The power of response in email communications
Friday, June 10, 2016
Imagine asking someone a question face-to-face and they either a) never acknowledge the question or b) respond several hours after the fact. Many would construe said behavior as rude or dismissive.
Now, apply that same theory to work email — with 85 percent of communication taking place there — and one can easily see where the problem might lie.
In fact, a study in 2010 stated that individuals who took longer to respond or didn't respond at all were evaluated more negatively. And ignoring email actually harms co-worker relationships, according to a study published in Behavior & Information Technology.
Business email accounts total about 929 million mailboxes worldwide, and that number is estimated to reach over 1.1 billion by the end of 2017. It's clear to see email is the go-to form of communication in the office.
With these new figures and forecasts, there's a need to make sure you don't fall behind the curve with these five tips.
1. Responding should be a priority
Most of the workforce is guilty of not responding to an email right when they receive it, but remember that response time affects how you're perceived.
Not responding to that silly meme a co-worker sent out to the whole group is fine. But don't ignore emails directed specifically to you, no matter how mundane they are.
2. Organization is key
Do you have 2,000 unread emails that date back five months? It's time to clean it up. A cluttered inbox always leads to chaos.
Although every email may not be directly to you or important, it's always good to take a gander to see if anything does in fact pertain to you. Just as you would a project, create an outline for your day, including time set aside for a response window.
3. Target your response window
You have a response window (or maybe several) set in your outline for the day. This time should be designated to responding to all necessary emails and getting rid of unwanted ones.
To ensure balance within this time — and your life — don't push all emails to this designated time. Obviously, respond to necessary ones when you can, but leave the less important ones to later.
The Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication has shown that 85 percent of emails are responded two within 29 hours. That said, you don't have to be that quick — one to two days will suffice for most email responses.
4. Always respond
We're all busy, and your co-workers, family and friends know that — or at least they should. Either way, you should always acknowledge receipt of the email. A quick response stating that you're busy and will get back to them as soon as possible is perfect. This gives you more time to respond and gives the recipient a better sense of who you are.
5. Apologies are OK
We're human, which also means we're not perfect. You're going to forget about an email every now and then, and that's OK. If this does happen, just be honest and say, "My apologies in the delay of response ..." The recipient will understand and respect you more — unless you make it a habit.
With some organization and prioritizing, you'll be able to get back on track with your email. The power of response goes a long way to your recipients.
Always remember there are actual humans on the other side of the email — and they also have deadlines, crazy schedules and stresses. Be courteous to them just as you would in face-to-face communication.
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