No, You Can’t Ignore Email. It’s Rude.

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When researchers compiled a huge database of the digital habits of teams at Microsoft, they found that the clearest warning sign of an ineffective manager was being slow to answer emails. Responding in a timely manner shows that you are conscientious — organized, dependable, and hardworking. And that matters. In a comprehensive analysis of people in hundreds of occupations, conscientiousness was the single best personality predictor of job performance. (It turns out that people who are rude online tend to be rude offline, too.)

I’m not saying you have to answer every email. Your brain is not just sitting there waiting to be picked. If senders aren’t considerate enough to do their homework and ask a question you’re qualified to answer, you don’t owe them anything back.

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Let’s All Stop Apologizing for the Delayed Response in Our Emails

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“Adulthood is emailing ‘sorry for the delayed response!’ back and forth until one of you dies,” writer Marissa Miller tweeted in February of last year… I was thinking about that tweet as I read an essay with an irresistible (to me) headline: “Do You Want to Be Known for Your Writing, or for Your Swift Email Responses?” Click. In the piece, which was published by the online literary magazine Catapult, author Melissa Febos writes about the many and varied ways our behavior around email is making our lives worse. The essay is wide-ranging, but what most captured my attention was this line: “Stop apologizing for taking a reasonable length of time to respond to an email.”

How many times did you write a version of that — “Sorry for the delayed response!” — just today? I’ve written it twice: One was in response to an email sent yesterday afternoon, the other in response to one sent two days ago. Febos wishes that I, and you, and all of us together, would kindly knock this off. “You are ruining it for the rest of us (and yourself) by reinforcing the increasingly accepted expectation of immediate response,” she writes. “A week seems like a perfectly reasonable length of time to take. Or longer.”

Google Charmed By Grandma’s Polite Searches

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“I asked my nan why she used ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and it seemed she thinks that there is someone — a physical person — at Google’s headquarters who looks after the searches,” he told the BBC.

“She thought that by being polite and using her manners, the search would be quicker.”

…”I thought, well somebody’s put it in, so you’re thanking them,” she told the radio network.

“I don’t know how it works to be honest. It’s all a mystery to me.”

As the British aristocracy’s etiquette bible goes digital, never be rude online again

A local youth takes a selfie in front of Britain's Queen Elizabeth in St George's indoor market in Belfast, Northern Ireland

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For those who need help navigating the social grace minefield on social media, Debrett’s, dedicated to maintaining British etiquette since 1769, is moving its fight for decorum into the digital age and has launched its first digital-etiquette class to help teenagers mind their manners online.

Dubbed as “social netiquette,” a special Coming of Age course helps teenagers manage their reputation and understand the impact of social media. Debrett’s asks whether you or your friends would be happy with unflattering drunken photos posted online (probably not). And discourages people from annoying friends with pokes on Facebook—if you want to get someone’s attention, just pick up the phone and give them a call. (This despite the fact that kids today don’t make telephone calls.)