Will Google Smart Reply function help us save time or waste time as it drives up email overload? Anything which can help us save time dealing with email surely has to be welcome. The idea of being presented with three possible templates of text to use to reply to an email is very appealing. It is useful when replying from a mobile device as it avoids typing mistakes and saves you time crafting your own reply.
However, either hit the wrong one and an email might ping back at you as the recipient does not understand what you mean. Or they might misinterpret your response. After all ‘Thanks’ can have many meanings from genuine gratitude to ‘so you just dumped me in it’. Result, increased email overload as we play endless rounds on unnecessary email ping-pong.
When we run Smart Email Management workshops one constant request is to educate participants to write short simple emails (responses) which portray a professional image of themselves and their organisation and communicate unambiguously what they are saying.
Why does this need exist for good email etiquette? After all most employees have had a good education and should have a basic command of the English language. Perhaps because the majority of today’s younger generation are so grounded in text speak that they quickly forget the basics of good grammar and spelling. Therefore will Smart Reply help? Or will it just exacerbate the situation?
Then there is GDPR. Forget email overload. An email is forever despite the fact you deleted the reply you sent in haste and now regret. Smart Reply might just offer lawyers a field day.
Templates of text are a great way to save time and especially when you need to reply to a stack of emails with the same response for example acknowledge an invite, receipt of a CV, invoice, revise project plan etc. And maybe, just maybe the old fashioned way of either cutting and pasting from a pre-prepared template of text is still the best option (in Word, Google Docs etc). For Outlook users you can use Quick Parts to create such templates.
This is the best way to reduce email overload and improve business email etiquette and hence performance.
Sadly an email sent is rarely if ever deleted. There is always someone somewhere who will have kept a copy and produce it just when you least expected.
Yes, in Outlook you can recall an email. However as soon as one sees that recall message I defy anyone not to be tempted to open the offending email!
Here are a few recent email scandals where the sender is probably bitterly regretting they ever sent the original email.
There is nothing new about emails you wish you had never sent. It is that somehow we never seem to learn good email etiquette and that email sent, is an email kept for life. Within everyday business you can take three easy steps to reduce the risk of creating an email scandal.
1. Resist hitting Reply All – check who is in the To and CC address box and make sure you are sending it to the right people.
2. Think and re-read your email before hitting send. Ask yourself what if this turned up on the wrong person’s desk?
3. Practice the art of ‘slow email’. Write a rule to put every email into a holding pattern before it leaves your inbox.
For more suggestions see Mesmo Consultancy video on how the manage the risks of cyber crime and leaking confidential information.
How do you have a preferred way to manage these risks to ensure you have no regrets about the emails you send?
Five years ago the CBI complained school leaver’s low level of literacy skills. More recently poor English skills have been cited as more damaging to business than the digital divide. Poorly structured emails, and especially long rambling ones remain the bane of many people’s lives and particularly those who pick up their emails on mobile devices and/or suffering from chronic email overload.
‘Pen your Email in Simple Language’ is the seventh commandment of our Smart Email Management charter but clearly an aspect of email etiquette which is frequently ignored. Yet it save times and reduces the potential for misunderstanding. If you do not receive a response to an email, it is often not so much because the recipient is busy but because you have written it poorly.
George Orwell laid out six rules for effective writing, which have served many authors.
These rules are as relevant now as when he wrote them over sixty years ago. In the digital age I add a seventh rule – start an email with a one sentence executive summary of what the email is about and what action is expected.
What email etiquette tips can you offer for ensuring you send the right message right first time by penning your email in plain language?
Are your emails PEARLS designed to send the right message right first time or lead balloons which might lead to an impending email disaster?
PEARLS are good corporate email etiquette and will enhance your digital dress code just like real ones can add a touch of glamour to anything from jeans to haute couture.
Click here to check your email etiquette.