Do you ever have days when you never see the end of your email inbox? When you could literally spend the entire day reading and responding to emails? I recently read this Fast Company article “Why Every Email Should Be 5 Sentences Long.” and it really made me think. What if we were blunt at the beginning of our email if we need someone to take action?
I will give you an example:
ACTION: I need you to review the below and give your feedback by 5 pm today.
[Body of the rest of your email that needs to be reviewed.]
I have always been of the email camp that an email should be a conversation, and I am not backing away from that stance. Except. Yes, there is an exception. I think it depends on the audience and intent of the email. If it is from a company and they are apologizing for an issue that they caused to a customer, then they need to have a more structured email. They need to greet the customer (just as they would if it was in person), state what needs to be said and conclude/say goodbye. That process I still strongly think needs to happen.
It is the action oriented emails that need a change in behavior. These are the exception. With the volume of emails that we receive on a given day, we all need help to know which emails are important. That is thanks to those of us who may have colleagues that have abused the red exclamation point to the extent that no one really knows if an email is truly urgent.
Try it today. Any action oriented emails, put ACTION at the top, and tell others right at the beginning what you need them to do with your message. I would love to hear how it goes.