10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Send That Email

Email has been on my hit list lately.

I seem to have received more than my share.

Isn’t that how it always works?

Yesterday, I went on an email rampage and caught up on some messages.

Today, I thought I would address why you shouldn’t send that email in the first place.

Throwing It Over The Wall

What if your workplace operated as follows…

Employees would be required to work in separate rooms.

The only communication would be “written notes” passed repeatedly back and forth.

Sounds like a psychology experiment gone awry.

It would be like working blindfolded. You would be throwing messages over the wall and hoping for the best. Not knowing when (or even if) messages would be read or understood.

Yet, this is exactly how many companies operate.  Employees, often in the same building, working solely by blasting emails back-and-forth hoping to get work accomplished.

Don’t Send That Email

I have previously addressed the email issue. In fact, here are “TMN’s 9 Laws of Work Email.”

Email is a powerful tool and when used correctly it has many good uses.

However, when abused it can be the #1 productivity killer in the workplace. It can even destroy companies.

So, before you blast off that next email barrage to 16 coworkers…

Here are 10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Send That Email:

  1. Too Long – If your email is more than a few lines, it is too much. And it won’t get read. If your topic is requires more than a couple lines it probably deserves to be summarized in a different format. I recommend that all emails be less than five lines.
  2. Addressed to Too Many People – Your email should sent to the minimum number of people. Copying the whole world is a tactic of many workplace slackers. And by the way, you do not need to hit “reply all” to say thank you to one person. Just saying.
  3. It Is Negative – A simple email rule that never gets followed: Never send a reprimand or negative comment via email. It will be taken the wrong way and create a bigger situation. (If you need another reason, skip ahead to Reason #8.)
  4. Should be a Phone Call –  Ever played email Ping-Pong? Where the conversation took 64 emails to answer a simple question? Some conversations are better via phone or in person.
  5. It Is An Urgent Issue – Don’t send an email about something that people need to know about now. Contrary to popular belief, your co-workers are not sitting at their desk waiting for your email to arrive. Email is not for last minute communications. I love when people send an email 2 minutes before a meeting is about to begin. And if something is truly important, don’t send me an email to tell me something is on fire. Call me.
  6. The More You Give the More You Get - The law of reciprocity is one of the reasons that many people will never have an empty inbox. The more you send the more you get. Not every email warrants a response. Really.
  7. You Are a Spammer – Is your email subject material even worth sending out? Or are you sending out information that people don’t need in the first place? Take a hard look, you just might be a workplace spammer. Every company has a few.
  8. Email Is Forever – Whatever you write in an email is forever. It can and will come back to bite you. A manager  had written some inappropriate comments about co-workers in a string of emails years prior. The incident was re-ignited several years later when a colleague made a joke and forwarded one of the old emails. It didn’t turn out so funny.
  9. You Could be Working – Too many workers get caught up in the email back and forth that they spend over 50% of their time in their inbox. Close your email client and get some work done. I promise the email will be there when you check again.
  10. It Is Not Personal – If you really want to connect with someone on an issue… reach out and touch them. Go see them. Your point will be that much more impactful. Your compliment or thank you will be that much more heartfelt.
Hold That Email

So, let’s take a break from the mass emailing.

Think about the impact you are having on your friends and co-workers.

Ease off that email trigger finger.

If we all sent one less email today, the world just might be a little more productive.

Is too much email an issue at your organization?

No time for time management? Check out my online course designed to jump start your productivity! Take it online on your time and pace. As well, get direct access to me for advice and questions. Get details or enroll now by clicking here!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • al.pittampalli

    We should treat the Reply All button like the nuclear launch codes…only a few responsible people should be able to use them. Alas…it doesn’t work that way.

    • TMNinja

      @al.pittampalli Love it! If only we could disable the “Reply All” button across the organization. :)

      (Kidding…sort of.)

  • al.pittampalli

    We should treat the Reply All button like the nuclear launch codes…only a few responsible people should be able to use them. Alas…it doesn’t work that way.

  • TMNinja

    @al.pittampalli Love it! If only we could disable the “Reply All” button across the organization. :)

    (Kidding…sort of.)

  • http://www.robotnik.com/ oceanlogic

    I can’t stand when my co-workers use email instead of making a fast call.

    • TMNinja

      @oceanlogic Or when they see you in the hall… and ask, “Did you get my email?”

      “When did you send it?”

      “Like 5 minutes ago….”

      “Um…no…. I did not.” ;)

  • oceanlogic

    I can’t stand when my co-workers use email instead of making a fast call.

  • Matttanguay

    Hey Craig,

    I don’t remember ever having this problem in work environments in IT as an analyst-programmer (that’s what I used to do before I started my business). But I’m wondering what you think of email overload when you’re running your business. What would you recommend when emailing customers and partners, etc. ?

    Matt

    • TMNinja

      @Matttanguay Matt, email with customer (external) can be tricky. Many expect quick and immediate response. So, it can be important to set expectations on communication. (Depending on your business, that they need to call you if something is urgent.)

      The other thing to consider when emailing customers/partners is that you want to be very sure to double-check your message. We take email for granted, but it is very easy for the tone/message to be misunderstood.

      BTW, what is your business? :)

      • Matttanguay

        @TMNinja Indeed, email is an incomplete form of communication. The intention can easily be misunderstood. Even when you explain thoroughly, the other person’s ego can quickly get in the way and they catch the one word taken out of context that they don’t like.I think you get a feel for who is likely to misunderstand your emails and freak out about it, and who’s cool with those misunderstandings and simply asks more questions to understand better.Good point about asking them to call when it is urgent. As a service business, I did set expectations to answer AT MOST within 24 hours – usually within a few minutes or right after I’m done with my current meeting or client session. My business is called Fluent Brain (www.FluentBrain.com). I help business leaders from SMEs to develop their projects/products/services and build their company MUCH FASTER through visual facilitation. In other words, I facilitate the capture and organization of information, with visual tools such as Mind Mapping.I also have a consulting branch where I mainly use TOC thinking processes from Eli Goldratt for problem solving.BTW, I love your brand and logo :-) “Time Management Ninja” has a nice ring to it. How long have you had your focus on providing tips for better productivity ?

  • Matttanguay

    Hey Craig,

    I don’t remember ever having this problem in work environments in IT as an analyst-programmer (that’s what I used to do before I started my business). But I’m wondering what you think of email overload when you’re running your business. What would you recommend when emailing customers and partners, etc. ?

    Matt

  • Bob Clarke

    Hey Craig,

    I would add more, somewhat related to being negative. Never ever send an email based on emotion. I’ve made the mistake of firing off emails in the heat of the moment, and later regretted it.

    Truth is, we say things in emails we would never say to someone’s face…. so my new rule is, if you wouldn’t say it to them face to face, don’t send the email.

    • TMNinja

      @Bob Clarke Absolutely! Sometimes I amazed what people put in emails. It’s like they put on another persona.

      I have seen people say things in emails that were truly unbelievable. :) Great point!

  • Bob Clarke

    Hey Craig,

    I would add more, somewhat related to being negative. Never ever send an email based on emotion. I’ve made the mistake of firing off emails in the heat of the moment, and later regretted it.

    Truth is, we say things in emails we would never say to someone’s face…. so my new rule is, if you wouldn’t say it to them face to face, don’t send the email.

  • TMNinja

    @Bob Clarke Absolutely! Sometimes I amazed what people put in emails. It’s like they put on another persona.

    I have seen people say things in emails that were truly unbelievable. :) Great point!

  • TMNinja

    @Matttanguay Matt, email with customer (external) can be tricky. Many expect quick and immediate response. So, it can be important to set expectations on communication. (Depending on your business, that they need to call you if something is urgent.)

    The other thing to consider when emailing customers/partners is that you want to be very sure to double-check your message. We take email for granted, but it is very easy for the tone/message to be misunderstood.

    BTW, what is your business? :)

  • TMNinja

    @oceanlogic Or when they see you in the hall… and ask, “Did you get my email?”

    “When did you send it?”

    “Like 5 minutes ago….”

    “Um…no…. I did not.” ;)

  • Matttanguay

    @TMNinja Indeed, email is an incomplete form of communication. The intention can easily be misunderstood. Even when you explain thoroughly, the other person’s ego can quickly get in the way and they catch the one word taken out of context that they don’t like.I think you get a feel for who is likely to misunderstand your emails and freak out about it, and who’s cool with those misunderstandings and simply asks more questions to understand better.Good point about asking them to call when it is urgent. As a service business, I did set expectations to answer AT MOST within 24 hours – usually within a few minutes or right after I’m done with my current meeting or client session. My business is called Fluent Brain (www.FluentBrain.com). I help business leaders from SMEs to develop their projects/products/services and build their company MUCH FASTER through visual facilitation. In other words, I facilitate the capture and organization of information, with visual tools such as Mind Mapping.I also have a consulting branch where I mainly use TOC thinking processes from Eli Goldratt for problem solving.BTW, I love your brand and logo :-) “Time Management Ninja” has a nice ring to it. How long have you had your focus on providing tips for better productivity ?

  • BrendaBomgardnr

    Hi Craig,

    I have been lurking for a while but decided to join in the conversation. I used to work at a fortune 500 company and these rules need to be in the employee’s handbook. Everybody needs receive this during new hire orientation.

    I am a pychotherapist now and offer coaching to new therapists in private practice. I will be sharing these rules with my coaching group. New business owners need to keep their focus on the launch of their business.

    Thank you, Brenda

    • TMNinja

      @BrendaBomgardnr Thanks, Brenda!

      Yes, I truly believe that email is a “competency” that many employers should require. :)