If there is any hope for you as a business professional you need to stop doing the following horrible email behaviors, now!
STOP! Forwarding “FYI” emails
It’s the easiest email you’ll send all day. Click forward. Add email address. Insert FYI. Send. You’re a hero. You’re keeping people in the loop and giving them valuable information,right? Wrong. What you don’t realize is how much of their time you are wasting.
I get this type of email weekly, but I received an FYI email the other day that really got my blood boiling. It had 20 or so replies from various participants, spanning the course of 3 months and multiple, tangential conversations. The subject line no longer matched the conversation. “FYI”, my tuckus! It took me nearly an hour to read, comprehend, formulate and then delete my very explicit response.
Instead of forwarding FYI emails or adding CC addressees to an ongoing conversation, take a few seconds to highlight various sections of the email that would be valuable information to the new recipient. If you’re really feeling ambitious and want the email karma to return to you, draft a few sentences summarizing the conversation. Your coworkers will thank you.
STOP! Sending email to the wrong person
This happens to me several times a day. I get it, my name is “Eric”. There are 5 other “Eric’s” that work at my company. My parents should have known better and named me NoReply, but they didn’t. My name is Eric and this is my curse. But seriously people. Should I really have to suffer because you can’t check the To: field to ensure you’re talking to the right person?
Let me guess, you randomly dial your phone, too?
Not only does this waste my time, but it wastes your’s as well and possibly prevents crucial information getting to the right person. What if I was asleep at my desk and didn’t notice your email until days or weeks later? Then we’d have to go through the email dance of getting it to the right person; “Are you sure you’re not the right ‘Eric'”. Followed by an embarrassed emoji and you’ve official wasted even more of my time.
Combine this error with the FYI email and I begin to evaluate if prison is really all that bad.
STOP! Walking over to their desk moments after sending an email
So you just sent a very important email. What to do next? Maybe you should go ask them in person if they’ve read your email. NOT!
I know I’ve got nothing better to do than to sit staring at my email window, hoping beyond hope that I’ll receive a glorious email from you, but the last thing I want to do is read it in front of you so you can see how truly slow a reader I am. Save me some dignity, please.
If it was that important to talk to me, don’t send the email, come talk to me from the start. I’m usually very open about people coming up to my desk to ask questions. Often a face to face discussion will be more efficient than a round-robin of emails that go nowhere.
If it can wait or doesn’t need a face to face, give the recipient time to read and process the email, usually a few days is adequate. If it needs a response and you’re not getting one, schedule a 15 minute meeting with them at their desk, cube or nearest conference room.
STOP! Not including relevant links
Have you ever received this email?
“Can you check out the page with the blue header and the misspelled word on it?”
I receive this email 3 times a day. If I could even closely guess what URL address they were talking about, I wouldn’t be so mad, but at this point I don’t even know if they’re talking about our site. I mean, who do they think I am Sherlock Holmes looking for my next case to solve? No.
After all, is it really so hard to highlight the URL, hit ctrl-c, ctrl-v? It would save both of us an enormous amount of time? Please for the love of pete’s sake, learn your shortcut keys.
STOP! Asking something you asked last week
I get it, we’re busy people who forget things. It happens. Don’t beat yourself up about it. But don’t make me suffer too.
If you emailed me with a question last week and I responded, check you’re mail archives using this new invention called search, before emailing me again.
“Sorry to bother you again. What did you say you went to prison for?”
STOP! Not including your job title in your signature
This one isn’t so bad, but it sure makes it handy when I have to figure out who to forward an FYI email to.
Plus, if you are sending a request for work, I need to know where you are in the food chain. Are you the VP of sending email from your phone or are you the Assistant to the Assistant Regional Manager of I only send plain text emails?
Do I really need to pull up the company directory to send you an email. Wouldn’t it be so nice if I could just search my email archives for “email marketing manager” and find your name?
STOP! Using a one word subject line, like “update” or worse leaving it blank
I’ve lost all hope in humanity that I even have to write about this. It’s 2017 people. Do you not know the importance of email subject lines and conversation grouping? My email client now thinks your “update” email is the same topic as your last 100 “update” emails and groups them together. Awesome.
And if I want to find the email later, scanning my emails by subject line is a testament to my patience and considerable memory:
RE: No subject
“Oh that’s right, I need the “Update?” email, not the “FW: update” one.”
In summary, if you’re doing any of the above please stop – email karma is real and I, I mean it, will get you.