Last week, I was in the zone.
I was knocking out emails left and right and relishing the fact that my number of unread emails was rapidly dropping. I love it when that happens! In fact, I might love it too much.
Then, I stumbled upon an email from a former client inviting me to be interviewed on her radio show. So, I quickly I responded saying, “I don’t have time for this but if you’d like to check back in a few months, that would be great.”
I don’t even know if I signed it. #emailfail
Fast forward to later that night at 2:30 AM when, BOOM, my eyes flew open and I realized…
I’M AN EMAIL A$$HOLE.
I was so laser-focused on getting stuff done and in love with the efficiency of technology that I totally forgot about the human experience.
So the next day, the first thing I did was write my former client and asked for a do-over. Then, before I wrote a single word, I thought up a super easy email checklist I can rely on when I’m in the email rabbit hole.
That way, I won’t lose sight of the actual humans on the receiving end of every email I send.
So, here goes:
Step one: Personal acknowledgment.
The purpose of the personal acknowledgment is to take a brief moment to make a connection without being verbose. It’s more than a simple “Hi Jennifer” but not by much. Instead, you might write, “Hi Jennifer, thanks for the invitation.” Or “Hi Jennifer, Happy Valentines Day.”
Step two: Specifically address the issue at hand.
In this circumstance, the issue at hand was declining an invitation to be interviewed.
“Thank you for the invitation. Right now I’m only working part-time so I can spend as much time as possible with my daughter, so I’m currently taking a hiatus from all interviews.”
Step three: Present an opportunity for a follow-up or an alternative action.
Even though this invite was not a fit for me, I had an awesome client who would be perfect for Jennifer’s radio show. So, my alternative action sounded like this:
“Though it doesn’t fit into my schedule, I have a client who would be the perfect guest for your show and I’d love to introduce the two of you.”
Presenting a clear course of action is respectful but it also brings this conversation to completion, taking it off your to-do list and putting it on your to-DONE list.
And you know what? It took me 45 seconds instead of 20 seconds to craft this helpful, swift response. Just 30 seconds more than my original email! Had I followed this formula the first time I would have maintained efficiency without dealing with email guilt later that night.
Vatsala Shukla says
I’d love to know about the happy ending – did you introduce the client to Jennifer?
It’s true that in this day and age of technology, we can often behave like robots forgetting the human part of interaction, Dallas.
One technique I’ve developed is to skim the emails and if there is one that I feel needs more attention and attending to it immediately might break my flow, I earmark it and return to it when I have time to compose a proper response.
Thanks for sharing your technique.
Hey Dallas this also goes for coaches that are sending out emails. I recently got one from a coach who I must have signed up for a newsletter with but the email that I found in my Google “Promotional” Inbox read something like *stop ignoring my emails” I opened it reluctantly then read “I know you are not opening my emails.” That just felt invasive. It ended up with yet another line along the “so stop ignoring my emails.” The second and third time was set a deal breaker. I don’t remember who the person was or why I signed up but did so willingly. Before I unsubscribed I let them know a simple friendly reminder as to how or why I signed up would have been fine and could have had the option to move future emails to my Primary Inbox but it was all about what they were trying to sell me and why THEY thought their emails were important. I disagreed and unsunscribed. I learned a lot about emailing and unsubscribed myself. Not a good experience but a learning one.