Rules to Live by: Improve Your Email Communications
Email has become so integral to our daily lives that sending an email with poor grammar is considered a social faux pas. Even if it is a simple response from a team member, project managers love to take apart emails word for word. This tool is becoming more important. (And, by the way, these types of emails are a major pet hate of mine. More on this later.
TeamGantt has introduced some neat features to make project communications more collaborative. However, email isn’t going away forever. These rules will still need to be followed. These rules will help you communicate clearer messages and make email more productive.
1. Listen, collaborate and stop.
Vanilla Ice may have been onto something. Your inbox can be overloaded with emails faster than you can handle. This is especially true if a thread sparks heated debate. Refrain from reading unread messages in reverse chronological sequence. Sometimes, the most recent messages can indicate that the situation is resolved or that all recipients have reached an agreement. You may not be receiving the most important suggestions from your team members or worse, one recipient may have expressed an opinion that was not acknowledged.
2. Refrain from hitting reply all.
You can remove any recipients that you don’t want to receive your email. They will be grateful that you helped them clear their inbox. It should not be difficult to identify the recipients and those who can be weeded.
3. It is possible to spell it.
Help recipients prioritize their inboxes by doing it for them. Use concise, direct language before the descriptive title to grab the reader’s attention. Every recipient is a different member of the project team and may not prioritize email in the same way that you do. A prefix is a way to let the recipient know if the message needs to be responded to and how quickly they should do so. My personal favorites include: For Review, FINAL URGENT, Agenda and Updated Timeline.
Although I know that you have just been told that “URGENT” can be used in your subject line to get team members to actually read your email. However, it is only effective if you use it sparingly. The red exclamation mark is also overused. You can quickly damage your email credibility if you send multiple emails per day with one of these indicators. Before you choose a high priority subject or include a call to urgency in the subject, make sure that you are evaluating whether it is really necessary. If the recipients don’t receive the information within five minutes, will the project fail? No? Please uncheck the high priority button.
5. Let’s change the subject.
Change the subject of an email thread if it starts to diverge from the original topic. Removing old messages from the bottom will help you to get rid of them. You can also create a new thread and continue the conversation there. You are not violating any laws by deleting “RE] RE: RE: Dogs sledding” from the subject line, or starting a new thread if people start replying with cat videos.
6. Consolidate all your information.
Include attachments, location, conference number and PIN, webinar instructions, and any other relevant background information in your event invite. Your invitation should always mention the purpose of the meeting. You should not send out an invitation for an important meeting with no information and then send out the entire information in a separate email. It is more likely that everyone will lose the separate email with all information read but not retained. This meeting shouldn’t be held if it isn’t necessary. But that’s another discussion.
7. Please, no drama.
Do not engage in email combats. Avoid confrontation