There’s Only One Good Way to Email Your Boss

Excerpt from this article:

My boss gets 500 emails a day. I try not to email her but sometimes I have to, and the one way to get her to reply quickly is simple: I start every email to her with a question. And then if needed, I explain the context to my question in one or two more sentences in the fewest possible words.

Starting with a question is important because if your boss scrolls through emails on her phone, like most of us do, her screen allows her to see only the first few words of an email before she chooses to reply, delete, or ignore it. Words like “Do you think…” or “Could we…” or “Will you confirm…” are quick shorthand phrases that tell her THIS IS AN EASY EMAIL. All she has to do is reply yes or no. And she’ll email you back faster.

Another great touch you can add while emailing your boss, co-workers, and especially people who don’t work at your company is changing every “can” and “will” to “could you please” and “would you.” At first you will worry you sound ridiculously formal: “Could you please tell me if…?” and “Would you consider…?” But then people will start being SO NICE TO YOU and MOVE MOUNTAINS to help you only because you SOUND like a very nice refined person with poise — even if you’re falling apart at your desk, even if they’ve never met you.

 

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Avoiding Miscommunication in a Digital World

Excerpt from this article (good podcast episode too):

The issue though really is you have to understand the basic problem. Any kind of form of writing, unless you’re Shakespeare, involves basically less emotional information getting through than a face-to-face conversation. And so you might feel safer in that situation. You might feel like you can control it better.

But what happens when we get face-to-face is that willy-nilly, we exchange a huge amount of information about intent. And that’s what humans really care about. We care about what’s the other person intending toward me? Is that person friend or foe? Is that person going to have me for dinner or am I safe with that person? Is this person more powerful than me or less powerful? So those are the kinds of questions that we’re asking.

When we don’t get that information – and here’s the important point – we tend to make it up. The brain hates to be deprived of information like that because its survival depends on it, and it’s always predicting a few seconds ahead: is there danger here? Is there danger here?

And so what the brain does is when it’s deprived of those channels of information, the brain makes up information. And here’s the kicker: it makes up negative information because that’s more likely to keep you alive if you assume the worst. And so that’s why so much of written communication gets misunderstood, and typically misunderstood not on the positive side, but on the negative side. People usually are offended or their feelings are hurt. You rarely get people calling up and saying, “Boy, I misinterpreted your email. I thought it was wonderful!”

Read This Article!!!

Men and women hold placards bearing an exclamation mark

Excerpt from this article:

How many exclamation points does it take to exclaim something? One, a human of sound mind and a decent grasp of punctuation might say. The exclamation point denotes exclamation. That is its point. One should suffice.

But, on the internet, it often doesn’t. Not anymore. Digital communication is undergoing exclamation-point inflation. When single exclamation points adorn every sentence in a business email, it takes two to convey true enthusiasm. Or three. Or four. Or more.

Gmail’s New Nudge Feature Is a More Efficient Way to Feel Guilty About Your Inbox

The Gmail envelope logo and an animation of a ticking clock.

Excerpt from this article:

Anyone who’s ever had an office job—or, come to think of it, a life—is familiar with the “nudge,” the email you send when you need someone to do something for you and that person hasn’t responded to your first request. So you send another one. And even though you phrase it as politely as possible, both parties know exactly what it is: It’s a second notice. It’s strike 2, as in one more and you’re out. Even the word we use to describe these actions, and sometimes in the emails themselves, nudge (“Just wanted to send a nudge on this!”), attempts to put a gentler name on what is at heart a demand.

When You Give a Tree an Email Address

https://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/mt/2015/07/new_trees/lead_960_540.jpg?1522839206

Excerpt from this article:

Officials assigned the trees ID numbers and email addresses in 2013 as part of a program designed to make it easier for citizens to report problems like dangerous branches. The “unintended but positive consequence,” as the chair of Melbourne’s Environment Portfolio, Councillor Arron Wood, put it to me in an email, was that people did more than just report issues. They also wrote directly to the trees—everything from banal greetings and questions about current events to love letters and existential dilemmas. “The email interactions reveal the love Melburnians have for our trees,” Wood said.

These sorts of initiatives encourage civic engagement and perhaps help with city maintenance, but they also enable people’s relationship with their city to play out at the micro level. Why have a favorite park when you can have a favorite park bench?

It’s a dynamic that is playing out more broadly, too, in concert with a profound shift toward the ubiquity of interactive, cloud-connected technologies. Modern tools for communicating, publishing, and networking aren’t just for connecting to other humans, but end up establishing relationships between people and anthropomorphized non-human objects, too. The experience of chatting with a robot or emailing a tree may be delightful, but it’s not really unusual.

The move toward the Internet of Things only encourages the sense that our objects are not actually things but acquaintances. This phenomenon isn’t entirely new: The urge to talk back to devices and appliances dates at least to the broadcast era. (As television ownership became common in the 20th century, newspaper columnists marveled at the new national pastime of shouting back at the television set.)

Everyone Secretly Hates Your “Friendly Reminder” Email

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How many times have you gotten this type of message? “Just sending a friendly reminder to please . . .” And how many times have you sent it?

You might think that “friendly reminder” emails are a nice attempt to be professional while disguising your actual annoyance at whoever’s holding you up from finishing something. In other words, it’s just a non-confrontational way to ask for something that’s late.

Well guess what? That’s all a misguided fantasy and it’s making everybody you email with secretly resent you. You need to stop doing it–immediately. Here’s why, and what to write instead.