Have any of these happened to you?
- An email is sent at 4:00am to tell you that the 8:00am meeting location (for the same day) has changed.
- You are waiting for your next private student and they never show. When you return home, you find an email send 1-hour before the class saying that they will not be able to make it.
- You need answers to some important project answers. You continue to send email requests without success. Your report is late.
Email is very convenient, but it’s not the best way to communicate time sensitive information. In all three of the above examples, email isn’t the enemy but it contributes to the problem.
Some problems with the above examples:
- Sending the message doesn’t assure that the message is received.
- Avoid imposing and passing along your chaotic schedule on others. Consider that your late notices are the results of your poor planning, not the person’s that you just passed it along to with a quick email note.
- Sometimes emails can be lost and automatically filtered into junk or spam folders. Don’t automatically assume that they are deliberately ignoring you.
- Not everyone has email capability strapped to their belt or in their purse.
Many times we use this method to avoid conflict or embarrassment for something we are uncomfortable saying in person. Many times we use email to simply cross a to-do item off our list. The mistake that we make is that we feel that once they “send the email” we are done. As you can see from the above examples, that is not always the case. Communication is (at minimum) a two-way street. You initiated email or text doesn’t complete the circuit.
Review why you are sending this message:
- Would you be inconvenienced if they don’t get this message?
- Would they be inconvenienced if they didn’t get this message?
- Are you sending this email to avoid talking to them in person?
- Are you deliberately ignoring their request for response to avoid conflict?
None of these are very good uses of email alone.
But how does one know when it’s appropriate to send an email message and when it’s not enough? Some things to consider is the type of message, urgency and amount of lead time available.
Some good general communication rules:
- Provide the recipient enough lead time to actually receive and respond (at least 2 business days). If less than 2 days, call instead.
- If 2 days passes without a response, switch to another (more urgent) form of communication preferably a phone call or a meeting. This way you can get your response immediately through that interaction. Both email and text is a delayed form of communication ( i.e: send a one-way communication and wait minutes, hours, days, weeks for a response).
- If you are not interested in continuing the relationship, respond “I’m not interested; please remove me from your subscription list; please remove me from this project; etc”. Ignoring their emails in hopes that they will get the message is neither considerate nor effective. They may be giving you the benefit of the doubt and are assuming that you are not receiving the communications. Once you have explicitly stated that you are not interested and asked for them to stop all communication, and then most reasonable people will take you off their project status list.
Take the time to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. If your positions were reversed, how you would like someone to notify you about a last moment change; how much time lead time would you like before you reschedule and rearrange your day; how would you like the other person to deal with a difficult situation?
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