Andrea T Edwards

8 tips for managing email communication better

I wrote a blog called When did WhatsApp become a collaboration tool? Hint, it’s not a couple of weeks ago, and it seemed to hit a nerve. I am definitely not alone in my frustrations of how this platform is being used.

If you love it, I recommend you read this article and hear why people don’t like it.

The key feedback I took away

  1. Short, quick messages on WhatsApp is good
  2. Document sharing, expecting people to access and edit documents, booking meetings and sending links, etc.. is bad

Of course some love it, but most DO NOT and with all communication, it’s not about you, it’s about consensus with the community you are speaking with on any given channel. Seek consensus and you’ll achieve more.

Let’s talk about email now

To keep the honest feedback flowing, another bug bear I’d like to highlight is email. Remember the days when email was manageable? We had one, maximum two email accounts, but today, we have multiple accounts, as well as social media inboxes.

The days of being able to manage email is long OVER, and we all struggle to keep up.

I actually have one email account, which most of my social media accounts are linked to, that I don’t even look at anymore. It is full of electronic newsletters I never subscribed to and I’ve spent days unsubscribing, only to have to do it all over again a few months later.

Have I lost business? Definitely. Have I lost important emails from connections that matter? Definitely.

If you are an add-people-to-your-newsletter-kind-of-person, please stop it. Very bad etiquette. You might not live in a country where it’s against the law, but that doesn’t mean you should do it.

Always aim to be so good people want to subscribe to your content.

Big number email lists are not a sign of success and are not impressive, unless every person on that list signed up themselves.

Wasn’t tech supposed to make life easier?

As a professional in the technology industry for most of my career, the advancement in tech always promised that email would eventually become redundant. And it is well within the realms of possibility to make it redundant, but we are hanging on for dear life, aren’t we?

It appears to be our fear of collaboration tools that makes us use non-collaboration tools like WhatsApp as collaboration tools, which is why email has grown and become such a big nightmare!! We are consistently being ineffective with technology.

Fun fact. If you send 65 emails, that’s the equivalent CO2 output of driving an average sized car for one kilometre. Let’s cut back on email huh?

Here’s an example of poor email use

SenderDear xxxx I want to organize a meeting with you to discuss xxxx?

ResponderSure, I’m available on Tuesday all day and Wednesday afternoon.

SenderGreat, is Tuesday at 2pm OK?

ResponderThat’s great.

SenderAwesome I’ll send you an appointment now.

SenderSends appointment.

Sender: Follows up with agenda for the call (rather than putting it in the email appointment, which makes it more easily accessible)

Sender: (on Tuesday) I’ll call you in one hour for our meeting.

Sender: (10 minutes before call) I haven’t heard anything back from you, hope we’re still ok for our appointment in 10 minutes?

ResponderEverything is OK, speak to you soon.

Sender: (Call done) Thank you so much for your time. I really enjoyed our chat and …

ResponderEnjoyed it too.

That’s 12 emails, so in emission land, a quarter of the way to driving a kilometer.

But wait, it gets better

Before emailing the person they wanted to speak with, they asked someone else for an introduction to that person.

SenderWould you mind introducing me to xxx because I want to talk to them about xxx.

Responder 2: (If happy to make the introduction) Sure. Can you drop me a quick paragraph highlighting what you want to talk to them about in more detail, as well as expectations of the discussion. If I can just cut and paste, that would be awesome and make my life easier.

SenderHi you haven’t made that introduction, any chance you can do it today? I’m working to a tight deadline.

Responder 2Happy to do it, but I need you to summarize what you want to talk about, as stated in my reply below. That will help me make the introduction.

SenderOh right, sorry, here you go…

Responder 2Dear Responder1 I’m going to make an introduction to Sender and I think it’s a good connection, so hope you don’t mind. Let me know if it’s an issue?

Responder 1No worries, I trust you and know you won’t waste my time. Thanks for the heads up.

Responder 2Dear Responder 1 I’d like to introduce you to Sender who wants to speak to you about xxx. I think this is a good connection and hope you don’t mind me connecting you.

Responder 1Thanks Responder 2, happy to be connected to you Sender, let me know how I can help?

AND THEN

Responder 2 gets copied in the entire email conversation as listed out above. No, no, no! Once the intro is done, take the intro’ing person off the chain!!! You can’t opt out of emails, like you can out of a WhatsApp, right?

Be mindful of who is getting and receiving the emails you send. Limit all unnecessary emails to your community. It’s part of the reason we can’t keep up with email.   

CO2 update – we’re at 35 unique emails, so we’ve driven more than half a kilometer in just one chat. We’ll probably get to a full kilometer by the time this whole conversation, and back and forth is done.

8 key learnings I hope you take-away

  • If you are asking for someone’s help, make it as easy as possible for them to help you. Do the work for them, so they can just cut and paste. If you make them work for you, there’s a strong chance they will do nothing or you’ll have to chase them multiple times. ALWAYS ask yourself the question – how can I make getting their help as easy as possible for them? Very few people do this
  • If you are asking for someone’s help, make it as easy as possible for them to help you. Do the work for them, so they can just cut and paste. If you make them work for you, there’s a strong chance they will do nothing or you’ll have to chase them multiple times. ALWAYS ask yourself the question – how can I make getting their help as easy as possible for them? Very few people do this
  • If you are asking for someone’s help, make it as easy as possible for them to help you. Do the work for them, so they can just cut and paste. If you make them work for you, there’s a strong chance they will do nothing or you’ll have to chase them multiple times. ALWAYS ask yourself the question – how can I make getting their help as easy as possible for them? Very few people do this
  • If you are asking for someone’s help, make it as easy as possible for them to help you. Do the work for them, so they can just cut and paste. If you make them work for you, there’s a strong chance they will do nothing or you’ll have to chase them multiple times. ALWAYS ask yourself the question – how can I make getting their help as easy as possible for them? Very few people do this
  • If you are asking for someone’s help, make it as easy as possible for them to help you. Do the work for them, so they can just cut and paste. If you make them work for you, there’s a strong chance they will do nothing or you’ll have to chase them multiple times. ALWAYS ask yourself the question – how can I make getting their help as easy as possible for them? Very few people do this
  • If you are asking for someone’s help, make it as easy as possible for them to help you. Do the work for them, so they can just cut and paste. If you make them work for you, there’s a strong chance they will do nothing or you’ll have to chase them multiple times. ALWAYS ask yourself the question – how can I make getting their help as easy as possible for them? Very few people do this
  • If you are asking for someone’s help, make it as easy as possible for them to help you. Do the work for them, so they can just cut and paste. If you make them work for you, there’s a strong chance they will do nothing or you’ll have to chase them multiple times. ALWAYS ask yourself the question – how can I make getting their help as easy as possible for them? Very few people do this
  • If you are asking for someone’s help, make it as easy as possible for them to help you. Do the work for them, so they can just cut and paste. If you make them work for you, there’s a strong chance they will do nothing or you’ll have to chase them multiple times. ALWAYS ask yourself the question – how can I make getting their help as easy as possible for them? Very few people do this

There you go, another little rant I suppose, but really, technology is supposed to make our lives easier. And yet it’s becoming harder, because there are just too many channels and too many being used incorrectly.

Put yourself in the shoes of the people you are trying to connect with, understand their day, and communicate in a way that is going to get their attention and make it as easy as possible for them to support you. That’s all most people want. Easy.

Let me know if you agree or disagree?

Cheers

Andrea

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