Category Archives: Manners

Update: Email etiquette

I received a lot of really wonderful comments on my Email Etiquette post, so I thought I would follow up. First of all, even though I know for certain that the friend I referred to doesn’t read my blog and has no idea I even have one… I still learned a key lesson in asking a rather personal question in such a public forum, which is, that it’s not a great idea! Most people seemed to agree that I should just deal with the situation directly, but as you can see by my need to ask you what to do, I really do dread any kind of confrontation. But thanks to your encouragement, I did go ahead and drop her a quick line asking her if she had received my last email and of course she really nicely got right back to me and said she felt horrible about how bad she is at getting back to emails! Problem solved.

But, as soon as I pressed ‘Publish’ I instantly felt this wave of guilt because I know that I am far from a perfect email-replier. And then as soon as I posted, my Inbox was suddenly flooded with emails! I couldn’t help but wonder if these people happen to share my email guilt ;) I do think the post got at some key issues in our ever evolving modern communication… here are some of my conclusions from your wonderful comments and emails.

  • Cathleya made the great point that it’s important to ‘end’ an email correspondence chain. Some great phrases to indicate that you’ll get in touch again down the road are ‘talk to you soon’ or ‘great to hear from you.’ It’s not fair to expect someone to have to reply quickly, on and on, forever!
  • While Emily Post suggests a two-day response, many people think two weeks is passable for letter-like correspondence. Personally, I am going to reset my own goal going forward to ‘within a week.’
  • It’s precisely because we can read our emails anytime, thanks to iPhones and Blackberries, that we end up losing emails. I am going to do my absolute best to not read an email on my Blackberry or my desktop until I am ready to reply. That way it won’t get buried under my read mail.
  • I love the suggestion of moving lengthy correspondence to letters… two weeks is the length of time it takes a letter to get to the States from HK anyways.
  • Finally, I realized that I had literally 24,519 emails in my Gmail Inbox, which is absurd. I took about three hours (no exaggeration) and archived anything from over four months ago to give myself a clean slate to begin my new email ‘policies’ on. Then I set to work on dealing with and replying to late recent email. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! There was a lot to reply to. But, wow, do I feel like a new person!!! It is incredible. I can’t bear to do the same with my work email, but I highly recommend “cleaning email house.” If the holidays are already closing in on you and you’re too busy now, perhaps it could make for a good New Year’s resolution?
  • Finally, I love Gmail’s new Priority InBox. I don’t know how they do it, but they really can figure out what is urgent and what’s not. But then again, it is Google and they literally know everything there is to know about each one of us… a scary topic for another time.


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Email etiquette.

Excuse me, but I am going to go on a little rant here. But the rant is purposeful… I really do not know how to handle this situation. For years, a good friend has emailed me sporadically to stay in touch. They are typical update emails on what is on the forefront of her mind and questions about our latest. My issue is this: I sit down and take about 20 or even 30 minutes to write back to each and every question or point or concern she raises, as well as asking follow-on questions to whatever she spent the email talking about.  And then she never replies. I fully admit that it does often take me a week or maybe even two to write back to these types of emails. They aren’t urgent in nature and I want to take my time to reply… sometimes, or more like than not I’m traveling, and I only have five minutes and these emails warrant more time. First of all, am I in the wrong for taking up to two weeks to reply? Is that terrible?  Do I need to resolve to clean up my email act and always reply within a week? What is the acceptable ‘length of reply rule’ for non-urgent correspondence?

But my issue is this: I do reply. She never, ever replies. It’s not like she replies most of the time and an email or two slips her mind. I know she, like all of us, is always on her iPhone so I know she gets my emails.  Then, two months later I get another similar email and I’ll dutifully reply, but to be honest I’m just totally sick of this one way exchange. Should I, 1. email her and tell her my concern or 2. just stop replying to her? 3. take the approach I would take at work, and follow up one of my recent replies to her emails, by forwarding her the email and being like, ‘hey, just wanted to make sure you received this?’

What would Miss Manners do? Seriously, I need your advice! Thank you in advance.

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