Email Relationships Are Dysfunctional

By David Nour

E-mail has become a way of life for many of us. It has become the way we interact and engage others. The fundamental challenge is that you cannot abdicate your relationships to email. Emails have zero personality; emails often lose their intent – the point in what you were trying to say is somehow lost in how you said it.

As such, here are ten simple points to consider as “digital etiquette”:

1. Use emails for facts not opinions.  We’re meeting on Thursday at 10 AM in conference room #12 and here is the agenda.  That’s factual information people need to know.  If your email starts with “I think”, “We should”, “Here is what I think”, think twice about sending it.

2. If I have to scroll your email, will you please pick up the phone and call me?  It will probably be a shorter conversation and we’ll get more done.  Have you seen the latest trend?  People who write a 15 page dissertation than put that politically correct message: “Please think of the environment before printing this email.”  Why don’t you think about my sanity before writing it?!?

3. Please stop cc’ing 15 people and then replying to all with “Thanks.”  “No, Thank You.”  “No, I insist, Thank You.”  35 email exchanges later and we’ve said zero!

4. Use the subject line – succinctly!  Nour Coffee, Tues 1/6, 1 PM, Disco Kroger SBUX.  It’s direct and to the point, easier to search and use on mobile devices (which many people oddly enough have and use these days).  Also, when you reply with a different point, modify the subject line to make it relevant to the new conversation thread.  Lastly, why not telegraph your intent by putting 411 in the subject line if you simply need information; 911 for drop what you’re doing and call or email me back

5. ** as the 1st line – ** No Reply Necessary – Respond to Sender Only if You Must.  I love that one because it works!

6. If I don’t need to know, don’t CC me!  I particularly don’t want BCC – why not be transparent with your communication.  We’re going for more candor and trust in 2009, right?

7. “No Email Fridays” are useless.  I get the intent – get people to actually pick up the phone or walk down the hallway to engage each other.  But guess what happens to email on Thursday nights, over the weekends or on Monday AM?  Aim to change their behaviors instead.

8. Send less and you’ll get less.  How many emails do you get a day?  How many do you send out?  That’s right – there is often a direct correlation between the two, so stop sending emails.  Try picking up the phone and committing your time to five (5) minute increments /modules.  Most people don’t want excuses, much less excuses about how you’ll be sending the document you promised last week, next Tues.  Use that time to finish the document and send it Monday instead!

9. Get to really know them.  Most of us have a communication preference.  We have a set of “digital pet peeves” that make us tick – positively in getting things done and negatively in what turns us off and disengaged.  Find out what those are about your post valuable relationships, capture them in the Outlook notes field and try to comply.  Kevin is BlackBerry addict and likes short “text-message like” emails.  Sandy is a talker – send her a specific list to review and call her on the commute home at the end of the day, etc.

10. Five simple phrases that will save your life!  I wish my mentors had driven this into me years ago (maybe they tried and I just didn’t listen?!).  Say “Please, Thank You, I’m Sorry, Forgive Me, and I Love You” more often than you think you should – with your personal and professional relationships!  I know it’s assumed and understood but people that work with you, for you, and on your behalf all need to hear it, feel it, and believe it.  That’s when you become authentic; that’s when you’re felt to be real; that’s when you are appreciated as a human being!

Bonus – send handwritten, personal notes.  They’re much more impactful!

What have you found to work in building and nurturing relationships remotely?

2 Responses to “Email Relationships Are Dysfunctional”

  1. David,

    This is an excellent synopsis for improving communication and especially improving the use of email.

    Thank you.

    Kind Regards,
    Ann Garvey, PMP

  2. […] View this post to read 10 suggestions from relationship expert David Nour on how to get control over your […]

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