not work, consider setting up a call.
- Example: Forcing people to read through paragraphs of prose before you get to the point and request action needed.
Solution: Try to state the purpose of the communication upfront. Beginning an email with “The purpose of this communication is _______” is always a good idea, especially in formal communication to a broad audience or someone who ranks higher organizationally. This practice will dramatically increase the odds that your email will be read and acted upon.
Lastly, we should take a page from politicians. They always release bad news on Fridays, so the news is “lost” over the weekend. Good news is always launched early in the week to get a full news cycle. We should consider using the same philosophy. Try to always launch important news early in the week and early in the day. Emails sent later in the day and late in the week are psychologically considered less important.
As trainers, we have enough legitimate business issues to focus on. Focusing on email etiquette can help you and your colleagues be more efficient.
Greg Adamson is senior director, North American sales training, for Philips and vice president of the LTEN Board of Directors. Email Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org.