Email Etiquette: Proverbs and Productivity

Proverbs are cool. No matter how cheesy they are, how can you argue with stuff like:

What soberness conceals, drunkeness reveals.

Every path has its puddle.

It is often the last key on the ring which opens the door.

So, as a leading authority on email etiquette and productivity (Power Sales Writing – McGraw Hill; How to Say It To Sell It! – Prentice Hall), I think it’s time to apply a couple to your inbox:

1. Practice what you preach.

I received an email from a client marked !!. To me, !! indicates the message is urgent to the writer and I tend to take those !! seriously. So, a few minutes after receiving !!, I wrote back asking for one more important detail (what time I’m speaking) so I could respond to her !! message. It’s now many hours later, and I’ve received no response.

Admittedly, I could pick up the phone to see if she is in her office and if I thought the question she asked was !!, I would. My goal is to be the easiest speaker to work with. But this is a test. (Only a test…had it been an actual emergency…) Is the message truly !! ┬áto her? Does she really need my answer by the end of the day? Will she even check her email to see if I responded? Does she routinely send !! messages, expecting that others will take her !! to heart, drop what they’re doing and give her !! priority? And if she does, does she offer the same type of responsiveness that she requests from others?

Ask yourself: Am I as responsive as I’d like others to be?

2. What we give out, we get back.

Are your emails friendly and respectful?

A friend received this email from her manager:

I need X by Friday.

Really? And I need a lube and oil. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. I wonder what type of response the manager is wants. Probably he just wants what he wants. It makes sense though Treating her with a bit more respect, for instance, just adding, I appreciate your help, would make all the difference. Or, how about giving a reason for the request like: I need X by Friday. I’m compiling the results, Saturday. Or, maybe he could have combined a bit of politeness with a request: Please confirm that you can do X by Friday. I know it’s short notice and I appreciate your help.

Ask yourself: Would I be motivated by my email to give me the best outcome?

What are your favorite proverbs? How do they apply?