The “New Normal” of Email Communication

15 Aug

How often do you get a reply to an email and scratch your head as to the response? Do you wonder if the person even read your email?

Well, they probably read as much of the email as they could see on their Blackberry or iPhone (at a glance). More and more emails each day are answered via smartphone. And, most of those are being answered while in a meeting, in a car, on a train, on a plane awaiting take-off, or during a television commercial.

Remember when Twitter first emerged? Many skeptics thought it would fail since a “tweet” could only be 140 characters. Now, think about it. How many emails do you respond to now via smartphone longer than 140 characters? More importantly, how many of the emails you receive do you read in their entirety before you respond?

So, here is what I have learned from this “new normal” in email communication:

  1. Get Right to the Point: The title of your email and the first 140 characters are the most important since they are the most likely to be read.
  2. Set the Right Expectations: Don’t send an email that is a long trail of other emails that must be read to truly understand this email. If you must do this, say so in the first sentence so that you get an accurate response from the reader. (Or, he/she can choose to read the entire email later and before responding.)
  3. Don’t Hit “Reply All” Unless You Really Mean It: It’s happened to all of us. Be certain that whatever you are replying to is intended for everyone. Even someone that may be “blind copied” on the email that was sent to you. (You know what I mean!)
  4. Know When to Send an Email: Some discussions are just better over the phone. A long and detailed email usually requires some “background information” that is relevant to its understanding. We know that everyone wants to document everything. If you must document the discussion, send a follow up email that recaps the conversation.

At the end of the day, technology does make us more efficient. However, we must learn to change the way we use these tools and adjust our communication paradigms.


8 Responses to “The “New Normal” of Email Communication”

  1. Tom Morse August 15, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    To quote Pascal, “I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter.” Keep it short. Done.

  2. Michael Barbagallo August 16, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    Great suggestions — I would like to add limit your email to a single topic. That allows you to focus your message and keep your email short

  3. Chris Hanson August 16, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    This is right on target! I can’t count the times I’ve received half thought out responses, even when using every best practice. One additional tactic I’ve used to great success is being clear in the subject line what the subject is and if the message requires action on the recipient’s part and by when, or if it’s just informational.

  4. L Boose August 20, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    Great information to know. Thanks

  5. Jim Cree August 20, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    This is absolutely spot on. Thanks for sharing

  6. cindyrosen August 27, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    Thank you all for taking the time to share your thoughts. I hope you will continue reading the blog and that it brings some value. If not, I tried.

  7. domain September 25, 2014 at 9:16 am #

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  1. Don’t Font All Over My Email « Think Tank - February 15, 2013

    […] the business world why does this bother me? Well, if you read one of my earlier blogs, “The New Normal of Email Communication,” then you’ll know there are implications beyond the simple irritant. I won’t rehash those […]

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