How to get coworkers to read your emails

We’ve all been there — you’ve just put the finishing touches on what you believe to be, pertinent information for your team to consume — you press send, and wait.

Hours go by without a single response. Trips to the water cooler yield zero interactions regarding your well-thought out content. Did anyone even read the darn thing? No. It’s depressing, but there is a way to prevent yourself from feeling this embarrassment ever again.

Step 1: Choose appropriate content.

Do your co workers really need an electronic copy of your weekend plans? Your best Obama or Trump joke? Your theories on who Neegan batted on the season finale of The Walking Dead? No, they don’t. The content of your emails should promote collaboration, inspire conversation, and deliver information clearly and concisely.

Email can be a powerfully useful tool when used correctly. Before you send your next email to a coworker, ask yourself the following questions about its body:

  • Can my message be communicated more effectively through another medium?
  • Does my audience need a copy of my content to refer back to?
  • Have I proofread for grammar and spelling errors?
  • Is my message work appropriate?
  • HAVE I PROOFREAD FOR GRAMMAR AND SPELLING ERRORS?!?
  • Am I going to be comfortable with this message being tracked back to me?
  • After proofreading, can I cut anything out without losing my purpose?

Step 2: Select the correct recipients.

Personally, there is nothing I hate more than receiving an email that has nothing to do with me — well, other than when someone spoils The Walking Dead.

Features such as reply-all and the CC field are excellent when used appropriately, but all too often there are recipients included who don’t need to be there. Before pressing send, ask yourself, “Does everyone in the To:, CC:, and BCC: fields NEED my killer content to perform their duties?” If the answer is no, start removing names until the answer is “Yes!”

Step 3: Send your awesome content to the appropriate parties at the most advantageous time.

You’ve done the heavy lifting after refining your message and trimming down its recipients, but when should you send it out? Obviously, if the content is time sensitive, it should be sent ASAP. But, what if you’re sending a proposal to the management team about Salesforce enhancements to improve operations? Or some other unexpected content that you really want your coworkers or superiors to read?

Odds are you either want to press send and wallow in self-doubt until you receive a response or acknowledgement — or, you’re going to sit on this golden nugget and never send it out. To ease your budding anxiety, follow these rules the next time you engage your coworkers via email:

  • Avoid sending emails requiring correspondence on Friday afternoons, Monday mornings, or the day before a holiday unless your message is time sensitive.
  • Studies show Tuesday to be the most productive workday of the week — so, if you can wait until Tuesday to send it out, you will likely increase your open rates.
  • Avoid sending emails during unresponsive times, which lead to your precious message stacking with riffraff in recipients’ inbox.
  • When possible, press send during productive hours (early morning, the hour after lunch, mid afternoon).

With the common use of smartphones to both read and respond to emails, we have never been more connected to our work than at the present moment. This modern shift both increases our ability to be heard and the ability of our recipients to ignore. Remember to send relevant content to the appropriate audience, at the most opportune time. Following the above guidelines and consults will yield greater collaboration, happier recipients, and happier senders.

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