If you want someone to reply to your email, make it sad.
According to a recent study by Contactually, a software firm, people respond to depressing emails at a high rate. Ones with an upbeat or neutral tone? Eh, who needs ‘em?
Emotion aside, solid email etiquette is invaluable for young professionals. How we handle even the most casual conversation speaks volumes about who we are and how we operate.
That’s why email response is the third installment in the ongoing News to Live By series: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Young People
Here are the first two Habits, which also stem from headlines in the news.
There are four reasons why you should answer every work email when a reply is appropriate. You’d be amazed how much goodwill you can generate from a five-second response.
1. Email Replies are Courteous
Scenario: You send a group email to co-workers about an update to a big project. The message isn’t terribly interesting or noteworthy; just a minor detail everyone needs to know. An hour goes by and no response. Two hours and still nothing. Then, you start to wonder:
‘Maybe my email didn’t go through?’
‘Maybe the email did go through but no one actually read it?’
‘Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret.’
Without a single response, what else are you supposed to think? As the email recipient, all you need to do is reply with ‘Thanks, got it.’ A quick answer like that seems insignificant, but to the sender it means everything.
2. Email Replies Show Maturity
To be a ‘highly effective young person,’ it’s not enough to read an email, absorb the info and click out of the screen. A short reply that signifies receipt will enhance your reputation. Co-workers will say to themselves: ‘Wow, so-and-so is on the ball.’ Better yet, management thinks: ‘Now here’s someone with his act together.’ Again, a five-second response can be a powerful thing.
3. Email Replies Prove You’re Thorough
It’s tough to visualize, but email is a face-to-face activity. When you and a co-worker part ways in the hall, you don’t abruptly end the conversation without saying good-bye, right? Same with email. A simple ‘last word’ in an email thread will let the other person know you read all of their messages. For example, expressions like cool, thanks and OK. One-syllable gestures that say ‘We’re on the same page.’ Otherwise, the person stares blankly at his inbox. Are you there, God?
4. Email Replies Keep Others on Track
If someone emails you, then they need something. If you don’t respond or take too long in doing so, you’re holding up that person’s day. Promptness has its rewards, but like many benefits, they don’t appear right away. A steady dose of on-time email responses will signify to everyone in your professional network that you’re courteous,mature and thorough.
Who says you can’t accomplish a lot in five seconds?
For tips on sending more productive emails, see this post from Lifehacker.
To find out how to make the most of six seconds, read this.