Magazine article Work & Family Life

Do You Really Want to Email That Message?

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Do You Really Want to Email That Message?

Article excerpt

If you're a constant emailer like me, the chances are about 100 percent that you've hit the Send button too quickly from time to time. I've embarrassed myself with typos and stupid comments. I've sent email to the wrong person and forwarded a joke I thought was funny to someone who most definitely did not.

My list could go on, so perhaps I should just be grateful that my email never got me fired from a job or sent to jail-which has happened to some people. The secret, of course, is to think before we click.

Follow some guidelines

SEND, the title of a new book on email by journalists David Shipley and Will Schwalbe (Knopf, 2007, see We Recommend), is also a handy acronym. Before you hit the Send key, ask yourself: Is my email...

SIMPLE. Don't waste people's time or create confusion. Go over it to see if you can say anything more clearly and simply.

EFFECTIVE. Get it right the first time. It may be your only chance. Pay attention to and learn from your mistakes-and don't do anything electronically that you would want others to do to you in person.

NECESSARY. Don't use email to ask about frivolous things or about matters that are not really your concern.

DONE. If your email requires action, be prepared for a follow-up. But before you use email to pass work along to others, ask yourself: Should I really be doing it myself?

Good reasons for sending email

Technology should facilitate, not eliminate, personal communication. Shipley and Schwalbe say that email is best for:

The exchange of essential information. What time is the meeting? Who's coming?

Reaching almost anyone. You can send your message to 10 or 100 people as easily as you can send it to just one person.

Email knows no time zones. You can talk to people around the world efficiently and economically.

It provides a searchable record. You don't have to trust your memory about what was said in that conversation.

The opportunity to craft your message. You can think about what you want to say on your terms and on your schedule.

Preserving all or parts of a string of emails. This is helpful for reference and to let folks know what's been said already.

Attaching and including more information that is retrievable if and when the recipient chooses: photos, charts, links, etc. …

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