21 Jun Stop Asking, “Hey, Did You Get My Email?”

How often do you check your email?

For many, it’s multiple times per hour. For some, it’s three to four times per day. For a few, it’s only once per day. There is no right or wrong frequency for checking your email. We all have our own version of “busy,” so you have to determine and do what works best for you.

No matter how often you open your inbox, I know you’ve been asked, “Hey, did you get my email?” just moments after someone clicks “send.” Like the sound of nails to a chalkboard, this question makes me wince. The busier that I get, the more annoyed I become with the question. It’s my pet peeve. How does this question make you feel?

Three Personas to Avoid

During the past month, I paid special attention to how and why people ask, “Hey, did you get my email?” While paying close attention when I received these emails, I realized that there are three common personas: Drop-in, ASAP, and Insane  . . .  none of which are consistently efficient or effective.

#1. The Drop-In Persona

You know exactly who this person is. He or she sends you an email, walks to your office five minutes later, and asks, “Hey, did you get my email?” In fact, this probably happened to you already a few times this week. When this occurs, I try to make light of the situation by rapidly hitting refresh on my computer a good twenty-five times or so until the sender laughs and the email arrives.

Mr. Drop-In, if you want or need a response in less than twenty-four hours, don’t use email. Instead, use the phone and actually make a phone call. If you don’t need an immediate reply, focus on being somewhat patient. Just think about it… if all we did was respond to emails all day, every day, we wouldn’t get any quality work done.

#2. The ASAP Persona

Think about a person who you know who is typically focused on his or her own agenda. You know, the person who sent  a high importance email to both of your email addresses, a text, an urgent voicemail at work and on your cell, and a social media message on multiple platforms . . . ALL about the exact same thing. When this happens, I immediately wonder, “Why did you send a text urging me to ‘Please check your email ASAP!’?” Or, why did you send me a social media message requesting that I let you know when I respond to the email you just sent?

You might be wondering why this person sends the same message via four different modes of communication. I’m guessing it’s because he or she finds it difficult to manage their own email, voicemail, text, and social media. So, the ASAP persona assumes that other people struggle with inbox management too. [Check out my Should You Call, Email, Or Text? article]

Ms. ASAP, thank you for calling, texting, social media-ing (yes, I made up that word), and emailing me yet again to tell me that you just sent an email and would like a response ASAP. But sending one message on one communication medium would likely be much more efficient and effective, not to mention more well received.

#3. The Insane Persona

We all know the definition of insanity. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Picture a sales representative who you’ve never met before, who has your email address. For four consecutive days, you receive four similar emails that say, “I have a great product. Do you have fifteen minutes to talk today or tomorrow?” You probably deleted all four because you were irritated that the sales rep kept forwarding the original email back to you with the following messages: “Did you get my first email below? Did you get my second email below? Did you get my third email below?” The last email, however, was a bit different. Don’t get excited. This time, the sales rep merely added, “This is your last chance.”  Last chance for what? Odds are that you deleted this one too. [Check out my What If You Had To Pay $1 For Every Email? article]

Mr. Insane, I deleted your messages because you didn’t meaningfully connect with me or give me a reason to put your five emails at the top of my list. You aren’t the only person reaching out to me. Just because I received your multiple messages does NOT mean that I am immediately ready, willing, or able to do something with them. There is, however, a better approach . . . a way to make others care about your emails. Work (yes, work) to form some sort of meaningful connection that motivates others to want to engage with you. No one appreciates being hounded by someone who is actually a stranger.

Don’t Ruin Email

Can you make a case for when each of the three personas would be a successful way to communicate? Sure. However, I’d argue that the vast majority of the time, there is a better way to influence others. Email is an incredible tool. Don’t ruin it.

ACTION: With respect to sending and receiving emails, what do you need to start doing, stop doing, and/or keep doing to be a more efficient and effective leader?

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