As much as I would rather sit eyeball to eyeball with a co-worker, emails are here to stay. And how we communicate using email, both externally and internally is key. So here are a few concerns I hear often (and have experienced myself):
I’m waiting for a reply (that doesn’t happen)
Only the first question was answered, they’re not reading my entire email!
What’s with the ‘reply all’ thing?
How many is too many emails that go back and forth?
What am I supposed to do with this email?
When do I use CC or BCC?
My humble suggestions:
I’m waiting for a reply (that doesn’t happen): remember to send emails only when it’s necessary. Ask yourself: Is this worth the trouble? What would I do with this information? Should I pick up the phone or go see the recipient in person instead? Did you remember to ask for a reply? Some people don’t respond to an email even though they might be off doing what you asked, so be sure to ask them to let you know.
Only the first question was answered, they’re not be reading my entire email! In this case, I’d suggest limiting your email to only 3 questions (maybe bullet point them so they stand out). Make sure you mention in the beginning of the email that you’re waiting to move forward until these questions are answered or that their answers might result in more questions. You can always request a meeting!
What’s with the ‘reply all’ thing? Most people enjoy being notified by a group email message to news or events. However, replying ‘all’ to these types of emails is usually unnecessary. A simple reminder “please don’t reply all” is helpful to a Birthday or new employee. But if decisions needs to be made as a group, perhaps consider sending the email to a chosen few who are the decision makers. Perhaps use the email to get the conversation going, then offer to set up a conference call or WEB meeting to those that need to be involved.
How many emails have to go back and forth before we pick up the phone? As a general rule, I limit my email responses to 3. If we’ve had multiple responses to the same topic, I’ll pick up the phone, to avoid the merry-go-round.
What am I supposed to do with this email? If I receive an email that is too long, it stresses me out. If I receive an email and I’m not clear what’s needed, it stresses me out. So if you’re like me, a clear call to action works wonders: actions like Please respond, I need your expertise or I have a meeting at 3 can we talk before then? Help!
Also, if the email is too long, warn them right off the bat! **Warning, long email – I’ll call you as a follow up**. This gives the recipient the chance to dedicate time to read your email knowing they need to understand/digest a lot of content.
When do I use CC or BCC? According to Microsoft, CC (carbon copy) is used when a recipient needs to be ‘in the know’ on a topic, but doesn’t need to take any action or respond. BCC (blind carbon copy) is handy when there are a lot of people on the TO or CC line and during the Reply All conversation, they really only needed to know about the first email and not the entire string.
Last TIP: please remember to use clear subject lines. Mentioning what’s included in the email is a great way to get a response. Even something as simple as “a recap to our meeting 10.3.18″ says a lot. Saying things like ‘Hi” or leaving it blank makes your email automatically not important. Plus, having a smart subject line gives you the ability to search for this email at a later date and gets your recipient’s attention – the whole idea in the first place! Happy emailing! :0)