Friday, September 26, 2014
These nine rules for handling e-mail should be filed under common sense. Unfortunately, as always, common sense is not common. I had boiled down e-mail to three points. 1. Keep it short. 2. Keep it accurate 3. Manage your mail. There is overlap between my points and his. Whether you follow nine rules or three, e-mail is the basic medium of business. It should be treated as such and not abused. As for brevity, it is an issue with business school students I teach. I push them constantly to keep e-mails short and to get the key idea into the first sentence. Most of them can do that but they feel compelled to ornament their writing with information the other party doesn't need to see or read. There is a time for explanation but after one has given the key message and not before. Action-oriented managers learn sooner or later to condense their thinking and to use e-mail for implementation. They know there is less stress when a recipient knows exactly what to do, think, or say. Examine your use of e-mail and be honest with yourself. Do you follow the nine rules or the three guidelines? If not, it is time to start.