Man Up Your Email Communication
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
George Bernard Shaw
There was a recent article in the NYT’s that discussed the perils of email and what happens when a good thing goes terribly wrong. Companies of all sizes are taking these matters into their own hands by implementing drastic, but oftentimes, necessary measures to help curb the insanity that has become email. Over at 43Folders, Merlin Mann writes and speaks of his Inbox Zero project. I highly suggest you check it out and also listen to his very inspiring presentation at Google.
I thought about this the other day and said to myself, “What would Sinatra or DiMaggio say about all this new technology and how they use it?” I think they would look at email and simply say this is another form of communication. The rules still apply. Treat the other person as if they were standing right in front of you, face to face. Here are some methods to the proper communication email:
- Learn to speak well. You should always be thinking about how other people view you. No, not to worry about whether they will like you or not, but that still is important. Your reputation is all you have and people want to respect you and like you. You need to make certain your spelling and grammar are correct and succinct. Use the spell checker at all times to give the impression you give a damn.
- Never use 8 words when 4 will do. This line was used by a true man in today’s society, Brad Pitt, in the modern classic Ocean’s Eleven. Be concise and to the point. Be direct and never assume your hints are getting across. Merlin Mann says to say all you have to say in 4 sentences or less. Any more is just wasting people’s time.
- Be prompt. A true man always is aware of his time. He is not slave to it, but is always aware and courteous to not abuse other’s time. If someone is sends an email, respond quickly – within a day if you can. If the email is meaningless, then follow Merlin’s advice and use the trash bin fast and furious.
- Learn proper etiquette. Don’t use all CAPS in an email. Don’t abbreviate the silly little schoolgirl-like text messaging acronyms. Use complete sentences and never assume the other party is keeping up with your humor, slyness, or email “savvy” – whatever that is. Keep it simple and to the point. If you don’t know all the rules of good email etiquette, then follow good communication etiquette.
- Personalize. True manly behavior is not to become a softy, but to make things personal is not that. It is simply taking the time to make sure the other side knows you want to relate to their issues. This gets the sharp guy the next promotion, next raise, next personal encounter that will help move their own agenda along.
- Never forward jokes or chain-mail. If you do this, you are not expressing manly behavior. For crying out loud, if you are doing this, stop right now. Stop and think about what your grandfather and his father would say about you. Keep the jokes offline and the chain letters simply need to be moved immediately to the trash bin.
- Discretion is always a part of valor. Men tend to hold their feelings in and not wear them on their sleeves. This is good with email as well. When in doubt, leave it out. Always, and I mean always, error on the side of putting far less into an email than too much. If you are not sure, call or say what you have to say in person.
I am sure there are many more, but these manly traits can help guide you though the forest of emails you recieve and send on a daily basis. Keep in mind that you are a man and if you want to be viewed as a man that commands presence, you need to act like one at all times – even in cyberspace.