Email Bliss

By Jeff Davidson

Whether you are communicating with someone face-to-face, over the telephone, or via email, text, or instant messaging, if your communication styles do not match one another, you might be headed towards problems.

Considering email communications in particular, corresponding parties can misunderstand each other in many ways. To understand why, let’s review some basic email communication response techniques:

  • Some entrepreneurs, and individuals in general, prefer to handle all emails as soon as they arrive. This approach is useful in a variety of professions, particularly when time is of the essence, as with financial brokerage and many types of sales professions.
  • Some individuals seek to handle all email correspondence by the day’s end. This gives them leeway as to when and what they’ll tackle. If they receive a request in the morning which merits considerable effort to address, they have time to work this task into their daily schedule.
  • Some executives, as well as entire organizations, maintain a policy of half-day responsiveness. For example, if an email arrives in the morning, the goal is to answer it by that afternoon. Likewise, when an email is received in the afternoon, the goal is to answer it by the next morning.
  • Some people allow emails to pileup for days at a time and then handle dozens of them over a prolonged period. Some answer email in one to three days, while others wait until the end of the week or some other designated time to answer email. Depending on your profession and industry norms, this could prove to be satisfactory, and even appropriate.

Many people combine two or more of the email communication techniques above and few strictly follow only one path all of the time. Once you ascertain the email communication style of your correspondents, the more effective your correspondence will be.

Triage Rules

Virtually all frequent emailers understand the concept of triage, even if they are unfamiliar with the term.

When emails arrive it’s relatively easy to separate the important from the less important ones. Among the less important messages you can decide to delegate them, file them for future use, delete them, or offer a quick response if appropriate.

Important messages often are afforded special status. Based on an email’s level of importance and the attention it merits, it might be appropriate to drop everything else and work solely on the issue at hand, or at least schedule time later in the day to do so.

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Jeff DavidsonJeff Davidson, “The Work-Life Balance Expert®,” is the world’s leading personal brand in terms of speaking, writing, or reflecting upon work-life balance issues. He is the author of “Dial it Down, Live it Up,” “Simpler Living,” “Breathing Space,” “The 60 Second Self-Starter,” “The 60 Second Organizer,” “The 10 Minute Guide to Managing Your Time,” and “The 10 Minute Guide to Managing Stress,” as well as 24 iPhone apps in the “Work-Life Guide” series. His books have been published in 19 languages, and in aggregate 141 times. Jeff is an Advisory Board member for The Organized Executive, a monthly publication of the Columbia Books, Washington DC. He holds the registered trademark as “The Work-Life Balance Expert.” Jeff can be reached at