Chamber Chat - Email - love them or hate them - Jon Powell

September 03, 2019 - 12:00pm

Chamber Chat - Email - love them or hate them - Jon Powell

My love/hate relationship with emails:

I've just come back from a few weeks of leave to over 2000 unread emails. Granted some are from before I went away. I confess I really struggle and have a love/hate relationship with emails which causes me some anxiety. I wear a few hats, from Chamber Vice President, to company Director, to self-employed consultant and Head of Enterprise and Innovation at Lancaster University. I use my university address as my primary email and it is this account that causes me some stress when I see the amount of emails that come in and how many I haven't dealt with. So I've spent some time coming up with thoughts on email etiquette which I'm going to introduce and which I thought I would share in case they are interesting or useful to some of our Chamber members.

JP's top tips to email:

1 - Don't cc people into emails - if they need to know then add them in the To line. If you just think they might be interested or want to copy them in to cover your back then don't. 

2 - Don't hit reply all - ok there occasions when it make sense but everyone else won't thank you for filling up their inbox with the reason why you can't attend the meeting, so just reply directly when you can. 

3 - Think about your audience - do they have time to read the email or are you better just trying to call them or setting up a 10 minute meeting?

4 - Make sure your phone number is in your signature - that includes your reply/forward signature. I hate it when I want to ring someone as it will be quicker that a long email chain but they haven't shared a phone number.

5 - If it is a complicated email or might be deemed an emotional response take your time - write the email then leave it for a day if you can or at least an hour if you need to respond quickly. Then review it and see if the tone is still appropriate. 

6 - Don't assume the recipient knows what you are talking about - make sure your email makes sense as a standalone note, don't ask the reader to "see below" to follow what is going on or expect them to know the full context or chain of events. 

7 - Don't use capital letters or bad language - yes it does look like shouting. Would you swear or shout at someone in person? Hopefully not. Keep it professional. 

8 - In the subject line indicate if there is an action required or if this is FYI - we get so many emails, don't make me read to the bottom to try and work out if you want an action back from me.

9 - Read the whole email chain before sending on to someone - how many times have you seen someone send an email where they clearly haven't read the whole chain and inadvertently share more than they meant to. 

10 - Be careful with humour or sarcasm - the reader can't see you face or hear the tone of your voice so it rarely comes across as you intended.