While you may claim to hate email, the truth is that you don’t hate email.
You are peeved by the people who send them.
We’re talking about those email senders who fire off messages that are inane, stupid, weird, incomprehensible, worthless, depressing and annoying.
So it’s time to do an email intervention. It’s time to save the email numbskulls who don’t seem to understand that their bad messages make us believe they are also inane, stupid, weird, incomprehensible, worthless, depressing and annoying.
We beg all bad email senders to stop:
- Making vague requests. If you’re requesting a time to meet with someone, for example, don’t say you need to meet “by next week.” Provide your available times and dates, so that the person can respond without the back-and-forth emails trying to hammer out a time and place. If you need the person to provide specific documents of a certain length, say so.
- Letting threads run too long. There’s no reason to hit “reply” so many times the message thread is now as long as Shaquille O’Neal’s right arm.
- Being lazy. You don’t want to search through your own files, look on the Internet or make a phone call about an issue, so you send an email that sounds something like this: “Hey Jeff! I can’t remember when we signed that contract with XYZ. Do you remember? Also, do you happen to remember the contact’s name and email? Thanks! Daryl.” Colleagues see right through this, and resent being asked to interrupt their own work to be your personal assistant.
- Using too many abbreviations. You use so many abbreviations and buzzwords that the person can’t tell if you’re asking a question or delivering a coded message.
- Pulling a disappearing act. You send out what sounds like an urgent message: “HELP! I need information on the project ASAP!!” Then you go to lunch, get your shoes shined and pop over to the nearest Berlitz center to learn German. In the meantime, your colleague is diligently trying to help you by responding to your message right away while you’re learning how to say “Caesar salad” in German. Colleagues do not like being jerked around in such a manner, and your next SOS will probably go ignored.
- Not offering context. When making a request, give some idea of where you’re coming from or you could put the receiver on the defensive. A couple of sentences explaining your thinking should be enough to make sure there is no misunderstanding.
- Asking “what is the meaning of life” questions. Emails are supposed to help you get work done, not pose questions that can’t be answered in less than 400 words and require extensive notations and possibly input from the Pope. If you need to ask exploratory questions that demand extensive answers, then don’t use email to do it.
- Using emails to air your personal dramas. Don’t send an email that is really nothing more than a way for you to unload your emotional garbage on colleagues: “Thanks for your email. I’m sorry I didn’t respond earlier, but my boyfriend just broke up with me and now I’m going to have to move back in with my mother because he took all my money.” Save it for happy hour with friends, please.
- Being so excited! You really don’t need exclamation points after every sentence! Really! We believe you’re being sincere! We understand you’re trying to show enthusiasm! But enough already!
- Forgetting the niceties. Taking the time to include a salutation and offering a “please” and “thank you” doesn’t take much effort, but go a long way toward making the recipient feel appreciated and respected.