Equal Treatment? Not When it Comes to Email

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Corey McCarren 8 years, 3 months ago.

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  • #159482

    David Dejewski

    I’m betting that you know someone who is not into email equality. They shuffle your email up or down in the stack depending on how well they know you, like you, trust you and respect you.

    I was just reading Correy McCarren‘s article on whether email helps or hinders productivity, and I noticed the graphic he used says that Bobby Johnson (presumably a fictitious character) only has 911 unread emails in his inbox. My inbox, by contrast has 16,266 unread emails as I write this.

    It occurred to me that I’m like an email judge. I hold court with my inbox every day, quickly scan the titles and who each one is from and pass judgement. Some emails – a lot of them – get sentenced to immediate deletion. Many of my emails get sentenced to a lifetime of IGNORE without hope for parole. A few of them get opened. Fewer still get read all the way through.

    I noodled on my judgement system. I open email from people I know, like, trust and respect first. I’ll open titles that mean something to me second (maybe a new prospect, a business associate, or a current project). I get a small pleasure from nuking anything that smacks of SPAM (though this gets old). And those that don’t fit one of the above categories fall somewhere in no man’s land and get ignored.

    Maybe I don’t know someone and the title is meaningless. Ignore. Maybe the email is about an issue I’m not quite ready to deal with yet. Ignore. Maybe I have good intentions to pen and read something, but I have ten other priorities that need attention, so I promise myself I’ll get to it soon. Ignore.

    16,268 emails later… Obviously I picked up two more in the time it took me to write this. 😉

    What’s YOUR email story? How do you judge what comes before you via email?

  • #159500

    Corey McCarren

    That’s an awful lot of email to deal with. I get on average 30-40 emails a day, and even that seems like a lot to me. I’ve been searching for my next career opportunity after GovLoop as of late, so anything that falls into the category of applications/interviews is #1 on my list. I tend to ignore anything that is generic, most newsletters (aside from the Daily Awesome, of course!), and I tend to pay little attention to thread emails with a ton of different people. It’s so inefficient and can be downright obnoxious at points.

    Protip: Don’t be a liberal carbon copier!

  • #159498

    Emily Landsman

    At my old job my work was somewhat seasonal….I had some REALLY busy months every year when the association held meetings or when I had my own members’ meetings. Some colleagues liked to have “reply all” chatty conversations over e-mail when someone found an amusing news article or asking about where we should go to lunch. During those busy times those chatty messages would just stack up and I’d try to ignore them as I tackled the e-mails I got from my members. I had a personal goal of returning every e-mail within 24 hours, at the very least with a “I’ll get back to you by the end of the week!” and then flag it for later.

  • #159496

    David Dejewski

    Sounds familiar, Emily. One of my old bosses used to have a saying: “Don’t respond to email or they will multiply.” That reply-all button is the multiplier from bunny town!

  • #159494

    Henry Brown

    Have managed to deal rather well with email overload (get between 100 and 300 emails a day) by using filters. My current system has 120 different filters going to 80 different “folders” Some times I will go months between looking in the different folders. If someone wants me to “react” to an email a phone call, or walking down the hall works rather well

  • #159492

    Mary Yang

    In my last job (private sector), our CEO actually had IT remove the “Reply All” button from email messages because it was used by too many people unnecessarily!

  • #159490

    Stephen Peteritas

    Can we get Randy to do that at GovLoop and GD?

  • #159488

    Mary Yang

    Ha! I’m not sure…maybe? 🙂

  • #159486

    David Dejewski

    If it’s important enough they’ll find their way to you, right?

    What do you think about those “Hail Mary” emails – the ones that were sent by someone wanting to be on record for having sent you something, but don’t really want a reply?

  • #159484

    Becky Wynne

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the removal of Reply All button route but for those who don’t have that option…

    Good subject lines make or break one’s ability to be heard. Isn’t that ultimately what email is supposed to be? A method of “talking” to someone?

    The To: line should be reserved strictly for those who have to take an action on that particular subject.

    Blind copy for leadership who need to know the status of something but don’t want to be caught in the crossfire of the inevitable email chain. (e.g. pending announcement, change in status of major announcement, crisis management heads up, etc.)

    I use copy for supervisors who need to know major items that their staff are either not taking action on or are having difficulty doing without assistance from their supervisor.

    I actually had to explain to someone yesterday the value of blind copy if used effectively. Shaking my head that it needed explanation. And the Hail Marys are disrespectful to the recipients and should be rethought as a requirement if it isn’t a way to meaningfully engage with recipients on a given subject.

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