Overwhelmed by Email?

John Porcaro shares these tips from Marilyn Paul, author of 'It's Hard to Make a Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys.'

  • Meet as a team to review e-mail use. Identify what works, what doesn't, and why. Create a trial period for improvement: Meet to discuss after a week.
  • Use subject-line protocols to speed communication: a.) No reply needed - NRN; b.) Thank you - TY; c.) Need response by date and time - NRB 10/30 3:00 pm; d.) Use subject line for whole message: Meet 10:00 10/30 Okay?
  • Determine who needs to be copied on what, what needs to be read, and what needs to be filed.
  • Keep e-mails short. Most should be no more than 1-10 sentences. Communicate your main point in the first sentence or two. Don't make readers work because you don't have time to focus.
  • Don't deliver bad news in an e-mail message. If it's urgent, pick up the phone. Use tone of voice to indicate concern, but not anger.
  • After two rounds of problem-solving on e-mail, pick up the phone.
  • Don't hide behind e-mail. Any sensitive communications should be done in person.
    If you can't answer a request immediately, let the other party know when you can respond, or if you can't.
  • NO EMOTIONAL E-MAILS: To resolve a conflict, schedule a meeting or use the phone. E-mail arguments tend to be huge time-wasters. Never send a hasty, irritated response to an annoying e-mail -- jobs have been lost that way.

Read his full post.

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.


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