Email is a wonderful tool for communication. It lets us converse with people all over the globe while providing a handy information trail. Email has become so central to how we do business, it’s hard to imagine work life without it.
While email is convenient and efficient, it does have its traps and drawbacks. Individuals can communicate quite differently via email, which can present challenges when you're trying to confirm project details, gather information, or get any other work-related matter across the line.
Working with a particularly tricky email personality? Here are a few tips on how to deal with them without tearing your hair out, missing a deadline, or developing a complex.
- The Black Hole. The Black Hole never responds to their emails. Even if you request a confirmation reply or mark your emails to them with that little urgent flag. This can be infuriating if you’re waiting on information from them, but don’t sweat it. Instead of emailing them, it’s best to just get them on the phone, or if you work with them, swing by their desk.
If you need to have a paper trail confirming what you’ve discussed, flick them a very brief email after your phone or in-person communication, confirming what you’ve discussed.
- The Over-Communicator. You’ll know an Over-Communicator by their tendency to call or pass by your desk to let you know they’ve just sent you an email. It may seem unnecessary, but keep in mind some of these people simply prefer more personal communication, or may not be overly confident using technology.
Keep Over-Communicators happy by responding as soon as possible to confirm you’ve received their email, and assuring them you’ll come back to them shortly. Mark their emails for review when you have time, and try not to leave them hanging for too long.
- The Rambler. If you have to sift through their long-winded, stream-of-consciousness emails to find the information you actually need, you’re dealing with a Rambler. Breathe, skim their prose as quickly and efficiently as you can, and pick out the most relevant information.
If you need confirmation, respond with brief bullet points. They’ll soon get the idea… hopefully.
- The Single-Word Replier. The Single-Word Replier is the polar opposite of The Rambler, usually responding with short, seemingly sharp responses such as “okay”, “no”, or “Wednesday”. Don’t take it personally – in fact, just be happy you received a reply.
These people are usually pressed for time, or prefer a direct approach. Keep your communication with them friendly, but to-the-point. If their emails are so brief you don’t get the information you need, pick up the phone and give them a quick call to confirm.
- The LOLcats Sender. Whether they’re fond of sending memes, inspirational quotes or cat videos, LOLcats Senders can be prone to clogging your inbox with non-work-related junk. Some people welcome these emails as a feel-good distraction, while others despise them with the passion of a thousand burning suns.
If you lean towards the latter, it’s okay to politely request you not be CC’d in on them in future. If you don’t want to offend, you can always create a rule to send all of their emails directly to a specific folder – just be sure to check it regularly so you don’t miss anything work-related.