Lessons for wise emailing

by 25 Nov 2011

Facebook and the twitterverse have been in a flutter this week about the on-air rant of Kyle Sandilands. Upset about the poor review he received by a journalist, Sandilands took to the airwaves and unleashed an abusive tirade.

Though Sandilands is an unlikely teacher, there are lessons to be learnt from his mistakes. Namely, the value in taking a deep breath, and instead of mouthing off indirectly, or engaging in gossip, taking the time to talk to people directly. Face to face is always better than knife to back.

To kick-start better workplace relations, HC provides the top 10 tips for wise emailing from the author of Inhuman resources, Michael Stanford:

1. Encourage people to walk around the office instead of emailing.

2. If you are angry, set up a meeting to discuss, don’t vent via email. Even if justified, you might find your rant is sent on, or becomes part of one long daisy chain of stupidity.

3. Suggest a bulletin board to lessen the huge amounts of interoffice emails; leave the “fridge for sale” ad where it belongs, on the canteen fridge.

4. Don’t let people write things like “I wasn't made aware” or “I’m disappointed with your approach”. If they really are unhappy let them talk it through in person.

5. Ask people to use “please” and “thank you”. Rushed emails end up costing more time anyway.

6. Have an email-free day. If Casual Fridays worked, surely an idea that has genuine benefits should be trialed.

7. Set a limit to the number of people on the CC bar.

8. Try to use CC only to keep people in the loop. Don’t let the loop become a noose falling on the rounded shoulders of the weakest or oldest in the pack.

9. Don’t make the subject about someone. Strangely, “Dan’s mistake” or “Sally’s ruined everything” does not set the right atmosphere for collaborative problem-solving.

10. And, finally, take a deep breath. Don’t allow a knee jerk culture to develop and turn even nice people into jerks. Establish expectations in terms of response times. Surely thinking time is worth thinking about.


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  • by Phil O'Brien 22/12/2011 10:56:39 AM

    If you are not sure if the email is appropriate or not, here are 3 simple rules before pressing send.
    1. Would I send this to the CEO?
    2. Would I send this to my mother?
    3. Would I send this to the media?