As a companion to my post on Unroll.Me, I thought it apropos to address what is likely the bane of most folks’ existence: email.
Although we’re only a few days into 2014, folks have already begun wilding.
If you’re like me, your email queue stays full, and you’re constantly working to keep the savage beast from becoming overwhelming.
For the most part, the emails I receive are mundane.
They’re mostly generic updates on in-play projects, requests for information, follow-up CYAs and things of that sort.
But every once in a while, something hits my inbox that leaves me speechless.
You know what I’m talking about.
That email that makes you say “what the f*ck?” out loud.
Contemplating putting a hurt on someone, or at the very least, giving them a piece of your mind.
Sometimes you get emails that are so outrageous, you have to talk about it with other people to make sure that you’re not bugging.
I once received a business email in all caps.
I shit you not.
As anyone knows, all caps is the email equivalent of yelling.
And as if the caps weren’t bad enough, they had the gall to color code them green – lest they be missed among the jumble of other indistinguishable characters on the page.
As you can imagine, the tone of the email was not, how do you say, genteel.
I wanted to be like…
But I was so taken aback (and it was in a business setting) that I just kept it moving.
Another email I received was in BOLD CAPS.
I think they were yelling really loud.
One had “…….” at the end of every sentence.
Is it a sentence if it ends in “……”?
Perhaps they were still thinking…
Or maybe the email was the first page of a table of contents…(still thinking)
We’ve all been on the receiving side of some whacked out emails.
Shoot, we may have sent one or two out ourselves.
But there is a certain etiquette to be employed when sending emails.
Because once it’s sent, it can’t be taken back.
Unless you’re a hacker and know how to get all up in a fool’s email.
Now I’m not going to get all preachy and act like I’m teaching you things you don’t already know.
But you’ll want to observe a few simple rules to avoid being one of the jackasses I’m talking about today.
Rule No. 1: Pace yourself.
Never send an emotional email. If you ever find yourself pecking at your keyboard madly in response to an email you’ve received, I’d suggest that you NOT send that email. Instead, get up. Walk away from your desk/computer/tablet/phone and collect yourself. And don’t think about the email you just received or are planning on sending. After about 5 minutes, return to your desk/computer/tablet/phone, delete the email you were previously working on, and start over.
Rule No. 2: Keep it brief.
Email is intended for brief, pointed communication. No one wants to read a treatise. So try to keep your emails short and sweet. One of the best managers I’ve ever had introduced me to the beauty of bullets and it’s helped me tremendously. Think of every line in your email as a bullet point in an outline. It should convey one point clearly. Focus on making your emails shining examples of digital brevity.
Rule No. 3: Be responsive.
There’s nothing worse than sending an email with a request and getting back something completely unresponsive. Treat the senders of your emails like they’re six-year olds. Be direct and make sure to avoid adding anything extraneous that may get lost in translation.
Rule No. 4: Characters count.
Unless you’re trying to call the recipient’s attention to a particular section, word or response, the use of caps, bold, colors or any other character anomaly is a faux pas. Unless you want people to think you’re a shouting jackass (and totally unprofessional) sending emails in all caps is to be avoided at all costs.
Rule No. 5: Proofread before pressing “send.”
I am convinced that proofreading is a lost art. No one does it anymore. Don’t be like the ignorant masses who pen an email and shoot it off without taking the time to check for basic things like misspelled words, proper punctuation, and verb tense agreement. Sure, folks will forgive simple mistakes. But mistakes often repeated, make you look simple. And no one likes a simpleton.
Finally, heres a rule of thumb that will unquestionably save you from yourself.
If you ever think, “should I send this?” in response to an email you’re about to send, don’t send it.
Invariably, it probably contains something that you may later regret having sent and who needs the stress?
Its just email.