Email has been widely used for over a decade. Why are we still having so much trouble with it?
Let's face it. Everyone has an email address these days. In fact, there are homeless people who regularly check their email. The past decade has seen email move from a service attached to our internet providers to a web based service that can be accessed by anyone from almost anywhere. Most of you probably have several email addresses. I know I do. I have one for work, one for personal stuff and one for internet use. If you don't have at least a couple, you should get some. They are giving them away for free.
Email makes it so easy to communicate. Things that used to require a phone call or a face to face conversation can happen without even leaving your computer. You can find a job online and send in a copy of your resume along with a cover letter in mere minutes, while wearing your pajamas even. It is truly an amazing tool. So why are so many of us still having problems managing our email?
If you think about the time you waste dealing with forwarded chain letters, spam and the annoying people who click “Reply All” every time they want to ask a question, then you know what I mean.
Here are 8 tips to help you manage your email:
- Know when to use it – Only send an email if it's faster than a phone call or a conversation. There are times when a problem is complex or a request is complicated. In those instances, it's almost always easier to pick up the phone and actually talk to the person. It will eliminate email tag and make everything easier to understand.
- Don't expect privacy – Don't send anything in an email that you wouldn't want to be public knowledge. Emails are super easy to forward and you never know when something you said in jest will come back to haunt you.
- Group emails can be easier – When communicating with a group of people who are involved at different levels with a project, designate one person as the key recipient. In your email, you can mention that you are sending this to the entire group. This lets everyone know that you only expect a reply from the key people. When everyone is on the same page, communication is much more effective.
- Avoid Reply All – The Reply All button is seriously misunderstood. The only time it should be used is when you want to send a copy of your reply to everyone on the list. For example, if my daughter sends me an email asking if she can go on a trip with her friend and forwards an email from said friend, containing additional begging, I can use reply all to tell them both to stop nagging me over email. However, if I just wanted to reply to my daughter to tell her that email wasn't the appropriate medium for asking a complicated question, I would just click “Reply”. This way, the friend wouldn't be subjected to the same lecture.
- About BCC – Underneath the bar where you enter in your recipient, there is a bar that says CC. CC allows you to send a copy to someone else, and everyone is aware that you sent it to multiple recipients. BCC stands for Blind Carbon Copy, which is an old school office term meaning that you are sending them a copy, but no one will know. Basically it lets a third party spy on the conversation. It's rude and it's also another reason for tip number
- Sarcasm – Just don't do it. Email is text based and it eliminates verbal and body language cues that let the reader know that you are being sarcastic. Attempts at this most often fail and can cause more headache and hurt feelings than the humor was worth.
- People are impatient – If you are too busy to reply to email in a timely manner (say, within the same day) it can be polite to just send a quick email letting them know that you will have an answer for them soon. This helps reduce confusion and lets them know that you received the message and are working on it.
- Don't email in anger – Email, or any text based communication for that matter, is very prone to misunderstandings. Not only that, but because you don't get immediate feedback, as you would in a face to face conversation, it isn't a good medium for expressing anger. If you are upset at someone, make a phone call or talk to them in person. You'll avoid having to eat crow if it was just a misunderstanding.
What do you do to make email easier? Are there question you have about email? Let me know in the comments.
By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer for FinancialJobBank. Along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.