17 Feb Responding to Emails
On December 24th last year, my comments were included in an op-ed piece written by Jim Burns, an adjunct professor at the College of the Canyons published in the Pasadena Star-News. The subject of the piece was “Why don’t I get responses to my emails?” E-rudeness (which was coined by Mr. Burns but applauded by me) seems to be prevalent in our society. My comments included: “We have eroded our person-to-person relationships. We don’t need to sit in the same room to do business with each other….You can’t see how someone is looking when we say what we say.” Non verbal communication is lost when we type our interactions. The best we can hope for is that the email was spell-checked and is not written in all capital letters. We loose the ability to react emotionally to someone’s body language or tone of voice which allows us to measure our response appropriately. What is tragic is that generations which came after my generation seem to have skipped the class on writing a letter. Many, particularly those who were born after 1970, just write words – the construction of their emails is loose and sometimes rambling, sometimes non-sensical. There is rarely a salutation – just the facts or a short question. The subject line rarely indicates what the body of the email is about so you have to use your best judgment whether it is spam or legitament. I am sure I have sent many emails to my junk folder due to subject lines with Hello on them. I sometimes receive responses to my emails a week or two later, when I have forgotten about the reason I wrote one in the first place. So here are a few suggestions: Answer your email within 24 hours unless you are away from your computer – then set up an auto responder that states to everyone who writes to you that you are unavailable and will be returning someday. When you write to someone on email, use the Subjest line to alert the reader about what you have written. I often write on my email subject lines, “response to your inquiry from The Lett Group” or something like that. At the top of the body of text, say hello by using the recipient’s name such as, “Dear Mr. Smith: or Good morning, George:” or if you don’t feel like being nice, at least put the recipient’s name there – “Mike – In response to your email -“. I will most likely want to “talk” about email more in later posts. I would love to hear from you about your pet-peeves regarding email from others.