4 Ways To Keep Email Alive

Back in the Stone Age, the hospital I worked in got its first networked computer system. I was amazed that I could send a 60 character message to Earl in the media services department two buildings away using an early predecessor to instant messaging. It was sent as white letters on a blue background across the bottom of the screen. Well, we have come a long way baby! 

Today, we have many business communications options (texting, direct messages, social media etc.), but like it or not, email is one of the central forms of communication in the business world.  And while it makes communication easier it can also create communications problems, and sometimes nightmares. Here are some tips on how to make email work better for you.

1.  Don’t rely solely on email.  Pick up the phone and call your customer, associate, co-worker (or walk down the hall) occasionally.  Nothing can replace face-to-face or voice-to-voice contact.  Emails don’t communicate expression or tone-of-voice, so for sensitive communications, a phone call may be more effective.  

2.  Don’t assume your email arrived or was read.  For important information or deadline sensitive requests, a heads up phone call or voice mail is in order (or perhaps a text message).  And use the mail receipt option on your email program.

3.  Don’t write and send an email in the heat of the moment.  If you’re upset about something, take a few minutes before you write that reply or message.  And, when you do, write it before you fill in the send information, wait a few more minutes (and perhaps take some deep breaths) and read it again before you put the address in and hit send.  A few years ago, a client called distraught because a terse message criticizing a customer’s email she meant to send to her boss went to the customer (whoops – ex-customer) instead.

4.  Proof read your message.  That includes the recipient addresses.  Recently I sent a synopsis of a speech I had heard to a friend named Julie, instead of to my client named Julie.  Both their last names started with the same two letters and my auto address function put in the wrong Julie’s address and I was in a hurry and didn’t check it.  

And remember, it was not long ago when we had to rely on printed memos and reports, phone calls, faxes (for anyone under 35, message me and I’ll explain what a fax is) and meetings.