Less time does not promote deeper thought

mailboxes

[T]he more urgently technology incentivizes us to respond to a proposition, the more we rely on our own heuristics. Less time does not promote deeper thought.

Today, when you are compelled to comment right away, ask yourself, “How would I respond to this differently if I had to invest the time and effort to get an envelope and a stamp?”

via James Shelley – photo credit: Daria Nepriakhina

Why e-mail is ineffective in conveying ideas

In a world where businesses and friends often depend upon e-mail to communicate, scholars want to know if electronic communications convey ideas clearly.

The answer, the professors conclude, is sometimes “no.” Though e-mail is a powerful and convenient medium, researchers have identified three major problems.

  1. E-mail lacks cues like facial expression and tone of voice. That makes it difficult for recipients to decode meaning well;
  2. The prospect of instantaneous communication creates an urgency that pressures e-mailers to think and write quickly, which can lead to carelessness; and
  3. The inability to develop personal rapport over e-mail makes relationships fragile in the face of conflict.

via CSM.

Email is about the reader

    • Email is about the reader, not the writer. Don’t think about what you have to say. Think about what the reader needs to hear. There’s nothing more tedious than an email that starts out with 200 words of self-justification when all it needs is a single sentence containing a question.
    • Email exists to solve problems, not create them. (…)
    • The headline is the email. The subject line should be clear, factual and specific. It should also encourage the reader to open and read the email. (…)
    • Fewer words, greater understanding. (…) With email, shorter is better. Also short words are best.
    • Think before you forward.
    • Respect privacy in group emails. [A] round-robin email addressed to hundreds of people where all their addresses were included (…) is a gross breach of privacy.
    • Be succinct. Imagine your email was a telegram and that you were paying by the word.
    • Highlight actions and key points.
    • Re-read your emails before you send them. Out loud. Rewrite it if you can make it shorter. (Bad Language)

      The last word on e-mails

      You’ve just finished composing an e-mail to a potential client you’ve talked with a few times before. Now for the tricky part: your sign-off. Should you use “Sincerely,” “Kind regards” or “Cheers”? How do you sound friendly without coming across as unprofessional?

      This article analyzes a few sign-offs. Here’s what it says about my favorite:

      The salutation: “Cheers”
      Bates: Only use this sign-off for friends and business colleagues you might meet for coffee.
      Kerr: You can use this with someone you know well, but if you’re trying to make a business impression, this is not a great way to say goodbye when you’re first doing business with someone. Save it for after having established a bond.

      Related:

      To email or not to email: Michael Dell

      Top 10 when NOT to email

      You are your inbox

      I fire you. Let me count the ways

      Voicemail:

      The company hasn’t been doing well. We’ve had to let some people go, and you’ve been affected. As of today, you’re off the payroll.

      Letter:

      One food processing plant in California sent 1,000 workers a letter at home, telling them they were being laid off.

      And the prize goes to… text message:

      Hi Katy its alex from the shop. Sorry 2 do this by text but ive been trying to call u + ur phones been switched off. Ive had a meeting with jon + ian and weve reviewed your sales figures and they’re not really up to the level we need. As a result we will not require your services any more. You will receive your last pay packet on Friday 28th july. Thank you for your time with us. (You’ve got mail: ‘We’re letting you go’)

      See also The workforce reduction notification is currently in progress

      Wall Street to get email guidelines

      N.Y.S.E. Regulation and NASD, are expected today to release proposed guidelines for the regulation of written electronic communications, including internal and external exchanges.

      The guidelines represent nearly two years of work by a committee of N.Y.S.E. Regulation and NASD, Wall Street firms and lawyers, as well as contributions by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

      They are intended to clarify how forms of communication unimaginable when the rules were last revised, in 1998, fit into existing regulations, said Grace Vogel, the executive vice president of N.Y.S.E. Regulation who led the committee. (NYT)

      Related: The workforce reduction notification is currently in progress