My employer tells me to email someone. Can I keep my perspective?

Dear Reader,

To help you become more proficient at email, we have prepared these tests for you. These worksheets and questions are designed to show you that it really would help if people learned to email. Many articles describe the absence of email as the antithesis of the democratic experience. In this article, we envision a fictitious news situation, where current email inadequacies are evident.

Based on recent research, people report concerns that email is designed to minimize human contact; most studies show that people are anxious about sending emails. Do you feel the same way?

Research (see previous article): Everyone Learns to Create an Email Body Language, but I’m Still Constantly Snoring

While we are sure the quality of email will improve in time, your skeptical initial reaction to an email-as-industrial-giant is not surprising. It would be nice if people in high office were constantly available to answer emails and seemed more eager about email matters.

By the time you think you have mastered an email body language that makes you look interested and personable, people in high office will have developed ever-better methods to keep you enthralled until they can send you a nice email to tell you about themselves. One day, people in high office will wonder how we ever thought emailing was such a waste of time.

Unfortunately, no one ever learns to email better.

Please view each problem. Answer each question in order of importance. If you find yourself answering “exceedingly,” “consistently,” “sometimes,” “always,” “rarely,” or “never,” just to name a few, don’t stress. Things will be better soon.

What to do?

• If someone asks you to forward an email to him/her, don’t spend an hour blindly forwarding it. If you don’t want to, just say no. Then just put on your thinking cap and think out of the box.

• Learn how to start emails with “I’m so excited about my work/family/life situation/kids, I don’t even know where to begin.” Be proactive about resolving potential conflicts before they arise.

• Don’t automatically have to go with someone else’s suggestion because it’s a good idea. Always ask. Learn what you can and would prefer first and answer that.

• If you’re wondering if you’ve been rushed, you might not have. Ask a colleague. Most people like to answer quickly, even if it means wasting time. Many say they would rather stop, think and answer than spend another minute trying to find the right response.

• Always respond within one minute. Everyone wants “20 minutes or less” to respond because the long-term negative consequences of an email response are so poorly understood.

• If you don’t feel welcome, express it. Says something like, “I just want you to know that I appreciate how important this email is to you, but that I’d rather hang out with some other random people then try to stay on top of this.”

• You don’t want to play “us” and “them.” Keep it short and sweet and personal. Don’t leave it up to your boss to find the perfect answer.

• If you hear someone say something obnoxious, give them the “I know I shouldn’t be saying that, but” look. For example, “Oh, come on! You’re way too loud and obnoxious here today.”

• Don’t risk a lack of gratitude for showing interest in someone else’s email. Answer the email but don’t give “no” answers. For example, “I think you made a good point. Can we switch over to something more meaningful next time?” Also, keep an eye out for replies to make sure you aren’t slacking off. If you hear someone say “Thank you for your time,” call it in.

• If you hear someone ask you to email something and realize you aren’t trained or familiar with the correct body language, don’t apologize or say you weren’t paying attention. Make the person realize that you’re paying attention. If you feel guilty about not being so smart, tell them that you’re trying to get better. It really would help if people learned to email.

• Happy crafting!


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