top of page

Your Irritating Emails Aren't Helping

3 chances to help your email recipient make your life easier.

That's what it email's all about, isn't it? Sharing information to make each other's journey easier?

You want something from them, so making it simple for them to get it to you is not only generous to them, but serves your interests, too. Read on for examples using email's three sections to your advantage.

It's not news that from the first email over 50 years ago to today, the number of daily emails has steadily increased. But did you know the average number of workplace emails is between 40 and 200? Average! Add instant messages, voice mail, and texting and, yikes, overloaded.

man with hand over face surrounded by electronic gadgets

Although lately we've been writing texts that rival the length of emails, emails generally have more information in them than texts and other message styles. They require more thought to process, especially if they're loaded with attachments. It’s a no-brainer to figure out which ones we’ll deal with first.

Out of sheer sanity preservation, we have to be picky about which emails we bother with and scan senders and subject lines to clean out the inbox quickly.

"Click-delete. Click-trash. Click-gone. Click-trashing you too, pal."

What’s left are what’s interesting and obligations. Out of those, we'll avoid what we think will require a lot of effort to deal with.

“Carl’s are always confusing, and I’ll save that one for later. Cripes, there’s Nancy. She’s always got a bazillion attachments. Later, maybe never, Nancy. Bwah-ha-ha!”

Switch your viewpoint to get the response you need.

You're trying to engage them, right? Making it easier for your reader is in your best interest. You help them, they help you back, what could be better?

So, where do you start?

First, quit doing the things that bug you as a recipient. That’s right—you, Carl and Nancy, might be the problem.

Second, put yourself in their position and model emails you find helpful.

Third, ask for and share suggestions on what others think are helpful

Fourth, write thoughtfully.

Use email’s three sections to your advantage.

You’ve got three ways to help them: The subject line, the email body, and your signature.

Below are a few suggestions to get you started. Each of the three sections tells you what doesn’t help, an alternative, why it's beneficial, and a caveat.

SUBJECT Write as though you are the recipient.

Not helpful Our meeting

Better Investment Review Mtg, 8/9/21, 2 pm, forms attached

Benefit Accurate, concise subject lines means they'll waste less time looking for it later.

Keep in mind Aim for seven words and about 30 charac