Pivoting the E-Mail Process

Merlin Mann, talking about his experience with e-mail on 5x5's Home Work podcast:

“I wake up every morning to reenter my iCloud password to find out who’s disappointed in me.”


Is this how e-mail has evolved for some of us? What used to be an exciting experience, to receive a message delivered electronically to our desktop computer terminals, has now become a chore met with dread or anxiety?

E-mail is a necessary part of our professional lives, and for some it's met with curiosity and anticipation. Project coordination updates from supervisors, co-workers requesting input for their assignments, notifications about upcoming meetings. Helpful and productive. I'm betting there are a great number of professionals like me, working in a service-oriented industry like IT support, who are suffering from an Outlook inbox strewn with rude, urgent-only-to-the-sender messages demanding errors be fixed or software be installed immediately. Callous blurbs of redirected stress devoid of any emotion, fired off on a mobile device with an impersonal "Best," or "sent with my iPhone" at the end. Somewhere along the way, some of us learned that if we stamp our foot, pound our fist on the table, and shout aggressively at others, we eventually get our way. I believe you will see similar behavior on display in the primate cage at your local zoo. Or at a toddler daycare.

We can set an example with how we communicate. We can keep in mind that the person on the other end of the e-mail is as human being with a busy workload and their own stress. We can address our needs in a concise manner. We can ask for a reasonable timeline. Most importantly, we can say thank you and mean it.

The person you're contacting will get the message loud and clear.