I’m convinced that email and text are the best forms of communication today.
Meetings aren’t an efficient use of time. People usually arrive 5-10 minutes late. Even if one person is late the others sit there wasting time. There is travel involved even if it’s a one minute walk from an office to meeting room.
Phone calls seem more efficient and in a few instances they are, but in my 10+ years experience they’re almost always less efficient. It can be a constant game of phone tag. There are always niceties involved that use up a few minutes in the beginning and the end. One person usually has to take notes and then there are followup emails.
Why not just do email to begin with and skip the call?
Anyway, for me it’s email and text.
At least in the business world.
And in the business world I think email still has the edge. Although I’m starting to see that shift. It’s mostly been a generational thing, but people of all generations are becoming more comfortable with text.
However, even though we have our smartphones with us all the time we still have many instances when people ghost each other. They see an email or text and don’t respond.
If you’re tired of being ghosted with business email I’ve got a couple tips for you that I’ve picked up on over the years…
1. Goldilocks Rule
Should emails be short? Should they be long?
I’ve found that people either have one tendency or the other.
For example, sometimes I’ll receive emails that only include links (not the spam kind). No context from the sender. I’m not sure what they want me to do with the information. Usually it’s an article they want me to read or be aware of. I usually just delete those.
Or I’ll get an email that is way too long. Let’s say 10+ sentences, but the key is that it’s all in one paragraph. Very intimidating to read through and understand. Usually takes multiple readings and heavy thought.
That’s not good either and it brings us to the next point, but first…the takeaway here is to find a balance between giving enough information so you make your point, but not too much so that you overwhelm the person.
I’m big on this one. I’ve learned it with blogging over the years.
But I still see it both in email and in text messaging. People send big blocks of text. All single paragraph. It’s easy for the eye to get lost in that kind of writing.
Break things up. Shorter paragraphs. Even add headings to break out different sections of the email.
People like to scan content before diving into the details. They won’t read it in order.
I remember a game a psychology teacher played with me and other students in elementary school. He gave us a two page list of instructions. Let’s call it 20 instructions.
We all started following the instructions starting with #1.
He made the list so it wasn’t scannable so nobody really scanned it.
By the time you got to #20 you realized you could have skipped ahead because it said, “If you read this ahead of time just sit in your desk and you’re done…”
People want to scan, but you have to give them the option.
3. Single Point/Question
I’ve sent many emails that make multiple points or ask the person multiple questions. Usually I get in trouble with those and get ghosted or it takes awhile for the person to respond.
Now I try to have patience. I try to ask one thing at a time. Not to overwhelm the person with email after email, but I try to make it easy for them to quickly respond.
4. Learn The Recipient’s Preferred Time
This is the big one that gets back to when to send emails to get a response.
It’s really up to the other person. You have to get to know their work routine. There will be times when they’re busy in meetings or on calls or head down at their computer or traveling. All kinds of things.
You’ve probably noticed this with your friends and family when sending texts. There are certain times when they have their phone in front of them and they’re willing to respond immediately.
Do the same with your coworkers, vendors, clients, etc.
It’s usually a window in the morning, at lunch or in the evening. After they’re awake, but before they’re head down at work. Or right after they leave the office.
Go back and look at when a certain person responds to you. You should see a pattern and that’s your key to getting faster responses.
Finally, don’t be afraid to followup with people. Don’t overdue it, but followup. Don’t blame them for anything. Just make it quick and ask them if they received your message. Try to get a little information on when they think they’ll have time to get to it.
Getting ghosted is no fun. There are a few good tips here, but #4 is a big one and it’s often overlooked. Knowing when people have the time to read, think and respond to your emails can save you a lot of time. And it can make your work more efficient.
But it’s up to you to put in the effort to learn the other person’s routine. They won’t change to suit your needs and they shouldn’t have to.