The tearing urgency of responding “on-time”

Email Etiquette
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Communications continue to drive the way we work. It also drives the way we are perceived by others. As you interact with different groups of people, there is always the challenge of formulating the most effective response.

In my next few blog posts, I will cover some of the key elements that have become part of the way we communicate at WS.

One of the key concepts is the function of “on-time” communication. Questions that I often come across when talking to team members are:

1) Just when is the right time to respond?

2) What is the value of response in proportion to the time taken to respond?

3) Are you making inane responses that have no intrinsic value to the communication?

Some ‘hacks’ that have worked well with me in the past two decades ( yes, even before email!) while interacting with just about anyone are:

1) NO ONE needs an immediate response.

Specially the ones which you send that has ‘OK’ , ‘Noted’, ‘ Thank you’ and so on. Use your judgement while responding to an email to know if it really requires a response or no. Keep in mind the following math:

You answering an inconsequential email: 1 min

3 Persons reading it it just because they are in the cc : 3 mins

2 Persons responding back, just because: 2 mins

and the cycle may continue

5 such emails a day: 30 mins GONE

So, simply put, only respond immediately if the person requests you to confirm receipt of email/docs/info sent.

2) Give some value back when responding to an email which leads to next step in the action plan. Think of snakes and ladders. You should always be in “ladder-mode” when responding to emails. The “snake –mode” is when you do non-consequential responses which has no end results. You get the drift right ?

3) Sometimes, too late also exists. Over-thinking an email, not marking it for response or just plain forgetting about getting back is the flip side of super-fast responses. Delayed responses tend to be habitual and it’s a habit that does not pay off well for anyone. To break this habit, clear your mailbox regularly, don’t delay responses by more than a certain number of hours (12 is what I follow usually).

4) VIPs in your mailbox. There will always be some folks who need to be responded on priority. Identify them, make separate mailboxes or create alerts to make sure they get responded to on time.

The worst thing you can do is CC everyone and their aunt creating a situation like the one outlined in point no. 1. The best thing you can do is MOVE the discussion over to the next level thus making email productive and effective. Anything in between, does not really matter!

– Kavita Jhunjhunwala
Twitter : @write2kavita

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Tags

  • Email Etiquette,
  • General,
  • Management,
  • Office Work,
  • Productivity,
  • TaskMgmt,
  • Work

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